Living in the Diaspora presents a monumental challenge: the creation of an Islamic living environment capable of nurturing a thriving and productive Muslim community deeply rooted in the core values of Islam. Among the myriad teachings of Islam, one that played a pivotal role in the establishment of EMAS (Ethiopian Muslim Association of Seattle) is the precise guidance on burial ceremonies.

In 1989, the passing of a brother named Ibrahim in the Puget Sound Area stirred the consciousness of local Muslim residents. It became evident that everyone had a duty to participate in the mourning and burial rituals. However, there was no well-organized Muslim community to turn to for support or information regarding burial grounds and preparation locations. In response to this pressing need, EMAS was founded. A passionate call went out to all Ethiopian Muslims residing in Washington State to convene and discuss the necessity of forming an organization.

In 1989, those who answered this urgent call came together and unanimously approved the establishment of the Ethiopian Muslim Association of Seattle (EMAS). This marked the humble beginning of a remarkable journey towards building a vibrant and supportive Muslim community in the Pacific Northwest.

One of the primary challenges in this initial phase was defining the organizational structure. Great care was taken to ensure that the nascent organization would meet the criteria for classification as a tax-exempt entity under section 501C3 of the IRS code. Alhamdulillah, in 1994, EMAS received official recognition as a non-profit organization in the State of Washington.
In its early days, EMAS operated from a modest office in the basement of the Islamic School of Seattle, bringing together a small group of members for weekend activities. With only 10 to 15 families in its fold in 1994, the need for a larger space was not pressing. However, this was just the beginning.

Between 1998 and 2002, EMAS experienced significant growth in membership, with the number of families swelling to 40. The need for a more expansive facility became imperative, leading EMAS to rent a two-story building with spacious rooms, ideally located for most of its members at that time. As membership increased, the organization solidified its structure and expanded its offerings to include various Islamic programs and activities for youth and children. Through the grace of Almighty Allah and the dedication of its members, EMAS was able to purchase this building entirely free from interest (Riba) payments through three installments.

In recent years, EMAS has continued to attract new members steadily, serving as a cornerstone of support and guidance for the growing Ethiopian Muslim community in Seattle. Once again, the organization finds itself in need of a more extensive space that can comfortably accommodate all its members and weekend programs. EMAS provides its adult members with Quran recitation and interpretation, Fiqh, Hadith, and more, fostering a strong sense of faith and knowledge. Special emphasis is placed on nurturing the Islamic upbringing and comprehensive Islamic knowledge of our children, ensuring they grow up grounded in their faith and values. Quran classes for children are divided into three levels: Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced, tailoring education to the specific needs of each age group.

Lastly, EMAS proudly sponsored the 2009 BADR annual conference, a testament to its commitment to fostering community engagement and strengthening the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood among Ethiopian Muslims in the region. We want all attendees to know that this year’s conference is exceptionally well-organized and special. Preparations for the conference began early, drawing on the valuable experiences gained when EMAS hosted the conference in 2002. We eagerly anticipate your participation in the conference and look forward to another successful and memorable gathering as we continue our journey to create a thriving, vibrant, and united Ethiopian Muslim community in Seattle. Your support and dedication remain the driving force behind EMAS’s continued growth and success.

EMAS, a shining example of unity and faith, proudly serves a vibrant community of over 500 Ethiopians, Eritreans, and embraces hundreds of Muslim Americans welcoming from diverse corners of the world. This remarkable growth stands as a testament to the firm dedication and tireless efforts of its members and leaders in fostering a flourishing and all-inclusive community.

As EMAS continues to evolve, it expands its services and programs to provide to the diverse needs and backgrounds of its ever-growing membership. Its dynamic progress goes beyond sheer numbers; it mirrors the organization’s remarkable ability to adapt to changing demographics and the evolving requirements of its community.

EMAS has expanded its range of services to provide a diverse and comprehensive array of offerings. These include crucial social support, guidance through Nikah (marriage) ceremonies, assistance during Funeral rites, facilitation of Marriage and Wedding celebrations, dedicated Family Counseling, and memorable Graduation services. While fulfilling these essential community needs, EMAS continues to prioritize and uphold a steadfast commitment to Islamic studies, fostering spiritual growth, knowledge, and a deep understanding of the faith among its members. This blend of practical support and spiritual nourishment underscores EMAS’s dedication to the holistic well-being of its community members.

It endeavors to create a profound sense of belonging for newcomers while nurturing the rich tapestry of spiritual and cultural heritage cherished by all its members. This multifaceted approach underscores EMAS’s unwavering commitment to holistic community development.

In the spirit of inclusivity, EMAS has blossomed into a vibrant center for cultural exchange, where members from Ethiopia, Eritrea, and a myriad of other nations unite to celebrate their shared faith while joyfully embracing the diverse mosaic of their backgrounds. The organization’s annual events, including Eid celebrations and cultural festivals, have evolved into cherished milestones in the lives of its members, reinforcing a profound sense of belonging and unity that transcends geographical boundaries.

Moreover, EMAS remains deeply committed to supporting and sponsoring conferences and seminars that not only educate its members but also actively engage with the wider community. These initiatives promote interfaith dialogue and cooperation, enabling EMAS to construct bridges of understanding while dispelling misconceptions about Islam and nurturing an atmosphere of tolerance and acceptance.

As EMAS continues its forward journey, its vision remains steadfast: to provide a nurturing, supportive environment where Muslims from all walks of life can thrive spiritually, culturally, and socially. Its inspiring journey is a testament to the strength of community, the power of faith, and the boundless potential that emerges when diverse individuals unite with a shared purpose.

In conclusion, EMAS’s inspiring growth, from its humble beginnings to its present status as a thriving community organization, stands as a testament to the dedication of its members and the resonance of its mission. With its doors wide open to all, it continues to play an indispensable role in the lives of its members while contributing to the rich tapestry of the American Muslim experience. EMAS’s future shines brightly, and its profound impact on the community is poised to grow even stronger in the years to come.