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Tolerant Community Supports Islamic Center

Published: 04/06/2012 12:18:17 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Spanning a history of thirty years, the Islamic Center of Davis is well seated in California society as an example of coexistence and tolerance between the community's Muslims and non-Muslims.“It has been a home aw (more)

CAIRO - Spanning a history of thirty years, the Islamic Center of Davis is well seated in California society as an example of coexistence and tolerance between the community's Muslims and non-Muslims.

“It has been a home away from home,” Chair of Campus Unions and Recreation Board Shahzeeb Syeb told The California Aggie on Monday, June 4.

Thirty years ago in 1982, the magnificent blue Islamic center of Davis did not exist.

In its place, there has been an old house on Russell Boulevard in Davis city rented by Muslim students to perform their prayers.

“A group of Muslim students at UC Davis initiated the motion to have a place for worship, so they rented an old house on Russell Boulevard,” said Ahmed Ahmedin, a Ph.D student in electrical engineering and social secretary of the center.

The students as well as the Davis community came together and began having fundraisers so that they eventually could buy and own the house, for which the surrounding non-Muslim community and the Bay Area paid a good portion.

Buying the building, Muslims kept the converted old house for 30 years, amid hopes of being able to raise funds some day to build a new mosque.

The answer to their prayers came in 2007 when Othman Alsoud, the Islamic Center's first president, organized a fundraiser spanning across the Bay Area and even the country to raise money for building the mosque.

“It was a brand new building when I began attending UC Davis in 2007,” Syeb, the Chair of Campus Unions and Recreation Board, said.

Ahmedin said none of this could have been sustained without the support of the Muslim and non-Muslim community.

The role of non-Muslim community did not stop at the center's building.

After the mosque was finished, the community was shocked by the robbery of its crescent.

Ahmedin said that the non-Muslim community then conducted a fundraiser raising $2,000 to replace it, showing their extensive involvement.

Interfaith Center

Celebrating an atmosphere of coexistence and tolerance, the Islamic center has evolved not only as a space for worship and community gathering, but as a place for education.

“We have recently computerized the library so that people can find books on the Islamic Center website, become a member and check out books,” Abbuthalha said.

Containing 5000 books in both Arabic and English, some of which are very rare and not accessible on the market, the extensive library is open to Muslims and non-Muslims.

The application is practically identical to UC Davis' Peter J. Shields Library membership and anyone can check out books.

The Islamic center also holds a sermon every Friday which is open to anyone in the community who would like to participate.

“Since work or school can sometimes conflict with attending a sermon, all of the sermons are filmed and added to the archives on the Islamic Center website,” Abbuthalha said.

Interfaith events also occupy a good share of the Islamic center's agenda.

Every Ramadan, the Islamic Center hosts many events for the whole community of Davis.

“During Ramadan month, we have an event called Fast for a Day where the whole community, Muslim and non-Muslim, fast together, so we can all share this experience,” Ahmedin said.

Winter Quarter holds the Islamic Center's Interfaith event which celebrates all religions by arranging visits to different places of worship across the community.

“We want to be open-minded and open-doored,” Syeb said.

“More importantly, we want to bridge those religious and cultural gaps that we sometimes see.”

Reproduced with permission from