Prince William Islamic Center, the biggest mosque in the Manassas area, will soon begin work on an expansion to its Mathis Avenue center.
The 2,600-square-foot expansion of the mosque’s assembly space was cleared last month by the Manassas City Council, which approved a special-use permit for the assembly use and the new structure that will go up at 9002 Mathis Avenue, as well a number of landscaping improvements the mosque plans to make to the site.
Among other things, the congregation plans to plant 24 trees in the mosque’s parking lot, while adding bicycle parking and new handicap spaces to the 164-spot parking lot. A 20-foot landscape buffer will face Mathis Avenue.
Representatives from the mosque said that when the expansion is complete, the center anticipates about 20 to 30 people daily will attend morning prayer, 40 or so for evening prayer, and up to 200 for daytime services on Fridays. On weekends, the congregation also holds religious school for children.
The congregation has worshiped in Manassas since 2005, according to the mosque’s president, Mohamed Hassan, and started small with about 20 people in the area looking for a place to pray together. The group moved into its location, a former Department of Motor Vehicles office, over a year later. Now, with a growing number of women attending services, Hassan said, the mosque needs to expand its women’s prayer space.
One woman told the City Council that her family had been praying at the mosque since it opened, and that it had greatly benefited her children.
“For those of us who raise teenagers, we know how lovely their mood swings are. I have four children, my two oldest have benefited from attending the masjid,” she said, using the Arabic word for mosque. “When I was a busy mom, working as a network engineer full-time, they were spending time at the mosque after school, on the weekends. And because of that, they've learned proper etiquette, they’ve received youth counseling.”
Raheel Sheikh, who in 2019 ran as a Democrat for the Coles District seat on the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, told the council that his family has been attending services at the mosque for almost 15 years. He said the mosque not only provides religious offerings but also creates a hub for the community.
“The mosque is a community center; it’s not just a place of worship only. This is where we come together, we raise our kids. Mosque offers several programs to the community, including youth counseling services, family counseling services, rental assistance in the time of need, food pantries,” Sheikh said. “This is the village which is raising our kids together.”