In Horn Lake, Ground Broken for New Mosque; First in North Mississippi
About 40 people gathered over the weekend to plant a set of Magnolia trees on a vacant 80-acre plot of land in a City of Horn Lake neighborhood. The site will eventually be transformed into a mosque and Muslim cemetery – a first for Northern Mississippi.
Participants said the trees symbolized the house of worship’s history-making role in the Magnolia State.
“It will be open for everybody – everybody who wants to just like know who we are,” says Nadera Abuirshaid, a resident of Southaven and the wife of one of the mosque’s co-founders.
She says when the project, called the Abraham House of God, is completed in about a year, her family will no longer have to travel 40 minutes to Memphis to attend prayer services.
“It’s like a dream accomplished,” she says.
She wasn’t always sure that the dream would work out.
Horn Lake officials initially rejected the building permit last year, amid vocal opposition from some residents. The mosque’s founders sued on the basis of religious discrimination, citing baseless reasons given for denial as well as public comments indicating anti-Muslim sentiment.
While the city denied allegations, a federal judge ordered the project to move forward earlier this year under a consent decree. An additional permit for the site’s planned accompanying burial ground was also recently approved.
Mosque co-founder Riyadh Elkhayyat says he can now focus attention on construction and forging interfaith partnerships.
“I think there was some fear among some of the neighboring people,” Elkhayyat says. “But I think that fear will go away once they realize who we are, and they know who we are.”
The mosque will have capacity for roughly 150 people.