While there may be religious conflict in other parts of the world, it was all peace, harmony, and brotherhood Friday as Evanston Muslims dedicated their not-yet-completed masjid, or mosque, across the bridge from the Ecology Center at 2045 Brown Ave.

In recognition of the last day of the holy month of Ramadan, members of the Dar-us-Sunnah Masjid invited the community to join them for lunch as they ended 29 days of fasting.

In an obvious reference to the news stories from Florida and New York pertaining to inter-religious conflict, the president of the masjid, Muhammad Saiduzzaman, declared that “hatred has no room in our hearts.”

Alderman Delores Holmes.

Representing the city at the dedication was Alderman Dolores Holmes, 5th Ward, who said, “I thank you for choosing Evanston as the home for your mosque.” She expressed the wish that the entire world could focus on this gathering in Evanston “to see how we live in harmony.”

Following a brief ceremony on a clear and crisp autumn-like day, attended by nearly 50 Evanston religious leaders and community members, visitors were taken on a tour of the facility, which had been vacant for more than 30 years before local Muslims took it over and secured zoning approval from the city in March 2007.

Until the main sanctuary is completed, the group is using an all-purpose room in the basement as a venue for saying their prayers. Outfitted with 15 oriental rugs, strips of black tape have been run across the rugs as a means of insuring that participants in the prayer rituals are facing in the direction of Mecca, according to Muslim tradition.

Although the mosque has limited parking facilities, mosque leaders expressed appreciation to the city for allowing their members to utilize the parking lot of the nearby Ecology Center.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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2 Comments

  1. Just What We Need

     Just what Evanston needs … another tax-free property …  some of us are having a difficult time feeding our families and keeping the roof over our heads … and then Evanston adds another tax payer supported parcel of land.  How many does that make now in Evanston, not counting Northwestern?  103/104 denominations?

    btw, why did that other church not get permission to build in Evanston?  

    1. Tax exempt

      The church had permission from the city to build, and started building, but ran into financial difficulties in completing the project as well as problems with the city over the quality of the work done on the building.

      The property had been tax exempt for decades — and had sat vacant for years — before the mosque came along and bought it from the church.

      So, no change in the number of tax exempt properties in town as a result of the mosque’s arrival.

      And, given the guarantees of religious freedom in the federal constitution, it is simply not plausible to imagine that the city could ban the establishment of new congregations here, even it if wanted to. It has some limited power to control where they locate through zoning — but a cap on tax exempt religious properties? Not gonna happen.

      The city also has lost at least one expensive court battle trying to use zoning to block a church and is currently engaged in a somewhat similar court fight over a religious school.

      I’m not quite sure what "other church" you’re referring to.

      — Bill

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