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Islamic Society of Concord Moves Into New Mosque

Peter Biello/NHPR

The Islamic Society of Concord has moved into its very own mosque, after 15 years of renting space.

In their new home, congregants now have a private space to meet with the Imam. Men and women can now pray on the same floor, which they couldn't do in the rented space.
All Things Considered host Peter Biello recently spoke with Imam Mustafa Akaya about the significance of being able to move into a permanent space.

(This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.)

Oh, it's a big thing for us. It was like a big dream for everybody for myself, and for my congregation. That's it. To have your own place, because once you have your own place, you can do too much, too many things. If you rent the place you're just temporary. It's like you're moving from temporarily renting to, like, your own home. So we call it our home now because we can do other activities and I have my office as Imam, so people can come and they ask questions if they have. So there we can do because a mosque for us is not just a place to come and pray, and leave. No, it's like a educational center. It's a social center, it's Islamic center. So we do a lot of things that are, so we have more freedom to do things. It's big thing for us.

And it's not just for people from Concord. People from all over the state can come here?

Exactly. Yes, exactly. So as a Muslim we don't have, like, imitation.  Like everybody is like from wherever, like people we have, people especially in the winter, they like to ski, and people come from Massachusetts, to stop here and pray with us. And we have actually especially this area, Concord, that's the only mosque we have. The only one we have now. Hopefully we're going to have more. But that's the only one for now.

And people who, we have people coming from up North, like the White Mountains, driving one hour to come here, so that's very significant for many people, especially Friday -- that's the service we have congregation. So people come from all over the state, actually. I mean, especially, I'm talking about up north.

We're sitting together in the first room you enter when you enter the front door. Seems like you've got new floor here. Seems like some of the walls have been freshly painted. It's a very bright space, very inviting. There's there's a place for people to take off their shoes and put them while they're here. No shoes in here. What's left on your punch list of things to do here?

Yes, we have too many things to do but, the most important that you just mentioned, we have the entrance here. This is like an entrance for the guests and we have offices including my office, and we have assistant offices, so they can do their own things.

Like you said, we put the floor and we, you know, paint and the inside we put the carpet to look fresh like new carpet and we still have to do other things, especially the parking lot. So, we have another home. We have to tear it down, so we can expand the parking lot. Basically that's very much -- so we still have a couple of hundred,  thousand dollars to raise in order to get to a comfortable place.

So what will this space look like when people are here say on Friday?

Basically this entrance -  we don't use it, like on Friday. That's why you use the next door. We have a side door. That's the access to the prayer room, like, so we have the sisters' room and then we have brothers' room. So it's separate but we can still see them just divided by the curtains, so people can enter directly to the room and then we pray and especially like you say that Friday, that's the biggest day for us. Like as a congregation day. They still they can listen to, at 1 o'clock we start, you can listen to the speech. And basically that's how we do it. It's like about an hour. Yes, we have enough room for everybody. Yes.

Well, Imam Mustafa, thank you very much for speaking with me and again congratulations on acquiring this building for your mosque.

Thank you very much for coming here and for having me for this conversation. And another thing, I would like to say thank you, to be grateful, to Allah, God Almighty is the one who helped us to open this place and to other faiths. Everybody is like participating with us and supporting us. I'm very grateful to that. Thank you very much.

Peter Biello is the host of All Things Considered and Writers on a New England Stage at New Hampshire Public Radio. He has served as a producer/announcer/host of Weekend Edition Saturday at Vermont Public Radio and as a reporter/host of Morning Edition at WHQR in Wilmington, North Carolina.
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