Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Islamic Center of Irving is making a difference in the community

11th-Grade-Students-Haana-Javed-Fareen-Chowdhury
11th-Grade-Students-Haana-Javed-Fareen-Chowdhury

By:  Jackie Hardy, NDG Contributing Writer

With a total population of over 200,000 who call Irving home, Muslim residents make up approximately 30,000 to 40,000 of that population according to Imam Zia Sheikh of the Islamic Center of Irving (ICI).

In a post 9/11 world, Imam (pronounced ih-mahm – meaning spiritual leader in Arabic) has had to address the challenges many within the Muslim community have faced. This is a result of the negative public perception of Muslims following the tragic Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In a 2011 Pew Research Center survey, 28 percent of Muslim Americans reported being looked at with suspicion; 22 percent said they were called offensive names; and 21 percent indicated they were singled out by airport security.

Public Religion Research Institute reported the number of Americans who believe Muslims are working to subvert the Constitution rose from 23 percent in February 2012 to 30 percent in September 2012 according to an article entitled The Reality of Islamophobia in America published on the Council on American Islamic-Relations (CAIR) website.

“There is a fear that all Muslims are terrorists and we are here to change the law of the country,” explains Imam.

Imam Sheikh migrated to the United States in 1995 and began serving as a spiritual leader in 1996, then moved to Irving in 2005; where he presently serves as the spiritual leader with responsibilities of leading the prayers (five times daily), counseling, teaching and leading the services at the Mosque.

The over 40,000 square foot facility located at 2555 Esters Road is comprised with a Mosque, community center and K-12 private school equipped with a library, computer lab, cafeteria and 16 classrooms in addition to 14 portable classrooms.

Teachers at the Islamic School-Fareeda Abdur-Rahman (AP Englis grades 9-12) Nadia Abdur-Rahman (AP World & US History grades 9-12
Teachers at the Islamic School-Fareeda Abdur-Rahman (AP Englis grades 9-12) Nadia Abdur-Rahman (AP World & US History grades 9-12

ICI is a place many Muslim residents of Irving can come and feel safe from some of outside prejudices they may encounter within their respective non-Muslim communities as well as a place non-Muslims can come to learn the truths about the Islamic faith; ultimately helping them dispel some of the myths and untruths about their religion and culture.

According to Imam, statistics show non-Muslim Americans will have a favorable and/or better perception of Muslims once they have been educated about their beliefs.

The Center provides a broad range of services that range in counseling, tutoring and facilitating religious lectures about their faith; in addition to being a place of worship and a facility that houses the school which has received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

“We are planning to expand the facility to an additional 96,000 square feet to house a floor with a multi-purpose room and 16 additional classrooms,” adds Imam.

Imam advised that all monies raised to support the construction efforts have strictly come from donations as they are in Phase II of the construction development project.

The continued growth in enrollment has warranted the need for expanding as the school currently serves 400 plus full-time students and an additional 150 part-time students.

ICI extends its services outside of the Center through its various community outreach initiatives.  A few of their previous outreach programs have included opening their Center for the displaced residents affected by Hurricane Katrina; sponsoring health fairs with the American Muslim Women’s Physician Association; and collaborating with Northwood Baptist Church of Keller to help rebuild homes of tornado victims. They also have partnered locally with Greater Days of Service, an interdenominational organization that renews neighborhoods and provides home restoration of properties for homeowners.

“….the community Ramadan dinner they host every year has been attended by community leaders… overall I think they are a contribution to the City especially in the area of humanitarian contributions, so from my perspective they really have tried to make a difference…,” remarks Irving City Councilman Dennis Webb of Place 3.

ICI recently partnered with Texas Organizing Project to host a health care workshop in the effort to educate the public on the Affordable Care Act that became effective in early October.  According to Brianna Brown, Lead Health Care Organizer of Texas Organizing Project, there were over 150 attendees at the event which was their largest health care workshop in Dallas County.  Brown accredits ICI for the successful turnout due in large part to their strong promotional efforts within the community.

“Their reputation throughout the community especially in the non-profit world of services is really stellar,” adds Brown.

“Imam Zia and the members of the Islamic Center of Irving are some of the best neighbors and citizens any community in America would be proud to have. They are devoted to God and they show divine compassion for people in need,” adds Anthony Bonds, Irving community activist.

For more information about current and future events, contact ICI via email at outreach@irvingmasjid.org or via phone at 972-812-2230, extension 1005.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Jackie, good job!

    Your report is the case of doing things whole heartedly or not doing at all. I am glad you concluded with, ““Imam Zia and the members of the Islamic Center of Irving are some of the best neighbors and citizens any community in America would be proud to have. They are devoted to God and they show divine compassion for people in need,” adds Anthony Bonds, Irving community activist. “

    Indeed, a majority of Muslims anywhere are good neighbors. Imam Zia is a rare breed of Imams, who understands the concept of being a good neighbor very well and inculcates those values among his congregation. There are at least 20 verses in Quran that emphasize one’s responsibility to his neighbor.

    To give you an idea of the value placed on responsibility to neighbor – once Prophet’s associates ask him who would earn the grace of God more – they gave an example of a man who was drunk, did not pray to God, but when the evening comes around, he would knock on his neighbors doors and share his food with those who were hungry against a pious man who prays all the times. The answer is obvious, such is the emphasis placed on obligation to neighbor.

    The ICI is also a center for interfaith dialogue. Just FYI, Prophet Muhammad was the first religious man to hold interfaith conferences in his mosque with Jews, Christians and others. He would even offer them to pray in his mosque knowing very well that they pray differently, such was his faith in God and respect for the otherness of others – aka Pluralism.

    Mike Ghouse, speaker
    World Muslim Congress

  2. I think Imam meant Dallas. The dallas muslim population is provided at this site – http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/irmxh

    it says – “Texas has the eighth-largest Muslim population in the United States. In 1990 there were approximately 140,000 Muslims in Texas, which represented 0.7 percent of the state population and 2.8 of the total Muslim population in the United States. Most Muslims are concentrated in the urban centers of the state. Houston has some twenty-two Islamic centers and mosques and a Muslim population of 57,000, and Dallas has fifteen centers and 30,000 Muslims. The Muslim population is 4,000 in Fort Worth and 3,000 in Arlington. Austin and San Antonio each have 5,000, El Paso has 1,500, and there are small Muslim communities in Bryan-College Station, Corpus Christi, and Kingsville. Among the more prominent Islamic organizations in the state are the Muslim Students Association, the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Arab Youth Association, the Islamic Circle of North America, and the Al Quaran-Was-Sunnah Society.”

  3. If they love their religion so much, why don’t they return to the middle east, where Sharia Law is in place, and enjoy living out their lives as devout Muslims there?

    There will be no Sharia Law in the United States of America. Ever.

  4. If we are a land that believes in our founding principles of Freedom of Religion – why do law abiding citizens or legal immigrants have to leave?

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