The Islamic Center of Boca Raton has ambitious plans for a 3.3-acre Islamic Center complex, replete with a minaret, two domes, a 9,000-square-foot mosque, a 6,000-square-foot multipurpose hall, and a structure vaguely reminiscent of the Prophet's Mosque in Medina.
Instead, it has had to settle for a far more modest building.
What one local observer has dubbed the "Incredible Shrinking Masjid" appears to have resulted from a media scrutiny that focused on the virulently Islamist content of ICBR's website. For example, that website linked to:
After a critical article in the Boca News in April 2003, the ICBR website vanished nearly overnight. Two leading members of the ICBR staff soon disappeared: Co-founder Khalid Hamza and Spokesman Hassan Shareef. A third, Co-founder Bassem Alhalabi, ran afoul of the law for illegal exporting to Syria. These travails presumably hampered fundraising for ICBR's once-imagined "history making community project."
The moral of this story? In the post-9/11 environment, anyone planning to build a resplendent Islamic center would do well to avoid extremism. (October 26, 2003)
June 16, 2004 update: For an update on the ICBR's extant but confusing building plans, see the report in today's Boca Raton News.
Oct. 7, 2006 update: The ICBR held its sixth annual fundraiser today; the poster contrasts the grand plans with present realities.
Feb. 16, 2008 update: Some five years later, it appears that the grand ICBR plans are moving forward. Here is the notice and graphic for today's groundbreaking ceremony:
ICBR's poster for its sixth annual fundariser.
Al-hamdulillah after many years of planning and fundraising, the construction of the 30,000 square feet permanent Islamic Center of Boca Raton (Boca Masjid) has started.
Please join us Saturday February 16 at 3:30 pm for the groundbreaking ceremony. We shall insha'Allah pray salaltul Asr on the site.
We ask Allah SWT to help us build this Masjid firmly on foundations of Taqwa and to make it a minaret for spreading the authentic teachings of our glorious religion.
Graphic accompanying the Islamic Center of Boca Raton groundbreaking ceremony invitation.
Lois K. Solomon writes today in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel about the expansion:
Muslims, responding to explosive growth of young families moving into south Palm Beach County, are to break ground here today on a $3 million mosque that will house classrooms, apartments, administrative offices and a courtyard for prayer. The 3:30 p.m. groundbreaking at the Islamic Center of Boca Raton marks the first phase of a $4.5 million expansion project for the existing Sunni mosque and school at 3100 NW Fifth Ave. The pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade school, called the Garden of Sahaba Academy, has grown from 17 students four years ago to 175 today. "We never expected this much growth," said Mohamed Senhaji, a congregant and father of two. "It's what's driving us to build." … Senhaji said Boca Raton's Islamic community is growing at the rate of about 15 percent to 20 percent a year. Many, he said, are attracted to Florida Atlantic University, across the street from the mosque. Senhaji moved to Boca Raton 19 years ago from Morocco to attend FAU, where he studied ocean engineering.
The eight apartments planned for the new mosque are expected to house FAU students, Senhaji said. The new mosque, a 30,000-square-foot white stucco complex, will have two blue-green domes and a minaret as a landmark. Architect Salah Elroweny said he melded Spanish-Islamic traditions, such as building the complex around a courtyard for prayer, with Florida-style features such as a covered walkway around the central area in case of rain. "We wanted to respect Islamic tradition by gathering everything around the courtyard," Elroweny said. "Everything looks inward, not outside." The mosque is expected to serve as a house of prayer, educational center and community gathering place. Faten Warrad, a Garden of Sahaba science teacher, said some of the 500 people who attend Friday prayers at the existing complex are forced to pray outside the school's main hall because there is not enough room. Adult-size classrooms also are needed, Warrad said. She said adults taking classes at night have to sit at children's desks. "We use the masjid [mosque] as a community center," Warrad said. "We are at capacity now. We need a place we can call home."
Related Topics: Muslims in the United States, Radical Islam
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