In 2006, I posted a link to a New York Times article about a historic bank building that was purchased by former NBA basketball player Hakeem Olajuwon and converted into a masjid. A couple of weeks ago, during Ilm Summit, we had the opportunity to visit, have lunch, and offer the Friday prayers in this masjid in downtown Houston.
We had lunch downstairs in the multi-purpose room before listening to a powerful khutbah by our own Shaykh Yasir Qadhi about the importance of dua. We were reminded that we should never despair and think that our duas will not be answered when Allah azza wa jal even answered the dua of Iblees, after he disobeyed him.
One awkward moment was just as we were about to head back upstairs for the khutbah, a brother, not one of our Ilm Summit brothers, but just someone from the community, began filming and taking pictures of the sisters that were not paying attention, relaxing, chatting, preparing to make wudu, etc. So I began to approach him and ask him why he was taking filming and taking pictures but just as I was about to reach him he turned and ran up the stairs and disappeared into the brothers’ section.
After the khutbah, we went upstairs to the balcony, where there was an exhibit on Muslim achievements and accomplishments throughout history in various areas such mathematics, science, travel, and medicine.
Two of the old bank vault doors have been preserved and one leads to a library/display area and another leads to a women’s bathroom. In front of the main entrance there is a really cool wudu station that resembles a miniature old school aqueduct or irrigation system. I wanted to the climb the wooden minbar but the group of girls that said they were going to support me chickened out at the last minute.
The masjid was beautifully decorated but was not gaudy. The ceilings were very high and covered in some amazing tile-work.