Groundbreaking of Masjid-e-Bilal
By Zaki Syed
from the Holy Qur’an
When the Islamic Society of
Folsom (ISF) announced its plans to build a mosque they were
met with protests throughout the city. People were skeptical
of a Muslim presence, believing in stereotypes of Muslims
as terrorists and extremists. However, on April 14, 2007,
ISF celebrated the groundbreaking for Folsom Masjid - Masjid-e-Bilal.
This time there wasn’t even a single protester in sight.
How did ISF take a negative situation and turn it into a positive
one? They did it through dedication and commitment in one
area: community outreach.
“We went to churches, rotary clubs… and explained
to them the true meaning of Islam,” said Riaz Siddique,
president of ISF, “And that calmed people down.”
Siddique told people from the bottom of his heart that Islam
condemns terrorism, and that terrorism has absolutely no place
ISF also reached out to the Folsom City Council, which in
turn reached out to them. Kerri Howell, city council member,
commented on the support ISF received from the Folsom City
Council during the protest.
scholars before the event
“There is a separation
of church and state,” said Howell, “At the same
time it is our duty (City Council) to ensure there is tolerance
for different races and religions.”
Like Howell, Eric King, Vice Mayor for the City of Folsom,
is also accepting of different faiths. “It’s exciting…
and it’s great that this is (Masjid-e-Bilal) going to
be a part of our community,” said King before the groundbreaking
The ceremony was held outside on the construction site, and
in front of the entrance ISF volunteers had planted an American
“They (Muslims) wanted to make a statement that they
belong to this land (America),” said Imam Aziz of SALAM,
“And they’re celebrating being able to build a
Masjid in it.”
The celebrations began at around 11 am when attendees were
ushered into a makeshift tent for the start of the groundbreaking
The ceremony began with a recitation of the Holy Qur’an,
followed by a speech from Sheikh Aamir who talked about equality
and diversity in Islam. Folsom Mayor Andy Morin and Folsom
City Council member also said a few words of encouragement
to the Muslim community.
“Your dream has started to become a heavenly reality,”
said Morin. Morin’s wife had a broken foot, and he had
to take his son to an extracurricular event. Despite all of
this Morin said he wanted to make it a point to welcome the
Muslim community in Folsom.
Jeff Starsky, Folsom City Council member agreed. “One
of the greatest things in the United States is religious freedom,”
said Starsky. “I will fight and defend your religious
freedom and I hope you will do the same for me,” he
added. Starsky believes that it is important to break down
the barriers of ignorance in Folsom, so that people of the
citycan truly understand Islam.
Devin Morin, freshman at Folsom High School and son of Mayor
Andy Morin, also believes that education is a crucial step
for understanding. “We need to educate ourselves and
others, and remember that we are all American.”
During the groundbreaking ceremony there was an onslaught
of rain that created a messy situation. However, the attendees
were not deterred.
“It’s a beautiful day, Allah’s mercy is
on us,” said Rashid Bin Quadir Thomas, member of Board
of Directors at Masjid Ibrahim.
Hafiz Shaheer Zafir agreed saying that despite the rain the
groundbreaking ceremony had a great significance. “Very
special day, it means a lot… I have been praying for
this day to come,” said Hafiz Shaheer. Hafiz Shaheer
believes the masjid is a central part of the Muslim community
and that it brings the Muslim community together.
The groundbreaking ceremony did bring together Muslims from
all over the greater Sacramento Area.
“I am thrilled to see all these people, at this event.
It shows that the Muslim community really cares,” said
Ali Siddiqui, Los Rios community college student.
To conclude the groundbreaking ceremony attendees grabbed
shovels and dug into the ground. It signified the first step
towards the building of the Masjid Bilal. While digging the
attendees were laughing, joking, as joy filled their faces
on seeing their dream come true!
“It was very fun, and I am excited because we are going
to have a place to pray,” said 11-year-old Tulaib Zafir.
Zafir said that breaking the ground brought the Muslim community
together and will make them more strong in the future.
Omar Siddiqui, Senior at Belle Vista High School agreed with
Zafir’s observation. “The collective effort put
in building a masjid always brings the community together,”
Masjid Bilal will be completed in 18 months and will include
a two-story building with over 30,000 sq ft of space comprising
seven class rooms, a library, a computer room and principal’s
office, a multi purpose hall for school use and community
functions and a prayer overflow area.
The Masjid is a place where the community members can give
the kids the best education, teach them good values, and make
them loyal US citizens according to Riaz Siddiqui. However,
if we, the Muslim Ummah doesn’t work hard then mosques
will start to become extinct in America.
Islam has been portrayed negatively by the media and because
of that people are more resistant to the construction of mosques
in their community. Therefore it is up to us to show and educate
others about the true meaning of Islam. It is not good enough
for us to be just American; we have to be 100% American. Each
and every one of us has to be the model of patriotism, loyalty,
and hard work. ISF through community outreach, and hard work
was able to show the City of Folsom what Islam truly represents.
Community outreach can be done, it has been done, and it needs
to be done so that we can preserve our mosques. Remember having
fun is important, but so is Jannah. Educate others, and do
it for Allah! Do it for Allah!