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Brandi Hunter

March open house launches month of Muslims in Memphis events

By Published: March 02, 2019 3:10 PM CT

In 1984, Muslim community leaders in Memphis purchased a small house near what was then Memphis State University for worship and Muslim Student Association gatherings.

The community grew, and the house at 3529 Mynders Avenue was demolished in 1997, replaced by Masjid Al-Noor, a 3,000-square-foot mosque, with men’s and women’s prayer halls, classrooms, a kitchen and library.

When Muslims in Memphis holds its 17th annual community open house on March 2, Masjid Al-Noor will be among the seven area mosques open to visitors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. More than 150 people attended the Masjid Al-Noor open house in 2018, members said.

In 2003, then-Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton designated March as the month to recognize Muslims in Memphis. Every year since, local Muslim organizations sponsor and host four weeks of events and open houses. Muslims in Memphis holds an annual free festival featuring ethnic food, clothing, games and exhibits, which will be held at Agricenter International March 30.

Masjid Al-Noor established the nonprofit Islamic Association of Greater Memphis, or IAGM, in 2007. The Muslim Student Association left “home,” and moved its operations to a building on the nearby University of Memphis campus.

Sami Sakaan, a founding board member of IAGM who came to Memphis from Syria to study biochemistry and biology at U of M, said IAGM partners with local churches, MIFA and Mid-South Food Bank at soup kitchens, education workshops and social events.

“Poverty is high in Memphis, and we work together with other organizations to alleviate that," he added.

IAGM opened its second mosque, Masjid Ar-Rahman, in 2014, at the corner of Hacks Cross and Bill Morris Parkway. About 1,000 people a week visit Masjid Ar-Rahman, and IAGM is expanding the location to include a school, youth lounge and gym. 

“You see many different nationalities,” Sakaan said of the community. “Some from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh. We have some from Somalia, different parts of Africa. We have some from different nationalities in the Middle East. We have some African-Americans that convert. Some Caucasian, so it’s a mix of different ethnicities.”

The association routinely opens both its mosques to tours for students.

“We still have a lot of room to grow and reach out to everyone in the community, telling them about the message of Islam and how it is unlike what they see on TV,” Sakaan said.

Other mosques participating in the March 2 open house are located at 4412 S. Third, 10225 Humphreys Road in Cordova, 1065 Stratford Road, 3141 Directors Row, 1288 Jackson Ave.

This story originally appeared at High Ground News, Memphis’ source for neighborhood reporting. Sign up for the newsletter here.

High Ground News’ On the Ground community journalism program is currently embedded in the University District from January through March. 

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Muslims in Memphis Muslim Student Association

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