The dream to build a domed mosque on Princess Place Drive is getting closer for Wilmington’s oldest Muslim place of worship.
Tauheed Islamic Center (currently at 721 Castle St.) broke ground on the 4,000-square-foot mosque at 4029 Princess Place Drive in 2010, but the plans stalled for two years in the city permitting process.
Now, in the first few days of Ramadan – the Muslim month of fasting, prayer and almsgiving - Imam Abdul Rahman Shareef, Tauheed’s spiritual leader, is looking forward to spending next Ramadan in the new mosque as it begins construction in 2013.
“The whole idea is to build for the future,” Shareef said. “We have to have a shell of this material world to grow.”
Tauheed Islamic Center on Castle Street is a small blonde brick building, a former fish market area Muslims converted to a worship space in the 1970s. Just inside the door is a dressing area where the 25-30 congregants take off their shoes before entering for prayers. The men sit up front while the women sit in the back. The one prayer room is too small for partitions. An extra room to the left was added later for children’s educational programs.
"We worked and saved and saved and bought properties and sold them to buy the Princess Place Drive plot," he added.
The new mosque will seem cavernous by comparison. The architectural drawings from former city councilman Ron Sparks show an elongated building with a dome on the left side. The prayer room will face Mecca. To the right of the prayer room are separate wuta or washing stations for both women and men. There will be a kitchen, educational rooms and an office area.
Tauheed has the smallest membership of Wilmington’s three Muslim congregations now, but Shareef believes building the area’s first domed mosque will attract worshipers.
“That’s one of our biggest concerns, getting families,” he said. “We have outgrown 721 Castle. This is not really a masjid. It’s an Islamic center. A masjid has a little more to it.”
The imam hopes Ramadan is the spark to finish their fundraising and move the center into a new era.
“Ramadan is a time of recovery and renewal to our life and energy and zest,” Shareef added. “We believe this is why this project is so important. We hope coming out of Ramadan will give us an added zeal.”
Amanda Greene: 910-520-3958 or