DeKALB – When Mohammed Labadi looks at the new mosque being built in DeKalb, he sees hope.
Labadi, the president of the Islamic Society of Northern Illinois University, sees the hope of about 60 Muslim DeKalb area families and nearly 300 Muslim NIU students who are months away from having a dedicated space to worship at 801 Normal Road.
“It should be completed by the end of the summer,” Labadi said. “We are certainly hoping so.”
In 2012, the city gave ISNIU the permits it needed to move forward with constructing the new 4,520-square-foot mosque to replace the small single-family home the group is now using as a mosque.
Labadi looks forward to having a building that is constructed to serve as a mosque rather than using a single-family home. The new mosque will have a large prayer space on the first floor where worshippers can stand and kneel on a carpeted floor. Upstairs there will be an office and a library.
“We love the place we pray right now, but it’s not set up like a mosque,” Labadi said. “It’s not enough to support our needs. This new facility is being built with the proper structure.”
Construction started last fall. Although Labadi said it was a tough winter for construction, the outer walls of the two-story building are complete.
The group is about $100,000 shy of its $800,000 fundraising goal. Labadi said paying for the new center has been a community effort that has included fundraising events and asking people to contribute to the project.
When the mosque is complete, ISNIU plans to host an interfaith celebration, inviting the entire community.
The Islamic Society has been using the home at 721 Normal Road as a mosque since the mid-80’s. The group purchased the property that will hold the new mosque in the mid-90’s as leaders saw space concerns escalating.
While the house could hold the handful of people who attend the five prayer services throughout the day, it could not hold the nearly 100 people who were attending Friday afternoon prayer.
Since 2011, the group has held Friday prayers at various places throughout DeKalb and on NIU’s campus.
ISNIU member Aimain Mustafa, who served on the building committee for the new mosque, said when he looks at the new mosque, it evokes a sense of comfort knowing what it will mean for the congregation.
“It’s a different feeling,” Mustafah said. “It’s different in that it’s wonderful that we can have a well-known place where we can gather.”
The new mosque also will boast 45 parking spaces.
While he’s excited about the new building, the ample parking also excites Mustafa.
“When I go there I have a place where I can park my car and I can pray without worrying,” Mustafa said. “I will have tranquility and serenity to concentrate on my prayer.”