Social media in Mulsim countries including Pakistan and Turkiye is abuzz with claims that Chicago has opened a casino in buidling that resembles a mosque so much so that a wooden inscription of the kalama tayyaba is seen on its entrance.
Worse still, the building has been named Medinah Temple.
People have expressed outrage at the development branding it as an attempt to provoke Muslims.
While most of the statements about the casino are true, the history of the building does not support the insinuation that its opening was a premediate effort to offend Muslims.
The historic building of Medinah Temple was constructed in 1912 and originally housed an ornate auditorium seating approximately 4,200 on three levels.
This Moorish-style amphitheatre was designed by architects Huehl and Schmidt and was used for the recording of several symphonies in the 1960s.
The structure became dilapidated and narrowly avoided demolition in 2000.
Throughout its existence, it has never served as a mosque.
So, why does Medinah Temple look like a mosque and why do they call it a temple?
The building was constructed by Shriners a Freemasonry group known as the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.
This group adopted a Middle Eastern theme and like many other Freemasonry groups called their buildings temples. This explains the name.
Shriners have constructed other buildings on Middle Eastern themes in the United States and after the 9/11 attacks, they faced harassment after they were mistaken for Muslims.
Medinah Temple changed hands and became a departmental store in 2000.
Fast forward to 2023 and a leading casino company Bally’s opens a temporary casino in the building.
The casino in Medinah Temple opened on September 9 with the city planning to earn from taxes.
The entrance of the building does have a wooden inscription of the first part of the kalma tayyaba.
The words ‘La illah ila allah’ repeat as an ornament, forming a border around the rectangle of the main entrance.
This inscription is in Italic Arabic characters and it was copied from the Alhambra complex located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain.