At a critical stage in its history, the Islamic Center of Maryland (ICM) in Gaithersburg held a Spring Fundraiser on April 5, 2014 at the University of Maryland Shady Grove Campus and raised over $120,000 for the 45,000 sq. ft. ICM Islamic School, Youth and Community Center.
“We ask the community to help us build one of the largest center in the country— [the] ICM Islamic School, Youth and Community Center,” Wael Elkoshairi, chairman of the board of trustees, encouraged the attendees to enjoin in the good as the community aspires to greatness — great children and great facilities.
ICM recently completed the Land Development and Storm Water Management (SWM) work at a cost of $1.9 million as required by Montgomery County regulations. Groundbreaking for this project was held on the ICM grounds on May 13, 2012. The management now awaits building permits from the Department of Permitting Services. “Everything under the ground is prepared for the building — [the] next step is to attain building permit — in the next few months ICM will reach out to engineers and architects [from the community] to build the masjid, inshaAllah,” said Elkoshairi.
‘This is a footprint for generations after us; the legacy that we leave behind us,” he said. He compared their efforts to the interfaith community that surrounds them in Montgomery County. Reminding the audience of the Quranic verse that ‘verily you are the best of people’ and can achieve the best, he thanked the supporters for coming and asked them to enjoy the program.
The estimated minimum cost for the building construction is $7 million and together with the cost of land development and Storm Water Management is $9 million. Iqbal Yousuf, the board of trustee in charge of fundraising, said that so far $3 million has been raised for ICM Islamic School, Youth, & Community Center “The largest donations we have received have been $10,000 and we only got few of those. This is truly a community project, made up of small donations from regular folks,” he said in an interview with the Muslim Link. ICM usually hosts fundraisers three times a year, one in spring, one in the beginning of Ramadan, and one in winter for this project. The fund raiser on the 27th night of Ramadan is dedicated to raising fund for Masjid operations.
Currently, ICM offers five daily prayers, organizes 7 Jumah salah at six locations across Montgomery County and up to 10,000 people attend their Eid Salah. It has a very active social service program including distributing zakah to people in need from the whole DC Metro region. ICM has hired a dedicated social service worker to expand the services to community. It has a Sunday school with more than 400 students. Recently it launched ICM Quran Institute headed by Sheikh Khamis Hassanin. ICM together with Islamic Society of Frederick and Islamic Society of Western Maryland opened the first all Muslim cemetery in the state of Maryland under the Islamic WAQF of Maryland.
ICM was incorporated on January 20, 1991, but came into existence in 1989 when congregational prayers were organized at the Bechtel Corporation building. The current location was purchased in 1995. The Gaston Gardens nursery was facing economical difficulties and was being auctioned off by the Small Business Association (SBA). A few brothers bid on the land, but despite good intentions they didn’t win the bid. With Allah’s permission, a few days later the winner decided that he didn’t want the property and SBA came back to ICM, accepting their offer of $750,000. The community had $200,000 and was committed to non-interest bearing financing. The SBA agreed to a zero interest loan and in a short period the land was paid off.
25 years later, the virtual plan prepared by Amr Sallam, AIA for the 45,000 sq. ft. facility that ICM is planning to build was shown to the supporters at the fundraiser. It transported the audience to a 600 sq. ft. lobby with a double story atrium, a main corridor flanked with flags of all nations leading to large multi-purpose halls for banquets. Visions of Eid Salah and taraweeh in a space of their own instead of renting places around town, of basketball games in the 10,000 sq. ft. gymnasium, which can be partitioned, filled the room. They imagined hanging out in the lounge, with food catered from the 794 sq. ft. state of the art kitchen, complete with a pantry. Art exhibits in the large activity room, planned for the second floor, next to the vending machines, a library, a childcare center, facility for seniors excited the audience. Sport events in the field and future Mafiq debates in the building- that’s the purpose for the center, said the presenter, Sayed Naved.
Rashika Rahman, a sixth grader who has been a part of the ICM Sunday School for the past 7 years, spoke about challenges with growing up Muslim in America. The eloquent middle schooler shared why kids like her need a place to socialize in an Islamic environment, so that they will be able to practice Islam without fear of intimidation, “Every dollar counts, please everyone empty out your pockets and purses,” said the confident girl.
“For vast majority of young Muslim, safeguarding faith, values, and practicing Islam are very difficult due to lack of good environment,” Yousuf appealed, ”we need to provide them with Islamic environment where they can learn and grow.”
ICM management believes that they can get the building up in 18 months if properly funded. “By 2016 we can have a fulltime Islamic school at ICM, where children will not only be taught the Quran, Sunnah, Islamic Studies but also will be trained to develop as critical thinkers to provide thought leadership. They will learn the tool[s] to communicate, and collaborate. They will be taught the value of entrepreneurship and public service so that they will not only be an asset to our community and to the larger American society; it will help improve the image of Islam and Muslim in America; therefore building ICM Islamic School, Youth & Community Center is an investment in our current generation and our greatest gift to many future generations, ” said Yousuf.
“Few take the burden of many,” he said to the sparse crowd.
“You came out tonight because you love Allah —today is a love affair,” said Shaykh Yaseen of the Islamic Society of Baltimore as he conducted the fundraising. “Islam is an amanah and we have a duty to continue propagating this message, but that requires institutions.”
“We don’t appreciate what our children experience to stay Muslim: our children are suffering intense peer pressure,” he said. “We are falling short on providing Islamic education for our children.”
Georgetown chaplain Imam Yahya Hendi’s family had come down from Frederick to support the ICM community, as did families of leaders from the Germantown masjid and other communities.
Omair Ahmed started with his $10,000 donation. By 9:00 p.m. $60,000 was raised and that amount was nearly doubled by 9:30 p.m. Despite the sparse crowd, the community reached a solid milestone as the evening ended on the track to building one of the the largest Muslim community center in the North East.