Eid Al-Fitr came with a double joy for members of the Muslim Community Center in Amherst, Western New York, who celebrated the feast marking the end of Ramadan as well as a new expansion at their local mosque.
“This is an important step for not only the Muslims in western New York but for the community at large because we have been very fortunate to be able to work with all faith traditions across all ethnic religious and cultural lines and build bridges with different sections of the community,” said Khalid Qazi of the Islamic Society of Niagara Frontier, WIVB.com reported.
The Islamic Society of Niagara Frontier was first constructed 30 years ago. When the Muslim community presented the plans, they incorporated plans for three future expansion options.
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With the growth of the Muslim community, either by immigration of growth of Muslim families, the expansion was needed more than ever.
A ribbon cutting and a tree planting will occur on Saturday marking completion of the $1.5 million expansion. Founding Chairman Dr. Khalid Qazi said completion was delayed by the pandemic.
“We had approval from the Town of Amherst for the expansion of the mosque itself because the area of the worshippers was getting very small, especially, there was no special place for ladies and they wanted to have a balcony,” Qazi said, WBFO reported.
“So we had the plans that were approved by the town and got a little bit delayed by COVID.”
The Islamic Society says the new space will be able to better serve its growing community.
“This space is much better now, although right now because of the social distancing and other guidelines, we’re not able to use the space as much as we would otherwise,” Qazi said.
“But, nevertheless, it has eased a lot of congestion and a lot of angst on the part of the parishioners.”
Islam is the third largest religion in the United States, after Christianity and Judaism. A 2017 study estimated that 3.35 million Muslims were living in the United States, about 1.1 percent of the total US population.
Estimate say there is 700,000 Muslims in New York City based on extrapolations of ancestry and country of origin data from immigration and the US census records from 1990 to 2000, and combined with recent demographic studies on mosque affiliation suggesting that 1 in 10 Muslims in the US reside in New York.