FORT COLLINS - Fulfilling an old dream, Colorado Muslims have performed first prayers at the long awaited Fort Collins mosque Islamic center, hoping it would open a window to the community interested in getting better information about Islamic identity.
It lets people know where we're at, Islamic community leader Shakir Muhammad told The Coloradoan on Monday, August 12.
Right now, people have a hard time finding us. As a Muslim community, we've been under the radar and just doing our own thing.
It's time to put ourselves more on the map.
Located in Fort Collins at 925 W. Lake St, the 18,000-square-foot facility opened last week to Muslim worshippers for the first time.
Taking a Turkish style, the mosque includes 70-foot minaret and 50-foot dome both topped with crescent moons.
The Islamic Center's current building is just more than 2,500 square feet without many external identifying features.
It will officially open in coming weeks as a beacon of hope and visibility to the city's roughly 2,000-strong Muslim community.
Moreover, Muslims hope it would offer a new space to community's accessibility to Muslims, the same role played five years ago by the Fort Collins Shambhala Center.
Moving into a renovated old bar in Old Town Fort Collins, the Shambhala Buddhism center saw a dramatic uptick in community involvement and membership after moving into the new facility.
After five years from taking this move, the group now has more than 800 on its mailing list, 100 core members who support the center financially.
A huge number of community members have also attended a three weekly meditation teachings, Director of Practice and Education John Reichhardt said.
There's a tremendous interest in meditation, Reichhardt said.
We've also found that our presence in a central area helps make a statement about tolerance.
People whether their wisdom tradition is Islam, Buddhism, Christianity or something else all have a basis of wisdom to share, he added.
The Islamic Center's location, close to Colorado State University, would also give it a central home for international students practicing the faith.
If you want to have values central around your faith, you have to make your place of worship the center, Muhammad said.
This building will cause our community to step out and socialize more.
International students make up more than half of Fort Collins' Muslim population, with the other half coming from Fort Collins, Cheyenne and Greeley.
If everyone knows where you worship and what you're a part of, it will encourage you to represent your faith well because you know that whatever you do is how people will view those from your country and faith.
Muhammad and other Islamic community leaders are working with neighboring congregation Plymouth Congregational Church to share ideas, resources and parking to members and visitors of both faith groups.
US Muslims are estimated at between six to eight million.