Officials from the Jalalabad Jam-E-Masjid, a mosque on Van Houten Street, have stated that they were not part of the discussion on renaming the section of the street, where the mosque is located, after Alhaj Forman Ali, a man who ostensibly played an instrumental role in the mosque’s founding, on Friday evening.
“We had no idea until we saw it on the newspaper,” said Saleh Ghani, a secretary at the mosque, who asserts that when the resolution passed, additionally naming the street after Forman Ali, the mosque committee was left in the dark. “The current committee knew nothing about this,” corroborates Hannan Hussian, president of the mosque.
Committee members have said that they have exchanged no communications with Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, the 2nd Ward councilman, who proposed the street naming resolution. In that resolution it states, Forman Ali was “inspired to establish a mosque for the Bangladeshi community in Paterson.” It suggests, based on isolated reading of just that sentence, that Forman Ali was the founder of the mosque.
“People have suggested five people after the resolution,” said Akhtaruzzaman, Saturday afternoon. He clarified an earlier statement made to the paper that gave the impression he spoke to the mosque committee, and it was they who provided the five names. Instead, it was members of the community, who, after the resolution passed, provided additional names that should have been honored.
“They said this person was the founder, but in our records we find no such thing,” said Hussian. Indeed, records from the mosque confirm the non-existence of Forman Ali from high ranking positions at the mosque. Similarly, the document of incorporation does not mention Forman Ali, but it does mention his home address on Piercy Street.
Akhtaruzzaman said, Forman Ali is not mentioned in the document because he neglected to place his name on the document, instead, he opted to allow his son-in-law to sign in his place. The resolution reads, “Prior to establishing a mosque in Paterson, he held Muslim religious activities, including prayer five times a day, in his own home in Paterson.” Some in the committee have said they have heard that, prior to the erection of the mosque, Forman Ali held prayers in his basement on Piercy Street.
In the certificate of incorporation, there are two addresses: 23 and 21 Piercy Street – it is not clear inside of which addresses’ basement Forman Ali held prayer. A member of his family was contacted to clarify, however, no response was received.
“Tafazzul Ali was the founder of the mosque,” said Ramzan Ahmed, who arrived in the city in 1979, and served as president of the mosque for more than a decade. He said, “We still have the name of the four people under whose name the property was purchased,” and among the four, there is no mention of Forman Ali.
“They don’t just give you a street name,” said Hussain, the current mosque president. “You have to have had done something.” The resolution does not clearly state that Forman Ali founded the mosque, it reads, “on November 28, 1977, the Bangladeshi community established the Islamic Foundation of New Jersey.” Because the resolution reads he was “inspired to establish a mosque” it is easy to confuse him as the founder.
Mumtazul Qureshi, assistant treasurer, said, if anyone is to be honored it is Tafazzul Ali, who “was the one that deserved the name, he worked hard for it, he paid his own paycheck to build the mosque.” Mosque officials say, they have nothing against the individual getting a street named after him, they simply do not wish for him to receive it on the back of the mosque. “If this name was given to another street, without him taking the credit for the mosque, we would support them,” said Hussian.
The committee wishes to see the resolution cancelled because it is an honor being bestowed based on misleading information. “Due to this misleading information this resolution definitely and should be recalled for the interest of the citizen of Paterson,” said Mohammed Salim, a board member.
Hussian, president of the mosque, said of the resolution, “It should be cancelled.”