- Associated Press - Saturday, September 6, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - A new mosque is being built in Lexington by a Muslim congregation that has worshipped in the city since the late 1970s.

The new $1.5 million, 8,000-square foot building next to the existing Masjid Bilal Ibn Rabah on Russell Cave Road.

The new structure will include a dome and hold about 500 people, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported (https://bit.ly/1uAJ5lr).

The mosque should be finished by May, according to Ihsan Bagby, a member of the Masjid Bilal board of trustees. Masjid is the Arabic word for mosque. Bilal Ibn Rabah was the name of an Ethiopian slave chosen by Prophet Muhammad to recite the call to prayer.

The congregation moved to the Russell Cave Road site in 2004 from a building near downtown that they had used for worship since 1978.

Additional space was needed, and because the congregation already had acreage and one building on Russell Cave, it decided to place a new mosque in front of the old one. Money is being raised locally, including an initial $800,000 in pledges.

“We fill every nook and cranny for the Friday prayers,” Bagby said, referring to the faith’s formal sabbath service.

Masjid Bilal’s congregation plans to use the old building for use in Sunday Islamic school, small group study, office space and fellowship gatherings.

The congregation has about 100 members and growing.

As the congregation filed in for prayers on a recent Friday, the worship area filled with hundreds.

When the new mosque is completed, Bagby said, “We hope to use it as a coming-out party for the community, like a springboard” for area Muslims to attain a higher profile within the community.

Shahied Rashid, a religious leader, or imam, of Masjid Bilal, has been involved in Lexington’s Muslim community since the 1970s.

The new construction “has got a good vibe to it. My wife says it’s like the angels are in it,” Rashid said.


Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, https://www.kentucky.com

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