JERSEY – Rushing to help Jersey City Muslims whose mosque was destroyed by fire on Friday morning, February 28, the city officials have opened the city’s Armory to host Friday prayer, a move widely praised by leaders of the Muslim community.
“We all saw how the Jersey City community really came together today,” Ibrahim Eldewak, president of Islamic Center Board of Trustees, 59, told NJ.com inside the cavernous armory building after nearly 200 members participated in afternoon prayers.
A fire ripped through a mosque in Jersey City early Friday morning just hours before hundreds were to gather for prayers.
Flames broke out at the Al-Tawheed Islamic Center on West Side Avenue just after 5:30 am.
The raging fire broke through the roof and white smoke could be seen billowing out of the building.
“There was so much smoke coming from each and every direction,” mosque member Bilal Arshad told CBS 2′s John Slattery.
The mosque serves some 900 worshipers for Friday prayers.
No one was inside the building at the time of the fire and no injuries have been reported.
“It’s just hard to comprehend, but people are safe which is most important. No one is hurt and that’s a blessing from Allah,” Eldewak told CBS New York.
Immediately after the fire was extinguished, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and city council members arrived at the fire scene and secured the armory for prayers this afternoon.
“We saw elected officials on the spot immediately,” Eldewak, the board president of the 20-year-old Islamic center, told NJ.com.
“Today was a very good sign. To us, it was emotional and moving to see everyone come to offer us help,” he added.
Moreover, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers asked his staff "explore possible places for worship for the future,” said Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the archdiocese.
Though the fire has destroyed their worshipping house, young Muslims were excited about revitalize their center.
“Everyone was kind of neglecting the mosque, including the youth, but Muslims and non-Muslims will come together to help now -- they did today,” Mohamad Ali, 21, of Jersey City, said.
Ali, who has been part of the mosque for a long time, added that Friday prayer has a great significance for Muslims.
“Friday is like a Saturday for Jews and Sunday for Christians. It was a great feeling for the city to give us the armory,” he said.
On the day the mosque reopens, Ali said “It is going to be pleasing, a warm feeling, and I know everyone is going to come together before then.”
The United States is home to a Muslim minority of between six to eight million.
Muslims pray five times a day, with each prayer made of a series of postures and movements, each set of which is called a rak‘ah.
The five prayer times are divided all through the day which starts with Fajr prayer at dawn.
Related Links:US Mosque Fight Turns Into War on Islam
Mosque Arson Shocks Missouri Faith Leaders
Americans Give Back to Joplin Muslims
Muslims Help Crisis-hit Americans
Mosque Crawlers and Demonized US Muslims