Islamic Society of Boston
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The Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) is a mosque and cultural center for Muslims in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The current Imam is Sheikh Sayed Abu Saud. ISB offers daily, weekly and annual programs for Muslims including Arabic and English classes on religious and secular topics as well as a religious school for children and holiday programs. The society also organizes trips and summer camps for children and classes on Islam for non-Muslims.
The society was founded in 1981 by Muslim students as a consolidation of Muslim Students' Associations at Harvard University, Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, Wentworth Institute of Technology, Suffolk University, and Tufts University. The organization's first location was a hall reserved at MIT where they held prayers and weekly seminars and classes. In 1991, the ISB purchased a Cambridge building as a community center and in 1993 purchased a second location and began to renovate it. In 1994 they opened the second location as a mosque. The ISB has also purchased a rental property to provide income for the annual operating expenses of the center.
Boston Marathon bombing controversy
The mosque came to national attention when it was revealed that it had been regularly attended by Tamerlan Tsarnaev and, less frequently, by Dzhokhar, the two brothers accused of the Boston Marathon bombings. The organization Americans for Peace and Tolerance has alleged that several former members are convicted terrorists and claims that the mosque teaches "a brand of Islamic thought that encourages grievances against the West, distrust of law enforcement and opposition to Western forms of government, dress and social values."
In the summer of 2004, the ISB began construction on a new center on land purchased from the city of Boston adjoining the campus of Roxbury Community College. The ISB agreed to compensate the city for some of the cost of the land through community service by donating books to and sponsoring lectures about Islam for the college, as well as maintaining local parks. The new facility is projected to accommodate 1600 individuals in prayer rooms, include an Islamic school for children, an Islamic library, a morgue with burial preparation facilities, administrative offices, a media center, store, a women's gymnasium, a kitchen, a hall for events, and an underground parking garage.
The building project has been surrounded by controversy. The purchase of the land valued at over $2,000,000 to the Islamic Society in return for only $175,000 in funds, as well as the dual role of Boston Redevelopment Authority Deputy Directory Mohammad Ali-Salaam as official overseeing and managing the sale on behalf of the city and principle fundraiser for the Islamic Society of Boston. Issues related to the legality of the sale and the public's access to information surrounding the sale have been the subject of two lawsuits both of which have failed.
The ISB is active in dawah, or educating the public about Islam. As part of this, the community engages in an interfaith project with Temple Beth Shalom in Cambridge. The organization participates in civil rights work with the ACLU, and has received a grant from the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) for civil rights and civics training for the Muslim community in Boston.
- Boston Herald October 23, 2003
- Miller, Judith. "A SLAPP Against Freedom". City Journal (The Manhattan Institute). Retrieved 2007-10-10.
- Dorell, Oren. "Terror suspects, fugitives and radical speakers have passed through the Cambridge mosque that the Tsarnaev brothers are known to have visited", USA Today )April 24, 2013)