Muslim Community of Folsom Holds Fundraiser
By Ras H. Siddiqui
The Muslim Community of Folsom (MCF) is a relative newcomer to the Sacramento Islamic groupings in terms of having their own place of worship. This congregation which has its roots in the I-50 Technology Corridor outside Sacramento, California in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains can attribute its existence to employment at companies like Intel Corporation which has a huge presence in the Folsom area and remains its largest employer.
And where there is Intel there are South Asian and Middle Eastern origin engineers. The dominating segment of this grouping is the immigrant population from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh along with Palestinians and people from other Arab countries. And they seem like people in a hurry because not too long ago they completed the purchase of their Masjid building which they have now occupied at 391 S Lexington Drive, Folsom CA 95630. And they are already in Phase 2 of the project and in the process of buying the building next door to expand their Islamic School.
The MCF congregation is led by Imam Aamir Nazir, an articulate and popular figure in the community. It is not often that one meets someone like him here in the US. He is from South Africa; from a family of South-Asian origin and someone who has played some serious soccer and cricket in his life and has many trophies to share from his sporting life. In my conversation with him I discovered that he has even played cricket with Hashim Amla of the South African national team who is a devout Muslim and one of the finest cricketers in the game today. Imam Nazir has been leading the prayers at MCF now for about 10 years and is a firm believer in Muslim outreach to the mainstream community in the area.
The evening fundraising event started with a simple and delicious dinner catered by Kabab Corner Restaurant in West Sacramento. During the meal I had a chance to speak with three senior citizens from India, all parents of Intel engineers. The talked about setting up a senior citizens club a MCF so that the community could benefit from experience and have a place where retired people can gather. We also joked that this congregation at MCF was so confident of the community fundraising skills that it served dinner first. Many of our Muslim fundraising events keep the dinner last so that they can have a more captive attendance!
After prayers the main focus of this fundraising gathering was explained by Imam Nazir. The building adjacent to the Mosque was currently used for a full-time Islamic Elementary School, Folsom Educational Academy ( http://www.feaschool.com/ ) and for parking, both of which were being rented. This 2 nd Phase of the project was to carry out an option to purchase agreed upon earlier while the Masjid was being purchased. The price of the adjacent facility is just over 1 million dollars and with its purchase both the school and parking could become a permanent part of MCF and its future vision. A substantial savings was possible through this building purchase. Nadim Muhammad provided additional details to me here.
The guest speaker for the evening was Sheikh Alauddin El-Bakri from Saratoga who also conducted the fundraising. A dynamic speaker, Sheikh Alauddin presented a strong case for a holistic role of Islamic education here in America. He said that he visits many communities and that there was strong competition for resources out there. He added that donating money to Mosques and setting up Islamic centers was a great way to earn our blessings from Allah (SWT) but for a school and spreading of education there was a potential for even more. He explained the current situation which the Muslim community faces in America and the need of schools which can teach values and Deen. He added that we can afford to lose some money but we cannot afford to lose a son or daughter. He stressed the need for parents to spend more time with their children. He said that building schools was very important. He added that it was not rocket science because what happens at 1) Home 2) School and 3) The Public Square is what shapes the lives of our children.
There were approximately 200 people at this fundraiser and one can vouch both for their level of commitment to acquiring the school building and Sheikh Alauddin El-Bakri’s persuasiveness as over $270,000 was raised (direct donations and pledges) during this event which is a substantial sum.