Sharaf Haseebullah, the first woman to build a mosque in North America

Sharaf Haseebullah, the first woman to build a mosque in North America

Eight years ago, few people, especially among the senior Muslim dignitaries and notables of Nevada, would have counted on the ability of an elderly widow, speaking English with a strong Pakistani accent, to accomplish the supreme mission that Before leaving this world, she set out to build a sumptuous mosque, as a sign of her infinite devotion and gratitude to Allah, the Most Merciful.

Few people had detected the soul of a builder that lay dormant in Sharaf Haseebullah, 74 years old, and who were aware of the importance that, in his eyes, the completion of this major project had. An ambitious and highly symbolic project, which she considered as the beautiful culmination of a life placed under the best auspices.

It was in Las Vegas, where she arrived with her late husband in 1975, that this former pharmacist demonstrated that she also had the makings of a rigorous project manager and the lavishness of the most generous of patrons.

Notably, before going into exile to the American Eldorado, Sharaf Haseebullah was one of the first women to graduate at the top of her class at the University of Karachi, which earned her the honor of being honored by the authorities of her country, Pakistan.

At the end of a busy life, this rich widow, who built with her husband a small empire made up of several pharmacies and real estate, had only one challenge left to take on, or rather one last wish to grant. : offer the Muslims of Las Vegas a mosque worthy of the name, bathed in light and radiating several kilometers around.

This is how in 2016, at the end of a long gestation period of 8 years, the magnificent Masjid Ibrahim mosque rose from the ground. It was deployed on the land occupied since 1997 by a makeshift place of worship, thanks to the substantial donation of 3 million dollars granted by an exceptional woman, who will leave her mark in stone but also in history, as the first woman to build and finance a mosque in North America.

This mosque is not for my family, it was built for Allah », insists the very pious Sharaf Haseebullah, contemplating with renewed emotion each time this House of God like no other, designed as the safest and most rejuvenating refuge.

I just have me and my Quran. So I don't know how it happened, but this mosque was built. When Allah helps you, you always win », she likes to say with the humility that characterizes her, without ever dwelling on the efforts she made and the obstacles she overcame to make her sweet dream one day become a reality.

She is just delighted to have managed to defy the ambient skepticism to better highlight her unfailing trust in Allah”. “ Everyone told me it would be too hard and that my project was doomed to failure. But Allah helped me in everything and every moment”, she emphasizes, increasing:I am so happy that the Quran is taught and chanted in this beautiful House of God ».

Every Friday, more than 300 faithful flock to gather during the great collective prayer led by the local imam, Shamsuddin Waheed. The latter is full of praise for the woman who chose him to officiate in her mosque. “ Sharaf Haseebullah is a humble and extremely kind person. She is much loved by local Muslims. She is considered a great elder who one can turn to for advice or even help. She responds willingly to all requests, always with a smile and showing listening and compassion.”

The only moment when Sharaf Haseebullah lets herself be overcome by a feeling of pride is when she points out the quality tiling which embellishes the ablution room, the superb calligraphy which adorns the front of the opulent doors, and the play of light which highlights highlight the dome of the mosque.

It's Las Vegas! “, she exclaims with a laugh, while welcoming Christian visitors with open arms. “ Everyone is welcome in Masjid Ibrahim », she says, confiding that her greatest happiness is to introduce as many people as possible to the mosque so dear to her heart.