History of the Islâmic Center of Hamden

1987-1997: Background Prior to the Islâmic Center of Hamden

Alhamdulillâh, the first musallâ/masjid in Hamden was established by a few families around 1987 in a small rented storefront location at 815 (?) Dixwell Avenue. After a few years, the community grew and a larger building was rented across the street at 840 Dixwell Avenue.

During those years a number of programs were begun in the Hamden/New Haven area, including:

  • Monthly unity dinner and lecture: hosted every month by a different masjid in Connecticut and also the Islâmic Center of Western Mass.
  • Monthly publication of the Iqra newsletter: developed from a small photocopied flyer-format distributed locally to a professional publication distributed, alhamdulillâh, all over the United States.
  • Meetings with public school officials: On February 10, 1993 the Muslim Education Committee met with Lyn Caliendo, R. Balisciano, S. Willison, and Jo Garagliano of the Hamden Public School system to discuss concerns in the areas of prayer, pledge of allegiance, holidays, dress, showering, P.E., music, and dietary restrictions. Agreement was reached on accommodations for Muslim students attending the Hamden public school system in these issues.

With a growing community and pressure to acquire a permanent masjid property, Masjid-al-Islâm had been investigating a number of possibilities before purchasing a building at 624 George St. in New Haven. The masjid was thus moved from Hamden to New Haven and efforts to develop the community were centered there for many years.

1998: First Steps Towards the Islâmic Center of Hamden

After several years, with a growing community not only in New Haven, but also in Hamden and surrounding towns, a strong need was felt to reestablish a permanent masjid in Hamden along with other facilities for the Muslim community, such as a school, madrasah, slaughterhouse, and graveyard. The first steps toward this were taken towards the end of 1998 with the result that a lease was signed with Wilbur Cross Commons, 60 Connolly Parkway, Hamden, beginning on December 1, 1998, for a small room (880 sq. ft.) – suite #14-207. The lease was for $500.00/month including all utilities. At this location, Tarâweeh prayers were held for the first time in Ramadân 1419. A pair of huffâz were invited from Darul-Uloom in Bury, England to lead the prayers: Hâfiz Asjad Patel and Hâfiz Saeed Mulla.

This was followed by the first session of Madrasa-tun-Noor, which ran from the beginning of February 1999 till June 20, 1999. Classes were held on Saturdays and Sundays, 11AM-1PM, to teach children the basics of Islâm and how to read the Qur’ân.

On June 27, 1999 (8AM – 1PM), Madrasa-tun-Noor celebrated the end of its first session with a Summer Picnic for students, parents, and the entire Muslim community of the New Haven area. This was held at Brooksvale Park in Hamden, and alhamdulillâh was such a success that such picnics have been held regularly every year since then.

Events during the Summer and Fall of 1999:

  • July 10 – September 5, 1999: Madrasah Summer session.
  • September 26, 1999: Madrasah field trip to the Durham Fair.
  • September 18 – December 5, 1999: The Madrasah Fall session ran, with an increased number of class hours on Sunday (10AM – 1PM) and no classes on Saturday.
  • October 16, 1999: A Hamden community planning group meeting was held in which the main issues decided were: Tarâweeh prayers were to be held once again at Masjid-al-Islâm in New Haven. No arrangements were made in Hamden this year due to a decision to move the madrasah to West Haven. This decision was made because the room at Connolly Parkway had become much too small for the students, and there was not enough monetary support to afford a move to a larger room in the same complex.

Thus, according to some arrangements made by brothers in West Haven, Madrasa-tun-Noor moved in January 2000 from Hamden to a leased facility at 502 Sawmill Road in West Haven. The lease was $889/month for a basement area of several rooms covering about 3350 sq. ft.

2000: Official Establishment of the Islâmic Center of Hamden

Events of 2000:

  • January 23 – May 28, 2000: Madrasah Spring session held in West Haven location.
  • February 7, 2000 (l Dhul-Qaidah 1420): A purchase of 2.7 acres of land was finalized for $20,000 by the grace of Allâh at 698 Newhall St, Hamden for the purpose of establishing the masjid/madrasah/graveyard complex.
  • March 25, 2000 – An organizational meeting for setting up the Islâmic Center of Hamden as a registered non-profit organization was held. Officers selected were: Habib Sultan (President), Yousaf B. Kashmiri (Secretary), Khalid H. Butt (Treasurer). Directors: Zia ud Din Butt, Saleem Noormohamed, Tahir Jalal Butt, and Mohammed Farooqi. The Islâmic Center filed with the State of Connecticut for the certificate of incorporation which was obtained in April 2000.
  • May 6, 2000: A fundraising dinner and lecture was held. The guest speaker was Shaikh Yusuf Estes from Virginia, a former Christian preacher whose father, a former Christian minister, who also became Muslim, gave a very heartwarming presentation.
  • June 18, 2000 (8:30AM–2PM): The second annual Madrasah picnic was held at Brooksvale Park.
  • July 9 – September 3, 2000: Madrasah summer session was held at West Haven location.
  • August 19, 2000 (10AM - 2PM): An inaugural picnic and Zuhr prayer was held at the land site – 698 Newhall Street in Hamden. This was primarily held to show activity on the site in order to obtain the town property tax exemption.
  • August 31, 2000: The Islâmic Center of Hamden received Federal 501(c)(3) non-profit tax exempt status.

