Centennial Masjid (Mosque)

CENTENNIAL — They gather just before sundown in a vacant office building owned by one of the few people in town who would lease to them.

Large plastic tarps cover the carpet. On the tarps sit row upon row of bowls filled with orange slices, bananas and dates.

It is time to break the fast at Masjid Khadeejah, a mosque in its infancy.

It was founded in March 2008 by well-educated, well-off professionals eager to pray, socialize and teach their children Islam in a place more convenient to their homes and jobs in Denver’s south suburbs.

A man rises to give the Adhan, or call to prayer.

A moment later, more than 100 men, women and children enjoy their first sustenance since the Ramadan fast began 14 hours earlier at sunrise.

The larger-than-expected crowd is a nice moment on a journey of successes and setbacks for the new mosque — much like the larger story of Islam in America since 9/11.

As a result of pent-up demand, the United States has experienced a mosque-building boom in recent years. The number of U.S. mosques grew 57 percent between 2000 and 2010, from 1,209 to 1,897, according to a forthcoming University of Kentucky study.

But controversy has accompanied the growth: 35 proposed mosques and Islamic centers encountered community resistance between 2008 and 2010, with concerns ranging from parking and noise to fears about Shariah law and terrorism, a summary by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found.

The most rancorous case involved Park51, a proposed 13-story Muslim community center and prayer space two blocks from the World Trade Center site in New York.

The leaders of Masjid Khadeejah have experienced resistance on a smaller scale in their struggle to lease affordable space despite a problem-free track record at an earlier location.

Their other trials speak to the challenges of living out the faith in the U.S. — finding a qualified

TIME TO REFLECT Nine-year-old Maryam Vanbaelinghem, above, whose father, Frank, is a board member at Masjid Khadeejah, hints at a smile after dinner on the first Friday of Ramadan at the Centennial mosque. (THE DENVER POST | Joe Amon)
imam, reaching their own youths and connecting with the broader community.
“We need to do a better job introducing ourselves,” said Behram Mohmand, a 38-year-old kidney specialist originally from Pakistan who attended the breaking of the fast. “Unfortunately, a lot of people were introduced to Islam by airplanes hitting the twin towers.” source