Chantilly The motto of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community is "Love for all, hatred for none." Its Web site is www.MuslimsForPeace.org.
It therefore seems ironic to the members building a new place of worship in Chantilly that, sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning, their new mosque was vandalized.
"They smashed all the windows on the ground floor," said member Seher Chowdhry. "It looked like it was done systematically. One window’s completely gone; the others have holes and cracks in them. There was even damage done to the walls by chipping them."
The mosque is nearing the end of construction and, when the builders came to work Monday morning, she said they discovered "glass shattered all over the floor. It was a mess, really. Each window costs $3,000-$6,000 and is custom-made, so it’ll probably take $60,000 to fix them all."
"The culprits threw big rocks from the outside and also used the big, solid stones lying outside," said member Usman Ghumman. "Some went through the inside glass, due to the forceful throws; others broke the outside glass. But both layers of glass need to be replaced."
After receiving a call about the property destruction, Fairfax County police went to the site Monday, Jan. 30, around 8:40 a.m. They found extensive damage to the mosque, but said there was no evidence that the vandals had entered the building.
According to police, "Detectives and bloodhounds were used to collect evidence. In addition to evidence related to the destruction, several discarded containers of alcohol were discovered."
The investigation is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS/8477, e-mail at www.fairfaxcrimesolvers.org or text "TIP187" plus a message to CRIMES/274637 or call police at 703-691-2131.
"I think it was drunken youth that did it," said Chowdhry. "They came in from the back, where the area is forested. There was some blood on one of the beer bottles, so one of them must have cut themselves. The police will take a DNA sample from the blood."
Monday evening, after seeing all the damage, she talked with neighbors living in the nearby townhouses. But, said Chowdhry, "They didn’t hear anything. One person said his car had been vandalized previously, though."
She said the incident will make her more alert and aware but, most of all, she’s sad about all the hard work that was destroyed and will now have to be redone. "It took us years to raise the money for it," said Chowdhry. "It’s a shame because we were looking forward to opening in February, and now it might have to be delayed to May."
Ghumman said the members are both distressed and dismayed that "in today’s day and age — especially in our community where so many of us are from such diverse backgrounds — some individuals would be so ignorant, violent and cruel to attack a place of worship."
He said the Ahmadiyya Muslims come from a region of Asia where they are persecuted and killed for being Ahmadis. There, said Ghumman, their mosques are attacked and destroyed by religious zealots who preach hatred against the Ahmadis because of their peaceful beliefs.
"So there is a bad current stirred by enemies of Islam in the West, using and creating terms such as Islamophobia, Islamist, Jihad, Islamic Shariat, etc., to instill fear and incite hatred against all Muslims," he said.
On the contrary, though, continued Ghumman, the Ahmadiyya Muslims — who’ve been in the U.S. since 1921 — believe in "the prophethood of the holy founders of all the major religions on earth. We have no political agendas or the backing of any governments or organizations. Our goal is the peaceful worship of Allah, and the wellbeing of the communities and lands we adopted to live in — nothing more."
Ghumman said those who vandalized the Chantilly mosque even tried to damage the specially built doors and left "an enormous amount of empty beer cans and alcohol bottles" behind the building. But he said the members of the mosque won’t let the vandalism shatter their spirits or enthusiasm.
"All the Ahmadiyya community members are saddened by the news that their efforts and financial sacrifices are hurt by one, bad incident," he said. "Still, our members are very resilient, and such incidents can never break our willpower and good faith in the community we live in. Many a bad thing in our lives brings out the best in us and draws us closer."