Plans for construction of a mosque on Zion’s west side were discussed at an appreciation luncheon hosted Wednesday by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community at Baptist Grace Missionary Church.
The annual event’s invited guests included fire, police and city employees, social organizations the group has partnered with in the past and Zion mayor Al Hill, who was recognized for his support for the Zion chapter Muslim group.
Hill was presented with a “Love for All, Hatred for None” plaque at the event, and was praised for his instrumental endorsement for the mosque.
The plaque read: “For his leadership in nurturing a city that honors its diversity.”
“Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there about Islam, and it’s understandable how people come up with ideas — (for example), the way some Muslims behave and what’s covered on TV,” said Junayd Latif, outreach coordinator of the AMC Zion chapter.
“We were hoping that that concern wouldn’t turn into us not being able to expand our home in Zion,” Latif added, referring to the request to the City Council, which gave the green light in 2016 for the construction of the approximately $2.5 million project.
The mosque will be completely funded by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s national organization and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019, just in time for the 2020 festivities scheduled to take place across the world in celebration of the Muslim group’s centennial, officials said.
The local group’s new prayer site will sit on 10 acres at the corner of Lewis Avenue and 27th Street, just a mile away from the ThunderHawk Golf Club in Beach Park.
Although much buzz was generated by blueprints presented Wednesday, Shams said the architectural drawings still have to be approved by the National Mosque Committee.
Officials said they are hopeful final sketches will be approved and finalized within a month or two, and that they can break ground in early spring.
Three key components that will be part of the mosque regardless of the final configuration will be an exhibition hall that will house items and documents that tell the story of the religious organization’s creation, a residence for the group’s imam, and a payer hall that includes the traditional minaret — a tower from which the faithful are called to prayer five times per day.
Andrew Gomez, a social science teacher at Zion Benton Township High School, also spoke briefly about the long-standing partnership between the school and the organization on Wednesday.
Gomez said the group is “the friend you can always count on” in the community.
Why does the local mosque have a relationship with the public high school?
Oh, and about that misunderstanding of Islam. Illinois: Two Zion Muslims arrested for conspiring to help ISIS.