SNOHOMISH — Worship can happen anywhere, says Shaykh Rasoul Naghavi — even a renovated horse barn off Highway 9 in Snohomish.
That’s where the Husaynia Islamic Society of Seattle is preparing its mosque and community center.
“Sometimes, you forget to see the beauty that is all around us,” Naghavi said, with a view of the Cascades behind him. “I can see God easily through his work.”
On Saturday, the society invited Naghavi, and a wide range of political and religious figures, as well as the general public, to an Eid ul Adha celebration at its property in unincorporated Snohomish.
The goal of the event was to bring together members of various faiths and lifestyles to commemorate the Islamic holiday, society president Zahra Abidi said.
“Respect finds its true meaning when you’re able to respect people who see the world with a different perspective, people you may think are wrong,” Naghavi said.
There were all kinds of food, a bouncy house, ice cream truck, balloon animals and other common fair offerings.
“This is the fun stuff,” Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney said, sitting with his wife Jill and others from the sheriff’s office. “We’re all just human beings getting to know each other. That, and the food is awesome.”
Other attendees included state Rep. Shelley Kloba, D-Kirkland, and members of Snohomish’s First Presbyterian Church.
“We all worship the same God,” Pat Sanvik, who serves on the church’s council, said.
She learned of the Islamic society through Abidi, who helped Sanvik with the church’s annual CROP Hunger Walk.
Saturday was the society’s second interfaith celebration. The first took place in 2019, when plans for the mosque and center kicked off.
Since then, the interior of the property’s barn has transformed. Tapestries cover the walls and prayer mats line the floor.
Rays of sun beam through the barn’s skylights, and a half dozens fans are stationed in a circle around the mats.
Already, the main room is so large that the center continued to host prayers during the pandemic, spacing people 10 or so feet apart, Masood Zaidi, the society’s vice president, said.
“We followed all the rules,” he said.
But the renovations aren’t done.
There are still old horse stalls to be knocked out to expand the space. And zoning permits need to be cleared before it can fully open.
Reception from neighbors has mostly been positive, Zaidi said. But there have been some in the area that’ve opposed the society from coming to town, he said, including a group that led a letter-writing campaign.
“It’s mostly because they don’t know us,” Zaidi said. “I was reading one letter and burst out laughing. They have no concept of who we are.”
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant attended the celebration. She was invited, but did not attend.