The Islamic Institute of New York – An Overview
A Brief Overview of the Islamic Institute of New York
The Islamic Institute of New York (IINY) is a non-for-profit organization(501(c)3) which offers religious and cultural services to Muslim communities in New York and the Tri-State area. The Islamic Institute is established and registered under New York Religious Corporation Law.
The Islamic Institute of New York occupies a multi-story building containing well over 36,000 square feet. The building was constructed by the Alavi Foundation and, pursuant to usage agreements, its use has been granted by the Alavi Foundation to the Islamic Institute.
Goals of the Islamic Institute of New York
The goals of the Islamic Institute include: (i) providing religious and cultural education, (ii) establishing a Masjid (a place of worship and prayer) (iii) disseminating religious knowledge through classes of instruction on Quran, Hadith, and Sirah of the Prophet (A.S.) and his Household (A.S.) (iv) teaching Islamic Sharia, (v) presenting religious discourses and seminars, (vi) observing religious ceremonies, Eids, and mournings, (vii) providing religious and cultural services such as weddings and mourning ceremonies, (vii) performing charitable and benevolent community services; and (ix)providing suitable programs for the youths.
Strengthening the spirit of brotherhood among Muslims and cooperation with other Islamic groups and organizations in the United States constitute objectives which the Islamic Institute will strive to achieve.
The Islamic Institute of New York is composed of a Board of Trustees, a General Body, a Board of Directors, a Resident A’lim and various planning committees. Duties, responsibilities and authorities of each of these units are discussed in detail in the certificate of incorporation of the Islamic Institute as well as in its bylaws.
The Muslim community in the United States, particularly in the New York and Tri-State area are invited to provide intellectual and financial assistance in terms if opinions, suggestions, and tax deductible donations to the Islamic Institute of New York to help it achieve its Islamic/Cultural goals.
The Islamic Institute is especially grateful to the Alavi Foundation for their past charitable contributions without which the Islamic Institute of New York would not have been able to function. The Institute recognizes and appreciates the financial support of the Alavi Foundation and depends on its continual support both presently and in the future.
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The Imam Ali Masjid can accommodate up to 300 people with separate sections for men and women. The hall is completely carpeted with elegant rugs and excellent central heating and air conditioning systems provide worshippers with a comfortable environment throughout the center. The Masjid is also equipped with a sophisticated sound system for lecturers and recitations. The room also boasts a ceiling mounted LCD Projector with accompanying 70 inch motorized retractable screen for presentations. On average, the Imam Ali Masjid has accommodated a traffic of approximately 60,000 worshipers in the last year alone. The Masjid is the most active part of the Islamic Institute of New York, and nearly all services and programs utilize the Masjid’s facilities.
The Mihrab (niche in the wall of the Masjid indicating direction of Qibla) is the Seal of perpetual ownership as Allah has sanctioned in the following verse of the Holy Quran:
All Masajid (plural of Masjid) belong to Allah (72:18)
The beautiful pair of calligraphic writings in white and golden letters depict two verses of the Holy Quran that speak of the Might, Knowledge, and Majesty of Allah, the Creator of the Universe.
Translation of the verse in white lettering:
Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth. A metaphor for His light is a niche in which there is a lamp placed in a glass. The glass is like a shining star which is lit from a blessed olive tree that is neither eastern nor western. Its oil almost lights up even though it has not been touched by the fire. It is light upon light. Allah guides to His light whomever He wants. Allah uses various metaphors. He has the knowledge of all things. (24:35)
Translation of the verse in golden lettering:
Allah exists. There is no Allah but He, the Everlasting and the Guardian of life. Drowsiness or sleep do not seize him. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. No one can intercede with Him for others except by His permission. He knows about people’s present and past. No one can grasp anything from His knowledge besides what He has permitted them to grasp. The heavens and the earth are under His dominion. He does not experience fatigue in preserving them both. He is the Highest and the Greatest. (2:255)
The main entrance to the Imam Ali Masjid is an awe inspiring sight. The niche is elegantly designed and adorned with beautiful artwork and calligraphy. These works are greatly appreciated by members of the community every time they step into the Masjid. Atop the entrance is the dome of the Imam Ali Masjid, crafted in a contemporary design. The dome can be seen from far away and is an important and much appreciated symbol of religious freedoms enjoyed by American Muslims throughout the country. These beautiful designs and structures were made possible by the generous contributions of the Alavi Foundation.
With a capacity for 350 people, the Imam Ali Hall serves many purposes throughout the year. As an auditorium, the hall houses a fully equipped stage with retractable curtains and a lectern for presentations and cultural performances. The hall is also equipped with LCD Projector and retractable screen for displaying various multimedia and scholastic presentations. Rows of tables and chairs are prepared according to the night’s programming. The Hall is also used as a cafeteria for men when turnout is higher, and the main cafeteria is designated entirely for women. During the busier times of the year when attendance is at its highest, the Imam Ali Hall also serves as an extension to the Imam Ali Masjid. Twin doors between the two halls are opened during these occasions allowing for services which accommodate over 600 people. The Hall is also fully carpeted during these occasions.
IINY office rooms are located on the ground floor near the Masjid. It is here the offices of the Director (also the Imam) and Supervisor are located. In addition, a conference room is available for conducting meetings. A second conference room is located in the director’s office for individual consultations, and personal discussions with the Imam. Offices are equipped with up to date conferencing, faxing and telephony as well as computers and printing capabilities. The offices also boast Wi-Fi technology making access points available for members of the community.
The Kitchen at the Islamic Institute of New York is well equipped and can rival those of commercial restaurants. Featuring three large ranges, an indoor grill with hood, commercial broiler, ovens, and ample refrigeration to name a few, the kitchen facilities at Islamic Institute of New York can cater up to 1,000 people on any given night. During the weekdays, the kitchen is staffed and used by the Razi School to provide Halal lunches for Razi School students.
Located across from the Kitchen, the Cafeteria is used jointly by the Razi School during the weekdays and by the Islamic Institute during non-school hours and weekends. Equipped with lunch tables and catering buffets, the Cafeteria can seat over 100 people at any given time. The room is also equipped with a large plasma screen display used for Satellite and various other multimedia capabilities, to keep attendants informed and up to date.
Just next to the Imam Ali Masjid, the Gift Shop and Front Desk at the Islamic Institute is open to both Razi School students and faculty as well as members and guests of IINY. The shop sells a variety of Cultural and Religious Memorabilia as well as small cultural foods and goods, evermore enhancing visitor experience. The front desk serves as the information center for guests for both IINY and Razi School, as the recipient of postal mail directed toward the Islamic Institute’s Book Distribution Program and offices, and security surveillance center to monitor the building’s perimeter for security, especially during school hours.
The Corridors provide ample room for worshippers to stretch their legs and browse the various Gift Stands which are setup year round by other members of the community.