Islamic Center of San
Gabriel Valley Continues to Serve the Community
By Rafique S.M. Ahmed
than twenty-five years ago, brother Mohammed Ghousuddin and
his wife, sister Sardar Sultana moved to California from Pakistan
l to spend their golden years of retirement with their children.
They were disappointed to learn that there was not a single
Masjid located in the entire San Gabriel Valley. The only
two Masajid at that time were at least forty miles away to
the west, in Los Angeles and to the south, in Garden Grove.
Brother Ghousuddin did not know how to drive and, therefore,
was unable to visit either Masjid by himself. Having been
a very religious and pious individual, he felt extremely frustrated
on repeatedly missing Friday prayers. His wife, Sr. Sardar
Sultana, who was a well known and respected visionary Urdu
poet from Pakistan, could not bear to see her husband’s
helplessness and frustration every Friday, and came up with
a solution which in fact laid the foundation for establishing
what is now known as the Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley.
Sister Sardar Sultana instructed both of her sons, Vaseem
and Wasif Siddiqui to spread the word that Friday congregational
prayers will be offered at Vaseem’s home in the city
of San Dimas every Friday. This news created an overwhelming
response and a handful of Muslims from surrounding communities
started attending the prayers led by brother Ghousuddin. In
addition to weekly Friday prayers, during the holy month of
Ramadan, brother Ghousuddin led Taraweh prayers at his other
son, Wasif’s home in San Dimas. By this time, attendance
started to grow rapidly and sister Sardar Sultana consistently
started floating the idea of establishing a separate Masjid;
one that would offer daily prayer service five times a day
and provide basic Islamic education to Muslim children. Most
of the founding members of the Islamic Center of San Gabriel
Valley have confirmed that Sr. Sardar Sultana was the one
who convened the very first meeting of the growing Muslim
community in the San Gabriel Valley.
Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley
first meeting was held at brother Mazaher Hussain Sheikh’s
house and was attended by about thirty-five people. Dr. Maher
Hathout, a prominent Muslim scholar and the Director of the
Islamic Center of Los Angeles, also attended this meeting.
He strongly supported Sr. Sardar Sultana’s proposal
and stressed the need for more Islamic centers and schools
throughout Southern California. Dr. Hathout also encouraged
all the attendees to establish an Islamic Center in this area.
The meeting was adjourned with a unanimous decision to form
an Islamic Center. The legal paperwork filed shortly thereafter
facilitated the establishment of the first Islamic Center
in the San Gabriel Valley. Articles of Incorporation for the
Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley (ICSGV) as a non-profit
religious organization were signed and filed by Wasif A. Siddiqui
and Mazaher H. Sheikh in 1982.
Without the unwavering dedication, commitment, generosity,
spirit of volunteerism and cooperation of the following founding
members, the Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley would not
be here today:
Br. Dr. Bashir Ahmad, Br. S.M. Afzal Hussain, Br. Mazaher
H. Sheikh, Br. Shabbir Khan, Br. Abubakr Vakil, Br. Wasif
A. Siddiqui, Br. Vaseem A. Siddiqui, Br. Haroon Parekh, Br.
Saeed-ur-Rehman Horani, Br. Dr. Rafique Rangoonwala, Br. Ahmed
Tai, Br. Rashed Mohammadi, Br. Mohammed Ghousuddin, Br. Zia
Zaman, Sr. Sardar Sultana, Sr. Nargis Tai, Sr. Dr. Rizwana
B. Hussain, Sr. Iffat Khan, Sr. Gul Zaman and Sr. Dr. Noor
Elections for the first Board of Directors of the newly established
Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley were also held at brother
Mazaher Sheikh's house. The very first task the newly elected
Board undertook was the establishment of the Islamic Weekend
School in the summer of 1982. A classroom was rented at Lorbeer
Middle School in Diamond Bar to offer prayers and also hold
classes for the weekend school. Initially, two classes on
primary and intermediate levels of Islamic education were
offered. Dr. Noor Jehan Mohammadi, a well-respected educator
with over twenty years of teaching experience from Pakistan,
prepared the curriculum for the Islamic school. It was a very
humble beginning for the Islamic school with only 14 students
attending the initial classes.
As enrollment of students rapidly grew, the venue of the Islamic
school relocated to the Diamond Bar High School. This new
larger space was much needed and allowed for the Islamic Center
to offer more classes. In 1983, Dr. Maher Selim was elected
as the President of ICSGV. During Dr. Selim’s term as
President, the Board decided in 1983 to lease two units in
a commercial building on Colima Road in Rowland Heights. The
building provided the capacity to accommodate more students
in the weekend school program and offer daily prayers five
times a day. During this time, Brother Mohammed Ghousuddin
served as the first Imam of ICSGV until June 1984, when he
suffered a severe stroke and became physically incapacitated.
Throughout the years, there have been many generous community
members who have supported the Islamic Center of San Gabriel
Valley both financially and through volunteering their time.
Brother Usman Vakil, a concerned and active member of the
community, provided much needed financial assistance during
the initial stages of the Center. He not only covered the
monthly operating expenses at the Colima Road facility for
more than two years, but along with other community members,
he donated generously to help the Center purchase a property
located in Rowland Heights which was converted into the present
Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley.
Today, the Center is a beautiful symbol of our Islamic community
in the San Gabriel Valley. The aesthetic features of the Masjid
would not have been made possible without the help of Brother
Abubakr Vakil, a founding member of the ICSGV. Br. Abubakr
Vakil assumed full responsibility for remodeling the structure,
and actively participated in supervising each and every aspect
of the construction process. He did a magnificent job in converting
the property from a church into a beautiful Islamic Center.
The Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley continued to rapidly
grow and started purchasing adjacent properties that were
put up for sale by the neighbors. Today, the Islamic Center
consists of a large prayer hall, a multi-purpose facility,
a health clinic, classrooms and housing for the Imam. The
current and permanent location of ICSGV was inaugurated in1985
and was named "Masjid Quba.”
The Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley has come a long way
in the past twenty-five years and has offered valuable services
on a regular basis.
The two visionary and pioneering founding members, brother
Mohammed Ghousuddin and sister Sardar Sultana, have since
passed away and are buried side by side only a few miles from
the Center in the Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, Calfiornia.
May Allah bless them and keep their vision of a great Islamic
Center of San Gabriel Valley flourishing for many, many years
to come. Ameen!