The establishment of The Islamic Center started in the year 2003, and officially completed in 2005, the year its doors opened. We were a small group of believers who were without a permanent place of worship as a result of structural issues with the small rental property in West Trenton that was used for our meeting place. Qareeb Bashir, who was serving not only as the Amir of this group, but also as the Amir of the Islamic Council of Greater Trenton, realized that there was a mosque or Islamic organization in every municipality of Mercer County except Ewing.
Through Allah’s blessing, a vacant building was found in Ewing. This small group pf believers pooled their resources together and purchased the property at 685 Parkway Avenue. The property had been vacant for several years and needed a lot of repairs. Again, with Allah’s blessing, we were able to do 90% of the needed repairs and renovations ourselves. After approximately two years of work, the masjid was finally complete and our first Jummah was held in March of 2005.
Although the original founders were predominately African Americans and in the association of the late Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, we are proud have grown as one of the most diverse masajid in the area. The Islamic Center of Ewing has also established an excellent relationship with our neighbors as well as the political leaders in Ewing, Trenton, and throughout Mercer County. The Islamic Center is a full service Masjid, operating with an Imam, a Shuraa Board, various committees, and a weekend school. A few years ago, we went before Ewing Township and received approval of our expansion plans which included a second floor to accommodate our growth.
Imam Qareeb A. Bashir
Currently, Qareeb A. Bashir is the Imam (religious leader) of the Islamic Center of Ewing. Additionally, he is the religious advisor to the Siratal Mustiqeem program (a re-entry, assistance, and readjustment program). He also does volunteer mentoring as the Muslim Chaplin at the Mercer County Correctional Center, is president of the Islamic Council of Greater Trenton, sits on the advisory board of the New Jersey Shuraa, and serves as the Islamic Community Clergy for Capital Health Systems. As an executive board member of TASK (Trenton Area Soup Kitchen), he is the chairperson of their program committee. Furthermore, Imam Bashir is a member and co-chairman of UMIO (United Mercer Inter-faith Organization) and a member of Coalition for Peace. Some past organizations that he has held positions in over the years are: Interested Citizens for Education, Trenton Advocate for Quality Education, Neighbors in Action, and various gang prevention awareness groups. Additionally, he has sponsored and coached several youth basketball teams over the years.
Imam Qareeb Bashir studied at Mercer County College with courses in business management. He has studied under several Islamic Scholars from the United States as well as from abroad including his mentor Imam W.D. Mohammed. Having attended Temple University with courses in Islamic Studies, he is a sought after public speaker for many causes. In addition to his religious duties and affiliations, Imam Bashir has made great achievements and history in the secular world in the Fire Service, and was hired as a firefighter in the year 1981.
He is one of the founders of T.A.A.F.F.A (Trenton African American Fire Fighters Association). Appointed by the Mayor as the first recruiting officer for the City of Trenton, he developed a recruiting plan and official recruiting office for the Trenton Fire Department, which was a first for their department and attracted more minority recruits than ever before throughout his time there. During his time on the department, Imam Bashir participated in numerous continued education courses, seminars, and certification programs, including classes at the National Fire Academy such as, but not limited to: trench rescue, hazardous material incidents, handling man made and natural disasters, level one & level two instructor, building construction and collapse, national incident command, multiple alarm management, fire department administration, and challenges of fire departments in urban areas. Imam Bashir was able to rise within the ranks, first being promoted to Captain in the year 1995.
His next promotion in 2005 gave him the distinction of being the first African American to attain the rank of Battalion Chief within the Trenton Fire. Therefore, he holds the distinction of being the first African American in 2008 to work in the capacity of acting Deputy Chief. Although this position was temporary, it is important to note that prior to this position being eliminated, it was the highest ranking uniform position within the department. In the year 2009, he retired from the uniform fire service. However, in 2010, Imam Bashir was appointed to a cabinet position by the Mayor of Trenton as the civilian Director of Fire & Emergency Services and thereafter, held the distinction of being the first African American to hold this position within Trenton. And has served under two mayors.
Imam Bashir has been married for 40 years to his lovely wife Rajeeyah. They have five children ranging in age from 26 to 38 years of age.