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California Mosque Shows Muslim Unity

Published: 23/06/2013 04:18:06 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Concluding four years of work, American Muslims have opened a new mosque in Southern California as a first product of grass-root funding by local Muslims rather than foreign donors. Post 9/11, the dynamic completel (more)

CAIRO - Concluding four years of work, American Muslims have opened a new mosque in Southern California as a first product of grass-root funding by local Muslims rather than foreign donors.

"Post 9/11, the dynamic completely changed," Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, told Los Angeles Times."The Muslim community at large in North America realized it is better if we develop our own funding, however long it takes."

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The Muslim community opened the Masjid Qubaa in San Gabriel Valley on Saturday, June 22.

Rising against the San Gabriel Mountains, the mosque is a transformation of a small prayer space from a dilapidated church to a 45,000-square-foot structure.

Along with the mosque, the Islamic center hosts a school, mortuary, health clinic and three libraries.

Funded entirely by local Muslims, the $5.5 million sand-colored mosque has a blue-tiled dome and six minarets cutting a striking profile in an industrial area of Rowland Heights.

The walls of the mosque are decorated by tapestries from Pakistan and ornate chandeliers from Dubai.

The 99 names of Allah are also engraved in Islamic calligraphy into glass at the head of men prayer space.

Facing stricter government scrutiny of foreign donations from Muslim countries after the 9/11, the mosque was the result of grass-root effort of the Muslim community, being funded entirely by local Muslims.

Before 2001, new mosques were often funded by foreigners.

Saudi Arabia has financed the King Fahad Mosque in Culver City, and Libyans helped build Masjid Omar near USC.

With many Muslims taking prestigious professions in the US, several members donated $100,000, and a few gave $500,000.

Muslim women held a fashion show, which raised $100,000 as dozens of skilled craftsmen contributed services and construction materials to reduce the cost.

Syed Rizvi, the center's president and a doctor of Pakistani origin, has donated a six-figure sum to the project.

"We were professionals, but we were not rich," Rizvi said.

"America gave that opportunity for us all."

New World

Setting the basis for interfaith relations, mosque leaders have invited non-Muslims to the worship place.

"It feels like it's a whole new world," said 19-year-old Omar Yamak.

"You have a sense of love of the community."

Muslim leaders in Southern California said they would also plan holding blood drives, food giveaways, interfaith meetings and other activities.

Muslims were also grateful to their neighbors who raised no opposition to the mosque construction, unlike similar projects in other Californian cities, according to Ameena Mirza Qazi of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

US Muslims are estimated between six to eight million.

In the last five years, there has been "anti-mosque activity" in more than half of the US states, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

At least 18 mosque projects — from Mississippi to Wisconsin — have found foes who battle to stop them from seeing light citing different pretexts, including traffic concerns and fear of terrorism.

Even more, some mosques were vandalized including a 2011 Wichita mosque arson case for which a $5,000 reward is being offered.

In multicultural New York, a proposed mosque near Ground Zero site has snowballed into a national public and political debate, with opponents arguing that the Muslim building would be an insult to the memory of the 9/11 victims.Advocates, however, say that the mosque would send a message of tolerance in 9/11-post America.

Reproduced with permission from