By Helena Silva –
A new mosque, the Muslim Community Center of Tempe, is being added to an existing community center in northwest Tucson. The mosque will add about 7,500 square feet to the already 12,650 square feet which currently houses a gym and classrooms. The addition will feature a dome and minaret. Construction is slated to be completed by the first quarter of 2017.
Drawings of the new mosque should be submitted to the county next week by the Muslim Community Center of Tucson. The first phase of the community-funded mosque, the community center, cost nearly $800,000. This new phase, the mosque itself, will cost an estimated $750,000 – money that the community is still raising.
The community center construction started in November 2014 although the idea to create a center where families and young people could get together dates to 2003. Ahmed Gaber, a board member, told the Arizona Daily Star, “The whole idea is to service the Muslim community in all of its aspects, whether the religious needs or the social needs.”
Parts of the community center are already open to the public. The center is providing health clinics for the community, Arabic classes and monthly events for families. For Friday prayers, the gym is converted to a prayer space.
As the Muslim community in Tucson continues to grow, the major mosque in the area, the Islamic Center of Tucson, has struggled to accommodate worshipers. Not only has lack of space been a concern, but parking and traffic also have been problems due to its location. The mosque’s board members hope the new space will alleviate some of the concerns over crowding as well as provide additional features that could benefit the growing community.
The Islamic Center of Tucson (ICT), located near the University of Arizona, will continue to serve the community in that area. Recently, the mosque has faced problems with residents of neighboring apartments tossing debris into the parking lot. In an interview with the Daily Star, however, outgoing ICT president Ahmed Meiloud said, “The ICT caters to primarily students, professors, people on campus and working in that area of town. It’s in a central location and has no plans to relocate anywhere.”
The neighboring Northside Church of Christ offered the new mosque its parking lot to accommodate the growing Friday prayers at the new location. They were in the same position 30 years ago, and they just did what they hoped someone could have done for them at the time. “Our neighbors opened our hearts and our imagination,” said Maqsood Ahmad, a board member, talking about the relationship between the Muslim community and Northside Church of Christ to the Tucson newspaper.