The project to build an Islamic center in Germantown, MD, off Highway 270, has been in the works for a long 14 years and the dream is now materializing for the community.
As reported by the 2010 United States Census, Germantown is the third most populous city in Maryland, after Baltimore and Columbia. It has an estimated population of 86, 395. There are no other Islamic Centers or masajid in this 21st Century "Corridor City" or within a 10-mile radius.
The proposed Islamic Society of Germantown masjid (above) will have two floors, a prayer area large enough for 283 people, four classrooms, a bookstore, commercial kitchen, and parking for 78 cars. Image courtesy of Islamic Society of Germantown.
According to the management of Islamic Society of Germantown (ISG), over 400 Muslim families live in the close vicinity who need a place to pray, worship, learn more about Islam, and carry out necessary religious and cultural ceremonies.
The last fundraiser was held on Dec 15, 2012, but only $13,000 was raised. "Our estimated cost [of] the project right now is at $1.75 million, we are still getting more bids and trying our best to find the best quality quotation," says Imam Ammar Najjar.
ISG has raised $665,000 so far. According to Ammar Najjar this is enough to start construction. He says ISG is trying its best to manage the money is an effective manner in order to get the shell of the building constructed. The management thinks they can erect a closed building with windows, doors, roofing, framing, masonry in addition to all purchase orders for materials. "It is a little tough but we will do our best, in sha Allah," said Imam Ammar Najjar in an interview with the Muslim Link.
ISG purchased one acre of land with a full payment of $300,000. Water and sewer management were completed and fully paid off for a total of $130,000. "The work on the [public water and sewage] line to ISG started in 2004 and ended in 2006. That line is from the intersection of 355 and Middlebrook all the way to the masjid property, roughly 500-600 feet long line," said Najjar.
Delays occurred when ISG combined three parcels of land which they purchased for the masjid to acquire what is called a Record Plat.
ISG has resubmitted building plans. The Record Plat is expected to be completed by the end of January and upon one final payment of $5000 ISG will also complete the Architectural plan. "Our building plans were resubmitted to the Department of Permitting Services in the first week of December. We are hoping by the end of this month to finalize them in sha Allah, that includes our Architectural Plans as well," said Najjar.
"The response of the community is that they are excited of course [about] the progress,"said Najjar. He says the community understands that delays were caused by the county process. However, there are some longtime Germantown residents who gave up on the project after being longtime supporters. There are also some concerns in the community about the size of the proposed building and the challenge of accommodating the ever growing Muslim population in Germantown. Najjar thinks the community should build this center, allow it to run, and then look to expansion. "Location is prime compared to the size plus the larger the project the more [financial] load on the community," says Najjar who is managing the project.
As far the non-Muslim neighbors, Najjar said he only heard one concern raised regarding noise and that would be addressed in the approved site plan.
Construction is expected to start in May 2013. "My message to everyone who can read my statement is that this project has overcome tremendous obstacles and many challenges by the grace of Allah. Soon we will have our building permit to start the construction of our masjid, in sha Allah. How long will this take us to complete? That depends on your financial support," says Imam Najjar.
For more information on the project or to donate, visit www.isgtown.org.