History Of MASLB
Masjid Al-Shareef has been a cornerstone in Long Beach since Haroon and Louella came to the city in the summer of 1972. Imam Haroon’s in-depth experience as a Christian deacon gave him understanding into scriptures of the Holy Bible and his study of the Holy Qur’an gave him the conceptual and contextual knowledge that prepared him to be one of the most respected Imams in the Muslim American community. Imam Haroon spearheaded the purchase of the building at 2104 Orange Avenue which was once a heavy-duty factory. Prior to that, Minister Henry and approximately twenty believers started out with just a storefront for meetings.
By 1975, Long Beach Temple #42 had grown to over three hundred believers, had established business in plighted areas, produced entrepreneurs and distributed original bean pies in other stores, according to Business Manager, Ahmed Saafir. The Muslims tried to foster a pork free diet to low-income families, by making available fresh fruits, vegetables and imported whiting fish to those residing in inner-city food deserts.
The Masjid grew and became one of the most racially diverse religious centers in America. Believers came from all over the world, and many remain active to this day (2020). Sister Dr. Amal holds in high regard MASLB as the faith home that embraced her immigrant family and she recalled how her children grew up raising funds by selling the dinners she and Sister Lily cooked. Her dissertation was on First Generation Muslims and her daughter’s dissertation was on Second Generation Muslims. Her account of new Muslim immigrants being embraced by African American Muslims and together their maintenance of Masjid Al-Shareef provided an environment where all families thrived--the Awaida’s, Khouraki’s, Ramjan’s and Sister Hajah Zainab Deen Conteh and Family, the grandmother of a board member Ibrahim Dyfan. African Americans changed their names from X (unknown) to Islamic names. Under Imam Haroon and Sister Louella’s influence, the community named their banquet room, Bilal Hall, after Imam W. D. Mohammed taught them the history of BILAL, the close companion of Prophet Muhammad and fist caller to prayer. Bilal had been a persecuted slave in Mecca.
In 1975, Imam W. D. Mohammed’s insight of the Qur’an, lead the largest African American conversion to Al-Islam proper in U.S. history. Alhamdullilah! W. D. single handedly, moved the Nation of Islam from a baby community in regard to Islamic knowledge and practice to the way of our Prophet Muhammad (SAWS). Imam Haroon stated that, “Imam W. Deen Mohammed provided the guidance to lead NOI converts into a clear vision of the many planes of understanding that light our way into the Love of Self; thus, providing us with the fuel to ignite the real human ability to seek Paradise and find rivers flowing underneath, bringing us to understand Islam’s path to Freedom, Justice, and Equality.” Sister Louella said she found no discrepancies with G-d’s revealed scriptures that could keep her from being a Muslim.
Imam Haroon went on to serve as the first President of the Shura Council of Southern California. The couple modeled interfaith dialog and world peace championed by Imam W. D. Mohammed and his followers like Muhammad Ali. Imam Haroon made Hajj in 1977 with 300 African American Muslims, which was one of the largest delegations of Americans at the time, fulfilling Islam’s 5th Pillar. Imam Haroon and Sister Louella grew old together and lived into their nineties. They died as Believers. May Allah accept their good deeds forgive their sins and grant them Paradise. Masjid Al-Shareef stove under Imam Ameen Omar, until his passing, and now strives under the Shura Board and Imam Abu Ishaq Abdul Hafiz in continuing their goals and to maintain their contribution to Islam in America.