As so many other steadily growing Islamic centers in the region, the Islamic Society of the Washington Area (ISWA) needs more parking for its juma’ and ramadan prayers.
To measure the expansion rate of the Muslim community, simply consider that ISWA had its grand opening just two years ago in May 2010.
Now, ISWA is seeking permission from Montgomery County to pave over more of its property, mostly covered in grass. The County, which has arguably the strictest environmental codes in the region, wants ISWA to use pervious asphalt to allow water to flow back into the ground; the pervious material is far more costly than standard asphalt.
On Saturday, May 12, 2012, community leaders appealed to the congregation at a parking-focused fundraising dinner.
After 11 year old Zackariya Mohamed opened the program with a recitation of the Qur’an, Riyad Alie, an Executive member of the ISWA’s Board of Directors explained to the roughly 120 attendees the purpose of the gathering.
“I could say the theme here tonight is ‘park it’, both as a metaphor and in the literal sense [in that] our goal is to renovate our driveway and parking lot [and] we are always a work in progress,” said Alie.
Rooknudeen Ali, one of ISWA’s early members, reminded audience members about how ISWA started at the home of a community member. “We all contributed, we all put time in, and we all made it happen for us. Tonight we have another opportunity to write a few more pages in [our book of good deeds],” said Ali.
Next, Dr. Fazil Alie addressed the congregation, starting out with a personal anecdote about his granddaughter.
“When this 15-month old hears ‘Allahu Akbar’, she immediately goes into sujood … we could have just lived like ordinary Americans, but we formed a jama’, a place of identity so we can continue the path of Islam with our grandchildren,” said Alie.
Dr. Alie then went into the core issue of parking, noting that ISWA urgently needs to add 100 parking spaces to the existing 40 spaces. “We need to get our parking situation resolved or the authorities can close us down,” explained Alie. Some ISWA attendees resort to parking in a nearby shopping center which has resulted in written warnings from the shopping center owners that towing will be enforced.
ISWA Imam Faizul Khan told the congregation that Islam and Muslims are in the media spotlight like never before, and that Muslim American have more opportunities to “see a different light” because of the freedoms available in the United States.
Youssef Slitine conducted the fundraising, employing a “soft” approach and simply encouraging people to “look into your hearts and not your pocketbooks”.
“Make a deal with Allah, not with ISWA or Imam Faizul Khan, but with Allah. Then come back to me after one year and tell me where you are,” said Slitine, referring to a verse in the Qur’an.
The fundraising dinner brought in close to $30,000 of the $80,000 estimated for the parking lot. A silent auction was held during the dinner. ISWA Vice-President Zaimoon Hassan thanked all who donated towards the parking lot project and recognized Indus Foods for its contribution to the dinner.