A sense of belonging and yearning for identity with an Islamic Community brought together a few Muslims in this area of Central New Jersey. Thus in 1970 the nucleus of the Islamic Community was formed from four Muslim students from Rutgers University and four families from the university environs.
The Islamic Society of Central Jersey Expansion Project is a sign of the gradual evolution of the nucleus of the Islamic community that was founded in 1970 by a few Muslim students from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. This small Islamic community was guided by a vision to preserve and perpetuate the Islamic heritage and uphold its ethical and intellectual standards. The pursuit of this vision and the gradual expansion of the Muslim community, in the United States in general and in our extended geographical area in particular, are among the main factors that transformed our Islamic community from the small nucleus of the early 1970’s to a thriving community it is now.
Currently our community is represented by an integrated institution that offers more than just a place of worship. It would be hard for the majority of Muslims in Central New Jersey, whether they live in the vicinity or a distance away from the society, to find an event in their life in which ISCJ was not involved. Whether in happiness or at a time of sorrow, ISCJ is there to share joy or provide much needed support during tragedies.
ISCJ is a diversified community comprising of Muslims of many nationalities and their American-born offspring. This includes recent immigrant professionals and business people from all over the globe. The diversity of our community has also attracted American Muslims. ISCJ is full of activity on a daily basis; in addition, the institution provides a number of services as listed below:
- A full-time Islamic school that started in 1993 with an enrollment of 27 students from Pre-K to Grade 1. The school currently has an enrollment of 480 students from Pre-K to Grade 12. Noor-Ul-Iman School is approved by the NJ Department of Education, is a member of the NJ Association of Independent Schools, and is a candidate for accreditation by NJAIS. Students take national standardized tests annually, and the majority consistently score well above the national average. Students who graduate from NUI High School consistently go on to attend four-year colleges. The school has an annual enrollment growth rate of approximately 8%. The school participates in inter-scholastic activities with other private and public schools in the spirit of dialogue and getting to know one another better (Model UN, Model Congress, Mock Trials, Wordmasters, basketball, and a variety of interfaith and community service activities).
- A weekend school, providing Islamic and Arabic education to about 500 students with a growing demand for enrollment.
- Weekend seminars are conducted twice a week covering diversified subjects hosted by prominent speakers and primarily directed at adult audience.
- Library services with a comprehensive collection of Islamic literature. This includes free distribution of focused Islamic literature to the non-Muslim community.
- Confidential counseling is provided to address a variety of social issues. This service is extended to new Muslims as well as the Islamic community at large.
- Zakat-ul-Mal is collected and fairly distributed to families in need.
- Islamic funeral and burial services are provided to an extended Islamic community. This includes making available Islamic burial plots in exclusively-Islamic cemeteries.
- In addition to making our mosque’s facilities available for the five regular prayers, our religious services include Friday prayers hosted by diversified prominent speakers, Ramadan Taraweeh prayers that attract Muslims from the surrounding communities, coordination of Umrah and Hajj trips, and Eid celebrations attended by thousands of Muslims from the greater NJ, NY, and PA area.
- Our community members volunteered their efforts and financial support for national and international emergencies such as the Asian Tsunami, Katrina disaster, as well as South East Asia's Earthquake.
- Interfaith meetings and exchanges are held to establish a strong dialogue and build bridges with the extended Central Jersey non-Muslim communities.
- Open workshops are held on pertinent topics such as Islam, human rights and other vital issues.
- Political Outreach symposiums are held on political activism and mobilization.
- Other community activities include a variety of efforts performed by our young Muslims from sports to scouting, to community giving campaigns and Red Cross blood drives.
The ISCJ Board of Trustees has been carefully planning for the future with a strategic vision: a vision towards our future generations. The success of our educational and cultural services attracted more Muslim families to live within the vicinity of the Society. Our dynamic and constantly growing community mandated the need to meet the growing demands on our educational, religious, and social services. Our educational activities are currently housed in modular units of limited capacity, the license for which will soon expire. The current facilities are inadequate for the development of our students to their full potential in educational, scientific, and physical fitness areas. The mosque capacity and the parking currently available are insufficient to accommodate the large congregations on Friday prayers and other occasions. During the past few years, the ISCJ Board has been carefully developing the engineering plans for a community expansion project. This expansion necessitated the acquisition of additional adjacent properties that was financed by members' donations. Developing the engineering plans and securing a resolution to approve them from the South Brunswick Township resulted in substantial technical and legal fees, all financed by members' donations. The Expansion Project is anticipated to transform ISCJ into an integrated Islamic institution that will be viewed as a symbol for Muslim unity, strength, and stature in North America. This institution will be the source of inspiration for current and future generations of Muslims living in the surrounding areas.