Craig L. Moran/ViewKhaliq Baig, president of the Islamic Information Center, inspects the grounds of the new facility at 1610 E. Russell Road on March 11. Donations totaled $500,000 for the $1.5 million project, and additional buildings are planned.
Center seeks to inform community about Islam
By MAGGIE LILLIS
VIEW STAFF WRITER
Construction dust continues to settle at the Islamic Information Center, but all are welcome to the new place of worship.
It has taken officials three years and many steps of cutting through red tape to be able to open the doors on the center at 1610 E. Russell Road.
But the reasons for moving from the previous space at 5383 S. Maryland Parkway are easily numbered, said center President Khaliq Baig.
The new space checks in at 3,200 square feet, double the size of the previous building. Also, there are 108 parking spaces to the previous building's capacity for seven spots. The building and all the renovations cost $1.5 million.
The old building could accommodate members streaming in and out for the five-times-daily prayers, but when it came to the larger Friday prayers, Baig said they had to go elsewhere.
"We can have 120 people in here for Friday prayers and only have seven parking spaces," he said.
Visibility and more room for members to unite in prayer is exactly why the center purchased the lot in 2007 for the new site.
On a recent Thursday, four taxi cabs waited for patrons who stopped to pray. Baig said the new location has better access from McCarran International Airport and Strip hotels.
"We already have lots of coming and going," he said.
This is the third space the center has occupied since opening in 2002. And it won't be the last. Renderings for bigger, better worship, study and rental space have been drafted and are waiting for time and funds to fall into place.
The future buildings would occupy the current lot and total more than 15,000 square feet. The center already has been approved by Clark County to erect a dome and minaret to the octagonal building.
The second future building would include a meeting room, upstairs rental space and an apartment for an imam, a spiritual leader.
"It took us three years to get here," Baig said. "It may take us another two or three to get there. Who knows?"
Applicants for the imam position must have completed an Aalim course from a well-recognized school, have at least three years' experience and be Hafiz, fluent in English and Arabic.
The renovations and upgrades to the building, which was previously a single-level home, totaled about $500,000 in donations, Baig said, but members are excited for the new space. Also, new free programs for women and children will be added.
"It was the need of our community to expand and be in a centrally located space," he said. "We are here to provide info about Islam to Muslim and non-Muslims."
For more information about the Islamic Information Center and for a listing of events, visit www.iiclasvegas.com or call 837-3400.
Contact Centennial and Southeast View reporter Maggie Lillis at email@example.com or 477-3839.
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