PLYMOUTH, Minn. - Muslim families in the west metro suburbs now have a new place of worship.
They celebrated the grand opening of the NorthWest Islamic Community Center in Plymouth on Saturday.
Nausheena Hussain said, "It's really exciting to see the community come out and support it and it's not just for Muslims. There are a lot of neighbors here, a lot of our interfaith partners, so it's really, really just an exciting time for us."
Hussain felt Saturday's celebration was important because last year, she said, "we were fighting to get this establishment put up."
Despite some neighborhood opposition, the Plymouth City Council gave its approval to the center last August.
Mateen Ali, a Northwest Islamic Community Center board member said, "Overall the support was really great but there were a few people they did not understand what we were doing so we had to explain to them that we live here this is part of our community I live 3 miles from here I grew up here went to school here my kids go to school here so we needed a place of our own."
So now Plymouth has its own mosque in a former post office building at 3300 Plymouth Boulevard. The center will also have rooms available for rent to the community for those who may want to use the space.
Ali's teenage son, Aasim Ali said, "Before, we had to drive a really long way to go to a mosque. But now it's really nice because it's really close to our home and we can come here to pray every day."
It is opening just in time for Ramadan which is about two weeks away.
Members who used to have to drive many miles to the nearest mosque will now have a place closer to home to pray five times a day.
And after the grand opening face painting is over, a new coat of paint will transform a former indoor parking lot into an activity area for the kids complete with ping-pong and pool tables. There's also a basketball hoop.
Aasim Ali said, "So we can come early, before we pray, to play those kinds of things."
The Northwest Islamic Community Center is also leasing back some space to the post office so the branch can stay open.
Mateen Ali said, "There are a lot of post offices that are shutting down across the country so this worked out to be just a great win, win situation for our Plymouth community, but also our Muslim community."
As of its grand opening, 55 families are members at the Northwest Islamic Community Center. The hope is to soon have that number closer to 100.
But members here say it's a center not just for Muslims. They invite neighbors to their events, to use the space, and they say everyone is welcome.
Hussain said, "I think it's here for the community at large."
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)