A few hours ago at the masjid I was informed that IIASA, known commonly as the mahad to many, will be closing down permanently come June 1. Although no specific reasons have been cited for this decision, I think many people saw this coming as there was no real use for a facility of its magnitude solely for salaatul jumuah and Ramadan.
Having attended Oakton High School in Vienna, VA, IIASA was almost like a masjid for me growing up. From the beginning of my sophomore year, my friends and I made a tradition of skipping our 7th period class on Friday. We’d go to the ma’had for jumuah, rush home to change clothes, and then meet up at the basketball court and play until dark. When I started driving to school in my senior year, I began going to the mahad routinely for Thuhr prayer in jama’ah. At that time, the Arabic program had about 30 students enrolled in the full time program and dozens more were attending Islamic Studies classes in Arabic by Shaykh Yusuf Shubaily and Dr. Ahmed Turkistani. Alhamdulillah, I still remember the fresh smell of musk on the carpets and the camaraderie amongst the students taking classes.
During my sophomore year in college, I decided to enroll into the full time Arabic program and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Within six months I went from the level one Arabic class to level six and was slated to graduate at the end of the spring semester. Then, right before the quarter was going to end for our one week break, the teacher came in the room and informed our class that the ma’had would be cancelling all Islamic studies and Arabic classes at the end of the quarter.
Ever since that day it’s been tough for me to go back to the ma’had for jumuah or taraweeh. Every time I walked around I was reminded of all the classes that took place and students that benefitted; it saddens me that such an amazing facility, one that was started solely for the purpose of educating Muslims, would be shut down for no apparent reason. I know brothers that moved halfway across the US to attend classes and countless others that quit their jobs, modified their schedules, and rearranged their lives, just to study at the ma’had.
That’s why for me, the ma’had shut down years ago. It shut down when it stopped serving its purpose as an institute of learning and it shut down Monday Morning in the Fall when the beginning of the fourth quarter was supposed to start, but never did.
Allah Knows Best what the future holds for IIASA, but I pray that somehow, someway, those in charge find a way to keep that building in possession of an organization committed to helping Muslims and educating them like a masjid or Islamic School.