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New Mosque being built in Louisville

Published: May. 20, 2009 at 9:56 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 2, 2009 at 10:48 AM EDT
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By Maira Ansari - bio | email
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It is one of the fastest growing, yet misunderstood religions. In the United States, there are over six million Muslims. The number of Muslims in Louisville dramatically increasing. Now a project that has been in the works for the past eight years is near completion. A brand new mosque, or a Muslim church, is being built right off of Old Westport Road in Louisville.

It's a religion most people don't understand. It's a different language and a different culture that you may think is far away is actually closer than you think.

"The community is growing and is very diverse. We have Muslims from all over the world," said Norma Nangju, a teacher at the Islamic School of Louisville.

Trying to dispel a lot of the negative stereotypes.

"Muslims are like everyone else. They want to live good lives, they want to contribute, raise families, raise good kids, and have good jobs" said Aly Farag, president of the Muslim Community Center.

Friday is a holy day for Muslims. The number of people packing a prayer room is proof that the Muslim population in Louisville is growing, as it the need for a larger Mosque for worship. There are more than 7,000 Muslims in Louisville. Brick by brick, Muslims are seeing a dream come true.

"Islam means peace," said Farag. "And the Mosque is the center of peace."

By August, they hope the project will be completed.

"Even though the mosque isn't finished, when you walk inside it you have a sense of peace and tranquility," said Nangju.

The project not only includes a new place of worship, but also an elementary school. With fewer than 100 students for the past nine years, the Islamic School of Louisville has been using an old house. With a new school making it the first Islamic school attached to a mosque in Kentucky, they hope to bring in more students.

"Having the ability to have more space. More facilities for science lab and computer lab. Is really important academically for students," said Nangju.

But just how does a 40,000 square foot building worth more than $5 million come together? Muslims are not allowed to use conventional mortgages and loans that accrue interest. Farag says just like Christians and other faiths, through fundraisers and support from local families, the Muslim Community Center was able to raise money to support their project. But it is not just about having something new and big.

"We teach the kids that the purpose that God created us is to worship him and that's why we have a strong attachment to having a mosque," said Nangju.

It is about continuing to spread a message that isn't very different from other religions. Instead of faith dividing people, there is hope that they can one day come together.

"For people of all faiths to learn about each other and have good understandings," said Nangju.

This is the seventh, and largest, mosque in Louisville. In the future, they hope to expand with a middle and high school.

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