The history of the Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley (ICSGV) spans over four decades! The Center was established by dedicated and forward-thinking Muslims living in the larger San Gabriel Valley area.
In the late 1970s, several Muslim families moved into the area. At the time, the closest Masjid was over 35 miles away. Initially, Jum’uah (Friday) and Taraweeh (Ramadan night) prayers were conducted in the garages of these family homes. As the number of Muslims continued to grow steadily, these families concluded that it was time to dedicate a formal space for praying in Jama’ah (congregation) and educating themselves and their children about Islam. It was then that the concept of establishing an Islamic Center was set in motion.
In early 1982, these initial families came together to rent the library room at Lorbeer Middle School — at the corner of Diamond Bar Boulevard and Golden Springs Drive in Diamond Bar — on Sundays. As a small but regular number of children and adults came to the weekly gatherings, teachers taught classes covering Islamic topics around the middle school library tables. Organizers arranged for Dhuhr prayers to be performed in congregation followed by a humble social hour, with families bringing food to share. Everyone stepped in to help the nascent beginnings of ICSGV.
Later that year, as the number of families grew, the Sunday congregation moved to Diamond Bar High School’s gymnasium. Organizers erected portable partition walls on the gymnasium floor to create small, makeshift classrooms for children. In those early days, the classes were primarily divided into three age-groups: elementary, middle and senior levels. Meanwhile, the adults met in one corner of the gymnasium floor for group Qur’an reading classes led by the first ICSGV president, the late Dr. Rafiq Rangoonwalla. The echo of the Dhuhr Azaan (call to prayer) was so overwhelming in the gymnasium that curious students and parents would peak through the open doors out of curiosity.
As the attendance grew, it became clear that the incipient community was outgrowing its temporary weekly accommodations and that the community needed a place to conduct daily prayers and regular classes. In late 1982, community members arranged to lease two units in a commercial strip mall on the northeast corner of Colima Road and Nogales Avenue in Rowland Heights. One unit was used as a prayer hall and the other for the newly established Weekend Islamic School, led by the late Dr. Noor Jehan Mohamadi. In this new facility, ICSGV was finally able to establish the five daily prayers (including the Jumu’ah prayer) as well as the Taraweeh prayers in Ramadan and the Eid prayers.
Thereafter, in early 1987, the community came together to purchase a small church located on the corner of Walnut Drive and Otterbein Avenue in Rowland Heights. In subsequent years, the community — through the efforts of numerous dedicated and generous individuals — was able to raise funds to purchase the adjoining properties, allowing for the sprawling campus on which the current ICSGV building is now located. In 2013, the community — again, through the generous and selfless efforts of numerous individuals — completed a transformative construction project to erect the 45,000-square-foot structure complete with a school, mortuary, health clinic, and library.
A number of the key community members who were instrumental in the establishment and continued operation of ICSGV have now passed away. May Allah (swt) bless their souls and grant them a place in His Jannah — Ameen!