GERMANTOWN - A 14-year-old dream of building a mosque and an Islamic center to serve the religious and social needs of the Muslim community in Germantown in the US state of Maryland is about to come true after receiving approval for the worship place.
We are very much encouraged by this move and excited for the developments to come, Ammar Najjar, Imam of the Islamic Society of Germantown (ISG), told Germantown Patch on Monday, August 27.
It's been a long time coming.
The Muslim community in Germantown in Montgomery County in Maryland has been without a mosque for decades.
Muslims are used to performing their religious services at different areas across the County.
Daily prayers are performed at the Iman Learning School, while the weekly Friday prayers are offered at two locations in Germantown and Gaithersburg.
The closest mosque, the Islamic Center of Maryland, is a 24-minute drive from the heart of Germantown.
But finally an application to build a 1.2 million-dollar Islamic center to fulfil the needs of the area Muslims received a preliminary approval from the Montgomery Country Planning Department last month.
Once approved, ISG will submit building permits for consideration, a process that could take a few months, said Planning Department Planner Coordinator Richard Weaver.
Progress toward building a mosque in Germantown has been slow.
The mosque plan was first introduced in 1998 to create a unifying religious, educational and recreational centerpiece for Germantown Muslims.
After more than five years of finding additional parking spaces and securing more than $290,000 in funds for the project, ISG had to start from square one in 2011 when new county requirements called for a redesign of ISG's site plan.
Causing further delays, the mosque planners had to arrange plans for stormwater management, forest conservation plans, and road frontage systems, including fire and rescue access.
[It] took a bit longer than we would have liked but the issues were somewhat difficult to address because they were all intertwined, Weaver said.
The new mosque is expected to ease hardships Muslims have been facing to perform their religious services.
If you came to `Eid prayers last Sunday, you would have seen that we've had to add extra prayer mats and turn away people, 55-year-old Alusine Sesay said.
That alone indicates that we need this and we stand by our leaders to push this initiative.
With religious services scattered throughout the area, Sesay has been suffering over the past 23 years with no Islamic center in the city.
He attends Friday prayers in Gaithersburg, daily morning prayers at Iman Learning School, and in Ramadan he breaks his fast at the Boys & Girls Club in Germantown.
But now after 14 years of planning, construction of the mosque and Islamic center could start by the end of 2012.
Containing three multi-purpose floors, the mosque would have sandy brown domes, gentle arches and high ceilings.
The basement, tailored for food and children-oriented events, contains a commercial kitchen, dining, and storage areas.
The first floor, primarily for men, will have offices, meeting rooms, and a men's prayer hall.
The second floor, primarily for women, will have a prayer hall, a workout room, and four classrooms.
Najjar said that the Muslim community has been and will continue to be a tremendous source of support.We may not have a structural foundation in place, Najjar said, but our community foundation is here and that's what will keep us going.