SAN RAMON (CBS SF) – Muslims in Contra Costa County are celebrating the holy month of Ramadan with a newly-expanded mosque in San Ramon.

The San Ramon Valley Islamic Center was first opened in 1992. The expanded facility is now over 8,000 square feet and has taken over several adjacent offices in the Crow Canyon Commons area, serving some 400 families in the area.

It’s one sign of a surging Muslim population in the Tri-Valley area. “The city of San Ramon has done a great job of promoting diversity,” said SRV Islamic Center Board President Abid Farooq. “The school district is really, good, so the good schools attract a lot of people to this area.”

Construction manager Pervez Randhawa marveled at the the completed facility Monday. “It’s beautiful, this is God’s house. You see everybody when they walk in, a nice brightness in their eyes, they are so happy to see this.”

In the early days of the center, prayers and classes had to be held in co-founder Nasira Sharieff’s house. “What’s it like to see it grow from one room in your house to what it is now? Very overwhelming,” said Sharieff. “I didn’t think I would live to see this expansion. I’m very grateful to God.”

At a time when tensions are high at mosques in other parts of the country, the biggest issues in the Tri-Valley seem to be traffic on Camino Ramon Blvd. and parking on Friday afternoons during prayers.

The City of San Ramon said the center has reached out to neighbors over the traffic and parking, and in one case struck a deal with a Christian church to ease the situation.

“We have an agreement with them that we can share their parking spaces on Friday, and they can share our parking spaces on Sunday,” said Farooq. “So that has helped us with the parking situation.”

During Ramadan in 2010, the center raised 5,000 pounds of food donated to local food banks and $4,000 given to local charity.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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