Brought to you be the Bush family, Rick Perry, Ted Cruz and mayor’s like Sylvester Turner!
The Library of Islamic Knowledge officially opened last weekend in downtown Houston. Mayor Sylvester Turner, joined by former Houston Rockets Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon, cut the ribbon of the lavish $2.5 million dollar library housed within the Islamic Da’wah Center.
At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Turner said: “This place is not just for Muslims, but everyone,” noting it opens the door for people of all faiths to learn about a different part of the highly diverse city of Houston, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Humbled to join fellow @UHouston alum @DR34M at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Library of Islamic Knowledge pic.twitter.com/ticTgjFP6D
— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) April 17, 2016
The Houston newspaper described the venue as “white marble floors of the opulent library contrast with its mahogany brown tables and bookshelves – some of which remain empty.” There’s no shortage of gold in sight. The library’s executive director, Ameer Abuhalimeh, said it cost around $2.5 million.
“The center is dedicated to the history, culture and public education of Islam,” said Abuhalimeh. “Our goal isn’t just to promote a balanced perspective of Islam, but also to serve downtown Houston and the community at-large,” he added. The library is open to the public and is part of a larger goal to offer a comprehensive educational resource to Houston residents.
The Islamic Da’wah Center opened in 2002 on the site of the former Houston National Bank. Olajuwon, who converted to Islam early on in his NBA career, bought the property in 1994, converting it into the three-story mosque that houses a main prayer hall, meeting rooms, classrooms, offices, and a kitchen. It was the first mosque in downtown Houston, according to the center’s website, and the first in the city “dedicated for Da’wah” (also spelled Dawa or Dawah).
“Broadly defined, Dawah means preaching, proselytizing or calling non-believers to Islam. Dawah is viewed in classic Islamic law as a communal obligation, meaning it is the general responsibility of the Muslim community,” says Kyle Shideler with the Center for Security Policy.
During the ribbon cutting ceremony, Turner also said he was happy the center will continue to serve as an educational resource for middle schools, high schools, and colleges in the area, something it has done since its soft opening two months ago, as reported by the Houston newspaper.
In 2015, the Houston Independent School District opened its Arabic immersion magnet public school, which the Qatar Foundation International (QFI) granted the district’s Board of Education $75,000 for “Arabic language activities and Arab cultural events for students, teacher professional development, educational resources, the promotion of the Arabic language, community outreach, and curriculum development” as part of the school’s educational mission. Similarly, Olajuwon described a demand for the library to help the museum “complete the educational mission of the institution,” in the Chronicle article.
Houston has the state’s largest Muslim population, which, by some estimates, accounts for 1.2 percent of the city’s population. The U.S. Census Bureau’s most current 2014 available statistics estimate 2,239,558 people reside in the city of Houston. The 2014 Social, Economic and Demographic Characteristics of Metro Houston identified Arab as an ancestry for 0.7% or 41,653 people as part of the current Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown Metro area (based on the 2013 American Community Survey) of a 6,313,158 total population. In the Houston newspaper article, Abuhalimeh claimed 200,000 Muslims live in Houston.
In 2015, the San Antonio Express-News reported there were about 80 mosques and, at least, 10 Muslim schools in Houston. According to a 2007 Pew Research Center survey, 65 percent of adult Muslims in the U.S. are foreign born. Pew’s 2011 survey of Muslim Americans noted more Muslims came to the U.S. in recent years: 12 percent came before 1980; 16 percent, during the 1980s; 31 percent, in the 1990s; and 40 percent since 2000.
In January 2016, Pew reported just over half of the projected growth of the U.S. Muslim population from 2010 to 2015 was because of immigration. They estimate 3.3 million Muslims of all ages live in the U.S., comprising around 1 percent of the nation’s population. Based on age, fertility, mortality, migration, and religious switching drawn from multiple sources, including the 2011 survey, Pew projects the U.S. Muslim population to double by 2050.
It will more than double by 2050.
PS: There’s also at least one Islamic sharia court in Texas.