Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 25 March 2005.Phone: 248-857-9200
Research conducted by The University of Michigan-Dearborn Pluralism Project.
HistoryThe Unity Center was established in 1993 by Victor Begg and other Muslims living in the northern suburbs of Detroit who felt a need to develop an Islamic center in the area. They saw it as a part of the metropolitan area that had a growing Muslim population, but the closest mosque was 15 miles away. In addition, the Unity Center was to be a place where not only a variety of ethnic groups would come together, but a place where a variety of schools of thought within Islam would be welcome.
ConflictThe building that Unity center acquired was originally a school in Bloomfield Hills, an affluent suburb north of Detroit, in Oakland County. The building had been owned by the Pontiac School District. The founders of the center faced some initial problems from the surrounding community, since neighbors were strongly opposed to using the building as a religious center. Opposition was so strong that CBS television became involved in the production of a documentary on the conflict and the accommodations that had to be made by the area. As the idea was better presented to the community, its residents came to accept the center, and at the hearings, Jewish and Christian clergy spoke on behalf of the Unity Center.
DescriptionThe building, which is surrounded by 11 acres of land, has 8 large classrooms, a gymnasium, and kitchen. Plans are currently being made to remodel the building to include a new prayer hall with separate areas for both men and women, a dome, and minaret.
DemographicsAbout 200 people are affiliated with the Unity Center, and represent a wide variety of ethnic groups including Arabs, African Americans, Pakistanis, and Indians. Over the past few years, the number of Arab Muslims at the center has increased significantly. While Arabic is used by some members for informal conversation, English is the most commonly used language at the center.
ActivitiesThe center operates a day-care center during the week, offers Sunday school classes, and sponsors weekly conferences. There are summer programs targeted at young people. Friday prayer is at 1:30 p.m.
Interfaith ActivitiesThe center is a member of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan. Members of the Unity Center are very involved with metropolitan Detroit interfaith activities, especially the National Conference for Community and Justice. During Ramadan, members of the center have broken their fast with the area's Christians and Jews and used the time to learn about each other's religious beliefs and traditions.