Small Community Travels Over Two Hours to Fundraise in DC Area
The Islamic Society of Central Virginia (ISCV) raised over $140,000 at its annual fundraiser, held on Sunday, September 6, at the Marriott in Tysons Corner.
The event, which was attended by only about 125 people -- less than half of what organizers expected -- exceeded the fundraising goal for the night, an outcome which Imam Siraj Wahaj, a guest speaker at the event, called “probably the best fundraiser I have ever been to.”
The event was held to raise funds for the “phase two” portion of construction of the Islamic Society of Central Virginia mosque, located in Charlottesville in central Virginia, about two and a half hours southwest of Washington DC.
Phase one, the construction of the building’s outer shell, is almost complete but still not usable, explained ISCV Vice Chairman Karim Mohammed, who described the structure as an “egg without the yolk.”
The community is now using a thirty-year-old house which can only hold about one hundred people for prayers and other masjid services. Other than its tiny size, the house also has problems with plumbing and radiation, which worshippers have to deal with every day.
Imam Wahaj, who led the fundraising portion of the program, emphasized the importance of a strong masjid community during his speech, and cited a February 9, 2009 article in “USA Today,” which explained that the Muslim population is growing rapidly in the United States. This growth can be credited to the presence of strong masjid communities, according to Imam Wahaj. He also served as the first donor of the evening with a personal contribution, a contribution from his organization Masjid Taqwa in Brooklyn, and a pledge for a third personal contribution.
Other donors included a cancer patient who donated and asked for prayers in return and a man who vowed to donate half of the cost of his house if he could sell it within two months. The fundraiser also included an auction, in which valuable items such as a bronze watch, large Persian rug, ipod touch, and various Islamic home décor pieces were sold.
Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick, another well-known speaker at the event, spoke about the revelation of Surah Kauthar to the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him). Dr. Quick explained he was “pleasantly surprised” at the outcome of the event. “I came here to help shed light on the development of this mosque, which is not in a major city,” said Dr. Quick, referring to the Charlottesville reputation for being a small, quiet town. “I’m also here to be with Imam Siraj. I pray to Allah that this masjid gets completed quickly.”
The small-town nature of Charlottesville was cited throughout the night as being a reason for the community and the masjid not to be as well known as some other Islamic communities in Virginia. Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia, is densely populated by students. Many displaced Muslim refugees from war-torn parts of the world such as Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan are also located in Charlottesville. According to ISCV President Emaad Abdel-Rahman, this is precisely why the community is in such absolute need for a mosque.
“The students here are active with the masjid and we have worked together on projects such as Habitat for Humanity, Impact [a social justice program], and PACEM, a local shelter, to help distribute food to the needy. They want to have an impact on the community and need a designated place to come together,” said Abdel-Rahman.
“There are many refugees here who need help to get on their feet and to live comfortably, and their children need an Islamic environment they can attach themselves to,” added Abdel-Rahman, whose eleven-year-old twin boys have spent their whole lives waiting to see the masjid finally established.
Dr. Seemi Baig, whose two children are students at the University of Virginia, attended the fundraiser because of the role the ISCV community has played in the lives of her children. “I feel comfortable knowing there is an Islamic community at UVA for my kids to go to when they are away at school,” said Baig. “There is a positive impact and they feel as if they have support. This masjid is just a tiny house, and they need prayers and financial help to get more Muslims in one place.”
To donate to the Islamic Center of Central Virginia masjid project, visit http://donate.charlottesvillemasjid.org/default.aspx?a=0.