Dar-us-Salaam is a Muslim community in College Park, Maryland featuring the al-Huda Islamic school. It is well known in the Muslim American community especially on the East coast. Recently they had a special Iftar Dinner event at their College Park, MD location to announce that they have made plans to purchase a 66-acre property which was home to a former Catholic School, Woodmont Academy (According to their website, it was closed as of June 2011).

With Allah’s permission, the Dar-us-Salaam community is embarking on a new, bold and exciting phase of its development — to acquire a 66-acre property in Howard County, Maryland which would serve as its new Islamic education and community campus. The campus will serve in shaa Allah as a hub for education, community service, and da’wa for Muslims in the region as well as Muslims across the nation. Join us as we build for the future, trusting in Allah and seeking acceptance from Him alone. (Source: homeoftheheart.org)

This is really great news and they have already posted a possible design concept which looks grand and awesome. Although there are some interesting points to consider. The Dar-us-Salaam community is currently in College Park, MD which has a strong Muslim population and very close to the DC metro area. It is easily accessible off 95/495 and well known to the greater Muslim American community. The new location is off I-70 in Cooksville, MD which is a rural-suburban town in Howard County – one of the richest counties in America – but it is not well known and not a commonly traveled area like the 495/95 corridor. The homes in the area range from 600k to 1.5 million. It’s not cheap to live there like it is to live in College Park, MD area. Also, the average median income in Cooksville is above 100k.

All of this might be good things too. Usually areas that are rich in real estate and strong in household incomes tend to be safer and better places to live and raise a family. Why not an Islamic center and school? Plus, Muslims in America aren’t that poor again. We’re right behind the Jews, Catholics and Mormons as one of America’s wealthiest religious communities. So why not build it in a rich suburban neighborhood?

I am happy to see this happen and I pray to Allah that it is successful.  I also pray that the community is open, transparent, inclusive and friendly towards the entire community as they move forward in this process.

You can learn more about this project and support the effort here.