No one knows what the future holds for them or where they will end up in life, as an individual, family or community. The Cham community fled war-torn countries of Vietnam and Cambodia in the late 1970’s. Some made that journey on small fishing boats sailing the rough, turbulent ocean waters of the Pacific to Southern Thailand. While others made it trekking hundreds of miles on foot across the dense jungles of Cambodia to Northern Thailand. After safely reaching the refugee camps in Thailand and they were accepted for refugee resettlement in the United States. Slowly afterwards, the Chams began their journey to Seattle, WA.
Upon arriving in Washington State, they settled in various parts of the city with the majority huddled around South Seattle. As they try to adjust to a new country, culture, and environment many began to feel the need to communicate and gather with each other in order to help support one another in this new struggle of protecting their cultural and Islamic identity.
The Chams began gathering at the Islamic Center of Seatac and are grateful to that community for their hospitality and support. However, as time went on, the trip to Seatac became more and more difficult because the Chams were a new community of refugees with limited financial resources. Thus, the idea of purchasing a property more central to their location came to light and one that was strongly supported.
With the commitment of the families saving $1 a day, they were able to purchase a property in 1991 to be used as a masjid and gathering place, not only for the Cham community but to all Muslims in South Seattle and thus named “Masjid Jamiul Muslimeen (مسجد جامع المسلمين)”. At the time, this masjid was one of only a handful of masajids in all of Washington State.
Many communities that arrived afterwards were warmly welcomed and made use of the facility before acquiring a dedicated place of their own for their growing community such as the Somalian, Oromo, Ethiopian and Gambian communities.
The masjid is operational and undergoing expansion, alhamdulillah, and continues to be a place that welcomes all who come through its doors.