The area of downtown Los Angeles will soon feature a beautiful new Islamic landscape. Masjid Bilal Islamic Center, the city's oldest Muslim community, has forged ahead with construction of a new Masjid and community center in the heart of Los Angeles.
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 and feature a beautiful 65 foot-tall minaret.
Strong project support from generous donors has fueled the building process. Contributions have come from across the nation for Masjid Bilal. However, with a final price tag near $5 million, there is still a long way to go for 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 wood framing is mostly complete at Masjid Bilal, and the dome is covered. They are now completing construction of the 65 foot-tall minaret, which was built in sections and then set in place by a huge-towering crane on Central Avenue. This event was a spectacle for the entire Los Angeles community, given the historical past of the Central Avenue district.
"Every week, we have progress. The progress is unbelievable," stated Sitita, who has been instrumental in constructing the minaret and raising money for the project.
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.
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," added Radwan.
"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."
Erecting the 65ft minaret at Masjid Bilal
Artist's rendering of new Masjid Bilal
LADOT Trolley drives by Masjid Bilal construction site