Moskén i Dar Al-Hijrah är mångkulturell och för människor tillsammans. Dar Al-Hijrah är den muslimska gemenskapens center, säger imam Shaker Elsayyed. Fredagsbönen har plats för 1000 tillbedjare, och det har kommit så många att det nu hålls tre fredagsböner efter varandra.
De kommer snart även börja med en fjärde. Moskéns speciella stolthet är att det är den första moskén som översätter fredagbönens predikan till amerikansk dövtolkning. Idén uppkom för nästan två år sedan. Då behövdes bara en dövtolk.
Nu behövs fler, och en kvinnlig mormon gör numera också dövtolkning. Hon känner sig mycket omtyckt av muslimerna och ser dem som sin familj. Kristna mormoner har full frihet att gå till andra samfund och tjäna som denna medlem gör. Mormoner hjälper till där behoven finns och möjligheterna öppnar sig.
Jag kopierar texten eftersom jag inte vet hur länge som den ligger ute.
Wednesday, 04 November 2009 21:17
VIRGINIA — One of the meanings of the word masjid (mosque) in Arabic is a place that brings people together. And Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in the multi-cultural Northern Virginia is a place that lives up to its name.
”I would describe Dar al-Hijrah as the Muslim community’s center of life,” Imam Shaker Elsayyed told IslamOnline.net during a visit to the place.
Nothing sums it up more than the Friday prayers in the place which has a capacity for 1000 worshippers.
The mosque officials strive to accommodate as many as 4000 worshippers by holding three consecutive prayers every Friday.
”The number of people who consistently come to the mosque evolved from initial 500-600 to one thousand, to more than one thousand, until we started to do more than one Friday prayer to accommodate the people,” explains Elsayyed.
”So now we have three Friday prayers, and I believe if we do a forth prayer, we will have people coming.”
The mosque officials take special pride in being the first mosque in America to translate the Friday prayer sermon in sign language for the deaf.
”This idea came to life nearly two years ago,” notes imam Elsayyed.
”At that time we got our first interpreter, and now we have another one, who is a Mormon by faith, but she loves this community and thinks of it as her family.”
Northern Virginia is home to a sizable Muslim community of some 350,000 people from all ethnicities and backgrounds.
Dar Al-Hijrah began in a small house which was used as a place for prayers by Muslims in Falls Church city.
”The journey started in 1983 with a group of students who used to study in different universities across the region,” says imam Elsayyed.
”They all used to pray scattered in different places. So they got together and formed a group and started to think that ‘we need a place.’ So they purchased the old house, now on the premises of the mosque, and used it as their place of prayer.”
Gradually the place became one of the largest and most influential mosques not only in Virginia but across America.
”People love this place. We have people who move with their families from other regions and come to that place only to be close to the mosque,” says imam Elsayyed.
Like the majority of mosques across the US, Dar Al-Hijrah is not only a place for prayer.
”When people get in a dispute, we are the judge,” imam Elsayyed said with a smile on his face.
”When people want to reconcile we are the meddlers, when some body wants to get married we are the mazzun, when people die we take care of the funeral.”
The mosque also offers all sorts of educational services for the community, with classes running six days a week.
”We have almost all subjects covered in our programs,” asserts the imam.
”We also sponsor the Washington Islamic Academy which accommodates our community because there was and still is a huge need for Islamic schools in the area.”
Samir Abo-Issa, the mosque’s Administrative Director, says they serve people starting from age four until high school and university.
”We have three schools for children, Quran, Saturday and Sunday schools.”
He added that other than educational programs there are several daily social and sports activities for the youth, children and adults alike, from karate to computer and yoga classes.
With the multiple and diverse services being offered, Dar Al-Hijrah is also not failing Muslim women.
”Women have been an integral part of this place from the beginning,” asserts imam Elsayyed.
”When we were building the mosque, we made sure that they have their own prayer space.”
The mosque administration extends all the activities and school classes they offer for women.
”We have yoga and computer programs for women.”
Imam Elsayyed says women have their own entrance to feel the privacy of their place, lamenting that this is interpreted negatively by some non-Muslims.
”They call it ‘the inferior entrance in the back of the building’. They always misread everything that you do. But our sisters feel respected, accommodated and supported.”
Women have a committee in Dar Al-Hijrah that looks after their needs, and there is also a social services office helping women in need and offering advising in many aspects.
”We are trying to offer women awareness from breast cancer,” explains Mersada, one of the social workers in the office.
”We are also working on foster parenting for children who are just taken away and need to be put with Muslim families,” she added.
”We act with Kids Peace to have a seminar for families on foster parenting and how can they deal with these children.”
Dar-Al-Hijrah also accords special attention to community outreach and interfaith activities.
”We like to partner with churches around the community here,” says Imam Elsayyed.
”We are part of a new community organization here in Virginia called VOICE, or Virginians Organized For Interfaith Community Engagement.”
The mosque also established a food bank to help the poor and needy.
”We have a clinic that we established along with a Catholic church, it is placed right outside our community.”
The imam regrets that despite all this, Dar-Al-Hijrah was dubbed the ”9/11 mosque” after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
”When 9/11 came, we closed three days after. It was that very bad at that time,” he recalls.
The mosque leadership invited FBI officials to the mosque and challenged them to prove such a claim.
”They said ‘two of the hijackers put their driving license address as your mosque’. They made allegations based on this frivolous flimsy evidence.”
Elsayyed added that despite the fact that the mosque challenged the label, it is always easy to make allegations but very difficult to take it away.
”When we shut down after 9/11, some of the neighbors came and stood out there with candles, flowers and asked us to open up,” he remembers happily.
”We got 100 neighbors signing a pledge to stand guard 24/7 so that we can open the place.”
The imam attributes this positive response from the local community to the fact that their mosque was never an obscure place of non-Muslims.
”We were one of the first mosques if not the first mosque to open up for non-Muslims, for their children to come and play with our children, and for health care issues,” he contends.
”We want this place to be for everybody.