After seven years and much hard work and determination on the part of a few families and leaders in the local Muslim community, Masjid Al-Salam – “Mosque of Peace” – is open for both believers and non-believers.
The Islamic Center of South Carolina had an open house of sorts on Friday, during which community members gathered to watch or participate in prayer services, eat and learn more about Islam.
“If you build a house for Allah here on this place, he will build a house for you in paradise,” Jasiri Makadra said of the newly-constructed mosque, which he called a blessing.
Although the mosque held its first Friday prayer services in September, this was the first time the community was invited in.
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Imam Issam Musa wants people of all faiths to visit the mosque and learn more about Islam and the Islamic Center.
“This is the goal of having such events,” he said. “It’s to get to know your neighbor.”
Musa hopes the presence of the center on West Main Street in the heart of Rock Hill will help quash people’s misconceptions about Islam, because it’s a religion just like any other in the United States.
“It’s like an apple and an orange,” he said. “Both of them are good, even though they’re different.”
During Friday’s service, Musa spoke about the four pillars of Islam and some of the practices, such as fasting during the month of Ramadan, praying in the direction of the city of Mecca and giving to charity.
The men sat in a large, high-ceilinged room covered by prayer mats, while women were in a smaller room to the side. There also are two rooms with windows into the main space from which people can observe.
Dozens of non-Muslims attended Friday’s event, including local officials, church leaders and regular citizens who wanted to show support.
“I have been watching the building of the mosque for quite some time,” said Martina Reburn, a Rock Hill resident who attends St. Anne Catholic Church.
People in our society need to be more open-hearted and welcoming when it comes to people of different faiths, she said.
“Muslims are our brothers and sisters in the world,” Reburn said.
Rock Hill City Councilwoman Sandra Oborokumo said Friday’s event was her first visit to a mosque and the first Muslim service she has attended.
It was interesting she said, and she’s glad the center has opened in the city.
“Rock Hill has such a wide span of everything,” Oborokumo said. “It’s progressing in such a wealthy way.”
Everyone is welcome to attend prayers or services at the mosque anytime, Musa said. The Islamic Center encourages people to come in, ask questions and learn more to improve understanding.