Farmington–Friday July 13–Phase II of the Tawheed Centerâ€™s planned expansion began this past Friday at the Tawheed Center, which is one of the pillars of the Oakland County Islamic community and a symbol of its growing financial clout.
The mosque started from a simple two building structure of 1700 square feet, but has changed immensely over the years–after the expansion it will be approximately 26,000 square feet.
Mr. Asim Khan explained that the mosque has implemented a three phase project to improve its facilities, the first phase of which was to buy two additional parcels and add additional parking spaces (about 300), the second phase is an aggressive development of the mosque that is expected to cost $1,000,000, to build a shell which will house a mezzanine prayer area for women, an expansion of the mosque including a larger prayer hall for men; there will be schooling, a kitchen, a library, a conference room, and offices; this phase will include all of the work to develop the mezzanine area with its internal guts including drywall and electrical work; the third phase will be to finish the gymnasium.
Originally the project was conceived as four phases but it has been repackaged in a constant evolving process involving the architects and contractors.
The event on Friday lasted only about an hour, with a brief Qur`anic recitation by the Tawheed Centerâ€™s Imam Sohel Mangeria, a welcoming introductory speech by Mr. Asim Khan, chair of the Board of Trustees, and a speech by Dr. Khalid Zafar, the president of the Tawheed Center Board of Directors.
Imam Moosa of the Bloomfield Unity Center, who was the guest of honor at this groundbreaking for Phase II, spoke on the benefits of mosques for Muslims and for non-Muslims, speaking of the Islamic requirement that a Muslim help his neighbors and explaining that neighbors, Islamically, include people 40 houses away.
Mr. Khan welcomed all those who were in attendance, and explained that the mosque had been in existence for almost exactly 14 years, having seen in that time a huge expansion from only about 25 families and 44 parking spaces to its current 250 families and 300 parking spaces.
He emphasized that the Tawheed Center has been a positive influence in the community and to the neighborhood, and said that one of its best qualities has been its conveniently central location attracting visitors from as far away as Brighton and Milford, and explained that there is no other mosque offering five daily prayers within a 15 mile radius.
He graciously thanked and welcomed all those in attendance.
President Khalid Zafar also thanked the participants from the community for attending, and emphasized the importance of mosques for the proper upbringing of children. He also emphasized the importance of maintaining good and positive community and neighborly relations.
Imam Moosa did the physical groundbreaking in a ceremonial act that will kick off an approximately 1 million dollar expansion, of which about $400,000 has already been collected. There will be an additional fundraiser for this Phase II construction in Ramadan, then another next year, if necessary, to complete the expansion.
In addition to Imam Moosa, several important officials from local politics and people who have been important to the Tawheed Center as major donors came to support the Tawheed Center.
All of Farmington Hillsâ€™ major officials were invited, including the chiefs of police and fire, federal congresspersons Knollenberg and Stabenow, and state senators. Present at the groundbreaking were several prominent local officials including Jim Nash, the Oakland County Commissioner, Steve Schwartz, the Chairman for the Zoning Board of Appeals.
The mayor of Farmington Hills, Vicki Barnett, was not able to come but called to voice her support. The city manager of Farmington Hills was going to come but had a planning conflict.
In all, this was a very successful effort to bring an entire neighborhood community on board with a large expansion of this important Oakland county mosque.
Toledoâ€™s Growing Muslim Community Builds New Mosque
Imam Sallie, now of the Bloomfield Unity Center and formerly of IAGD, will serve as imam to the Toledo community, during August and September, as a part time imam.
This new mosque will be about 10 acres; the Toledo community has purchased a church and will convert it to a mosque.
The mosque will be in Sylvania, OH, close to Toledo. The church needs only minor adjustments to be turned into a mosque, and has the huge advantage of having zoning and parking all worked out for worshippers, not to mention that all of its facilities have been conceived and built expressly for the purpose of serving many worshippers. The Sylvania community hopes to inaugurate the mosque in early August.
The name of the mosque is â€œMSF,â€ the Masjid Saâ€™ad Foundation. Currently the community is still in its old bldg, at 5225 Alexis Road. The community wishes for Imam Sallie to be their full-time imam, but it would be difficult for him to break free of his commitments to Southern Michigan, including his Oakland University professorship and involvement with the Bloomfield Unity Center, without an enticing offer.
The Islamic Society of Greater Toledo is a companion mosque to the MSF. The two mosques maintain good and collegial relations, on the model of the Flint Islamic Center and Grand Blanc Islamic Center, who have frequent mutual events. Several people serve on the boards of both masjids at the same time, as an example of these good relations, and the two Ohio mosques (like the Flint/Grand Blanc mosques) hold mutual â€˜eids.
On the 27th of July, Imam Sallie will give the Jumuâ€™ah khutba at 1:30 pm at this big mosque in Toledo, the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo. This mosque is on I-75, about 8 miles south of Toledo. This is a different community. The Sylvania community is especially strong because the mayor and chief sheriff are also Muslim, so the community is very well-integrated with the local non-Muslims and with every branch of government. The ISGT claims to serve 30 nationalities; its imams have mostly been Egyptian, with one Yugoslavian imam in its history. The ISGT also plans a huge expansion project on 51 acres in Perrysburg, Ohio, but must change an agricultural zoning area so as to provide a school, homes for seniors, and a seniorsâ€˜ club; the Toledo and Sylvania Muslims are a very vibrant community, with about 6000 Muslims.
Oakland University Islamic Studies
The Islamic Studies program is going very well. Imam Sallie explains that the university treats him very well, very respectfully, paying for all of the expenses related to his work.
The imam is currently teaching a course on Islamic ethics, and is seeking to arrange a fairly modest scholarship program to help Muslim and other students pay for their coursework at Oakland University–he is seeking to arrange scholarships of $1,000 per student.
Some such scholarships are now available, and he is trying to arrange more.
He is hoping to establish the Islamic studies program as a permanent fixture at Oakland University by building an endowment of 1.5 million dollars. That would be a monumental accomplishment for Southeast Michigan Muslims, a huge benefit in building relations with outside communities and in building the educational infrastructure of Muslims as well.
The current Islamic ethics course is happening three times a week from 12-2pm, during OUâ€™s summer semester.
3 courses will be offered in the fall semesterâ€”including Islam in America (a new course), and Introduction to Islam. In the winter semester there will be a new course, Introduction to Islamic History, Empires of Faith. There will also be Business Ethics offered as an online course., biz ethics on line, and there is also going to be an Islamic Literature course offered for students in OUâ€™s honors collegeâ€”this will be an intensive course, with many texts, exposing students through direct experience to events in community and to local Muslim places, so they can feel Islam, not just learn about it; including several field trips.