Tennessee Muslims thankful during Ramadan celebration
by Travis Loller, Associated Press
July 21, 2012 12:16 AM | 755 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Muslims pray on Friday at the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro on the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in Murfreesboro, Tenn. A new mosque is nearing completion after a court battle with opposition groups.
Muslims pray on Friday at the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro on the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in Murfreesboro, Tenn. A new mosque is nearing completion after a court battle with opposition groups.
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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is always a joyful time for believers, but a Tennessee congregation was feeling especially blessed this year as they worshipped Friday.

Opponents spent two years trying to halt construction of a new mosque for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, but a federal judge ruled this week the congregation has a right to worship there as soon as the building is ready.

“Ramadan this year reaches us at a very special time for us as a community,” Imam Ossama Bahloul told the congregation at Friday prayers. “We have received the good news about the federal court not standing on our side, but standing on the side of the Constitution.”

During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food and drink during the daylight hours, breaking their fast at sundown and offering special prayers. Although it is a time of deprivation, Muslims consider Ramadan to be a joyful season. It commemorates the month in which Muslims believe God revealed the first verses of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad.

Bahloul told the congregation on Friday that Ramadan also is a time of forgiveness, urging them to ask God to forgive their sins and to strive to forgive others.

“Do not to hold any hard feelings in your heart toward anyone, even those on the opposition side,” he said. “Pray for the opposition to get to know us and to change their feelings.”

Although there has been an Islamic center in Murfreesboro for 30 years, the new building brought vehement opposition, including a lawsuit, a large rally and even vandalism, arson and a bomb threat.

Islamic center leaders say the new building is needed because they have outgrown their current space in an office park. They say there are about 250 families who use the current 2,100-square-foot building, along with about 400 Muslim students from Middle Tennessee State University.

On Friday, male worshippers spilled out the door of the old site and into the parking lot until Bahloul asked them to squeeze together so that everyone could come inside. Unlike a Christian church where worshippers sit in chairs or pews, Muslims sit on the floor during the service and prostrate themselves during prayers.

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