Masjid as-Salaam

Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 28 August 2015.

Phone: 803-252-9447
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Activities and Schedule

The mosque is open for the daily prayers and the Friday jummah prayer. There are Sunday classes for all members, ages five through adult. The community also runs an Islamic school (Sister Clara Muhammad School) in the mosque, which meets daily and serves children in pre-K through 5th grades. There is a youth committee and a very successful masjid baseball team, which was undefeated in 2003 and made the front page of the Muslim Journal the week of August 15, 2003.
In addition, the mosque also offers classes in the basics of Islamic theology, the history of Islam and the life of the Prophet Muhammad, Qur'anic Arabic language courses, and understanding Qur'anic commentary (tafsir). Some women in the masjid are also active in CERWIS, the Committee to Enhance the Role of Women In Society.


This particular Muslim community traces its Columbia roots back to 1959, when the first followers of the Nation of Islam arrived in town. In 1975, after the death of Elijah Muhammad (the founder of the Nation of Islam) his son, W. Deen Muhammad, became the leader of the group. The Columbia group, along with the larger Nation of Islam, "underwent changes," as Shaheed says, that took them away from their racial separatist attitudes and more in line with the inclusive spirit of Islam. Today, the group is associated with the American Society of Muslims, an association of mosques and schools under the spiritual leadership of W. Deen Muhammadd.
The current building of the Masjid As-Salaam was constructed in 1979; Imam Shaheed came to Columbia to lead the congregation in 1980. Around 1983, the Sister Clara Muhammad School was founded.


The congregation of Masjid As-Salaam is predominantly indigenous African-Americans, but also includes some Indians, Pakistanis, Egyptians, Jordanians, and one or two Caucasians.


Masjid As-Salaam is located on Monticello Road, close to Interstate 20 and near Columbia College. The mosque is a small white concrete building. The prayer hall of the mosque has green carpet and white walls. (Green is the traditional Islamic color.) At the front of the room is a podium with microphone from which the imam delivers his Friday khutbah (sermon). Hanging on the wall behind the podium is a framed poster of the ninety-nine names of Allah and a green tapestry decorated with gold Arabic calligraphy and two images of the Holy Mosque and Ka'ba in Mecca. There are also several wooden panels on this wall.
The exit of the prayer hall leads into the common room, comparable to a "fellowship hall," which serves as a cafeteria for the Islamic school. There is a kitchen at the back of the room used for preparing the children's meals during the school day and the Friday meal after the jummah prayer. The Islamic school classrooms all are accessed from this main hall. The main entrance to the mosque is also in this area; it opens into a small foyer-like hallway that is directly connected to the common room (with no doors between the two). In the foyer area are framed photographs of the mosque members who have made the hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, and a large framed photograph of the Holy Mosque and Ka'ba in Mecca.

Sister Clara Muhammad School

The Sister Clara Muhammad School at Masjid As-Salaam was founded around 1983 and is a full-time elementary school, serving students from pre-kindergarten age through the fifth grade. Shaheed said the school's preschool programs are licensed by the department of social services. According to Jowayriah Hamin, who teaches third through fifth grade, the school focuses on bringing a "spiritualistic point of view" to all subjects studied. The students receive instruction in the basic academic classes as well as courses in Islamic studies. Since the students have to enter public school after the fifth grade, Hamin said it is essential that the school prepare the students to succeed in such an environment, but they also hope to give them a "strong spiritual foundation" that will accompany them into the public school setting.
The school day begins for the students with prayer and the school song. According to Hamin, the students are taught Arabic as a second language as early as preschool age, and in first grade they begin to study the language more in-depth. The students also recite Qur'an. Hamin said the school often brings in outside community members to talk to the students about subjects they are studying. For example, police officers and firefighters come to talk to the students about safety. The school does not currently have many related arts programs because of limited funding, but Hamin said the students do get some arts and crafts activities in the pre-kindergarten levels.

Interfaith relations

Masjid As-Salaam has been active in interfaith affairs in the Columbia area for many years. The community has been heavily involved in Partners in Dialogue, a local interfaith organization based at USC, for about seven to eight years, according to Shaheed. The community has also participated in interfaith dialogue sponsored by the South Carolina Christian Action Council for around 15 years. Shaheed said as a result of the community's highly visible presence among the interfaith community, they had not experienced many negative reactions against their group or their mosque after Sept. 11, 2001. He said because the group had been proactive in establishing good relationships with other faith communities and making their positions known on various issues, many people in the Columbia community already knew them and thus were not suspicious of them when Islam was thrown into the media spotlight after the September 11 attacks.

Researcher credits

Tracy J. Wells, 2003 Furman University, Greenville, SC