HUDSON — Members of Hudson’s Muslim community and Columbia County officials gathered Sunday at the Hudson Islamic Center on 35 N. 3rd St. for a groundbreaking ceremony for a new building.
A community center, consisting of a library, separate prayer rooms for men and women, and classrooms will be constructed at the site, according to the center’s website. The center was founded in 1997.
The facility’s members have prayed out of the basement of the existing building and in 2001 Hudson’s then-Mayor Kenneth Cranna gave the center the parking lot where the ceremony was held for $1, Third Ward Alderman and center volunteer Shershah Mizan said after the ceremony.
“The community was getting big and this room is not enough to pray,” Mizan said. “We were thinking we need a bigger place, then we get this area. Then, we decide we need a new building.”
The idea to start building a new center came in 2007 and 4th Ward Alderwoman Linda Mussmann, before she was elected, connected center members with an architect who drew up a plan, Mizan said.
“It was just a normal plan and then after that, day by day we started raising money from our community, friends,” he said.
The project is expected to cost $1.5 million and the center has raised less than half of the money needed as of Sunday, according to Mizan. It’s expected to take a year and a half to complete.
“We’ve got a big, long way to go,” Mizan said.
No female Muslim worshippers were in attendance at the ceremony as a separate space is needed for female worshippers and the center couldn’t accommodate it, Mizan said. In recent years, mosques have been built to include a separate space for women and they are separated from men during religious observances, according to the Oxford Islamic Studies website.
“We don’t have enough room in here for a separate room,” he said.
Imam Abdullah Al Fawal has helped raise funds for the center and asked the audience to see if they could raise $25,000, he said. Some audience members pledged $1,000.
A member of the center reached out to Al Fawal two months ago to tell him about building a new center. The imam was told the center didn’t have money, to which he responded by asking if the member believed in God.
“If you believe in God, or we call him Allah, almighty, [he] will help you build his house,” Al Fawal said. “Almighty Allah helped and the help of you all, one individual after the other, with a contribution is something, really it makes my heart tick more than normal.”
Elected officials who spoke during the ceremony included Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell, Columbia County Clerk Holly C. Tanner, and Hudson 2nd Ward Alderman Abdus Miah.
Hudson City School Superintendent Maria Lagana Suttmeier was happy to see many of her students in the audience, she said. The center has been a long time coming and Suttmeier looks forward to it being built.
“It’s an example of what can happen in a community where we all come together and really care that you have a place you can worship,” Suttmeier said. “Everyone else does and you should, too.”
The new center will be a wonderful gift to the city, Hudson Mayor Rick Rector said. The mayor has seen pictures of what the new center will look like.
“I congratulate you and thank you for what will certainly be a great new addition to Hudson and [a] grand testament to its diversity and goodness,” Rector said.
Coming to the ceremony was a religious occasion, not a partisan event, according to Mizan.
“There’s no Democrat, there’s no Republican, there’s no Green Party,” Mizan said. “There is only one party, which is we are human,” Mizan said.
It’s great Hudson is getting an Islamic center as Muslims don’t have a sufficient indoor space to pray in, Tanzil Sami, of Hudson, said.
“We have had a hard time,” Sami said. “We’ve had to pray outside in the rain and snow.”
The members of the center have outgrown their existing space and a new one is needed, Steffa Krisniski, of Hudson, said.
“I think it’s about time,” Krisniski said. “They’ve been raising money for years and years.”
For Krisniski, seeing elected officials at the ceremony was important.
“I was very proud of our local politicians to see them here,” she said. Mamoun Alamin, of Hudson, said he has seen the Muslim community grow since he first moved to the area in 1999.
“It was a small community at that time,” Alamin said.
Alamin is appreciative of the support the center has received.
“I can’t ask for more than that,” he said. “We see our voices being heard.”
To reach reporter Daniel Zuckerman email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @DZuckerman_CGM.