February 2, 2024 / Muslim News Magazine (Photo of Masjid Bilal Islamic Center by Malcolm Ali)
[Los Angeles, CA] – Muslims in America are contributing to the rich tapestry of religious diversity by actively engaging in the construction of mosques throughout the country. These efforts reflect the growing presence of the Muslim community in the United States and its commitment to fostering interfaith understanding, community engagement, and religious tolerance.
Mosques have long been centers of worship, community organization, and education for Muslims. Over the years, the Muslim population in America has steadily grown, creating a need for more places of worship and community gatherings. As a result, construction projects for new mosques have been on the rise in various cities and towns across the nation.
One of the notable examples is the construction of the Masjid Bilal Islamic Center in Los Angeles, which has been under construction for the past 5 years. This new multi-million dollar facility recently opened its doors in December and symbolizes the dedication of local Muslim communities to create a space for prayer, learning, and community engagement. The center also aims to promote dialogue and cooperation with people of other faiths in the area.
Imam Abdul Karim Hasan, who has been leader of the Masjid Bilal community for over 50 years, said, "Our new masjid is not just a place for Muslims to worship; it is a symbol of our commitment to building bridges of understanding and cooperation with our neighbors of all faiths."
Masjid Bilal Islamic Center is the first Masjid built in true Los Angeles of the new millennium, the last being Masjid Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, next to USC, nearly three decades ago.
"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," added Imam Hasan. "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."
These efforts extend beyond traditional places of worship. Many mosques include community centers, educational facilities, and programs aimed at addressing social issues and fostering interfaith dialogue. These initiatives not only serve the Muslim community but also contribute to the overall development and cohesion of the cities and towns where they are located.
"Our next step is to demolish the remaining old structure and begin construction of this wonderful multi-level community center, which will sit between the masjid and school," stated project director Hesham Sitita. "We're in the heart of Los Angeles, just blocks from downtown. We have a landmark here that will be a great addition to the community. It's a sign that we are an inclusive and diverse city, welcoming people of all faiths."
The construction of mosques also reflects the diversity within the Muslim community itself. Muslims in America come from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and this diversity is often reflected in the architectural design and cultural elements incorporated into their mosques. These structures serve as a visual representation of the rich tapestry of the Muslim American experience.
The development of mosques in America is not without its challenges, as some communities have faced opposition or bureaucratic hurdles during the planning and construction phases. However, many Muslim organizations and leaders are actively engaging with local communities to address concerns, promote dialogue, and build trust.
As America continues to evolve as a multicultural society, the construction of mosques plays a crucial role in showcasing the commitment of the Muslim community to coexist harmoniously with people of all faiths. These efforts serve as a testament to the values of religious freedom, diversity, and tolerance that are deeply rooted in the American ethos.