The Islamic Center of Greater Toledo recently celebrated its “Grand Reopening” with diverse speakers, informal tours and dinner, more than a year after the Perrysburg mosque was struck by an arson fire.

The Islamic Center of Greater Toledo celebrated its reopening on Dec. 15, nearly 15 months after an arson fire caused $1.5 million in damage. Photo by David Yonke/Toledo Faith & Values

The Islamic Center of Greater Toledo celebrated its reopening on Dec. 15, nearly 15 months after an arson fire caused $1.5 million in damage. Photo by David Yonke/Toledo Faith & Values

The event was originally supposed to take place on Saturday, Dec. 14, at the mosque but was postponed a day due to a snow storm.

Cherrefe Kadri, Islamic Center president, said 225 people attended the event.

The speakers included Imam Farooq Abo-Elzahab, spiritual leader of the Mosque; Hussein Shousher, a member of the mosque; Tom Brice, Perrysburg Township fire chief; Sgt. Jim Gross of the Perrysburg police; James Mossing, president of SMB Construction Co.; Mahjabeen Islam, former mosque president, and Ava Dustin, U.S. attorney. Amjad Hussain, a member of the mosque, was the master of ceremonies and Kadri also spoke.

Islam, a local physician, recounted the day when she first heard about the arson attack at the Mosque on Sept. 30, 2012. She was president of the mosque at the time.

“I was doing rounds at Toledo Hospital and, as is my custom, I had left my purse in the nurses’ station. When I came back from the patient’s room there was a flood of messages on my phone,” she said. “The first I checked was from Imam Farooq — there had been a fire at the center, the voice mail said. I raced down I-75 convinced that it was a false alarm or else a short circuit. From a distance I could see the ladder of the fire truck touching the minarets and a plume of smoke exuding from the side of the dome.

Dr. Mahjabeen Islam was president of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo when it was hit by arson on Sept. 30, 2012.

Dr. Mahjabeen Islam was president of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo when it was hit by arson on Sept. 30, 2012.

“About [four] hours later Fire [Marshal] Frank [Reitmeier] told me it was no accident but arson instead. I remember driving home that night [feeling] numb, dazed, robotic,” she said.

Her full speech can be viewed here.

Islam said she appreciated the support and unity of the Toledo community after the hate crime, but said Americans must work on eliminating discrimination and prejudice.

“There are way too many Muslim men that are denied employment or harassed at work because they have a beard,” she said. “Too many women have to appeal to the courts to be able to wear hijab at their workplace. And Muslims do feel that they live under a state of siege.”

Kadri said she received positive feedback from the guests about the event. She said the guests especially enjoyed Fire Chief Brice’s talk.

“People said he spoke from the heart. He talked about the community and how we’re all one and the idea of no differentiation between people and that’s what harms society when you do that. He did a really great job,” she said.

Cherrefe Kadri, president of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, speaks to the media after Randy Linn was sentenced to 20 years for setting fire to the mosque.

Cherrefe Kadri, president of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, speaks to the media after Randy Linn was sentenced to 20 years for setting fire to the mosque.

The tour of the mosque was informal, with community members stationed around the building to assist the guests, who were welcome to walk around and ask questions, she said.

Kadri said the ICGT members are blessed to live in a  supportive community.

“Our community has always done the right thing, not  just the Muslim community, but the greater Toledo community,” she said. “I think we got a really great area to live in around here.”

1 Comment

  1. jules of Holy Toledo

    jules of Holy Toledo

    TODAY’S CONTEMPLATION:
    A man asked the Prophet, “What sort of deeds or (what qualities) of Islam are good?” The Prophet replied, “To feed the poor and greet those whom you know and those whom you do not know.”

    — Hadith narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr, as related by Al-Bukhari

    For this day I bid all my friends at the Islamic Centre and…. all my friends to be, a most Happy New Year.

    …..Jules of Holy Toledo…

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