Constructing a Dream in Times of Tumult

September 25, 2008

Author: Peter Applebome

Source: The New York Times

Back then they would meet at one another’s houses to pray, one evening at Mohammad Ziaullah’s, another at Khaja Fasihuddin’s or Jamal Kibria’s or Dr. Fayyaz Sheikh’s.

It was long ago. Ronald Reagan was president. Billy Martin was manager of the Yankees. Billy Ocean, Gloria Estefan and the Bangles were hot.

So when the Islamic Center of Rockland opened on Sept. 1, the first day of Ramadan, perched on 14.5 acres of the highest hill in Rockland County, it marked the fruition of something that took 20 years to build. And amid the quite routine call to prayer, there was a reminder that sometimes it’s worth paying attention to the tales about the dogs that don’t bark.

“It was like we were homeless for so many years, and you don’t know what a joyous thing it is, after all those years of hard work, now to have this home,” said Mr. Ziaullah, a senior quality control manager for a pharmaceutical company and board chairman of the new center.

He’s standing in the new 3,300-square-foot prayer room, with its 25-foot ceiling and custom-made traditionally designed Turkish carpet, each section marking one space for prayer. There’s a conspicuous American flag over the building’s entryway and cool green light from the rope lighting at the top of the hall that accents the white walls.