A group of Washington-area Muslims is planning to build a 110-acre community in Fairfax County that will include a shopping center, hospital, residential Muslim school, funeral home and a cemetery.
Miraj II. Siddiqi, an officer with the corporation which is drafting the project, alls it the "Muslim Marshall Plan," and others refer to it as "The Muslim Town." The idea was conceived by a group of 13 Muslims, including doctors, lawyers and businessmen, who formed the Muslim Development Corp. last fall. The founders of the company include Muslims who moved to the U.S. from Middle East countries and local Black Muslims.
Siddiqi said the Muslim complex is needed to help give Washington-area Muslims a sound economic base and to provide educational, religious, social and cultural activities. One of its main goals is to insure that Muslims in the area have "decent housing, at a reasonable price," he said. However, he said anyone would be welcome at the development, not just practicing Muslims.
The new Muslim community site is planned near Dulles International Airport, and negotiations are under way for tracts that are off Interstate Rte. 66 north of Manassas, Siddiqi said. Corporation officials hope to have the complex completed in five years, he said, and the cost will depend upon "how the project develops. We will go in stages." The number of houses will depend upon zoning regulations, he said.
Initially, the group needs about $70,000 to secure purchase of the land, which probably will cost about $2 million, he said.
The corporation now is raising "seed money" by asking different Muslim organizations, both in the United States and in the Middle East Arab countries, for temporary loans, Siddiqi said. The loans will be interest free because the Islamic religious does not permit interest charges, he said.
The project is envisioned as ore in which "American techbology, goods and services will be combined with Muslim financial backing, and Islamic teachings and architecture," with its domes and minarets, Siddiqi said.
What it will not be, he stressed, its a Muslim ghetto. We want it to be an international community."
Fairfax County Board Chairman John F. Herrity said yesterday he had heard nothing about the Muslim interest in land in Fairfax. He said the Muslims meet county zoning regulations and added here probably will be some citizen opposition to the Muslim plan.
Siddiqi said corporation officials realize they must meet county regulations and get zoning approval before the project can be built.
Siddiqi estimated there are 30,000 Muslims in the Washington metropolitan area an that the figure will reach 100,000 by the end of the century.
He said few organized attempts have been made to meet their needs.
Northern Virginia was chosen as the site for the project because it has large tracts of available land, good roads, airports and seems to be willing to accept innovative ideas, Siddiqi said. In contrast, he said, Maryland has higher taxes while land in D.C. is virtually nonexistent and prices are "prohibitively expensive" for what land is available. Siddiqi, who came to America 11 years ago from Pakistan, is a real state agent in Alexandria.
The corporation has already created temporary school in Alexandria, Siddiqi said. It serves the 500 Northern Virginia families who previously had to take their children to Sunday school in the District for Islamic training, Siddiqi said. About 60 children attend Sunday classes at John Tyler Elementary School.
"The aim of the school is to catch the young Muslim boys and girls and expose them to Islam because we Muslims are facing ideological problems . . . In this country, we are not even a sub-minority. We have different cultures, different backgrounds and speak different languages, but Islams unites us," Siddiqi said.
"Our children are our investment in this country. Islam will be judged by their actions and deeds."