Muslim Center Rises From Humble Beginnings

BY JORDAN GIBBONS

In 1983, the Jamaica Muslim Center opened in a living room. Since then, it has moved to a basement, a house and is now the fully constructed Masjid Al Mamoor, which includes a Mosque, a school, a place for religious gatherings and eating facilities.

The Mosque offers regular prayers five times a day, as well as seminars and lectures on the celebration of the Islamic calendar. They also have lectures and Quaranic classes seven days a week.

The Mosque holds annual interfaith dialogues with other denominations, such as Buddhism, Christianity and Judaism.

“We discuss the misconceptions among other religions, all nonviolent and nonhatred,” Akhter Hussain, general secretary, said. “We open our doors for them and they open their doors for us. We build a community to have tolerance for each other.”

The weekend Islamic school has more than 250 students who are taught by qualified teachers, providing education on the Quran, Islamic studies and traditions. There are currently 18 classes and 19 teachers.

The Al Mamoor School is chartered under the New York State Board of Education curriculum and currently goes from pre-kindergarten to 8th grade. Every year, the board of education grants them one more grade. Next year, 9th grade will be added when they move to a new complex. The school’s structure is similar to a Catholic school’s, with one hour of religion and the rest of the day for general studies.

Al Mamoor recently expanded the facility by adding a new building at Parsons Boulevard to move its educational programs over from the current school.

“We teach our students how to deal with parents, neighbors with religious values,” Hussain said. “Be a good Muslim, be a good human.”

The center raises funds through their congregates to help local community projects and centers, assist with funeral expenses locally and provide the means to fund burials from the U.S. back to the country of origin. They also raise funds for victims of catastrophic events such as Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, the Thailand Tsunami and various floods and earthquakes.

They also hold two fundraising dinners each year: one during Ramadan and one in October. This year, the Ramadan fundraising dinner will be held on July 12.

On June 14, the center is sponsoring a program with nonprofit Stop the Hunger. At 3 p.m., 150 volunteers will package food that is being shipped from Pennsylvania. They are making 30,000 packages of food that Stop the Hunger will distribute.

The center will also hold a press conference with local politicians today at 1:45 p.m. to address a recent decision by the City Dept. of Transportation to convert traffic in a one-way direction in front of the mosque. This measure is expected to reduce traffic and increase pedestrian safety. There has also been an increased police presence in the area to decrease crime, especially during Ramadan when there are more visitors to the center.

“Local police are very active with us,” Hussain said. “Police are always there. You can see crime is going down thanks to the group effort of the community, local politicians and the police.”

The Jamaica Muslim Center is located at 85-37 168th St. Call (718) 739-3182 for more information.

Reach Reporter Jordan Gibbons at (718) 357-7400 Ext. 123, jgibbons@queenspress.com or @jgibbons2.

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