This data was last updated on 31 July 2018.
History: In 1979, a small group of immigrant professionals concerned with their children’s Islamic education met in a classroom at the Martin Luther King School in Cambridge, MA. In 1987, the community purchased a plot of land and the Islamic Center of Boston, Wayland (ICB) was born. The Wayland center started off in a small white house, but the center closed for a year in 2004 in order to undergo renovations to add 10,000 square feet to the space. In 2016, a small walkway was added to the edge of the property for protection from the surrounding wetland.
Description: The Islamic Center of Boston, Wayland brands itself as a progressive mosque. The center has ample prayer space, social rooms, classrooms for the Sunday school, and parking. The mosque draws people from all over the greater Boston area. Typically, 150 to 200 people come to the mosque for Friday prayers. During Ramadan, that number usually doubles. The mosque’s largest two events are Eid Al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, and the mosque hosts three to four prayer sessions to accommodate the approximately 2,500 worshipers.In addition to Friday community prayers and Eid celebrations, the center runs a Sunday school to educate young Muslims, for which parents pay separate dues. The center also provides family counseling as well as wedding, funeral, and career services for its members.
Demographics: The ICB is explicitly non-sectarian, which is highly unique for a mosque. The mosque chooses not to track the sectarian identities of its members but focuses as much as possible on commonalities for its educational programming. Approximately 45 to 50 percent of the mosque members are South Asian and 35 to 40 percent are Middle Eastern and North African. The remaining members include (mostly Caucasian) converts and a few Iranians.
Activity: The mosque focuses on providing several social projects to the community. First, it is connected to the “Family Promise Metrowest” project, an organization that works to combat family homelessness. The community works with the Peace Lutheran Church and the Temple Shir Tikva to provide shelter and food for individuals who have lost their homes. For a limited period of time, the mosque uses its classrooms for temporary shelters for individuals without homes. Second, the ICB holds an annual food drive that collects food to be distributed to those in need. Third, the mosque holds an Islamic Sunday school for young members of the community and uses it to teach the Arabic language, Qur’an, and hadith. The mosque also holds jummah services (traditional weekly prayers on Fridays) along with special Eid prayers for Muslims in the area.
Outreach: The Islamic Center of Boston, Wayland is deeply engaged in interfaith work. The outreach page on their website gives information about Islam and addresses common stereotypes and misconceptions. The website also has a link that allows for individuals to request Muslim speakers for events and tours of the mosque. In 2016, close to 4,000 people visited the mosque. Across the street from the ICB is the reform synagogue Temple Shir Tikva. The two houses of worship have a close relationship and host many events together, including interfaith iftar and shabbat dinners. They also work together on educational and social programming, including a program that aims to help at risk youth. Six houses of worship in the area coordinate to put on an annual interfaith Thanksgiving dinner. Additionally, the mosque began holding an annual soccer match in 2018 for young children of multiple faiths.
Leadership: The ICB does not have an imam, which is also unique for a well-established mosque. In the last decade, there has been a trend in the United States towards institutionalizing the role of the imam. The ICB’s philosophy is that having a rotating cast of preachers allows for a greater diversity of opinions and limits cultural biases. Each Friday, a different community member or visiting scholar gives the sermon. The ICB has a very strong organizational structure, which is laid out in its bylaws. Although one does not have to be a member to use the services of the ICB, an individual has to be a member of the center and pay dues to join the board or vote in general body meetings. There are currently approximately 600-700 registered general assembly members. The general assembly members elect the nine board members. Board members each serve a two-year term and have clearly outlined positions and duties. In order to ensure a diversity of perspectives and to make room for new leadership after completing a term, board members must wait at least one year before running for another position.
Anonymous Harassment and Community Support: In December 2016, the ICB was one of several mosques around the country to receive an anonymous letter stating that Donald Trump would “do to you Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews.” An enormous outpouring of support followed this incident, including several rallies co-organized and attended by local law enforcement, government officials, houses of worship, interfaith groups, and other supporters from Wayland and the greater Boston area. The mosque has continued to feel reverberations from this event: in 2017, attendance at outreach and interfaith events far surpassed previous years. In addition to increasing community engagement, the mosque has also taken on new safety precautions, such as enlisting police to guard large-scale events.