What is the Berkeley Masjid Foundation?
The Berkeley Masjid Foundation (BMF) is a non-profit, tax exempt corporation (tax ID 94-3191601) run as a charitable trust.
What is the BMF’s mission?The BMF strives to increase Islamic awareness while providing a communal focal point for Muslims and those interested in Islamic ideology. A primary goal of the organization remains establishment of a permanent masjid within Berkeley that will serve as a center of excellence for both Islamic education and outreach while embodying the Islamic ideals of tolerance and enlightenment.
What is the history and involvement of the BMF in the Berkeley community?The BMF was originally formed as a non-profit religious organization on April 19, 1990 and incorporated as a non-profit religious organization on July 23rd, 1992.
In the past, the BMF managed Mosque was run in several different locations throughout the city:
- 1990-1993: 228 Fulton Street
- 1993-1995: 2510 Channing Way
- 1995-1999: 2434 Dwight Way
- 1999-2004: 2366 San Pablo Ave
These temporary facilities were leased and the rent/operational fees covered by donations largely gathered during Friday prayer services. Between 1999 and 2005 the BMF also arranged for Friday prayer services at the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) on Bancroft Avenue, across from the UC Berkeley campus (which cost approximately $5,000 per year). Today, students are still renting the YWCA for Friday services and are forced to gather the necessary funds themselves. The establishment of a Mosque would help ease this burden.
In addition to arranging for Friday prayer services, the BMF organized several community activities and provided core facilities at the above locales, including:
- Friday night Islamic study circles
- Adult Arabic classes
- Weekend Islamic school for children
- Study area for students
- An Islamic library with English translations of the Quran and multi-lingual scholarly texts
- Community potlucks
- Free daily community iftars during Ramadan
- Taraweeh prayer services led by a Hafiz-e-Quran
- Eid prayer services
Inshallah, with the establishment of the new masjid, these programs will be re-implemented and expanded upon. There will be a particular focus on the re-institution of an Islamic school for children.
Why has the establishment of a permanent Masjid taken so long?Muslims have had a presence in Berkeley for over a half century, and yet no masjid exists within the city. This is attributable, in part, to the fact that the majority of Muslims in Berkeley are students who are not only transient residents of the city, but also have very limited time and financial resources.
Over the past 15 years, an active effort has been underway by the BMF to establish a masjid situated close to the UC campus for students and other Berkeley residents. The process has been a long and arduous one due the limited resources of the intended patrons of the Masjid (i.e. students). Despite this, individuals working with the BMF have donated generously time, money, and technical expertise to see the project through to completion. By Allah’s grace, their efforts have resulted in the purchase of the present property at 2716 Derby Street.
Has a building permit ever been issued and what work has been completed on the property itself?The first building permit was issued by the City of Berkeley on February 8th, 2001 and work on the Masjid began soon thereafter. However, work stopped in November of 2003 as the City of Berkeley required revision of both the building plans and strategy for renovation. However, during this time, demolition, excavation, and foundation work was completed. Additionally, the majority of framing work, plumbing, wall masonry, and first floor heating system was also finished.
Since early 2004, the BMF has had ongoing negotiations with the City of Berkeley over the renovation strategy, technical details of the plans, and expectations of the local residential community regarding the Masjid. After several meetings with Berkeley City Council Members, inspectors, and numerous re-submissions of building plans, we have finally received approval to begin construction. Official permit approval was granted on the 27th of February, 2007. However, in order to release the permit and resume construction, the city requires a building fee of $32,000 which has since been paid. We have the required building permit and construction is ongoing.
When completed, what will the Masjid facilites include?The Berkeley Masjid is a two-story building located near the intersections of College and Derby (6 blocks from the UC campus). Facilities will include:
- Large multi-purpose conference room
- Rooms for a study area/office
- Restrooms with ablution area
- Front Lobby and Balcony
- Main prayer hall (2,000 sq ft)
- Library room
- Audio/Video room
What prior fundraising efforts have been undertaken and what became of those funds?To date, four fundraisers have been conducted for the explicit purpose of purchase and development of the present property. These were held on 5/10/1998, 12/23/2000, 05/13/2007 and 10/24/2009. In addition to fundraising events, the BMF has been working continually on fundraising efforts from various avenues. Nearly $1,500,000 have been raised and this money has been spent on the purchase, maintenance and ongoing construction of the property.
What is the present financial status of the Masjid?The Masjid is now officially owned by the BMF. The combination of fundraising efforts as well as loans from private individuals have enabled the BMF to acquire the property and move forward with maintenance and construction of the Masjid. Looking forward, completion of the project will require approximately $430,000 as of 10/15/2009. Since then, approximately $40,000 have been raised.
What other organizations are affiliated with the BMF?The BMF is an independently run organization and has no ties or connections with other groups on the local or national level. However, the BMF welcomes collaboration with other groups who share similar missions and goals.
Is the BMF open to all creeds?The BMF strives to establish an atmosphere of tolerance and enlightenment for the productive and educational exchange of ideas and thought. The planned Masjid will be open to all Muslims as well as non-Muslims who wish to learn about Islam.