Despite the challenging times impacting us all, Masjid Bilal Islamic Center has continued its monumental effort to construct a new Masjid and community center in the heart of Los Angeles. On February 16, 2021, a beautiful new minaret was unveiled by construction workers that now towers over the area. At over 70 feet tall, it is the tallest minaret in California.
The project, located at the intersection of Central Avenue and Martin Luther King Blvd, has shown tremendous progress since construction began in 2019. Upon completion, the facility will encompass an entire city block. It's beautiful new is the tallest in California at 73 feet-tall.
Strong community support has fueled the building process with contributions coming from across the nation. However, with a short-fall still exceeding $1 million the project still has a long and difficult path to completion.
"We pay as we go," says Imam Abdul Karim Hasan, the community's long-time religious leader. "Allah has blessed us with some very hard-working and sincere people who have been very diligent in helping us raise funds to continue building."
Ahmed Radwan, who is chairman of Masjid Bilal's Fundraising Committee, has helped lead the fundraising effort. Working with local businessman Hesham Sitita, the two have dedicated themselves to seeing this historic project through completion.
"This is one the oldest (Muslim community) in California," said Radwan. "What we are doing is building a masjid from the ground up—with a minaret, you will be able to see from a long distance. We are aiming to open in the month of Ramadan. Can we do it? Yes, we can. If we put our hands together, Insha Allah, we can get it done."
The exterior is 75 percent complete at Masjid Bilal, with stucco and painting being most of the work. The new minaret has already become an Islamic beacon for the area.
"Every week, we have progress. The progress is unbelievable," stated Hesham Sitita, who was instrumental in building the minaret.
"We're in the heart of Los Angeles, one mile from downtown. We have a landmark here. If you can come by, stop and visit us," he added
Masjid Bilal Islamic Center will be the first Masjid built in true Los Angeles, for more than two decades and the first of the new millennium. It will also include a sprawling community center to serve the entire community.
"Remember this, we are not just talking about a Masjid, we're talking about a community center," added Imam Hasan.
"This will be a place where people can come and be orientated into the knowledge of the universality of Al-Islam and the faith of revelation — Where we can have classes to teach the people what they need to know. Language, ethics, etiquette, and those things that matter to us as a society. We are a society living within a society, and it's important that we get along."
Masjid Bilal is the oldest identifiable Muslim community in Los Angeles, spanning more than sixty years. The historic rebuilding project has been praised by city officials, many of whom have worked closely with Masjid Bilal over the years.
"We know what an important role this Mosque has played in our community—right here on Central Avenue," stated Councilman Curren Price from the ninth district of Los Angeles.
"This is going to be a facility not just for Muslims, but for others as well. We appreciate the unique role the Mosque is playing, not just in the development of resources for our kids, but for the contribution you're making up and down this corridor and in our city."
Building a Masjid and Community Center is phase two of a three-phase plan that the Bilal community has been working on since 1999. The first was a school, with construction completed in 2007.
Phase three involves a commercial facility, which will be a 5-story business and residential building unit. The city has already approved that permit.
"Please, please, we need your help and support," emphasized Ahmed Radwan, Chairman of the Masjid Bilal Fundraising Committee.
"Brothers and sisters, this is your opportunity for eternal and reoccurring blessings. Do not fool yourself, saying I still have my life ahead of myself. We do not know if we're going to make it tomorrow. Please, we ask each one of you to help us and help yourself and share this opportunity with everyone you know."
For more information or to make a donation, you can visit the Masjid Bilal Islamic Center website at www.masjidbilalonline.com