Reportage

Muslims in Washington

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Location:

The State of Washington is the 42nd state in the USA. It lies in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Washington is the northwestern-most state of the contiguous United States. It borders Idaho to the east, and to the west of Washington lies the Pacific Ocean. On its northern border lies the Canadian province of Columbia. Oregon is to the south. Olympia is the state capital; the state includes 39 counties, and its largest city is Seattle with a population of around 725,000 people. Among the other main cities is Tacoma which is near the Canadian city of Vancouver.

Area and Population

Its area is 184,827 km2, and its population is about 7,536 million people according to the estimates of 2018.

Washington’s racial composition is as following:

White of European origin form the overwhelming majority of the population with a percentage that mounts to 74%, Black or African American 3.2%, Asian 5.5%, American Indian and Alaska Native 1.6 %, Latin American  7.5%, mixed races 3.6%, in addition to 3.9% of other races.

Major religious affiliations of the people of Washington are: Christians: 60% (Protestant and Catholics), non-religious: 32%, Muslims: 1% (It is the 21st state according to the number of Muslims), Jewish: 1%, and other religions: 6%. These statistics are according to the estimates of the Islamic Organizations Council in the City of Chicago.

Arabs form 0.25% of the population most of whom are Lebanese whose number is 5,300. There are also some 1,250 American citizens of Syrian origin and 1,400 citizens of Egyptian origin.

Geography:

The western area of the state are evergreen lowlands covered with trees and plants. In distinct contrast to the west, Eastern Washington includes large areas of semiarid steppe and a few truly arid deserts. As for the northwest, southwest, northeast, and middle areas, they are known for their high mountains and mountain ranges. In fact, the state includes several high peaks including the highest and the most important peak: Mount Rainier

Rainier Mount

Climate:

A Mediterranean Climate predominates in summer, and a cold weather in winter. The average temperature in July is 19 degrees Celsius and about 1 degree Celsius in January.

History:

Before the Europeans arrived in Washington, the region had many established tribes of aboriginal Americans who lived in plains and valleys to the east of the Cascade Range. In the 18th Century AD, Spanish and British explorers spotted the land to the northwest of the Pacific Ocean – which is nowadays Washington. These explorers continued their voyage via California Coast without landing on the newly discovered territory. In 1778 AD, British explorer Captain James Cook sighted the area of the State of Washington but he did not land on it either.

In 1846, Britain and the USA signed a treaty that sets the borders of the state after dispute erupted on the borders of the two countries. It is worth mentioning that Washington became the 42nd state in the United States on November 11, 1889.

Economy:

Washington has several commercial and industrial activities forming essential elements in its economy. Retail and wholesale are among the significant businesses within the state besides external trade taking into consideration the close distance between it and the ports of the Asian countries. Other important businesses also include the design and manufacture of spaceships, aircrafts, ship-building, food processing, and lumber and wood products – the main agricultural product in the state beside other agricultural products such as: yogurt, wheat, and apples.  Livestock and livestock products make important contributions to total farm revenue, and the commercial fishing of salmon, halibut, and bottom fish makes a noteworthy contribution to the state’s economy. The Seattle metropolitan area and Tacoma were ports specialized in wood exports; however, later they turned to centers for trade with the state of Alaska.

Main Landmarks:

Mount Rainier: It is in the center of the state, and it is viewed as the highest peak in it with an attitude of 14,411 feet. Mt. Rainier is also considered one of the most active volcanos in the world. The first successful human climb to its summit was recorded in 1870 AD.

Mount Rainier National Park: This park is located in Lewis County, and it is one of the state’s main landmarks. It was inaugurated by the end of the 19th Century over spacious areas. Over a million tourists visit this park annually.

The Olympic National Park: It was first designated by President Roosevelt by the onset of the 20th Century. It has four regions with distinct natural ecosystems.

