DEARBORN — East Dearborn can soon look forward to a new mosque and prayer space thanks to the efforts of community members to develop an extension of the long-running Islamic Institute of Knowledge (IIOK) on Schaefer Road.
The new development will be significant in several ways. Named the “Mosque of the Prophet”, the new mosque will carry the name of the Prophet Muhammad, include Islamic house of worship architecture, provide a call to prayer (adhan) for the area and provide much needed prayer space for worshippers.
The IIOK was itself founded under the leadership of Imam Abdul Latif Berry in 1983, opening its current facility on Schaefer in 1998. In 2001, the institute also opened the American Islamic Academy, a K-12 school next door to the mosque.
Imam also wanted a mosque to have the look of a mosque, which the current IIOK facility does not have. The new Mosque of the Prophet will include distinctive minarets and dome currently under construction for worshippers in the area to recognize the presence of an Islamic house of worship, and will accommodate about 500 worshipers. – Dr. Ali Berry
The institute provides essential programming on education and youth and includes a Husseiniyya, or social hall, and an extensive library, classrooms and industrial kitchen.
But with a growing base of worshippers, the need for a dedicated prayer space arose. The Mosque of the Prophet project has taken five years. Thanks to a wildly successful fundraiser last Saturday, the project is now entering its second development phase is slated for a grand opening next fall.
Dr. Ali Berry, a board member at the IIOK and part of a committee that leads the project, spoke to The Arab American News this week.
“Over five years ago, Imam Abdul Latif Berry, my father, instructed the board members that during Ashura and Ramadan a lot of the procession does not have enough of a prayer hall,” Berry said. “Their prayer hall fits about 50 people, and when there are more people at the mosque, its very inconvenient for everyone.”
We wanted to make this mosque for everyone, to unite everyone and to be able to listen to adhan. — Dr. Belal Abdallah
When the IIOK had other commemorations such as funerals, the building didn’t have enough space. Berry said that the Imam also wanted a mosque to have the look of a mosque, which the current IIOK facility does not have. The new Mosque of the Prophet will include distinctive minarets and dome currently under construction for worshippers in the area to recognize the presence of an Islamic house of worship, and will accommodate about 500 worshipers.
“We acquired the adjacent property, a dollar store and its parking lot, and went through the approval process of the city and were supposed to get started, but the pandemic hit,” Berry said.
Dr. Belal Abdallah is the chairman of the Committee of Friends of the Mosque of the Prophet Project. Abdallah wanted to have a gala to celebrate the mosque, around the time of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, raise funds for the project and showcase the Prophet’s legacy to the area’s youth.
That goal led the committee to invite U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Dearborn Mayor-elect Abdullah Hammoud as keynote speakers to the gala last Saturday.
“We don’t have a standing mosque that looks like a mosque that young people can see in east Dearborn,” Abdallah told The Arab American News.
Abdallah said the committee has envisioned a mosque that would unite the ever-changing Muslim demographic in the neighborhood, especially now with a likely wave of Afghani immigrants to the area, and provide a space of worship for them.
“We wanted to make this mosque for everyone, to unite everyone and to be able to listen to adhan. So we had this theme of uniting everyone and we reached out to the community and it just took off.”
The gala on Nov. 6 raised close to $1 million. The committee had already raised funds a few years back to get through the first phase of the development.
There is so much that you can pick from many aspects of the legacy of Prophet Muhammad and it is important for us to share that legacy, to connect it to the ways we live our lives. — U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN)
Last weekend attracted a sold out room of some 600 guests. The inclusion of Omar at the gala was important for the committee for her status as a Muslim woman in a prominent position in U.S. politics.
“I am humbled and I am filled with gratitude to have this invitation and this honor to be in front of you all tonight,” Omar said. “There is so much that you can pick from many aspects of the legacy of Prophet Muhammad and it is important for us to share that legacy, to connect it to the ways we live our lives and make sure we are contributing to the preservation of that legacy in centers, in our teaching, our homes and the legacies we leave for you children.”