The Islamic Center of Vallejo (ICOV) was established in 1985 when a handful of Muslims gathered in Abdul Khabir’s basement each Friday for Jumu’ah prayers. Within three years, the congregation outgrew that space and congregants began searching for a permanent masjid site. In 1989, ICOV was incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. That year, congregants pooled their money and fund-raised to purchase a home at 727 Sonoma Boulevard.
Khalil Rehmani volunteered as ICOV’s first Imam (spiritual leader). Abdul Khabir served as his backup. Once again, the congregation soon outgrew its space. The congregation remodeled the home’s garage into a prayer hall, which was subsequently extended twice. This location on Sonoma Boulevard was also the first location for the Sunday School. Mujibur Rehman was amongst the pioneers of ICOV’s Sunday School. Volunteers and students attended the school from Vallejo, Benicia, American Canyon, Napa, Fairfield, and even as far as Richmond, Berkeley, and Clear Lake. That weekend school was the forerunner for Al-Noor School and Ibad-Ar-Rahman Sunday School.
The 1990s brought an opportunity to purchase a lot situated just adjacent to the home. ICOV members envisioned the area’s first purpose-built masjid on this site. They petitioned the City of Vallejo to change the zoning from commercial/residential to religious, which the Zoning Commission granted. A team of engineers then set out on a construction plan. That team included Chief Architect Wahid Hussain, Architect Dr. Jameel Sirajeldin, Soil Engineer Mohammed Hussain, T. Marmoush, as well as Landscape Engineer Michael Moore and a professional surveyor. The City of Vallejo approved the team’s Islamic Center site plans. A local contractor submitted a bid at $2 million for that plan. However, the project was impeded by the City’s request to increase parking space and ICOV’s difficulty to locate a structural engineer to design the plan’s dome and minaret. The project was largely tabled.
In 2008, the crash of the housing market hit Vallejo particularly hard. ICOV members learned about a recently-vacated church called the Highway Church on Lewis Avenue. The structure was built in 2007 and its parking lot accommodated 68 vehicles. The structure consisted of a high-ceiling sanctuary with padded pews, a large social hall/overflow room, a kitchen, classrooms, offices, a large lobby, four restrooms, and a mechanical lift for the disabled. ICOV and its supporters were able to secure the building for $600,000 – well below the $1.67 million asking price. ICOV spent an additional nearly $100,000 in renovations to correct city code violations existent in the building. The new masjid opened in 2012.
ICOV manages the masjid site. Its mission is to secure a religious, education, and family life center for the Vallejo-area Muslim community to meet its spiritual, social, and civic needs.