The Germantown masjid project has been in the works for the past 13 years. Right when they are close to the finish line, a shortage of funds could bring the project to a screeching halt.
As of the now the property on Blunt Road in Montgomery County, Maryland has been leveled and a basement is excavated and walled. The Islamic Society of Germantown leaders called an emergency town hall meeting on October 26, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. at the site to show concerned community members the progress and inform them of the financial situation. “We have enough funds in the bank for the project to continue until the month of January,” said Ammar Najjar, resident imam of ISG as he showed the community members around the property on the chilly October afternoon.
“How serious are you?” Najjar asked the 25 community members gathered at the site. Close to a million dollars are still needed to complete the project.
Young boys ran up and down the pile of dirt, that will be used as topsoil, where a play structure will stand in the future. “This meeting is an alert, an alarm, a message to the Germantown community. We need to start worrying about finances [from January] forward, if we want to pray next Ramadan in the masjid.”
Najjar said that there are at least 500 families in the area from Boyds to Clarksburg to the border of Gaithersburg. The 13 years that have passed in the making of the masjid has fragmented the community and despite the great need and population of Muslims living in the area, there were only 50 people who showed up at the townhall at the Boys and Girls Club in Germantown, nearby to the site of the new Germantown masjid. The management shrugged pessimism off and plunged ahead, citing the need to raise the children in a healthy environment.
The brothers asked the audience “How can you help? We have plenty of meetings but we have to move in leaps and bounds to raise the funds needed.”
“The sisters sold tea and coffee and raised a few hundred dollars last Friday; that's the spirit. We have go and knock on every door of our community,” said Najjar.
Irshad Khan, the Vice Chairman of the board, introduced a plan to raise the needed funds- the ISG Sadaqa Jahriya Program. Options included 379 prayer spots designated for $2000 per sponsor; donors can also build a classroom for $1500 per student. Four classrooms are planned for the masjid. Khan asked the community to help raise money for parking spaces by committing to raising the funds at $1000 per parking space for 76 spaces. Another option was sponsoring four trees and landscaping at $500 a tree for the center.
He explained the plan: every person at the event who signed up would in turn talk to four other people and ask them to help him or her to complete the target.
A dozen or so hesitant hands raised their hands to be part of the campaign. By the end of the evening around 20 people had signed up for the Sadaqah Jahriyah project.
A sister attending the town hall donated her jewelry and this was auctioned. Khan relayed that a community member had knocked on doors and was given a donation of $10,000 and others should follow suit.
Women from the community, primarily Srs. Shanaz and Amy arranged a bake sale to raise funds for the masjid. They look forward to having a place to meet and conduct activities for the women and girls in Germantown. The women in the community attending the town hall were bubbling with fundraising ideas and want to make sure that their voices and suggestions are heard by the leadership.
ISG has gone the professional route to build the masjid and will not use volunteer labor. The administration says they needed contractors who have the bandwidth to build the masjid in one year, because they are “running out of time.”
Khan asked the audience to share their reservations and questions about the project. Questions from the audience included requests for an easier way to decimate information, people in the Boyds area were not receiving emails from ISG.
Youth made an announcement that many of the college-aged community members are excited about the masjid and they will be forming an ISG Youth Facebook page to increase involvement as that is where most of the youth get their information.
Khan believes that this masjid will be built. “If we don't do it, someone else will build this masjid.” He recalled the time when they were buying the property and had 90 days to raise $275,000 and it seemed like a miracle but they were able to raise the money.
The community prays for another miracle. To donate or get involved, visit isgtown.org.