* Another (Islamic) Â milestone in the dar-al harb, in what Muslims perceive to be behind enemy lines:
Dignitaries tour Al-Farooq Masjid
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Al-Farooq Masjid, Atlanta’s largest mosque, opened its doors on 14th Street N.W. on Sunday, proudly showing off to invited guests the $10 million edifice with it 65-foot-high dome over the main prayer hall.
“It’s with a sense of humbleness and gratitude toward God Almighty that he has allowed us to see the completion of this mosque,” said Dr. Khalid Siddiq, a Cobb County resident and long-time leader in Atlanta’s Muslim community. “The community has been trying to build this mosque for the last 10 years.”
The main prayer area can accommodate 1,100.
â€¢Â Photos:See more of Al-Farooq MasjidÂ Â Â Â
Members excitedly took guests from other faiths on tours ofÂ Al-Farooq Masjid, pointing out the carved travertine stone details and the intricate, geometric, hand-painted designs on the dome and walls.
The guests were suitably impressed.
The Rev. Jimmy Allen of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship went on an interfaith trip to the Mideast with Siddiq several years ago, and he said Sunday that he was glad to celebrate the opening of the mosque with his friend.
“I told him I was glad that it’s already paid for, and that I would like to have his list of donors,” Allen quipped.
Siddiq said the money came from the Atlanta community and friends. None came from foreign governments.
John Hardy Jones of Atlanta said, “I think all of us that are not Muslim need to know more about the faith. I think this is very beneficial.”
The Muslim community has grown quickly in metro Atlanta during the past 25 years.
Bilal Mahmud is a Christian who converted to Islam in 1973. Three years later, he came to Atlanta from Washington, D.C., to help establish a mosque with five or six local men. There were few Muslims in the area at the time, he said.
In about 1978, the men began making plans for the mosque. “But the plans were nothing like this,” Mahmud said, looking around Sunday at the impressive structure.
Siddiq said, “There were times we thought we would never be finished in our lifetime.”
The community started services in 1980, meeting in an older building on the 14th Street property when that part of town was run down. The original building’s old prayer hall was razed to make way for the new mosque.
Several members said they were glad to be part of the revitalization of the area â€“ it is bounded by Atlantic Station on the north and Georgia Tech on the south â€“ and they thought the typical Islamic architecture brought a bit of sparkle to the neighborhood.
The influx of immigrants to the metro region included many Muslims, which helped local congregations including that of Al-Farooq Masjid grow. There are now about three dozen mosques scattered from Gwinnett to Clayton counties.
DID YOU KNOW?
Mosque officials estimate that there are 80,000 Muslims in metro Atlanta. Here are some other figures.
Mosques: at least 35
Birth countries of Al-Farooq Masjid members: 39
Cost of Al-Farooq Masjid: $10 million
Square feet: 46,000
Main prayer hall capacity: 1,100
Women’s prayer hall capacity: 700
Height of the minaret: 146 feet
To find out more about Muslims in America go to theÂ Pew forum.