Whether providing children a safe place to play basketball or directing residents to resources to help pay household bills, Al-Noor mosque has been a mainstay of service to the Gulfton community since 1987.

Located at 6443 Prestwood Drive, the mosque offers worship, educational and outreach programs to Muslim and non-Muslim community members.

Zahoor Gire

Zahoor Gire, executive director at Al-Noor,  talked about the work the mosque undertakes and why he believes it’s important.

“We are located in the heart of Gulfton, and the community is mostly immigrants,” he said, including people from Afghanistan, Sudan and Ethiopia, as well as India and Pakistan.

Gire said many residents are unaware of what governmental programs and services are available to them. However, through Al-Noor’s weekly, door-to-door outreach programs to area apartment complexes, he and other mosque officials are not only able to let people know what’s out there, they can help facilitate the application process as well.

Al-Noor recently partnered with Uplift Harris, a county public health pilot program, to give $500 a month for 18 months to 2,000 qualifying indigent households. Gire said virtually no one in the area knew of the program, so Al-Noor leadership invited county representatives to the mosque to sign them up. The team also helped when literacy and technical obstacles arose.

“We brought this program to the people and helped them to make their applications or filled them out on their behalf,” he said. “As a result, we were able to register over 100 families in four hours.”

Sabiha Gire

Sabiha Gire, the mosque’s community liaison and Zahoor’s niece, said Al-Noor also provides weekend and after-school religious programs to children and their parents. About 80 students attend Sunday Islamic school there while about 20 parents take adult classes, Sabiha said.The 5-8 p.m. weekday sessions draw another 25 children.

“Mostly these kids are from our immigrant community,” she said. “We provide snacks for them and some education.”

Sabiha said the mosque, which welcomes approximately 1,500 worshippers to its Friday prayer services, also facilitates marriage counseling and offers support for victims of domestic violence, along with resources for housing and job placement.

“We also do a lot of food distribution,” she said, including delivering hot meals and fresh produce to senior citizens via a partnership with local restaurants.

Sabiha said those efforts will kick up a notch in the upcoming month of Ramadan when Muslims fast from sun up until sunset. Many folks travel to the mosque for iftar, the evening meal, to break their fast.

“In Ramadan we will do daily iftars for about 400 people and more than 500 on the weekends,” she explained.

In addition to its charitable endeavors, Al-Noor served as a voting center for the 2020 elections. The mosque continues to provide a polling place for numerous elections, helping to increase voter participation in the community.

“Our numbers have doubled every year, and we’re going to do it here again for the 2024 (presidential) election,” she said.

Mosque exterior

Considering the myriad of services and programs his mosque offers today, Zahoor reflected on Al-Noor’s beginnings in the late 1980s and how the mission has grown. Congregational prayer and worship began at a location on Hillcroft Avenue but quickly migrated to the Gulfton facility after mosque leadership secured land in the area. He said the location was significant because, at the time, there was no Islamic center or mosque in the neighborhood.

Thanks to steady growth, Al-Noor expanded quickly from a converted garage to the current spacious facility and even to a second location at 225 Maxey Rd. on Houston’s east side. Zahoor said there are no plans to slow down, with hopes to eventually open a K-12 school.

— by Carissa Lamkahouan