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Tucson Oddity: Message on wall is a spiritual remnant

The big blue letters stand out starkly against the weather-beaten white wall, just begging to be looked at: HAPPINESS IS SUBMISSION TO GOD.

The wording is sure to have caught your attention if you've ever driven through — or, more likely, been stopped during rush-hour traffic — at the intersection of North Euclid Avenue and East Sixth Street.

Painted on the east wall of what is now a four-plex rental property on the northwest corner, the statement is a reminder of the building's previous incarnation, a mosque that was home to Masjid Tucson.

It was also the site of one of Tucson's most high-profile homicides. Rashad Khalifa, 54, a Muslim spiritual leader who ran Masjid Tucson, was stabbed to death at the mosque on Jan. 31, 1990.

The crime went unsolved for nearly two decades before Tucson police announced in late April that 52-year-old Glen C. Francis had been arrested in Canada in connection with Khalifa's death.

Khalifa's son Sammy, a former Sahuaro High School baseball star, was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft in 1982.

"Happiness is submission to God" is a central theme of Masjid Tucson, also known as the International Community of Submitters, according to its Web site. It is now located near East Speedway and North Rosemont Boulevard.

The saying refers to a promise by God in the Quran that true happiness can come only if people submit themselves to the will of God, ICS director Abdullah Arik told the Star in 2003.

The wording was first painted on the building in the mid-1980s, Numerous touch-ups have been needed due to vandalism, often with different words painted over the "submission to God" portion.

Got oddity?

Is there something you've noticed while driving through Tucson that has piqued your curiosity, to the point you wish you could find out more about it?

Drop us a line, and we'll look into it.

Call Brian J. Pedersen at 573-4224 or send an e-mail to bjp@

Contact reporter Brian J. Pedersen at 573-4224 or

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