WBEZ | Muslim Educational Cultural Center of America http://www.wbez.org/tags/muslim-educational-cultural-center-america Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en DuPage board approves Muslim project, sans dome http://www.wbez.org/story/dupage-board-approves-muslim-project-sans-dome-91948 <p><p>DuPage County's board has given the go-ahead for a new Muslim community center to be built, but without a dome to cover its religious worship space. &nbsp;The Pin Oak Community Center is slated for construction on an unincorporated residential plot near west suburban Lombard. The plans include&nbsp;a mosque, gymnasium, and office space.</p><p>Attorney Mark Daniel, who represents Pin Oak, says Pin Oak's founders may try to apply once more for permission to build the 50-foot high dome. "It's an important part of any mosque," said Daniel. "They've got centuries of history." This is the second Muslim development in unincorporated DuPage County that has recently modified construction plans because the board denied approval for a dome.</p><p>The county sets a height limit of 36 feet in residential areas, and only grants variances to exceed that limit on a case-by-case basis. The Muslim Educational and Cultural Center of America, or MECCA, was the last Muslim project to find its application for height variances denied. MECCA, to be constructed near the Village of Willowbrook, has appealed that decision.</p></p> Tue, 13 Sep 2011 22:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/dupage-board-approves-muslim-project-sans-dome-91948 When it’s not Islamophobia; Muslims self-examine http://www.wbez.org/story/when-it%E2%80%99s-not-islamophobia-muslims-self-examine-86425 <p><p>Suburban Chicago’s Muslim population’s growing and, in many ways, integrating into existing communities. &nbsp;</p><div style="background-color: transparent;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Their children play on the same soccer teams as non-Muslims... parents are friendly and may even be Facebook friends.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">But Chicago area Muslims are having a hard time integrating their houses of worship and their schools into the suburban landscape.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Some blame Islamophobia.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">But one Chicago-area Muslim is asking his community... maybe it’s not them... maybe it’s </span><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: italic; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">us.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">HUSSAIN: Al Hamidullah... (prayer in Arabic) (fade under)</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Attorney Faiyaz Hussain gathered dozens of men and women in the basement of the Islamic Foundation in Villa Park, about 30 minutes west of Chicago.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&lt;sound up on prayer&gt;</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Hussain is with the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, or CIOGC.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">He’s convened what he’s calling a “Not in my Back Yard” zoning summit to talk about a trend:</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">A Muslim group wants to build or expand a mosque or a school. </span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">The local government denies the petition on a zoning technicality.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Some Muslims feel like their community is under attack.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">But Hussain wants them to consider something new: maybe they’re partly to blame.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">HUSSAIN: If there’s Islamophobia, we will certainly fight it. Similarly, I think that we then also need to take a step back and not... we shouldn’t go down the path of Islamophobia too quickly, because there may be some very well-intentioned, well-meaning &nbsp;public officials who are simply trying to do their job.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Hussain remembers what got him to first consider the hard questions... </span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">He was on his morning commute to Chicago, chatting with older ladies on the train. </span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">HUSSAIN: One of them, a lady that’s known me for two or three years, was sort of one day talking about this project that was going on. She’s like, ‘Oh Faiyaz’ -- and I’ve known her, I’ve talked about her kids, her grandkids, I know the whole story. And she tells me, ‘Faiyaz, you don’t know these people who are moving in, they’re trying to put in this temple, and I don’t know what’s going on, I’m afraid they may have bombs,’ </span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">It turned out she was talking about MECCA, the Muslim Educational Cultural Center of America... a project proposed in DuPage County.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">HUSSAIN: I looked at myself thinking I’ve been riding the train with her for three or four years, I probably haven’t done a good job explaining who we are as Muslims, and here she was thinking MECCA... And I was just shaking my head thinking, ‘wow.’</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">MECCA recently won approval to build a school, worship space, and recreational center.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">It was a long fight... but one that Hussain hopes others will learn from.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">MECCA members put lots of time into meeting one-on-one with county officials.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Tony Michaelassi is a county board member... he says putting that personal face on a petition helps push it through the process:</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">MICHAELASSI: when it comes to DuPage County, we like to hear from the community itself, we like to hear testimony from the members of the organization that’s petitioning us.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Michaelassi says small groups often make the mistake of taking a purely legalistic approach. </span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">They rely on expensive lawyers to present their case... when it’s just as important for the petitioners themselves to show up, network, and make themselves known. </span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">One group that’s learned this lesson is the Muslim Community Center School in north suburban Morton Grove.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">School Chairman Rizwan Kadir says when the group sought zoning approval in the late 80s, it hit a wall of opposition from neighbors.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">KADIR: If they knew us at a personal level, things would have been a lot different.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Kadir says school administrators and parents have worked hard since then to let the neighbors know them.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">They have open houses. </span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">They let neighborhood kids play in school fields. </span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">And the school’s a polling place during elections. </span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Kadir hopes all that will help him fix what he considers a major compromise that the school had to make.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">KADIR: We could not have a high school right now. So we are strategizing our plan in how to approach the village in getting rid of some of these restrictions.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Kadir feels confident that by now, the school’s relationship with its neighbors is good enough to make this an easy win.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">But he won’t know for sure until he submits his requests...sometime this summer.</span></div></p> Thu, 12 May 2011 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/when-it%E2%80%99s-not-islamophobia-muslims-self-examine-86425 DuPage Board deals setback to mosque proposal http://www.wbez.org/story/dupage/dupage-board-deals-setback-mosque-proposal <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/forweb_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>In an unexpected turn of events, a group of Sunni Muslims failed to win approval for a worship center that they have sought to build on a 5-acre parcel of unincorporated DuPage County. Instead, the county board rejected the bid by the Muslim Educational Cultural Center of America, or MECCA, to construct a 79-foot minaret and a dome. The board also sent the group&rsquo;s petition to build the rest of the mosque back to the county&rsquo;s development committee.</p> <div>While the meeting did not go as MECCA leaders had expected, several residents of the area around the proposed site were relieved.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Really, we're not surprised that it went back to the board for further look-see,&rdquo; said Sam Cornett, whose house abuts the property. Referring to some of the board members, Cornett added, &ldquo;Now the people have looked at the property, which we invite anybody to come and look at.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Cornett and his wife invited board members to visit their house and look at the proposed site after the development committee&rsquo;s vote last week. They say that may have played some role in turning the tide against the mosque. Several board members that voted for the project last week voted against it Tuesday.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>MECCA president Dr. Abdulgany Hamadeh said he does not yet know whether the group will continue pushing forward with their proposal.</div></p> Tue, 08 Feb 2011 21:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/dupage/dupage-board-deals-setback-mosque-proposal