One of the reasons for Sterling resident Shirin Elkoshairi to go to the ADAMS Center is for “spiritual maintenance.”
“It was spiritually reinforcing and uplifting to be around people of the same beliefs,” said Elkoshairi, 29, who was raised as a Muslim and has been a member of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center since the early 1990s.
Elkoshairi’s second reason is for building a community among members and non-members alike. He explained the notion of community Saturday as he stood in the bare front room of the new masjid or mosque, which is on the verge of opening in Sterling and will be the first permanent building for the Center’s 1,500 family members. ADAMS began Friday services on Nov. 29 and is awaiting finishing work on the parking lot before opening the center for daily prayers.
The "open, larger structure is much more inviting to our neighbors to see what Islam is about,” Elkoshairi said at the open house. “Before we would be renting a part of a building, a floor, and it wasn’t permanent. It’s hard to make your mark on the community. It’s tougher to invite your neighbors.”
FIFTEEN TO 20 families founded ADAMS in the Reston and Herndon area, gathering together for congressional prayer and a place of community as stressed in Islam. The families met in each other’s homes for a few years, then in various rented buildings. The membership, which is diverse in race and ethnic groups, continued to grow with new members coming mainly from eastern Loudoun and western Fairfax. The members currently meet in rented space in a hotel in Fairfax, a church in Reston and a rental unit in the Sterling Community Plaza , which ADAMS plans to continue renting. Their spiritual leader is Imam Magid of Herndon.
“We have the satellites to spread the prayer,” said Sterling resident Yasir Syeed, 28, director of community and media relations for ADAMS.
To accommodate the growing membership, ADAMS began in fall 2001 to construct a 25,000-square-foot building that straddles the Loudoun and Fairfax county line, combining drywall and Islamic architecture in the structure.
“It looks like a masjid and it looks American. It’s a manifestation of Islam and America,” Syeed said. “We’re a very transparent organization. We don’t want people to have the feeling this is a closed organization.”
“There’s a lot of space to do community things,” said Jafar Miller of Herndon, a Muslim for the past 15 years. “I feel this will be a big unifying force in our community. Before we were scattered in different places. … Now we finally own something we can bring everyone to.”
THE FRONT ENTRANCE of the masjid leads into the main or multipurpose hall, where rugs cover the floor for Friday prayer, while a room upstairs is reserved for daily prayers. Other rooms upstairs will be used for a library and a youth area. Twelve classrooms located on the main floor will be used for Saturday and Sunday school, Arabic as a second language classes and ethnic cooking classes.
“A masjid is a living, breathing type of facility,” Syeed said.
ADAMS members as Muslims believe in a sublime God, giving testimony of their faith by saying the one deity is worthy of worship. They believe Jesus, Adam and Moses and others mentioned in the Koran are prophets or messengers sent by God.
“We don’t believe God has any partners. We believe God is sublime,” Syeed said. “He is the creator and everything else is His creations.”
The Muslims give their testimony to God as the first of the five pillars of Islam. The second pillar calls for five daily prayers, which can be done anywhere as long as the members can be in a position of sajud, resting with their forehead on the floor from a squatting position to signify their spiritual connection with God. The members pray before sunrise and in the afternoon, the late afternoon, at sunset and at night. Every Friday, they are required to pray in a congregation.
The third pillar in Islam or Ramadan requires adult Muslims to fast for a month from sunrise to sundown, this year from Nov. 6 to Dec. 6. As long as they do not have a medical condition, Muslims are required to abstain from food and drink, Syeed said. “It’s not about torturing yourself. It’s about appreciating the food you do have.”
RAMADAN aims to provide a physical and spiritual cleansing, showing Muslims that if they can discipline themselves physically to not eat, they can discipline themselves spiritually as well. They are required to give to charity on an individual basis or to the masjid that it turn disperses money to those in need.
The fourth pillar, zakat, requires Muslims to pay a certain percentage of their financial worth to charity. “It has to go to something that helps alleviate people in poverty,” Syeed said. “With our blessings, there’s responsibility. In material matters, you thank God for what you have. You always push yourself better spiritually.”
Hajj or the pilgrimage is the fifth pillar, required of Muslims once a lifetime to visit Mecca and retrace Abraham’s steps.
“What life is all about, Muslims believe, is pleasing God,” Syeed said, adding that pleasing God involves praying, being a good neighbor and showing mercy and respect for others.
“We know there’s a community here as well. We want to do whatever possible to help reach out to them,” Syeed said.
The ADAMS Center is located at 46903 Sugarland Road in Sterling.