In 1996, the Islamic Center of the Eastside is formed in Bellevue. It is considered too large a mosque at the time for the small number of worshippers, but by 2001 will expand to serve its large and growing congregation. It is one of seven mosques in the region (by 2001), which serve the approximately 40,000 Muslims who live here. Many are recent immigrants from such countries as India, Pakistan, Somalia, and Cambodia, which have large Muslim populations. Worldwide, about 10 percent of Muslims are Arabs.
According to Nazeer Ahmed, editor of the Northwest Islamic Journal, about 90 percent of the area's Muslims are immigrants, drawn here by the high quality of life, by high-tech jobs, and by the region's tolerance for diversity.
Islam, like Christianity and Judaism, is a monotheistic faith. The followers of Islam are called Muslims. There are about 7 million Muslims in the United States. They are 30 percent black and 25 percent Arab. About 33 percent of American Muslims are of Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, African, and European descent.
The faith of Islam consists of five pillars:
- Testimony of faith, or shahadah.
- Five formal daily prayers (before dawn, noon, afternoon, after sunset and evening).
- Fasting during the month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the lunar year).
- Alms-giving (zakat). Muslims must give at least 2 percent of their savings to the needy.
- Pilgrimage (hajj). Muslims who are financially able must go to the faith's spiritual center, Mecca, Saudi Arabia, during the month of Hajj (12th month of the lunar year).
The Islamic Center of the Eastside is located at 14700 Main Street in Bellevue.