Sandy imam looks forward to new mosque, finds value in sacrifice during RamadanJun 15, 2020 12:23PM ● By Heather Lawrence
By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]
Members of the Utah Islamic Center, which is currently based in Sandy, have a lot to celebrate these days. The month of Ramadan was April 23-May 23, and soon they will be meeting in a brand new mosque. And Imam Shuaib Din said that despite restrictions on gatherings during Ramadan, Muslims can still reflect on the miracle of the Qur’an.
“Ramadan is the month in which the Qur’an was revealed. It’s the biggest miracle. It came in bits and pieces over 23 years, but this is the month when the first five verses were revealed. It’s a celebration of that. It’s a month of getting closer to scripture. It helps boost your spirituality and keeps you focused on what is more important in life,” Din said.
During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. “It’s different when you can’t meet to break the fast at sunset with friends and family. But you can still fulfill the obligation of fasting,” Din said.
Din said that every mosque in the world would also have some sort of food arrangement in the evening, though COVID-19 restrictions have limited that.
“A lot of people are single, so instead of them having to break [the] fast alone at home at sunset, there is an arrangement in the mosque. We usually would have 50-60 people show up. There are a lot of people who hold break [the] fast ‘parties’ in the mosque, banquet halls or homes.”
“It’s been very different not to gather at sunset, but that’s the experience for everyone. Everyone’s life has been turned upside down. People are adjusting. From a religious point of view, you’re still fulfilling the obligation of fasting,” Din said.
Hanisa Dhedhy is a member of the congregation, and she said there are positive things that have come about during the quarantine. “Ramadan is usually a communal setting; we like to pray in groups. As long as I can remember we always go to meet and pray communally. And we like to host families for dinners,” Dhedhy said.
“This year it’s very different, however, I’m happy about it. A lot of time your kids or spouse are busy, they’re somewhere else. But this time we’re at home as a family. We’re breaking fast in the evening as a family, we’re praying as a family. I feel like it’s a blessing in disguise,” Dhedhy said.
Din said that according to surveys, about 90% of Muslims fast. “Of the Five Pillars of Islam, fasting is the one pillar that is done. Even ‘Jack Muslims’ (not strictly observant) do it. They show up at mosque and come out of the woodwork. It’s just the nature of this month,” Din said.
And Din has other matters on his mind. After years of saving and planning, the congregation, which has been meeting in a rented store space on 235 W. 9000 South, is getting a new mosque. The building is down the street at 984 W. 9000 South. Todd Burt of CRC Construction was the general contractor.
“I’m really proud of this project. I’ve built lots of different churches. Catholic churches, LDS churches, FLDS churches. I’ve really enjoyed building this mosque and working with Imam Din,” Burt said.
The mosque was designed by Din with several unique features. One of the most important to him was that females feel as comfortable there as males. “There are separate washrooms for the males and females to wash before prayer. There are separate prayer rooms, but they are only divided by a glass wall,” Burt said on a May tour of the building in its final stages of construction.
Din enlisted Dhedhy’s help in the design. “I was part of some of the design selecting. I have traveled to many mosques all over the world and other churches here in Utah. I feel like I made sure the mothers and kids had space to worship and study and everyone felt comfortable,” Dhedhy said.
Donations were a big part of the new facility. “The most amazing thing to see is the way the imam fundraises. They are forbidden from taking out an interest loan, so all this has had to be done with funds that are already there. He’s raised money from Muslims, non-Muslims, people in Utah, families and friends outside of Utah. He’s sold bricks at the mosque, and he’s gotten a lot of donations,” Burt said.
Burt showed off elegant lighting and a beautiful turquoise rug for the prayer room imported from Turkey.
When the pandemic restrictions allow, Din will have an open house for the mosque. From the outside, it’s distinguishable by the minaret at the west entrance and the crescent moon on the roof. It will be a welcome change for Din’s congregation of nearly 400 who attend Friday evening prayers.
Din is very close to having all the funds to run the mosque, but donations are still welcome. He said the sacrifices of not being able to meet together and of having to work toward building a mosque work to enforce the spirituality of fasting during Ramadan and sacrificing food during the day.
“I think when this is all over, people will make up for time lost. And I think people will value the mosque more. When you have something, you don’t value it. When you don’t have a facility, that blessing, and then you get it, you value it more,” Din said.