November 23, 1995
The Wisdom Fund

Toledo Mosque: Uplifting Sight, Outstanding Community

Driving North on Interstate 75, about an hour South of Detroit, Michigan, one's eyes are drawn to the gleaming white dome and minarets of a mosque. As one gets nearer one sees a magnificent white structure which a sign proclaims is the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo.

mosque pic The weary traveler, having passed miles of cookie-cutter Americana, cannot but feel his spirits soar at this uplifting sight. Built on forty-eight acres of land in 1983, the mosque and surrounding buildings today cover 40,000 square feet. The sixty foot dome is flanked by two 135 foot minarets. The octagonal prayer room can accommodate 1000 people, there is a 500 seat sermon hall, classroom, offices, a medical clinic, a huge dining room, and a large commercial kitchen. There are plans to add two wings: one for a full-time school, and the other a home for the elderly. Tours are conducted regularly.

Having been invited to speak at the 12th anniversary celebrations of the Islamic Center, it was the outstanding Muslim community I found there which most endeared me to that place. The subject of the seminar was Islam and Media. The speakers included Prof. William Green, dean of undergraduate studies at the University of Rochester; Prof. Jack Shaheen, nationally known commentator and writer, Sr. Sharifa Alkhateeb of the Muslim Women's Georgetown Study Project, Mr. Richard Paton, an editor at The Blade, and Mr. Enver Masud, representing The Wisdom Fund.

The Muslim, Christian, and Jewish speakers agreed that media coverage of Islam and Muslims was largely negative. All, except Mr. Paton, agreed on the need to get more Muslims into the media. Mr. Paton's reservations about this suggestion are, perhaps, understandable since The Blade appears to be an exception and frequently carries profiles of Muslims and articles from Dr. S. Amjad Hussain, a regular contributor to The Blade and President of the Islamic Center.

The audience for the seminar included Muslim's from many professions, Christians, and at least one Hindu. The Muslim women were not restrained by the strict separation common to some Muslim communities. In fact the prayer room has only a three foot divider separating the men from women. The seminar and Anniversary Dinner were covered by local media, the mayor attended, and congratulations from George V. Voinovich, Governor of Ohio and the Greater Toledo community were contained in a 30 page program handed out at dinner. Dr. Saleh Jabrin, a major force behind the building of the mosque, was honored by having a new wing dedicated in his name.

Having attended functions at other Muslim centers, I was struck with how well everything was managed. Events were on time, children well behaved, and everything worked smoothly. In the heartland of the United States, the Muslim community of Greater Toledo, the management of the Islamic Center, and the charming and progressive Imam A. M. Khattab have set a standard for enlightened Muslims in America.

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