By Hanna Rahman –
When the Scottsdale community outgrew their mosque, the youth of the Islamic Center of the North East Valley (ICNEV) pushed for a new masjid, in hopes of having a bigger place to learn, grow and pray. To help with the effort, they raised $124,517 through two different fundraisers. The vision began two years ago, when a growing community and increased masjid attendance moved the ICNEV leadership to build a bigger facility, but many credit the youth as primary motivating factor.
Construction began in 2014 and ended in the month of Ramadan in 2015. The total cost of building the new masjid was $1,250,000. Although the community had raised most of this money, the youth held two fundraisers to help raise the remaining $250,000 needed. They held one fundraiser on March 28 at ICNEV and another through LaunchGood, an online crowdfunding platform, during the month of April.
The new mosque is now complete and open to the community. The community prayed their first congregational prayer on May 31, 2015, while the masjid was still under construction. With this new space, the community hopes to include more people during the prayers and expand their educational programs.
As a young man, Usama Basha, 20, of Scottsdale was excited for a mosque to be near where he expected to grow as an individual and help future generations thrive. “Without an active community, the youth don’t get involved. And without the involvement of the youth, the community will fall apart,” said Basha.
Some believe the importance of an Islamic community center lies in its ability to bring together positive influences that can motivate the younger generation to be better. “It is a good environment to be in, good people to be around. It’s a good influence, it keeps the bad influences away from me,” said Yazin Jabed, 19, of Scottsdale.
The mosque’s history goes back to September 1998, when the Muslim families in the Northeast Valley met to contemplate the possibility of building a community masjid. The first Friday prayer was held on Sept. 8, 2000. Since then, the community outgrew the masjid’s capacity as hundreds gathered each week for the Friday prayer, each night of Ramadan for the optional Taraweeh prayer and for the Eid celebrations. Now, 15 years later, they have built an entirely new masjid upon request from the youth and to accommodate a still growing community.
Last year, ICNEV also launched Qur’an Academy, which had more than 70 students memorizing the Qur’an after school and on the weekends. After a successful first year, the Qur’an academy continues to teach children ages 5 and up how to properly recite and memorize the Qur’an. In addition, ICNEV has started Islamic School, which is intended for children ages 4 and up in order to develop a new generation of American Muslim leaders who are well versed in the Islamic sciences.
The Islamic center hopes to serve the older generation as well, while catering to the youth who were integral in its building and who raised funds for its construction. “Growing up in Scottsdale without a strong community, I feel like I have missed out a lot of opportunities to be a better Muslim. I think the youth will benefit with a healthy environment and make good choices,” said Issa Ismail, 22, of Scottsdale.