SALAM Mosque Officially Opens in Sacramento
By Ras H. Siddiqui
The Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims (SALAM) has certainly come a long way from its late 1980’s inception as a P.O. Box. Today, as one drives or walks by American River College in Sacramento, a beautiful building with an impressive dome greets the eyes. The Salam Masjid & Center for Higher Islamic Learning is ready for the community to visit, pray in, and learn about Islam. The Moorish architecture alone is so attractive that the usually drab College Oak Drive appears to have undergone a facelift. The official opening for this structure took place on Friday, April 29, 2011 but this report had to be delayed a week due to international events.
The Stars and Stripes flying high greets visitors first when they approach the premises. One can never ignore the fact that this is an American Masjid (mosque) and Islamic center, one which has successfully integrated itself into Sacramento’s religious and ethnic diversity over the past two decades. And when officials from the State of California, Sacramento County, City and local and federal law enforcement showed up at the Grand Opening Reception on a busy Friday, it was hardly surprising. Neither was the State Assembly Resolution passed for this opening.
Guided tours of small groups from officialdom plus the local mainstream and interfaith community were conducted by SALAM’s enthusiastic volunteers. This scribe had the opportunity to accompany a couple of these groups while they journeyed through the facility, its ablution area, fitness center, library and the main prayer hall. After entering the praying area under the dome, the shoeless visitors were in for a treat. The lighting (through the skylights) and the acoustics (under the dome) plus the beautiful Arabic calligraphy gracing the circular wall generated a great deal of interest as did the separate designated areas for male and female worshippers, a topic which generated both questions and comments.
After the tours and fine Middle Eastern food and refreshments, everyone congregated at the new SALAM Center auditorium where SALAM’s Imam opened the formalities with the customary invocation in Arabic and its English translation. The audience also heard from the SALAM Board of Trustees, the Project Manager of the Phase III effort (which included this Masjid) and other leading members of SALAM community including some of its founding members. Awards of recognition were given to three individuals who had been instrumental in bringing this project to its completion.
To conclude, it was once again heartening to see Sacramento’s diversity present at the opening of this new SALAM Mosque. In an era when everything Muslim often gets political, it is great to note that the religion of Islam is sharing its beliefs with its neighbors and friends who originate from just about everywhere in the world right here in America. Congratulations to all who participated in making this Mosque a reality.