A Glance into the History of Masjid Al-Salaam
(Excerpted from a speech Presented at the Grand opening of Masjid Al-Salaam October 27, 2003)
Mohammad Hossain, Ph.D.
Assalmu alaikum wa Rahmatullah! Peace and Blessing of God be upon you!
Alhamdulillah! It is with great pleasure and joy that I present to you a brief history of Masjid Al-Salaam. I will Insha Allah try to give you our ten years of hard work, dedication, and patience in just 10 minutes.
Throughout the 1990’s there were only four to six Muslim families known to be living in Rock Hill. My family has lived in Rock Hill since 1992 and was always looking for a place of worship. Until 2004 the Muslims in Rock Hill would drive an hour to Charlotte for the Jumah prayer or 1½ hours to Columbia for the Jumah prayer.
Around June 2004, several families came together and begin attending Friday Jumah prayer at the 208 Black Street, (in front of the Main Post Office). The part of the building was used for a restaurant and other part was used for Jumah gathering. Initially it was offered to us for free, and later we agreed to pay $350 a month for the weekly Jumah prayers.
In December 2004 the group of seven brothers and sisters met to organize a formal committee we called ICC Rock Hill.
For about two years until June 2006, we continued meeting for the Jumah prayer inside this small place which barely held 12 people. Luckily, the Jumah attendance was not more than 8 or10 people. We continued our monthly gathering and potluck, and everyone would bring in a dish to share.
One afternoon we came for the Jumah prayer and saw the building entrance was barricaded by the City of Rock Hill, and we were not allowed to gather there. Someone had informed the city and the building was ordered to cease operation as a religious assembly. We were in Zoning Code violation. The city required that the owner obtain a new use permit for religious gathering in the building. We were devastated and very sad that we lost the only place we had for the Jumah prayer.
However, the City never gave us permission to use the place again. Our Jumah prayer and monthly gathering was indefinitely postponed.
In the meantime, we were looking all over town for a place for gathering and worship. In January 2007, a group of seven Muslims brothers and sisters agreed to meet at Freedom Temple downtown, and address organizing the Jumah prayer.
Finally, in 2007 we found a space at the Freedom Temple in downtown Rock Hill. The group signed a lease with the Freedom Temple for a single room at a monthly rent of $200. We resumed our regular Jumah prayer and monthly gathering at the Freedom Temple and stayed there until September 2008. The Group registered there as the Islamic Center of South Carolina (ICSC). In August 2007 the Group applied for an Article of Incorporation with the State and received the State Certification.
While we were attending the Jumah prayer at the downtown Freedom Temple our small congregation grew from 10-12 attendees to 30 or more.
In the meantime the Muslim foreign students at Winthrop University grew to a sizable community. The students from the Middle East, especially, those from Saudi Arabia became an integral part of Rock Hill Muslim community.
After about a year and a half at the Freedom Temple, we started looking for a permanent place for a Masjid. In 2008, ICSC moved to the temporary location at Midway Plaza on 1705 Cherry Rd. Thanks to Brother Munir Brelvi of Charlotte who let us use the place for free for almost five years. May Allah bless him and his family for his generosity. We asked City’s permission to use this place for gathering. The nightmare began! City’s initial response was, the “ICSC was in violation of the Zoning Code”. We continued our appeals and after the 4th appeal, it was still a “NO”. We finally decided to meet with the City Supervisors to argue legality and the Zoning Code. After the meeting, the City finally reversed its decision and gave us full permission to use the facility for a Musala.
After looking in around Rock Hill we zeroed in on a the small brick church across the street from our current location. All members got excited and decided to buy the house for $160,000. We even put money down and seriously began a fundraiser to pay for the house. After several months we could only come up with $143,000. The property deal fell through.
We reopened our search for a bigger/better place, and there was this empty parking lot that has been sitting and growing weeds for 25+ years. We bought the land for $80,000 cash, hired a Charlotte Architectural firm, drew up the plans and asked the City’s permission to build a Masjid, in August 2009. The City reviewed the plan, and eventually gave us permission to build in April of 2010. We had our ground breaking in May 2010. From the ground breaking to finishing the Masjid in Sept. 2013, it took us 3 ½ years and it has been quite a journey.
With the blessing of Allah (SWT), your financial contributions, and a lot of prayers we have a permanent place now we call Masjid Al-Salaam.
May Allah bless you and your family for taking the time out of your busy lives to join the brothers and sisters of Rock Hill Muslim Community in celebrating the first ever Masjid in Rock Hill.
Assalamu alaikum wa Rahmatullah!