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Written by: Hamzah Moin
LOS ANGELES — After years of unsuccessful fundraising dinners and taking taraweeh prayers hostage, Masjid-ul-Islam is finally getting the funds it needs to finish phase three of its renovation project. IKEA, the Swedish furniture giant, has agreed to be a corporate sponsor for the masjid.
Masjid president Ismail Badry was ecstatic. “Alhamdullilah for IKEA’s corporate sponsorship. Things got really bad for fundraising ideas.” Badry mentioned that he once dressed as a homeless man to earn more cash for the masjid. “With IKEA supporting us, I won’t have to take the nicest-looking shoes and auction them off on Craigslist anymore.”
IKEA sees the renovation sponsorship as an extension to its ever-evolving brand. Director of Community Affairs at IKEA, Mikos Svennson said, “Although this is the first time we have sponsored a religious institution, we believe that the mosque will find benefit with our sponsorship. IKEA loves to help cultivate burgeoning communities.”
Part of the sponsorship deal was to rename the mosque to Masjid-ul-IKEA. In addition to rebranding the masjid to be in-line with IKEA’s brand, the layout of the entire masjid was overhauled to resemble an IKEA store.
The layout does have detractors. “Why do I have to walk through random areas of the masjid just to get to the prayer area?” said Basil Jabr, Imam of Masjid-ul-IKEA. “I came for Asr once and by the time I reached the prayer area it was Maghrib.”
Female patrons of the mosque were excited to hear that the space for the sister’s section tripled in size and featured a variety of easy-to-assemble couches and nifty-looking lamps everywhere. Unfortunately, with the new layout, everyone had to walk through the sister’s section just to get to the brother’s prayer area. “I guess that explains the spike in masjid attendance amongst the single Muslims” said Imam Basil.
Corporate sponsorship has always been a controversial issue at the mosque. Badry has insisted that he only had to resort to it because people stopped donating at fundraising dinners. “I think once they figured out that the tagline ‘Donate to the masjid and help your children’ really meant ‘We need to pay our heating bills’, they stopped giving.’
Corporations funding the masjid’s renovation isn’t a new thing. Coca-Cola had sponsored Phase One of the renovation project. Coca-Cola’s condition was that the khateeb would have to say the slogan “Drink Coke. Open Happiness” sometime in the khutbah. For Phase Two, the Imam had to constantly wear Mickey Mouse ears as the project was sponsored by Disney.
Badry sees a future in corporate sponsorship with religious institutions. “I think the next step is to start getting corporations involved with our holidays. Like Eid. I can’t even imagine the possibilities of what a religious holiday can look like when it’s completely backed by corporations.”