Due to major maintenance problems with the West Haven building and its general unsuitability as a location for classes, Madrasa-tun-Noor was moved back to Hamden. A larger set of rooms was leased (Suite #11-201, about 1100 sq. ft.) at 60 Connolly Parkway. The lease began on September 1, 2000 for $750/month including utilities.

  • September 17 – November 19, 2000: Madrasah Fall session held on Sundays at 60 Connolly Parkway, Suite 11-201.
  • Ramadân 1421 (November-December 2000): , Tarâweeh prayers once again held in Hamden. Hâfiz Khalid Ameji and Hâfiz M. Asif Riaz came from Darul-Uloom, Bury in England to lead the prayers.

During these few years, a number of field trips were held by Madrasa-tun-Noor: to the Durham Fair in Connecticut and the Bronx Zoo and Catskill Game Farm in New York.

Events of 2001:

  • January 14 – May 27, 2001: Madrasah Spring session on Sundays.
  • May 5, 2001: A fundraising dinner and lecture was held in the Hamden High School cafeteria. The guest speaker was Muhammad Zakiuddin Sharfi from NJ. Over $40,000 was raised in cash and pledges.
  • June 30, 2001 (9AM onwards): at Brooksvale Park, Madrasa-tun-Noor Summer Picnic 2001.
  • July 1 – August 26, 2001: Madrasah Summer session on Sundays.
  • June 18-July 12, and July 30-August 23, 2001: A daily program of classes was held during the summer at Madrasa-tun-Noor from 1:15PM-3PM on Monday through Thursday. This was limited to 10 students due to limited facilities and staff.
  • September 9 – November 4, 2001: Madrasah Fall session, Sundays only once again.
  • September 29, 2001: A Madrasah field trip to Durham Fair. (Hardly anyone came due to fears following the events of 9/11! But alhamdulillâh, no problems were faced there.)
  • November 3, 2001: Current version of the bylaws of Islâmic Center of Hamden were approved with 12 founding members on the Board of Directors.
  • Ramadân 1422 (November – December 2001): Târaweeh prayers. Hâfiz Khalid Ameji and Hâfiz M. Asif Riaz again came to lead the prayers for the month. Also, this year arrangements were made for community iftâr parties on Saturdays and Sundays. The bank account of the Islâmic Center of Hamden had collected about $70,000 in funds at this time.

Events of 2002:

  • December 23, 2001 – May 19, 2002: Madrasah Spring 2002 session. Girls’ and boys’ classes did a final Islâmic poster project, which was displayed at the May 19 fundraiser.
  • May 19, 2002 (5-10PM): A fundraising dinner and lecture held in the Hamden High School cafeteria. The invited speakers were Maulânâ Shamsul Arefin of New York and Shaikh Muhammad Mukhtar Haidera, Imam of Madina Masjid in Windsor, CT. About $30,000 was raised in cash; approximately $60,000 in pledges. At this point cash in hand was $132,024.74.
  • June 9, 2002 (9AM onwards): Brooksvale Park; 4th annual Madrasa-tun-Noor Summer Picnic.
  • June 23 – August 25, 2002: Madrasah Summer session.
  • September 8 – November 3, 2002: Madrasah Fall session.
  • September 22, 2002 (9AM onwards): An “end of the summer” picnic was held at Brooksvale Park due to popular demand.
  • September 28, 2002: Madrasah field trip to the Durham Fair.

During the summer of 2002, a program of monthly potluck community dinners was begun. It was decided that these were to be held on the first Sunday of every month.

In October/November 2002 (actually on the very 1st of Ramadan 1423) the Madrasah moved to a bigger set of rooms (about 3000 sq. ft.) at 60 Connolly Pkwy, Building 17-212. This year Hâfiz Bilal Omarjee and Hâfiz Abbas Saeed, who were from Reunion Island (a small island near Madagascar off the coast of southeast Africa), came from Darul-Uloom, Bury to lead the Tarâweeh prayers. The weekend iftâr parties were also held this year with a great increase in attendance.

