CAIRO - The holy fasting month of Ramadan is bringing a special joy for Muslims in the city of Norman, in the US state of Oklahoma, this year as they celebrate the opening of a new mosque to accommodate the religious needs of the growing community.
Every single mosque is expanding, Imad Enchassi, president and imam of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, one of the largest Muslim congregations in the state, told The Oklahoman on Sunday, July 22.
There's a lot of growth and progress.
The Muslim community in Norman celebrated the beginning of Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, on Friday, July 20.
The community also celebrated the opening of a new mosque with Tarawish prayers and fellowship gatherings at the 7,000-square-foot worship place.
Farid Elyazgi, spokesman of the Islamic Society of Norman, said 95 percent of the $950,000 cost of the new mosque from the Muslim community in Norman.
Muslims in other parts of state and even from other states have contributed in the construction.
As the Muslim community in Norman began to grow, a need arises for building a mosque to fulfil their growing religious needs.
Starting with a small group of international students who formed the Muslim Student Association at OU in the mid-1970s, a growing Muslim population required an additional space for worship.
As the community grew, leaders purchased three more houses for mosque activities, forming the Islamic Society of Norman.
Seeing a positive response from the surrounding community, the Islamic society began raising funds for a new facility in 2007 and demolished the houses on the site to make room for it.
It was finally completed in March 2012 with an eye-catching dome that could be seen from a few blocks away.
I'm really appreciative of the officials of the city of Norman, Elyazgi, 51, said.
Muslim leaders say that the new mosque expansion efforts are an obvious indicator of a thriving Muslim population in Oklahom.
Our kids were born here, and they were raised here, Ahsan Amil, 61, the Islamic society's cultural secretary, said.
They don't want to go anywhere else.
Azhar Mahmood, 52, the society's financial secretary, agreed, says that his family considers Norman home too.
They are Sooners, he said, smiling.
There are an estimated 30,000 Muslims in Oklahoma, making up less than 1 percent of the state's population.
The Muslim population adds to their communities in many ways, including establishing thriving businesses and being industrious professionals in their career fields.
Those feelings of brotherhood pervade not only in the Muslim community but in the entire community.
The characteristic that Norman is known for is brotherhood, said Abdul Rahman, the Islamic Society of Norman's president and acting imam.It has that reputation and I like that.