By Steve Guntli
Local officials and community members turned out to celebrate the opening of Blaine’s first-ever mosque on November 1.
Members of the Islamic Center of Blaine, 495 Cherry Street, greeted community members with food and festivities to celebrate their grand opening.
Bashir Patel and his cousin, Rizwaan Mohammed, have been working to make the center a reality since June. Prior to the mosque’s opening, Blaine’s Muslim community was meeting in a two-bedroom apartment on H Street.
“We outgrew the space,” Patel said. “When this facility came on the market, we thought it was too good an opportunity to pass up.”
The new facility, a former church located in a quiet residential neighborhood, boasts a spacious meeting room, as well as a small kitchen and offices for the mosque’s directors.
In addition to the weekly prayer services, Patel also hopes to incorporate Islamic studies for children.
Patel estimates that there are about 15 Muslim families in Blaine, but it was important to him to create a space that could serve as an outreach center for the community as a whole.
“We know what’s going on in the news,” Patel said. “Our goal is to get to know all of the neighbors and the community, to show them that they don’t need to be intimidated. We are just like everyone else.”
Mohammed has lived in Blaine most of his life, and graduated from Blaine High School.
“I love this town, I love these people,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of great support.”
For the moment, the mosque does not have a permanent imam to conduct the weekly prayer services. Guest preachers will come in on a weekly basis from Seattle and British Columbia.
“For such a small mosque, it didn’t seem financially viable to hire a full time imam,” Patel said. “But as the community grows, we’ll see.”
The mosque is also looking for donors in the community to help cover the costs of the new facility. The board has already paid for the $50,000 down payment, and is looking to pay off the remaining $250,000 balance within the next nine months.
For more information, or to make a donation, visit islamiccenterblaine.com.