September 7 Dinner Final Push for Home of the Heart Campaign, With Settlement a Few Weeks Away, Community Asked to Make Dua'
The campaign to develop a 66-acre education and community campus in Howard County, Maryland has entered a critical, final few weeks; on September 26, 2014 Dar-us-Salaam needs to have about $10 million in the bank to settle on the former catholic school campus.
An email sent last week asked all community members – especially mothers and fathers – to ask Allah to help Dar-us-Salaam acquire the property.
Dar-us-Salaam raised about $3.6 million for the effort, called “Home of the Heart”, since they announced their intention to purchase the property in August 2012. At a major fundraising dinner last December, about $1.9 million was raised; much of that amount was pledged and is still trickling in. “In order to close on the property, we need those pledges fulfilled in the next two weeks,” said Sayeed Jaweed, the head of Dar-us-Salaam's finance department.
Another fundraising dinner, called “This is It,” is planned for Sunday, September 7 at the North Bethesda Marriott. Sheikh Abdullah Idris Ali and Imam Siraj Wahaj will be at the event to help raise the funds, in shaa Allah. Dar-us-Salaam is hoping for another record-breaking event.
“This entire project of Dar-us-Salaam – the [Al-Huda] school and all the services we've been providing to the Muslim community for twenty years – [it has] always been a miracle in operation. We work as hard as we can to serve Allah, and in the end Allah always supports us from places we did not anticipate. So, as long as we keep working and keep making sincere dua to Allah, good things will keep happening,” said Dar-us-Salaam founder and Imam Brother Safi Khan. “We have the resources in our own community to fund this purchase, and even develop it into the campus we envision, but it means everyone must share the vision and take it as their own,” explained Brother Safi Khan.
Howard County sold the 66-acre property to the former Woodmont Academy after the academy's initial property purchase – also in western Howard County – was strongly opposed by area residents. Howard County solved the dispute by offering to sell the 66-acre property to Woodmont. Since it is not located in a residential neighborhood and has access to Route 32 and Interstate-70 via Frederick Road, no residents opposed Woodmont's conditional use application which called for a campus of 325,000 square feet of buildings for around 1,900 students and staff. Dar-us-Salaam's proposal – which is being strongly opposed by residents – calls for 275,000 square feet of buildings for 2,000 users comprised of an 800-person K-12 school and a masjid for 1200 worshipers.
Despite the large, organized, and well funded opposition in the “Residents for the Responsible Development of Woodmont,” the Howard County Department of Planning & Zoning issued a staff report on February 27, 2014 strongly favoring approval of Dar-us-Salaam's plan, and on May 13, 2014, after a series of public hearings where both Dar-us-Salaam and the opposition presented their arguments and evidence, Howard County officially approved the plan. The opposition has appealed the approval.
“This is a golden opportunity for the Muslim community – a property previously zoned for a large school campus with millions of dollars invested into preparing it for development. We are at the verge of a huge opportunity [and] this is especially true when it comes to sports and recreational facilities for our youth and sisters. Currently there are no sports fields and recreational facilities dedicated to Muslim youth and Muslim sisters. This property has the land and the approvals. This is it, it's what we've all been waiting for,” said Brother Safi Khan.
For more information on the Sunday, September 7 “This is It” event, or to donate, visit www.homeoftheheart.org.