The Mosque Foundation, 7360 W. 93rd St., in Bridgeview, is the first mosque in the nation to have a solar hot water system.

The solar water system preheats the water with sunlight instead of natural gas. It is used to heat water for congregants as they wash before prayers.

Faith in Place, an organization that represents 450 congregations in Illinois, tries to improve the environment.

The solar system cost $23,000, but the mosque received a grant from Faith in Place and will get a rebate from the The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.

According to Sara Spoonheim, deputy director of Faith in Place, money was raised through a program called Interfaith Power and Light.

The program promotes providing energy through conserving energy, switching to clean energy and reducing contributions to global warming.

“About 70 percent of the time, the water will be heated by the solar system,” said Spoonheim.

Dr. Mohammed Sahloul, president of the Mosque Foundation, said the community is very excited about the solar system.

“Islams see ourselves as custodians of the world and trustees of the earth,” said Sahloul. “We believe in saving our natural resources for the future generations.”

According to Islamic beliefs, hands, feet and sometimes faces are washed before prayer five times a day, so they use much more water than other congregations.

“Other leaders have contacted me. They are interested, but it is expensive,” said Sahloul.

According to Spoonheim, the solar system will extend the life of the hot water heater, and on bleak or unsunny days the hot water heater will kick back on. She said it will also help the mosque because its gasoline bill will be lower.

“All the world’s religions share a responsibility to care for God’s creation, and our Muslim brothers and sisters at the Mosque Foundation have given us a shining example of how to do that,” said Spoonheim.

In 10 years, Sahloul said, the mosque will see a return on their investment, and after that period they will have begun to save money.

This is part of an expansion process for the mosque. Sahloul said the board is really behind the new water heater because they try to be “as environmentally friendly as possible.” (MORE)


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