Prince Abdulaziz Ibn Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz, Minister of State and Cabinet Member, yesterday opened in Culver City, a western suburb of Los Angeles in California, the newly-completed King Fahd Mosque, work on which began in April of 1996. The mosque, costing SR 8.1 million (U.S. $ 2.16 million), was financed entirely by private donations from Prince Abdulaziz, who contributed over one million dollars for the purchase of the land, and from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz.
The mosque has already become a landmark, with its minaret standing more than seventy feet in height. The mosque occupies an area of about 7,200 square meters and can accommodate 2,000 worshippers at one time. Other facilities include lecture and meeting halls, classrooms, research centers, a bookshop, a children's playground, and a car park. The city of Los Angeles has a Muslim population of more than 250,000.
The speakers at the opening ceremony, in addition to Prince Abdulaziz himself, were Dr. Abdullah Al-Obaid, Secretary-General of the Muslim World League; the Honorable Imam Warith Edeen Muhammad, of the Muslim American Society; Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, President of the Islamic Society of North America; and the Honorable Pete Wilson, Governor of the State of California. In his speech, Prince Abdulaziz announced that King Fahd has donated a school for the recitation of the Holy Qur'an and education in the Islamic sciences, which will be affiliated to the King Fahd Mosque and established adjacent to it.
After the ceremony, Prince Abdulaziz attended a dinner party given by the Saudi Consul-General in Los Angeles Muhammad Ibn Abdulrahman Al-Salloum. During the dinner party, speeches were delivered praising the inauguration of the King Fahd Mosque by former chief of the White House staff John Sununu; Mahir Athour, head of one of the Islamic Centers in California; William Baker, the American writer; and Ahmed Al-Tuweijri, member of the Consultative Council (Majlis Al-Shura) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
In an impromptu speech during the dinner party, Prince Abdulaziz said: "Islam rejects all forms of terrorism, extremism and aggression and at the same time it does not accept any transgression against it". He went on to point out that in Islam: "there is no form of racism or nationalism since people are all equal before Allah, the Almighty".
The inauguration of the new mosque has evoked praise worldwide. Secretary-General of the International Islamic Relief Agency (IIRA) Dr. Adnan Khalil Basha said today that the patronizing of the opening of King Fahd Mosque in Los Angeles by Prince Abdulaziz was clear evidence of King Fahd's concern for all Muslims, and noted that the mosque would be the focal point of Muslims' gatherings in Los Angeles and a place where they could strengthen their bonds of brotherhood and friendship.
Two former U.S. Presidents, George Bush and Gerald Ford, have commented on the King Fahd Mosque. President Bush said the building of the mosque through the generosity of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz signifies not only his support for Muslims worldwide, but also the unique bond between the people of the United States and Saudi Arabia, and asked Prince Abdulaziz Ibn Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz to convey to King Fahd his esteem, and respect for what he has done to foster goodwill between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia and to support Muslim communities in America. President Ford said all Americans are most grateful for this magnificent gift from King Fahd, adding that the grand opening would be a memorable day in the city of Los Angeles.
Minister of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance Dr. Abdullah Ibn Abdulmohsin Al-Turki said in Riyadh last week that the mosque is located in a very important location at the crossroads of a number of highways and close to a large Islamic community. Commending this great Islamic project as embodying the care and interest of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz in the service of Islam and Muslims, he said this noble gesture by the Saudi monarch would contribute a great deal in propagating the message of Islam and projecting a good and true image of it.
Consul-General Al-Salloum said on Thursday that the opening of the King Fahd Mosque is a great accomplishment and a solid brick for the building of welfare and solace, and continues the immortal noble works of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz in the light of his care and interest to build mosques, scientific centers and cultural centers within the framework of the Kingdom's role in the service of Islam.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has given great attention to Islamic centers, institutes and universities in non-Islamic countries to help Muslim minorities preserve their Islamic culture and educate them in the Arabic language. In addition to 1,500 mosques scattered all over the world, there are 210 such Islamic centers fully built or partially financed by the Kingdom, including those in London, Edinburgh, Madrid, Rome, Tokyo, Brussels, Geneva, Toronto, Zagreb, Lisbon, Vienna, Buenos Aires, and Lagos; one in New Zealand, and three each in Australia and in Brazil. In Asia there are, fully financed by the Kingdom, King Fahd Islamic Centers in the Maldives, in Japan, and Indonesia. In Africa, the Kingdom has fully financed, for example, the King Faisal Center in Chad, and contributed to mosques in Gabon, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, and Senegal, and Islamic Centers in Nigeria, Algeria, and the Sudan.
In the United States the Kingdom has contributed to Islamic Centers in Northern Virginia as well as in Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Toledo, Fresno, Boulder, New Brunswick, Tucson, East Lansing, Raleigh, and Columbia (Maryland).