CAIRO – A years-old dream of the first Islamic worshipping house in Goleta city in the southern Santa Barbara County, California, has finally come true after the Muslim community received the green light earlier this week.
“All of us made history today,” Jamal Hamdani, the chair of the Islamic Society of Santa Barbara, said after the Center's approval, Santa Barbra Independent reported on Thursday, December 19.
“I am truly proud to be an American, a Muslim, and a member of this community.”
Goleta Muslim community has been waiting for the approval of their proposed Islamic centre since 2001, after buying the land at the corner of Los Carneros Road and Calle Real.
Living together for 30 years, more than 35 Muslim families along with students from US Santa Barbara University and Santa Barbra City College have formed the Islamic Society of Santa Barbara (ISSB).
Without a worship place, Muslims community used to pray in the Goleta Valley Community Center.
This all changed after the Muslim community got the go ahead for their own centre, thanking Goleta City Council who has unanimously approved the project.
“You’ve waited a long time for a home and now you have it,” Councilwoman Paula Perotte told Noozhawk.
The approved Islamic centre will be 10,000 square foot including a mosque, a dining room and a lecture hall.
“People can finally come to our house, our place,” said Yama Niazi, the imam for the Islamic Society of Santa Barbara.
The community’s support for the new Islamic centre was vehemently welcomed by Goleta Muslims.
"All these people come together for one purpose, and that’s to follow the journey of the Islamic Society to its final home in the good land,” said Councilman Roger Aceves.
“I think it’s an absolutely perfect project for this site,” said Ernest Kolendrianos, who attended the council.
“What was shared there was an experience of the world that we would all like to be part of,” said Rabbi Steve Cohen of Congregation B’nai B’rith.
The same enthusiasm for the Islamic centre was shared by the council members who praised the unique design of the centre.
“We’ve never had a meeting like this in City Hall,” said Ed Easton, a council member.
“This is amazing. This is amazing.”
Lauding the project, Councilman Jim Farr said, “I’ve only been on council a year, but this is far and away the most rewarding experience I’ve had yet.”
“I don’t want to get too emotional here, but it’s been great to be a part of it,” he added.
The United States is home to a Muslim minority of between six to eight million.
A recent survey found that American Muslims are the most moderate around the world.
It also showed that US Muslims generally express strong commitment to their faith and tend not to see an inherent conflict between being devout and living in a modern society.
An earlier Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans Muslims are loyal to their country and optimistic about their future in the United States.
Related Links:US Art Expo Explores Muslim Life
US Documentary Explores Mosque Problems
US Mosque Struggles for Place
US Federals Investigate Mosque Denials
US Imam Revives Mosque Community Role