Leaders of Nueces Mosque plan for reconstruction

Jenan Taha

Plans for the reconstruction of the Nueces Mosque in West Campus are taking off after decades of delay, with mosque leaders intending to present the proposal to the Austin Council by January.

Under the reconstruction plans, the mosque will be razed and rebuilt into a much larger structure, which will include more prayer areas, classrooms, a student center and student housing. 

According to Shaykh Mufti Mohamed-Umer Esmail, who is the Imam at the mosque, the current building is about 100 years old and costs $10,000 each year for repairs. Esmail said the reconstruction is long overdue and will make prayer more convenient for the approximately 400 students who use the mosque.

“We’ve had this place since 1977, so it’s about time we did something,” Esmail said. “It’ll be a safe place for students. They can come here to study, and it’s providing services for the community.”

The Islamic Center of Greater Austin is overseeing the reconstruction. After the plan is submitted and approved, reconstruction is expected to begin in 2018, Esmail said. 

“It takes about six months to one year to complete,” Esmail said. “We’re going to have to [temporarily] rent another place nearby.”

Students in the Nueces Mosque Executive Committee, a group of students who manages the mosque, have raised about $500,000 for the reconstruction so far and have a final goal of around $7 to $10 million.

Computer science senior Mohammed Ovais Panjwani, property manager of the committee, said the proposed new mosque will give students more amenities as well as a safe and comfortable living space. 

Panjwani said the new mosque could provide students with a deeper education of Islam, no matter their major.

“Long-term, we’re hoping that [students] can get a really good fundamental study of Islam, or even get a certification from Shaykh Umer,” Panjwani said.

Chemistry senior Ahmed Shoola, who has gone to the mosque for more than three years, said the new structure will be a great way for Muslim students to be closer to the mosque.

“I think it’s amazing that they’re doing it, and it obviously will benefit pretty much every Muslim that goes to UT, and even just Muslims in the Austin area,” Shoola said. “To be able to wake up and pray the [morning] prayer here at the masjid is a blessing itself.”