Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley Continues to Serve the Community
By Rafique S.M. Ahmed

Rafique Ahmed

More 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

The 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 Jehan Mohammadi.
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!


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.