ANAHEIM – An Islamic mosque with plans to expand is now operating in a small former church that was previously occupied by a Maronite Catholic church.
The sale prompted questions – even from church parishioners – about the future of the site.
The Jafaria Islamic Society purchased the building at 1546 E. La Palma Ave. (near St. College Bouleverd) and has been using it as a mosque since June. The Islamic Society has plans to expand the building and change the façade with architecture more reminiscent of Islamic traditions.
The building is less than a mile from another mosque – the Islamic Institute of Orange County, on State College Boulevard.
St. John Maron Catholic Church, which follows the Maronite Catholic tradition founded by a fourth-century Syriac monk and is in communion with the Roman Catholic Church, had owned the building since August 1995.
As church attendance grew, St. John Maron made plans in 2005 to expand the building. It began construction in October 2008 but a few days before Christmas that year, a fire destroyed part of the building.
Instead of continuing with renovation and expansion, church leaders instead moved the church to Orange in October of 2010, leaving the future of the Anaheim building unclear.
Recently, church parishioners and nearby residents noticed that the Anaheim building had sold to a mosque.
“It does seem odd to me that a building consecrated as a church would be sold to an Islamic faith,” said Hilda Ramirez, a Catholic from Anaheim unaffiliated with St. John Maron. “But at least it’s still serving a religious purpose for people trying to do good.”
Just don’t cross them Hilda, the quote on their website exhorts its members to kill you if you do.
Officials at St. John Maron didn’t return phone calls seeking comment.
The website for the Islamic center shows that purchase of the 1.4-acre site next to Sycamore Junior High and the upgrades are estimated at $2.2 million.
A city spokeswoman said that building permits have been requested and granted for a 1,465-square-foot re-construction project. The mosque’s website states that it has plans to add a library and resource center.
That verse displayed with the following verses might be of interest to neighbors and local officials granting permits. From the Muslim Brotherhood’s USC MSA campus “Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement” website:
YUSUFALI: Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors.
PICKTHAL: Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors.
SHAKIR: And fight in the way of Allah with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits, surely Allah does not love those who exceed the limits.
YUSUFALI: And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.
PICKTHAL: And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers.
SHAKIR: And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out, and persecution is severer than slaughter, and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you in it, but if they do fight you, then slay them; such is the recompense of the unbelievers.
YUSUFALI: But if they cease, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
PICKTHAL: But if they desist, then lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
SHAKIR: But if they desist, then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
YUSUFALI: And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression.
PICKTHAL: And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrong-doers.
SHAKIR: And fight with them until there is no persecution, and religion should be only for Allah, but if they desist, then there should be no hostility except against the oppressors.
Quran.com puts it more succinctly.
And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.