E-mail to Community on March 20

Dear IAGD Community Members:

ASAK. For those who were unable to attend the Expansion Meeting on Saturday, March 17, I wanted to provide a brief summary of the meeting. Approximately 100 brothers and 60 sisters attended the meeting.

Br. Ghaus Malik, chairman of the Board of Trustees and Expansion Committee member, extensively reviewed IAGD’s history. Br. Hussain Akbar, President of the Board of Directors and Expansion Committee chairman, went over the changes that had been made to the plan since the sisters’ meeting on February 11. Basically, those changes entailed:

  • Reducing the size of the lobby on the first floor of the new structure.
  • Removing the circular staircase in the center of the lobby of the new structure.
  • Redesigning the restroom and wadu areas by the prayer areas so that the restrooms do not share a common wall with the prayer areas in the new structure.
  • Moving the staircases for access to the second floor to the south side of the lobby in the new structure.
  • Converting the current social hall in the existing structure to classrooms.
  • Moving the kitchen next to the current prayer hall in the existing structure, which will become the social hall.
  • Eliminating the addition of the second floor over the current prayer area in the existing structure.
  • Making permanent classrooms in the basement of the existing structure.

The President indicated that the cost for this revised plan was still approximately $7.5-$8.0 million, although no detailed estimates have been obtained yet. He indicated that he felt the $140 per square foot for their plan was a reasonable estimate, even though Tawheed Center had been built for $70 per square foot.

After these presentations, the meeting was open for questions and answers. The community raised many concerns with the plan, including:

  • Many community members expressed the opinion that the cost of the plan is too high for the community and does not focus on the current needs of the community. Additionally, many expressed the belief that the expansion itself and the lobby in particular are too large and are not needed.
  • Several community members expressed the opinion that the community’s primary need is additional classrooms and other services for the youth. Our current prayer area is sufficient for the community for the foreseeable future.
  • Adding permanent classrooms to the basement of the current structure does not help the various schools (Noor Academy, Hifz school, Sunday School, and Saturday School) with their need for more space, since that area is already being used for classrooms.
  • Many women indicated that the current sisters’ prayer area is sufficient in size for most of the year, and that there is no need for a prayer area that large.
  • One member questioned why an architect from Houston was used instead of an architect from Michigan.
  • Use of the current prayer area as a social hall was questioned. Br. Ghaus Malik indicated that he did not understand why this was being brought up now, since the plans had always indicated that use. He also said that they had checked with religious scholars on this matter and that a social hall is an accepted use of this area. Imam Lela also spoke on this topic. He indicated that he felt it was too soon to talk about this, since there has not been a final decision regarding the use of that area. He said that certain Islamic matters were very clear cut and others were subject to interpretation, and that this is an area subject to interpretation. Imam Lela had performed cursory research on this subject, which indicated that the use of the prayer area could be determined by the community.
  • A young man who has grown up at IAGD indicated that he is very attached to IAGD and is very bothered by the prospect of turning the current prayer area into a social hall. He also indicated that due to the fact that an interest-bearing loan was used in the last expansion, the community had felt pressured to increase their donations in order to make sure that the loan was paid off. However, he believes that if the prayer area is turned into a social hall, it will be very difficult to raise the funds needed for this project.

The meeting ended at Zuhr time.

I reviewed the plan after the meeting and found that the first floor lobby was reduced 725 square feet, but the men’s prayer area was increased 720 square feet and the women’s prayer and cry room were increased 400 square feet. Overall, with some other minor changes, the square footage on the first and second floors of the new structure increased by 248 square feet.

I distributed an analysis of the expansion plan at the meeting on March 17 and e-mailed it to the community on March 19. So far, the feedback on March 17 and via e-mail has been very positive, and many people have indicated that they like the alternative plan shown on page 5 (page 8 of the PDF) for the following reasons:

  • It can be completed in a couple of years with the money we have currently collected or possibly with a little more.
  • It expands the current prayer area, providing ample room for the sisters and brothers. It also leaves the current prayer area as a prayer area.
  • It keeps the sisters’ prayer area on the first floor, alleviating many sisters’ safety concerns about going to the second floor at night.
  • It provides additional classrooms that are adjacent to the current classrooms, making the traffic flow much better than using classrooms on the first floor or basement.
  • It provides an additional social hall area that does not use the current prayer hall.
  • It is very flexible and can be modified to provide additional classrooms over the new prayer area, an expanded lobby, or additional office space.

I was very heartened to see so many people from the community providing feedback on the plan. Hopefully, this dialog will continue so that we end up with a plan at a reasonable cost that meets the needs of the majority of the community.

As always, please feel free to forward this e-mail to others who are not on the distribution list or send me the e-mail addresses to add to my list.

Thank you for your time.

Ann O’Brien Ahmad

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