Hoover Islamic Center
This rendering shows the planned expansion to the Hoover Crescent Islamic Center, which will include improving the center’s parking by filling holes and adding landscaping and retaining walls.
At the Hoover Crescent Islamic Center, an eye chart for the Red Crescent Clinic hangs opposite of “Ms. Susan’s Word Wall” for the weekend children’s classes. During Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, record breaking crowds overflowed out of the center’s tent. Hoover’s Islamic community is quickly outgrowing its space, and HCIC has begun raising funds for expansion.
When the HCIC moved into its Hackberry Lane location in 2007, expansion was already on its members’ minds. Ashfaq Taufique, president of the Birmingham Islamic Society, said the original conditional use agreement, which the city approved, included a master plan with tentative future expansion goals.
“We did not want to move into a facility where we would not be able to expand to the level that this facility would allow,” Taufique said. “Expansion of what we want to do has been in our mind since before we even moved here.”
As Taufique and others expected, the center’s use has outgrown its space in the past seven years. The Birmingham Islamic Society and the Red Crescent Clinic both operate from the HCIC offices and must share space with the 150 children who attend the Weekend Islamic School. Additionally, the center’s prayer hall hosts daily prayers and other religious ceremonies, parties and community activities year-round. Taufique said around 400 people attend Friday prayers throughout the year, but more than 600 attended this year during Ramadan, which lasted from June 28 to July 28.
What the HCIC needs, Taufique said, is better parking, more classroom and clinic space, and a community hall for dinners and youth activities like basketball. The center has not yet gotten official figures for these projects, but Taufique estimated the expenses at $2-3 million. The HCIC community will provide the entire funding amount through donations.
“We support our own,” Taufique said. “There’s no government support, there’s no foreign support. It’s whatever our community provides us.”
The center will cap its fundraising and project expenses each year at $250,000-300,000. This will slow the pace of construction, but it also keeps the expansion costs from burdening donors too heavily. The HCIC community donated more than $100,000 in 2013 and pledged an additional $170,000 in the month of Ramadan this year.
The first phase of the project is improving the center’s parking by filling holes and adding landscaping and retaining walls. If there is money available, Taufique hopes the center can also add water lines for the fire sprinkler system. The HCIC presented its parking design to the city in August to make sure it complies with city ordinances.
Construction could begin by the end of the year if the planning process goes smoothly, but Taufique said there are “a lot of ‘ifs’” that could delay the project.
“It is a rewarding task, but it requires a lot of sweating,” Taufique said.
The HCIC community is already excited about the expansion project, but Taufique expects to see more enthusiasm once physical signs of expansion appear. His hope is that 80 percent or more of the project will be completed in the next five years so the HCIC can continue to meet its growing community’s need for a place to gather, worship and learn.
“The reality for religious organizations is when people see tangible things happening, they donate,” Taufique said. “Once we start pouring concrete and putting the bricks in place, excitement is going to rise.”