It took a year of planning, raising money and even a few locals voicing concerns, but a new mosque at 23616 W. Main St. in Plainfield opened its doors last week.
Zaki Basalath, Secretary of the Islamic Foundation of the Southwest Suburbs, a nonprofit organization, said the community has been welcoming. The new mosque is the location of the former Montessori of Plainfield, which moved last year.
The foundation began about 10 years ago with a small storefront on Renwick Road and Route 59 in Plainfield, but it’s grown with a number of families moving to the area, mostly because of the school system.
“We thought this would be an ideal place to move when we bought it,” Basalath said. “And here we are.”
But as the foundation was planning to make the move, some residents in a nearby neighborhood were concerned about more traffic in the area, parking and for the cross that was on the church to be delivered to a relative of the person who made it. The foundation agreed to the requests. They built fencing to block car headlights from beaming into homes and agreed to expand the 37-car parking lot if needed.
“It was a big hurdle for about six months, with lots of negatives and positives,” Basalath said. “But after that, everything worked out in our favor.”
There also were some parts of the building that needed upgrading, including sprinkler systems. The mosque has a main prayer space on the first floor, as well as classrooms and a multipurpose room downstairs for gatherings. It also plans to offer weekly information technology classes on the weekend.
The foundation held an open house and ribbon-cutting Thursday, and welcomed anyone who wanted to see the space. Plainfield public officials and residents took tours, ate food the foundation served and even participated in a Q&A session with members of the foundation.
Basalath said the foundation has received a number of welcoming phone calls and even gifts delivered to them, but they still wanted to take the opportunity to open their doors to a community they’ve known and already have been a part of for some time.
“Basically, we wanted to promote ourselves even more,” he said. “The community knows who we are. We’re not strangers. We’ve been here, and this is a great opportunity to have a stand-alone, individual building that will get more exposure out to the community.”