Despite increasingly heated and divisive anti-Muslim rhetoric amongst some groups in the western world, the Loudoun-based All Dulles Area Muslim Society is not only enduring, it is thriving.
The ADAMS Center, headquartered in Sterling, is one of the largest mosques in the country and continues to rapidly grow. It serves more than 5,000 Muslim families at 11 branches across Northern Virginia. The center just broke ground to double the size of its Sterling location and has several other expansion projects in its other locations.
The religious group is continuously lauded by agencies like the FBI and local politicians for building partnerships between the law enforcement agencies and the Muslim community. The FBI earlier this month gave the center a Community Leadership Award for its programs designed to counter violent extremism.
What makes the center successful is its willingness to partner and connect with its surrounding community, according to the mosque's leaders.
"We have great partnerships with people of all faiths," said Rizwan Jaka, chair of the ADAMS Center's board of directors. "That is why we get international media coverage and why we have people from international governments visit us. They come here to see the religious freedom in America."
The mosque regularly works side-by-side with Christian churches and Jewish temples to provide community outreach.
Mike Trivett, director of outreach at the Christian Fellowship Church in Ashburn, said his congregation has built lasting relationships and friendships with many ADAMS Center members.
"Three years ago, we started working together on food drives, collecting school supplies and collections for Operation Homefront," said Trivett. "I've had the pleasure of spending time at the mosque and speaking. Several of the leaders have become my dearest friends."
Trivett said other members of his congregation have also built friendships with ADAMS Center members over the years as they work together to organize community service programs.
"It's a beautiful, wonderful thing to see develop," he said. "We are both committed to seeing our communities improved and that's why we believe we have more in common than difference."
As members of the ADAMS Center spread out and move into new homes, so does the mosque.
"We are growing throughout the region," said Jaka. "It's a natural growth from our community. We are establishing more local centers in new areas as people from our community move out to new places."
Jaka said in some cases, ADAMS leases church and synagogue space to accommodate satellite branches in new areas.
When construction on the mosque's headquarters is completed, the building will be 50,000 square feet. Jaka says the expansion will allow the mosque to have a full-time sanctuary and the center's youth programs to expand.
The ADAMS Center's youth programs help young Muslims to connect to their community and learn to work with people of other faiths, said Jaka.
As the mosque expands, its roots grow deeper in Loudoun and Northern Virginia. Its youth programs also continue to grow and to enrich new generations of Muslims who will continue the tradition of community leadership.