Meet the imam building a ‘Muslim Village’ in the heart of Vegas

Meet the imam building a ‘Muslim Village’ in the heart of Vegas

Meet the imam building a ‘Muslim Village’ in the heart of Vegas

The imam, who leads Masjid As-Sabur, the oldest mosque in the Las Vegas area, is quick to clarify: “Not casino lights — I’m talking about noor,” he said, using the Arabic word for light that Muslims often use to refer to God’s divine presence.

Since 2010, Seifullah has led an initiative to develop what he calls a “Muslim Village,” just miles north of the glitz and hedonism of the Strip. His congregation has slowly but surely driven local drug houses and gangs out of the historic neighborhood known as West Las Vegas. Now, the mosque is on a mission to purchase the surrounding properties and transform them into affordable housing.

While properties were often becoming available, few Muslims in the area saw any value in them — until the imam, who says new construction has an uplifting psychological impact, reframed the development effort as a 10-year project to create a transformative Muslim community.

Inside the growing “village” are a free medical clinic, a food pantry, a library, a community garden and a Monday-through-Friday school for youth. The mosque also provides meals, temporary housing for women facing abuse or other issues, short-term rent and utilities assistance, and a faith-based 12-step program to recover from addiction. By next year, Masjid As-Sabur hopes to expand beyond one- and two-bedroom apartments to begin constructing townhomes on the vacant lot beside the mosque.

All the facilities and services are available to anyone of any faith who is in need. A third of the approximately 20 Muslim Village renters, most of whom are college students, women and seniors, are not Muslim.

For over a decade, the mosque has also brought together hundreds of local volunteers to arrange an annual Day of Dignity event. Led by the national Islamic Relief USA organization, which has donated to Masjid As-Sabur as part of its domestic charity program, mosques around the country spend one day a year providing hot meals, school supplies, hygiene kits, clothes, medical care and other resources to those in need, according to the organization’s website. This year’s event is scheduled for Oct. 26 in Vegas.

Source: Religion News Service (RNS)

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