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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Seven Corners mosque offers assistance to needy community members

Dar Al-Hijrah is at 3159 Row Street, close to Leesburg Pike, in Seven Corners.
The Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Seven Corners is way more than just a place for prayers. The mosque has an active social services agenda that serves those in need throughout the community.

Tahani Jabarin of the mosque’s social services department and Executive Director Samir Abo-Issa described some of those programs at a recent community meeting hosted by Mason Supervisor Penny Gross.

The mosque operates a weekly food bank that serves about 215 families every Thursday morning. People start lining up as early as 7 a.m. to pick up bags of full of fresh vegetables, chicken, and bread. The goal is to provide as much fresh food as possible rather than canned goods.

The food bank started in 1993. It serves the entire community, including many Hispanic families in the neighborhood, not just mosque members. “We don’t turn anyone away,” Jabarin says. The program is run by volunteers, including many youths who come after school to help package the food.

Also, on Thursdays, Dar Al-Hijrah joins with First Christian Church of Falls Church on the other side of Leesburg Pike to provide hot lunches for the homeless as part of the church’s Safe Haven, program. 

Dar Al-Hijrah also provides emergency funds for rent or medical needs, job skills training, and other assistance on a case-by-case basis. The center handled than 170 cases last year, Jabarin says.

Several new programs are under way, including a thrift store. Volunteers clean and repair clothing, furniture, and household items and sell them to the community at very low prices. The proceeds help support the mosque’s programs for the needy.

Another program that just started is aimed at helping single mothers become self-sufficient. Dar Al-Hijrah offers two sewing classes, with 14 students per class, to teach women to make clothes or drapes they can sell to the public. The course is $300, with discounts for the needy. Women who complete the program are given a sewing machine and fabric to help them start a home-based business.

Samir also hopes to start a basic computer literacy course for women and plans to open health clinic at the mosque on Saturday mornings.

Among other activities at Dar Al-Hijrah: The mosque serves about 1,000 meals every evening during the month of Ramadan, operates a full-time school with 180 students, runs weekend schools in several locations serving 1,000 students, and sponsors Boy Scout and Girl Scout programs.

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