Updated: Apr 19, 2022
The spacious and leafy parking lot welcomed us as a family when we entered the Istiqlal mosque parking lot, Houston. There is no mosque building nearby, only a longhouse with large windows that looks striking from a distance. "Is this the Istiqlal mosque, Brother?" I asked someone who had just gotten out of the car, and he answered with a nod of his head.
We then walked to the tent installed beside the longhouse. The atmosphere was lively, and conversations did hear here and there, interspersed with laughter. The smell of roasted meat wafted through, making my eyes immediately shift to the tables that serve a variety of foods. That day the Muslim family of Houston specifically invited the congress, as the participants of the IMSA Congress, which at that time (2016) took place in Houston, to attend a friendly event.
You can see the magnificent Istiqlal mosque building from the backyard. Between the mosque building and the longhouse, you can see a beautiful garden with various flowers. Around the mosque, there is still a large field with football nets and a simple children's playground.
This mosque is the result of the long struggle of the Indonesian Muslim community in Houston, who longs for a place of worship and an Islamic education complex. After focusing their activities for a long time at the Al Muhajirin prayer room, the Indonesian Consulate General in Houston, finally, in 2015, officially had its mosque. The process is quite long, from raising funds to buying land, selling it again, then buying new land, which takes up to three times.
"It seems that Allah is testing our seriousness in building a mosque," said Eka Kristanto, president of the Indonesian American Muslim Community (IAMC). "Thank God, after two failures, the team in charge got information about the church that did sell on the market. They bought the church, renovated the main building, and 'established' the ideal mosque for the Indonesian Muslim community in Houston. The old church building is still maintained and functions as a community center and library. Congregants who come to the mosque are not only Indonesians. Those who are dominantly present during the five daily prayers are Pakistani and Arab people who live around the mosque. They are happy and comfortable with our friendly attitude, Indonesians," added Eka.
The mosque's activities, located in Sugar Land, Texas, are pretty dense, including recitation and interpretation classes, studies of Tahsin and Sunnah Fiqh, and Halaqah for families. In addition, the mosque is always busy with Islamic Saturday School, karate training, Arabic classes, and courses to deliver Friday sermons every Saturday. A sheik from Iraq is pioneering a full-time Tahfidz Quran class.
There are still many plans that the Indonesian Muslim community in Houston wants to develop. These include building a mosque with a larger capacity and establishing a Tahfidz School and an Islamic School. Let's pray that Allah will ease their efforts to bring Islam to life through the Istiqlal Mosque in Houston. (Aini Firdaus, 2019)
Photo Credit: istiqlalhouston.org