The Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts was established in 1982 as a non-profit organization. In 1983, the first Masjid (mosque) was established in western Massachusetts by the Society on property purchased at 377 Amostown Road, West Springfield, MA. Initially, the small brick house in the front of the property was remodeled and served as our Masjid. With the steady growth of the community, a larger facility became necessary. Therefore, construction of the new facility was begun in 1991 and completed by the summer of 1992, at a cost of $ 750,000, raised primarily by local contribution from generous members of the Society. The need for further extension particularly for school facilities was soon realized and so the School extension project was started and completed in 1997 at a cost of an additional $ 250,000.
The completion of the building is particularly significant, as this is the first Masjid in western New England to be built from the ground up. Theretofore Muslims have established Masjids that were built as renovations of existing structures. We are thankful to Allah (Subhanahu wa taala) for this blessing, and understandably proud and thankful for the unity and determination shown by the members of our community in support of this project. Although we are relatively small in numbers and rather limited in resources, we have been able to finance the construction of this building solely through contributions from members of the society and by donations from supportive Muslims of the surrounding area. We have neither sought nor received any funds from governmental or non-governmental agencies.
The Masjid itself is of a simple and modest design. Perhaps its most striking feature is its structural simplicity. The building’s functional practicality serves our purpose of worship, education and social interaction. The building is positioned so that when we stand for prayer we are facing the direction of the sacred city of Mecca and more particularly the house of Allah (Subhanahu wa taala) which is known as the Ka’ba, first built by Abraham and his son Ismael, peace be upon them. Muslims the world over are required to face the Ka’ba when they perform their ritual prayers.
The Masjid is used for prayers, religious education and social events. Since it is kept open for all the five prescribed prayers, it is virtually always available for the use of worshippers. Moreover, it is open to individuals wishing to perform supererogatory prayers, to do research or individual study. Although we follow the Sunni Islam as taught by the prophet Mohammad, peace and blessings be upon him, ( Ahlu as-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah ), the Masjid is always open to all Muslims and is not restricted to any denomination, sect or membership. Those who are not Muslim are also welcome here to observe, learn about Islam and Muslims, and to engage in dialogue around issues of common interest and concern.
The Administration of the Society is conducted by an elected body, the board members, called the Shura comprising of nine members, three of which are elected each year for a term of three years. The Amir or president, a vice-president, treasurer, and a secretary are elected by the Shura members annually for a term of one year.
The first record of Muslims in Western Massachusetts is from 1895 – 1900 as Lebanese immigrants moved into the area. The next major influx was in the 1970′s, of professionals (mainly doctors) from the Indian subcontinent. Like Muslims around the globe, the Muslim community in western Massachusetts is richly diverse in terms of ethnicity and cultural expression. Our members come from several countries worldwide including many in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Africa and the Americas. We have different languages, different colors, different ethnic origins, different nationalities, different professions, different cultures, but we are united as one faith, Islam; one heart, one brotherhood serving one Almighty God, Allah (Subhanahu-wa-taala). We regularly share and enjoy a vast variety of international foods, dress and language all of which fit comfortably within the pale of Islam.