(Aug. 29, 2019) Making Change Radio host Catherine Read sat down with Stacey Picard and Saif Rahman of Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center to discuss the many ways the center serves the community. Stacey is the Assistant Director of Social Services and Raif is the Government and Public Affairs Director.The original Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque was founded in 1983 in a small brick house in the Culmore neighborhood of Fairfax County’s Mason District. In 1991, a large donation made possible the building of what is now the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center which includes the mosque that serves the area’s 40,000 muslims.
Dar Al-Hijrah serves muslims from over 50 countries, and the muslim community that has been here for generations back to the colonial days of early America, and Friday prayer services regularly have 3,000 attendees. For many muslims new to this country, the mosque is their primary source of information and assistance. But in addition to serving the local muslim community, there are social service programs that serve the needs of a diverse population that also includes Hispanic and Vietnamese community members.
The Islamic Center works with local churches in the area to deliver services such as meals, food distributions and health care services. There is a program at Dar Al-Hijrah to teach women to sew and provide them a sewing machine in order to provide them a path to earning income while caring for their families at home. There are programs that are done in collaboration with other area non-profits to provide specific kinds of services like English as a second language and English language literacy.
Dar Al-Hijrah is open to everyone and there are events such as their “Bring a Friend Iftar-Dinner” every Tuesday evening during Ramadan. They also host community meetings like the one that will be held about the upcoming national census on September 25th. Everyone is welcome here and the community is invited to come take a tour of the center, volunteer with one of the many programs offered here, and to collaborate on meeting some of the pressing needs of the Culmore area.