Last month, a group of Southern Nevada Muslims observed the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in a way they never have before.
By praying in their own mosque.
And that, Rokai Yusufzai said, was a wonderful feeling.
Masjid-e Tawheed, 6180 W. Viking Road, formally opened in January, said Yusufzai, executive chairman of the Islamic Association of Las Vegas, and its opening – and members’ celebration of their first Ramadan there – marked the culmination of a journey that began in 2000.
That, Yusufzai said, was when the Islamic Association of Las Vegas was formed. At first, members prayed together in their homes and refined their focus toward establishing a mosque on the valley’s west side.
That is because members who worked on the western side of the valley – in Summerlin and The Lakes, for example – found it difficult to travel to other mosques across the valley for midday prayers, he said.
“We needed to have something on the west side of the community to make it easier for them because the professional people that we have living on the west side and the northwest and the southwest don’t have an hour or two of lunchtime from work.”
During the next several years, the community prayed at several facilities in the valley, leasing worship spaces as its membership grew. But the need for their own dedicated mosque became apparent.
“We looked at a lot of places and spent close to three years trying to find the right building,” Yusufzai said.
By late 2011, “we were almost ready to give up hope,” he said, when “I got a call from one of our directors (saying), ‘I found a building.’ ”
“I was skeptical at first,” Yusufzai said. But, when he saw the 9,000-square-foot building, he was amazed: The angle of the building as it is situated on the property faces toward Mecca, the Saudi Arabian city revered in Islam as the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad.
The community formally moved into its new mosque in January.
“The first Friday we had our prayers together, our numbers tripled,” Yusufzai said. “The word got around that Masjid-e Tawheed is open, and people were walking in from all directions: ‘Wow, we heard you were open. We’ve been waiting a long time for you.’ ”
Officers of the Islamic Association of Las Vegas include Mohammed G. Hashimi, president and imam; Rab Nawaz, senior vice president and imam; Dr. Mohsin Ahmad, administrator; and Dr. Mahomed Amirana, chairman.
Last month, Yusufzai said more than 1,000 people gathered at the mosque for prayers on Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.
Celebrating Ramadan there was “amazing,” Yusufzai said. “It’s a feeling that is extremely hard to describe: The serenity that you feel from the building, the calmness you have knowing the fact that it is yours and your kids’, and (that) next generations are going to come by and they’re going to pray and they’re going to send you blessings.”
In addition, Masjid-e Tawheed already has hosted visitors – tourists and conventioneers – from out of town, Yusufzai said, and “knowing that something that is yours can provide peace to people is a fantastic feeling.
“I can pray in my own house. I can pray outside the masjid, and when you pray, your focus is always on the almighty,” Yusufzai said. “I can take my prayer in the middle of the desert. I can pray in the mountains. But to be able to do it in a location that belongs to you and your community is a fantastic feeling.”
For information about Masjid-e Tawheed and the Islamic Association of Las Vegas, call 207-1997 or visit the mosque’s website, www.masjidetawheed.com.