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Mosque building boom in SoCal

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POSTED June 24, 2013 12:07 a.m.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The opening of a mosque in the San Gabriel Valley is the latest Islamic worship center that has been built in Southern California over the last several years.

The legion of new mosques has been funded entirely by local Muslims, who have been settling in the region since the 1960s, the Los Angeles Times reported. Prior to 2001, mosques were often funded by foreigners.

Stricter government scrutiny of foreign investments from Islamic countries after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, coupled with the reluctance of local Muslims about accepting foreign donations, helped change the practice, according to Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California

“Post 9/11, the dynamic completely changed,” Syed said. “The Muslim community at large in North America realized it is better if we develop our own funding, however long it takes.”

The number of newly built facilities has risen to more than 630 in 2011 from 314 in 2000. New centers have been built in Anaheim, Diamond Bar and Irvine. There are more than 2,100 mosques in the U.S., up from more than 1,200 in 2000. There are about 120 mosques in Southern California.

The sand-colored Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley opened Saturday after receiving $5.5 million in fundraising. Worshipers are especially excited that the facility will now house all of their needs in one space, including a charter school and mortuary.

“It feels like it’s a whole new world,” said 19-year-old Omar Yamak. “You have a sense of love of the community.”

Many Muslims have built successful businesses and are now positioned to give back, Syed said. Some did well during the recession because they bought undervalued properties while avoiding risky investments or interest-incurring debt, which is barred in Islam, he said.

“We were professionals, but we were not rich,” said Syed Rizvi, the president of the new Masjid Qubaa in Rowland Heights. “America gave that opportunity for us all.”

More mosques are planned for Corona, Ontario and Temecula.


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