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Davis, California

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Islamic Center of Davis shares history

The Islamic Center of Davis has served as a place of worship and social gathering since 1982. However, it has not always been the blue mosque that we see today.

“A group of muslim students at UC Davis initiated the motion to have a place for worship, so they rented an old house on Russell Boulevard,” said Ahmed Ahmedin, a Ph.D student in electrical engineering and social secretary of the center.

The students as well as the Davis community came together and began having fundraisers so that they eventually could buy and own the house. A good portion of the funds came from the surrounding community and the Bay Area.

After the house was bought, it remained a converted house for 30 years. But it was in desperate need of re-building as well as establishing its presence as a place for worship.

Othman Alsoud, the Islamic Center’s first president, organized a fundraiser spanning across the Bay Area and even the country to raise money for building the mosque.

“It was a brand new building when I began attending UC Davis in 2007,” Chair of Campus Unions and Recreation Board Shahzeeb Syeb said. “It has been a home away from home ever since then.”

Ahmedin said none of this could have been sustained without the support of the Muslim and non-Muslim community.

Some time after the mosque was built, the crescent, a sacred symbol of the Muslim faith, was stolen. Ahmedin said that the non-muslim community then conducted a fundraiser raising $2,000 to replace it, showing their extensive involvement.

Since its establishment, the Islamic Center has been completely run by volunteers in the community. It continues to evolve not only as a space for worship and community gathering, but as a place for education.

The current president of the center, Abdul-Jabbar Abbuthalha, as well as his wife, Rehana Abbuthalha, have recently started the Weekend Islamic School, which teaches Arabic, the Quaran and Islamic studies every Sunday. There are over 60 students and 14 teachers.

There is an extensive library containing 5,000 books in both Arabic and English. Some of the books are very rare and not accessible on the market.

“We have recently computerized the library so that people can find books on the Islamic Center website, become a member and check out books,” Abbuthalha said.

The application is practically identical to UC Davis’ Peter J. Shields Library membership and anyone can check out books.

There is also a sermon that is held every Friday which is conducted by Muslim scholars and is open to anyone in the community who would like to participate.

“Since work or school can sometimes conflict with attending a sermon, all of the sermons are filmed and added to the archives on the Islamic Center website,” Abbuthalha said.

The Islamic Center also hosts many events for the whole community of Davis.

“During Ramadan month, we have an event called Fast for a Day where the whole community, muslim and non-muslim, fast together, so we can all share this experience,” Ahmedin said.

The morning after Ramadan is the day of Eid when a large gathering of people congratulate each other for successfully fasting for a month.

Winter Quarter holds the Islamic Center’s Interfaith event which celebrates all religions — in which participants visit the different places of worship across the community.

“We want to be open-minded, open-doored, and more importantly, we want to bridge those religious and cultural gaps that we sometimes see,” Syeb said.

To find out more about the Islamic Center of Davis, go to http://www.davismasjid.org/.

DOMINICK COSTABILE can be reached at features@theaggie.org.


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