Rekaz Homes Completes Alhuda Islamic Center of Indiana
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Cover Photographer / Brian Brosmer
Interior Photographer / Arif Hussain
When Rekaz Homes was entrusted to build the new Alhuda Islamic Center of Indiana, CEO Hossam Wanas, a proud citizen of Fishers, felt compelled to make the mosque into a work of art with architecture that would make the whole city proud.
“Having witnessed the rapid rise of Fishers as one of the best cities to live and raise a family with an excellent profile of safety and diversity, the call to action became even more pressing to create a building that showcases all our great city has to offer,” says Wanas, who has worked in the construction industry for many years starting from his home in Alexandria, Egypt and continuing in Fishers, Indiana.
Wanas envisioned erecting a mosque that would be the most beautiful in the country, and one that complements the city’s futuristic vision. Therefore, he actively participated in the initial exterior and interior design, consulting with master builders, designers and craftsmen in Egypt and traveling to conventions around the world to learn about the best materials that could be used for the project, all while being mindful of cost.
“The challenge was obvious as we already have exquisite mosques in the United States such as the Diyanet Center of America in Maryland and the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C.,” Wanas says.
He recognized that it would be difficult to execute a similar project, due to the larger space and budgets that the leaders of those projects enjoyed.
“These buildings were inspired by architecture from the Ottoman Empire dating back to the 14th century and influenced by Byzantine architecture, combining a blend of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern history,” Wanas says. “Therefore, my direction to help this mosque be most unique was to choose a concept of design focused on modern Islamic architecture.”
As a result, the Alhuda Islamic Center of Indiana mosque is the only one in the U.S. that uses these elements, making it truly one of a kind. Combining the rich elements of Islamic history with contemporary building design, modern Islamic architecture incorporates the use of modern-day building materials including glass, fiberglass, copper, gold leaf, porcelain floors, marble, granite, and vivid colors such as white, blue and gold, all while maintaining the fundamental structural appearance of a mosque complete with domes, minarets and Islamic art.
“This approach allowed us to build an iconic structure that mirrors the vibrance exhibited throughout the City of Fishers while staying true to a budget set forth by the donations of community members,” Wanas says.
The Alhuda Islamic Center of Indiana project, which took three years to complete, is a 40,000-square-foot structure with a distinctive exterior and an interior that merges open areas, natural light and high-quality finishes to achieve the final product. In early August 2020, Wanas started taking multiple groups of community members on tours through the building and during various stages of the construction process. Each time the people were left awestruck at the beauty of his intricate creation.
All the positive feedback made Wanas strive to make sure this project was nothing but amazing.
Wanas searched for quite some time to find just the right artist who could paint murals throughout the building. After a rigorous nationwide selection process, he came across the artist Jessica Hancock.
“Until I found her, my original plan was to bring in someone from overseas because I wanted someone who could do Islamic artwork,” Wanas says.
He provided Hancock with pictures and elements to study, and she delivered.
“Jessica had the patience to learn it and she worked tirelessly for four months creating a signature design pattern for the mosque’s unique Islamic art,” Wanas says. “She did great work.”
Some of the Alhuda Islamic Center of Indiana project’s unique elements are included in the following photos.
1. Domes and minarets: The domes are made of gold-plated fiberglass with a radius of 30’ for the large dome and 18’ for the small domes. It took four months in Ohio to build and 25 days to assemble and attach to the structure with the help of 14 specialized team members. The minarets stand 60’ tall on a metallic skeleton with cement blocks and fiberglass at the top.
3. Main prayer hall (musalla): This is the main prayer area totaling 13,000 square feet with a soaring 28’ ceiling. The floors are covered in fine Turkish carpet with a thread density of 1.1 million points per square meter. The woodwork was carried out by the finest carpenters in Indiana, assembling over 1,000 detailed wood pieces. The columns are octagonal and are encased in fine Brazilian granite known as Taj Mahal. A Quranic verse adorns this space that was crafted in Indonesia using mahogany wood and was assembled by an expert in Chicago.
4. Entrance and gathering area: A special focus was on creating an open space, mimicking the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, and further accentuated by light colors that echo the exterior design to give a visually smooth transition upon entering the mosque. The materials were carefully chosen, and include porcelain tiles from Italy and a handmade Islamic mosaic from Spain. Brass accents were used throughout to tie the design elements together. The entrance to the prayer area is covered in the Brazilian Taj Mahal granite and is crowned with Islamic art inspired by the Cologne Mosque in Germany.
5. Fatumah Interfaith Room: This room is named in loving memory of the young Fatima Hassuneh, who passed away in a tragic traffic accident in 2017 at 18 years old. She was known for her kindness, good manners and passionate participation in interfaith activities. This room is to be used as a safe, welcoming space for people of all faiths to foster education, compassion and peaceful coexistence. It is the only room which contains a rare marble wall etched with a golden color pattern, and an inner dome decorated with a spectacular pattern. It houses a state-of-the-art audiovisual system through which remote meetings can be conducted.
6. Restrooms and lavatories (ablution wash areas): A characteristic design incorporates porcelain and mosaics, further defined by the use of indirect lighting to highlight the golden faucets, stone handles and golden beveled mirrors.
7. Gym: A professional-grade gym with triple-layer flooring, bleachers and state-of-the-art equipment.
8. Lighting and chandeliers: All of the chandeliers were custom built by master crafters in Egypt. Made from copper and gold plated with 18-karat gold, the chandeliers hanging from the smaller domes are 7’ in diameter and weigh 600 pounds each, inspired by those of the Sayeda Zainab Mosque in Cairo, Egypt. The main dome chandelier is made from the same materials, and is 14’ wide and 1,200 pounds. It is inspired by that of the Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina. In addition, 30 pendants and wall lights complete the overall design.
5. Fatumah Interfaith Room: This room is named in loving memory of the young Fatima Hassuneh, who passed away in a tragic traffic accident at Indiana University in 2017 at 18 years old. She was known for her kindness, good manners and passionate participation in interfaith activities. This room is to be used as a safe, welcoming space for people of all faiths to foster education, compassion and peaceful coexistence. It is the only room which contains a rare marble wall etched with a golden color pattern, and an inner dome decorated with a spectacular pattern. It houses a state-of-the-art audiovisual system through which remote meetings can be conducted.
11. Community and volunteer work: The community has so much to give. This small army of volunteers, under the direction of Judy Aljabi Nahlawi, who took the initiative and lead the effort, was able to help cut costs so the funds could go to more needed areas. Countless hours of working on Gold Leaf ceilings, stenciling patterns on walls, and cleaning were put in to insure the mosque would be ready for the grand opening.
10. Jessica Hancock’s Islamic art: The smaller 14’ domes are inspired by the domes in Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina. The main dome, which is 28’ in diameter, is unique and displays select Quranic verses. The semicircular wall niche denoting the direction of Mecca. Hancock also provided artwork for windows, wall patterns (for the carpenters), gilded one 20-foot arched entry ceiling and the 4-foot tall border atop the gymnasium.