The Museum of Glass: Located in Tacoma, this art museum is dedicated to the medium of glass .exhibiting special glass items and works of art

Museum of Glass

Seattle City: It is the largest city in northwest USA. This seaport city is a main city in west America as per trade with Asian states in particular. Among its landmarks are:

Woodland Park Zoo: It is an international destination for tourists as it attracts over a million tourist annually. It includes over 290 species.

Pioneer Square: It was historically the heart of the city. It is famous for the 60 – foot -Totem Pole located in it. The square also comprises several Victorian style buildings including Smith Tower ـ  a 42 - story skyscraper as well as Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.

Olympic-National-Park-Washington

Downtown Seattle and Space Needle: It was established in 1962 for the World’s Fair. Then it turned to a tourist destination that includes a park, theatres, sports area, and restaurants.

Volunteer Park: It is in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. It is a 100 year old natural reserve that homes several tropical trees and plants. It also includes the Seattle Asian Art Museum which in its turn comprises showrooms for Chinese, South Asian, and southwest Asian art.

History of Islam

There is no clear date that records for us the first presence of Islam in the US society; however, there is a semi-consensus on the nature of this beginning. The pioneer Muslim emigrants reached the USA in small groups that started to grow with time.

Contrary to European emigrants, Muslims did not migrate to the USA to take it as a permanent residence; they rather sought to practice trade and better their social and economic status and then return to their homelands. However, with success and the ability to accommodate with the surrounding milieu, many of them preferred to settle in the USA. By and by, small communities of relatives and neighbors began to be formed. To organize their interaction with the immigrant country and to respond to the social events, pressures, and challenges that faced them by the beginning of their migration, Muslims sought to fetch the means that assert and prove their identity. One of the main such aspects was building mosques and setting the main pillars for social and cultural organizations and institutions. As such Muslims spread in the various US states including Washington.

Muslims Today
Islamic Center, Washington, D.C.

Muslims today form 1% of the population in Washington, and they practice their life freely in the various districts and cities of the state. Muslim communities especially that of students are numerous in the western areas of Tacoma and Lacey. Students also form the majority of the Muslim population in eastern Washington especially in the cities of Spokane and Pullman. Mosques also spread in most of the cities of the state. Among the main mosques are: Al Farouq Mosque, Al Yasin Mosque, Bilal Mosque and Bilal Islamic Center.

Islamic Schools:

A significant number of Islamic schools were founded in Washington with the aim of raising a Muslim generation and teaching the Arabic Language and the Islamic teachings. Among these schools are:

Islamic Saudi Academy in Washington: The School was founded in 1984, and it originally served to teach Muslim students Islamic studies besides the curriculum in the USA. It is a private non-profit full-time Islamic school.

Medina Academy: It was inaugurated in 2000. It is located in the city of Bellevue to the east of Seattle. Its classes include some 190 students.

Evergreen Islamic Center: It was first established in September 1991; the current seat was fetched in June 1994, and the center reopened its doors in September 1994.

Among its main activities is teaching the Muslim youth the Islamic studies in addition to the Arabic Language and memorizing the Holy Quran.

The interior courtyard of the mosque in Washington DC?s Islamic Center. (Shutterstock)
Muslims and the Holy Month of Ramadan:

In the Holy Month of Ramadan, Muslims practice all their religious rituals without any impediments. They view their society as one of the best societies that respect religions; however, still a section of the society has Islamophobia. Muslims gather in mosques to perform the daily prayers regularly in harmony and love that unite Muslims and strengthen ties among them.

Abdullah Al Harbi – one of the delegates to Seattle City – says that there aren’t any mosques specified to a definite community. Everyone searches for the nearby Islamic centers without going deep into the nature of the community that predominates the place, leading to harmony and affinity among hearts away from the political disputes among the Arab countries.

“Taqwa Mosque” in Seattle is viewed as one of the important sites where Muslims meet and tackle matters about their everyday life and the difficulties they face.

The official governments erect a stadium by the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan and provide it with security to organize the entrance and exit of Muslims so as to ensure that ceremonies be held without any offenses taking place.

