Hawzah News Agency (California, USA) - Shia Association of Bay Area (SABA) is one of the most active Shia Islamic centers in North America. Let’s learn more about the history and current activities of this center.
In the 1970's, organized Shia Religious activities were almost non-existent in the Bay Area. Even though quite a few Shia families resided here at that time, yet no one had taken the initiative to do a search and somehow bring them together to form a Shia Community.
In 1977 a couple of families took the initiative of locating the whereabouts of the Shia families and organizing a Moharram Majalis at their residences in San Jose. As the number of families attending these Majalis grew, the Majalis began to be held at other participants' residences too and some organizational difficulties and problems started to surface. This was the first time when the need for an Organization was recognized by the community.
In 1979 after the conclusion of a Majlis the Shia Association of Bay Area was formed and the people present at that time nominated five lifetime Trustees of the Association. The Association evolved from its' infancy in 1979 to a reasonably well organized community.
Attendance increased a lot during Ramadhan for Iftar, Dua and Moharram programs. Instead of five lifetime Trustees, the Association decided to elect nine Trustees for two years.
In 1992 and as the community grew and more and more families started to participate in religious gatherings, a 2500 square feet building at South White Road was purchased at a cost of $450,000.00. With the help of contributions from the community members, the building was paid off in a few years.
SABA Islamic Center has a unique position amongst all other Shia-Muslim Associations in North America that its' membership comprises of Urdu speaking members from India and Pakistan, Persian speaking members from Iran and Afghanistan and Arabic speaking members from Lebanon, Iraq and other Arab countries along with the English and Spanish speaking members.
In 1992 SABA, by the Grace of God and help of fourteen infallibles, invited the first Resident Aalim and in 2002 the second Resident Aalim to serve the community. The first Hajj group was arranged by the Islamic Center in 1994 and since then every year Hajj group is organized. The Association has obtained Non-Profit Corporation and Tax Exempt status from the State of California and the Federal Government.
The association also purchases grave-sites in local Muslim cemeteries frequently on as needed basis where Islamic funeral and burial arrangements are made. The grave-sites are funded by the donations from the community. A weekend school for children is held every Sunday to teach Quran, Fiqh and Islamic History. Adult classes are also conducted on as needed basis. Friday prayers, Moharram, Ramadhan and Thursday programs are regularly held at the SABA Center. During Moharram, Safar and Ramadhan various religious scholars are invited for parallel speeches in different languages.
Annual family camping trip, Al-Hasnain Youth conference and a picnic is held every year by the Association. Arrangements for the collection and disbursement of Fitra, Zakat, Khums and donations for needy families are made as required by the community. Nikah and marriage counseling services are provided by the Islamic Center.
Increasing cooperation with other Islamic centers is one of the current objectives of SABA.
SABA Islamic Center also welcomes non-Muslims to come and learn about Islam. So far many conversions have taken place.