Will His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Spin Ismaili Gears in Costa Mesa?

Call him Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini, Aga Khan IV or Mawlana Hazar Imam—just don't call him late for dinner.
Call him Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini, Aga Khan IV or Mawlana Hazar Imam—just don't call him late for dinner.
Patrick Tsui/FPO

The Costa Mesa City Council is scheduled tonight to insert itself in a disagreement between the city's Planning Commission and the western United States arm of a Shia Islamic sect led by a billionaire developer/business magnate/owner of jets, racehorses, a yacht club, several estates around the world and an island in the Bahamas.

What could possibly divide such disparate entities? What else?

Parking.

Berean Community Church is a Christian fellowship based in Building A at 3184 Airway Ave., in a Koll Co. business park in Costa Mesa near John Wayne Airport. What's great about the location is while it is congested during regular business hours weekdays, the area is wide open during Sunday church services and evening Bible studies.

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But, bless their little interfaith hearts, Berean leaders are negotiating to share space with the western United States region of His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili, which would also like to build a new religious and cultural center on site.

The problem in the minds of some city leaders is not with the practice of Islam in Costa Mesa, which is, after all, home to the iconic Ali Baba Motel on Newport Boulevard, whose nighttime serenade of gunfire rivals Mosul's.

This particular Muslim sect is more western than many Christian fundamental churches in the real God's country. Leader Karim Aga Khan (known to the Ismailis as Mawlana Hazar Imam) has received honorary degrees from universities all over the western world, including this here United States. He even sponsors a center at Harvard dedicated to Middle Eastern architecture.

Khan's is a kinder, gentler form of Islam than what is punctuated in a Donald Trump stump speech. The 79-year-old is said to be all about eliminating global poverty; promoting secular pluralism and advancing the status of women. He seeks to honor Islamic art and architecture rather than blow 'em up. (Hell, the GOP should nominate him.)

No, the problem, according to the Planning Commission, is not the faith, it's the lack of parking spaces under city code on the Airway Avenue site for a shared church/mosque/religious and cultural center. Commissioners, as well as city staffers, fear that otherwise wholesome combination will draw folks at all hours rather than the off-time for the busy business park. 

It is up to the City Council tonight to decide whether to grant His Highness a waiver or make him stick by the rules like everyone else—or at least everyone else who has not been granted a waiver. (Halal grease meet wheel.)

The meeting begins at 5:45 p.m. Praise be to Allah (and also to you).


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