Muslims gather in America upon a prior coordination with the imams of mosques to determine the place where Eid prayers would be held. People head with their families and children to attend Eid prayers and celebrate the occasion. Moreover, all public and private sectors in America give Muslims paid leaves to enable them to celebrate the Eid and visit each other. Perhaps the main mosques in Seattle where Muslims meet in such occasion are North Gate Mosque and Redmond Mosque which comprise great numbers of believers.

Spokane Islamic Center
Muslims in SeattleWashington:

The history of Islam in the City of Seattle began when emigrants came from their countries and settled there founding mosques and Islamic societies so as to secure a place to pray in, meet, and come to know each other; thus, they took personal initiatives in this perspective. Muslims in Seattle have four main places where they perform Friday Prayers: Idriss Mosque (Known also as the Islamic Center in Seattle; the World Islamic House in Washington University, the Islamic Academy, and the Islamic Center in South Seattle.

First Hijra Muslim Community Center

According to estimates, the number of Muslims in Seattle is between 4000 and 10000.

The main Islamic associations founded in this city include:

The Islamic Center of South Seattle: It is considered one of the oldest Islamic centers in Seattle as it was established by the beginning of the 1960s. With time, Muslims sensed the need to build a mosque, and so it was in 1981.

The Islamic School: It was inaugurated in South Seattle in 1980. It comprises some 300 students including a considerable number of non-Muslims. Among the main goals of this school is teaching the Arabic Language and the Islamic teachings.

The World Islamic House: It is an Islamic center that comprises several Islamic associations. It was founded by Muslim students of several nationalities in Washington University in 1980.

The Islamic Center: The main mosque was built in 1981. Friday prayers are held in this mosque which houses about 400 believers. The center is run by a committee elected from the sponsors of the center. Several activities are held in it including spreading the true Islamic teachings.

Islamic Center of Redmond

Sham Muslims: By the end of the 1970s, a group of Sham Muslims arrived in Seattle. This group soon sought to do an activity to stay gathered. Thus some of its members rented a house to be their gathering place. No soon that house turned into an Islamic center by the mid1980s.

The Islamic Center of Washington: It is one of the most famous and beautiful mosques in the USA. It plays a leading social and political role as the center’s board of governors is made up of various ambassadors of Islamic countries. It makes wide contacts with many and various international sides. The US government donated a 30000-feet-piece of land to the center.

It was inaugurated on 28 /6/ 1975 in the presence of US President Dwight Eisenhower who welcomed all Muslims in the Muslim world, highlighting the deep influence of the Islamic civilization on the civilizations that followed especially the western civilization.

The governors of the mosque sought to build an Islamic center adjacent to it to organize the social and cultural role played by the mosque. The center consists of 2 wings around the mosque; one comprises a grand hall for delivering lectures and a library that contains thousands of books, whereas the other wing is a residential area for the principle and offices for the center.

The role of the center and its services:

Muhamamd mosque

Thousands of people visit Washington Mosque for several reasons. Muslims of various sects head to the mosque to perform prayers, seek knowledge and information, tackle every day issues that concern the community and address its problems, as well as for family tourism and to admire its beauty. As for non-Muslims, they visit the mosque to get acquainted with the secrets of the Islamic religion and to appreciate its beauty and Islamic adornment.

Council on AmericanIslamic Relations (CAIR):

It is an American non-profit organization. It was established in 1994 in Capitol Hill in Washington with offices nationwide as well as in Canada. It was created as an organization dedicated to providing an Islamic perspective on issues of importance to the American public and as an organization that challenges stereotypes of Islam and Muslims. Through civil rights actions, media relations, civic engagement, and education, CAIR promotes social, legal, and political activism among Muslims in America.

Islamic Center of BothellBilal Mosque in Washington: It was established on August 1, 2009. Since then, it serves the society all over Bothell.

Islamic Center of Eastside (ICOE): It is also known as Bellevue Mosque. It is the first permanent mosque built in east Seattle. It serves the Islamic society since 1993.

