Muslims celebrate first Ramadan in new Norman mosque
Norman's new mosque is part of a trend of mosque construction projects and expansion efforts going on in response to the growing Muslim community in Oklahoma City and the state.
NORMAN — The opening of a new mosque is a cause for celebration, not only by Muslims who attend the house of worship but others around the metro area and state who often give their time and money to help their brothers and sisters of the faith.
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Such is the case with the 7,000-square-foot mosque that opened in the spring at 420 E Lindsey in Norman. The Islamic Society of Norman recently held a community open house at the mosque. Friday, the mosque began hosting prayers and fellowship gatherings for Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.
Farid Elyazgi, the society's spokesman, said he and other mosque leaders have anticipated the nightly Ramadan gatherings because it will be the first time the holiday has been celebrated in the new facility.
Elyazgi said about 95 percent of the $950,000 cost to build the mosque came from within the Norman Islamic community. Muslims in other parts of the metro and state, and even other states, contributed as well.
Imad Enchassi is president and imam of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, one of the largest Muslim congregations in the state. He said the Norman Muslim community, like others of its kind, started out small but has experienced enough growth over the years to warrant upgraded or new worship facilities. Other congregations are following suit.
“Every single mosque is expanding,” Enchassi said. “There's a lot of growth and progress.”
Enchassi said there are plans to build a new mosque or add on to the current mosque at 525 N University near the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. He said leaders of a mosque near the campus of Oklahoma State University recently built a new multipurpose building and are raising funds for a new mosque. Also, he said, leaders of a mosque at 1322 NE 23 are in the process of relocating to another property that will better accommodate their faith community's growth.
Enchassi said Islamic faith communities in other parts of the state also are responding to growth. He said a new mosque was recently completed in Ardmore and a new mosque will soon open in Lawton, the second one in that city.
Enchassi said the mosque expansion efforts are obvious indicators of a thriving Muslim population in the state. He said there are an estimated 30,000 Muslims in Oklahoma and although they make up less than 1 percent of the state's population, they add to their communities in many ways, including establishing thriving businesses and being industrious professionals in their career fields.
He said his society's mosque at 3815 N St. Clair offers several prayer services, with about 2,500 people in attendance on weekends. Enchassi said the Oklahoma City society is in the process of buying nearby land to expand its mosque in response to growth. Also, he said a mosque is planned eventually on the same property where Mercy School, the society's private Islamic school, is located at 14001 N Harvey.
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