From December 15, 2002 – May 18, 2003 the Madrasah Spring 2003 session was held.

In March 2003, by the grace of Allâh, a program of daily after-school classes was begun at Madrasa-tun-Noor, from 5-7PM on Monday through Thursday. The class attendance (both daily and on Sundays) ranged from 50-75 students.

More events in 2003:

  • May 4, 2003 (5:30–10PM): A community dinner and fundraising program was held in the Hamden High School cafeteria. The guest speaker was Imam Al-Ameen Abdul Latif from Long Island, NY. Over $20,000 was raised in cash/checks, not including pledges.
  • June 22, 2003 (9AM onwards): Brooksvale Park, 5th annual Madrasa-tun-Noor Summer Picnic.
  • June 29 – October, 19, 2003: Madrasah Summer session (both Monday-Thursday and Sunday classes).
  • July 19, 2003: Field trip to Beardsley Zoological Gardens. 38 adults and 41 children attended; a very nice, enjoyable outing in the company of fellow Muslims, alhamdulillâh.
  • June/July 2003: The Special Zoning Permit for the new Masjid/Madrasah building at 698 Newhall St. was approved by the Town of Hamden, alhamdulillâh! The preliminary stage of surveying and building design for obtaining this permit was done by Lawrence Associates of Hartford.
  • August 3, 2003: At this month’s community dinner, Maulânâ Shamsul Arefîn from New York, was invited as a guest speaker, giving a very inspirational address to the attendees.
  • Ramadân 1424 (October – November 2003): Hâfiz Usman Mohammed Iqbal and Hâfiz Ismail Altaf of Darul-Uloom Bury led the Tarâweeh prayers. Iftâr dinners were held this year on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. Alhamdulillâh we were able to arrange with the landlord to hold the iftâr functions and the ‘Eid prayer in a large warehouse (Building 4). Also, this year an all-night program of ibâdat was held on the 27th of Ramadan.
  • October 2003: The services of the Lawrence Associates and HRP Associates, Inc. (as architect and surveyor, respectively) were terminated as alternate, much more economical, firms had been approached for bids on the next set of architectural plans for obtaining the Building Permit.
  • November 29, 2003: The architectural services of Guedes-Kahn Inc. (Bridgeport, CT) were engaged for drawing the plans necessary to obtain the town building permit.
  • December 7, 2003 –May 23, 2004: Madrasah Winter-Spring session began.

Events of 2004:

  • January 4, 2004 (5PM): At the monthly community dinner our guest speaker was Br. Nafees-ur-Rahman from Glastonbury who gave a nice overview of the history of Hajj and its origins in the life of Prophet Ibrâhîm (‘alayhis-salaam).
  • January 17, 2004: Community meeting held in which was discussed: progress on the building, madrasah progress, Eid-ul-Adha and moonsighting, fundraising, committees of the Islamic center, and formation of a shura/”think tank.” Minutes are here.
  • March 7, 2004: Community Dinner – Guest speaker: Mufti Irfan Kabiruddin, Imam and Khateeb, Masjid Al-Islam, Providence, Rhode Island.
  • April 3, 2004: Community Dinner – Guest speaker: Dr. Mufti Muhammad Zubair Usmani, Darul Uloom Karachi, Pakistan.
  • April 24, 2004 (5-10PM): Fundraising Dinner and Lecture in Hamden High School cafeteria/auditorium. Guest speaker was Shaikh Abdool Rahman Khan from the Islamic Foundation, Chicago.
  • May 22, 2004: Field trip to Beardsley Zoological Gardens.

Current Activities & Services of the Islâmic Center of Hamden

(many carried out in conjunction with the Connecticut Council of Masâjid)

  • Daily jama’ah and jumu’ah prayers.
  • Daily (after-school) and weekend madrasah classes for children and adults.
  • Weekly halaqah (Thursday night) and family dars (Friday night).
  • Monthly community dinners with occasional guest lectures from local brothers and visiting ‘ulama (scholars).
  • Annual picnics for the Muslim community of the Hamden/New Haven area.
  • Field trips and outings for Muslim families.
  • Wedding/marriage services.
  • Funeral (janâzah) and burial arrangements. Workshops on how to perform janâzah.
  • Local moon sighting efforts.
  • Tarâweeh prayers and iftâr during Ramadân. Hâfiz arrangements for other masâjid through the Connecticut Council of Masâjid.
  • ‘Eid and qurbâni (udhiyya) arrangements.
  • IQRA monthly newsletter and Islâmic resources website (http://ccminc.faithweb.com).
  • Da’wah publications and programs.
  • Development and publication of resources for Islâmic school usage (Qur’ân reading Qâ’idah, book of children’s du’â, book of children’s hadîth, etc.).