Islamic Center of Tacoma: The center aims at merging Muslims in the American society and strengthening faith among Muslims. It started its activities as of 2009.

Muslim Council of Seattle: It is a non-profit organization that aims at promulgating Islamic values and principles in addition to providing social services in Seattle.

Masjid Fayd Al Islam: It is a non-profit organization which was established in 1992 to partake exclusively in religious, educational, and social activities in what agrees with the Islamic Sharia.

Masjid alNurIslamic Center of Olympia: It is a center for religious, educational, and social activities in Olympia – the capital of Washington. The center could polarize a great number of Muslims of various nationalities and ethnicities. Industrious efforts are exerted to expand the center due to the burgeoning body of Muslims.

The Islamic Center of Southwest Washington: The center offers social services for over 100 Muslim families in addition to registering and documenting marriages of Muslims.

Following are several Islamic centers that offer numerous services:

Iddris Mosque in Seattle

Islamic Center of Vancouver

Islamic Center of Kent

The Islamic Community Center in Shoreline

Shia

Like other Muslims, Shia are present in Washington where they hold several activities that help them establish themselves in that country and revive their religious and social life.

Shia take care to perform daily prayers regularly besides commemorating their religious occasions such as the birthdays and martyrdoms of Ahlulbayt (Peace be upon them). They also mark with much interest the days of Ashura where lamentation councils overcrowd with consolers who come to share their sorrows with Ahlulbayt (Peace be upon them) all through the days of the Month of Muharram. This is not to forget the Holy Month of Ramadan when collective Iftar dinners are held for the poor and others with the main goal of gathering the members of this sect in these blessed days.

Shia Societies and Centers in Washington:
Muharram mourning hold at Imam Mahdi Center of Seattle

IthnaAsheri Muslim Association of the Northwest (IMAN) In Arabic, the acronym IMAN also means “faith.” IMAN is one of the several Muslim organizations in the Greater Seattle area and was established in August 1997. IMAN Center is located In Kirkland, WA.

IMAN holds the following regular program:

Religious: Daily afternoon & evening prayers, Sunday Fajr prayers, Friday prayers, Thursday & Friday evening programs.

Education: Sunday school, Philosophy study circle, and SAT prep classes.

In addition there are special occasions commemorated at IMAN Center including Muharram, Milad-un-Nabi, Ramadhan & Hajj.

The Islamic Educational Center of Seattle: It is a non-profit organization dedicated to provide educational, cultural and religious services in the greater Puget Sound area. IECS is not affiliated with any political organization, political party, or any government.

Goals and Objectives:

  1. Providing a forum for better understanding and promoting the religion of Islam based on the Ithna Ashari Shia school of thought.
  2. Seeking and encouraging participation from all Muslims regardless of race, national origin, class, gender, school of thought, or political views.
  3. Maintaining and distributing funds and other assets and administer and apply the income and principal thereof exclusively for the charitable and educational activities of the organization.
  • AlMustafa Center: I
    Mustafa Center

    t is a nonprofit organization established, to serve, support, unite and strengthen the Muslim community and the community at large in the Washington Metropolitan area by providing and/or facilitating relevant and effective knowledge & learning (religious and other), social services, and improved communication and understanding based on the principles of the Qur’an and the teachings of the prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him and his Household).

  • AlMahdi Society of Washington: It was established in 1997 as a tool to build a bridge between its Arabic and English speaking community members. The program is designed to promote the values of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his Household) and Ahlulbayt (Peace be upon them).

The programs are based on carrying on the social, ethical, and spiritual standards of Muslims in America; and teaching the American society about Islam, and promoting a positive relationship with individuals of all religions and beliefs.

  • ZAINAB (A.S.) Organization of Greater Seattle: It is a federally registered non-profit organization committed to educating the people about the teachings of the “pure Muhammadan Islam” through prayers, khutbahs, duaas, educational and cultural programs.

The organization also runs  ZAINAB (A.S.) school on Sundays for the community of greater Seattle and provides other services includes social, matrimonial and funeral services etc.

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