New mosque opens peacefully in Philly suburb next door to synagogue, near Baptist church foxnews.com

BERWYN, Pa. – A new mosque recently opened in this well-to-do suburb of Philadelphia, but not many people noticed.

That was fine with leaders of the Islamic Society of Greater Valley Forge. Amid a tense national climate for U.S. Muslims, they did not seek publicity for the happy occasion, only continued peace with their neighbors: a Jewish synagogue next door and Baptist church across the street.

The Muslims' good relations with other faiths and the town at large offers a stark contrast to American communities torn by anti-Islamic acts, including arson at the site of a planned mosque in Tennessee and a threatened Quran burning in Florida.

In New York, debate rages over a planned Islamic center and mosque near ground zero. And everywhere tensions are heightened because Friday's joyous Muslim celebration of Eid al-Fitr falls a day before the somber ninth anniversary of 9/11.

But in Tredyffrin Township, about 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia, community members say a tradition of religious tolerance, combined with an educated population and small-town friendliness, have yielded years of harmonious coexistence.
We have much more in common than not in common," mosque president Mohammad Aziz said. "We are blessed with very good neighbors."

Township officials conceded some trepidation among residents when the Islamic Society sought construction permits in 2008. The growing Sunni group planned to build on land behind the small house it had used as a mosque since 1994.

Most concerns were standard zoning issues like parking, traffic and stormwater runoff. But the concept of a mosque was jarring to some, despite Muslims having long worshipped at the site, said Judy DiFilippo, a township supervisor for 20 years until her retirement in January.

"It was something brand new to the community. Even though they were using an existing building, it wasn't an obvious mosque," DiFilippo said.

The plans were approved; construction and fundraising began in earnest, capped by the mosque opening on June 5. DiFilippo said there have been no problems, which she attributed to an "underlying theme of tolerance that just comes with this community."

Yossi Kaplan, a Lubavitch rabbi at Chabad Jewish Center next door, said he was approached by people seeking his opposition to the project — but waved them off. The two faiths were enjoying solid relations, to the point where they shared parking lots and Muslims helped with tasks that Jews cannot perform on the Sabbath.

The rabbi expected nothing less from his neighbors, regardless of religion. This is America, Kaplan said, and this is how it's supposed to be.

"We're just good friends. We're really good neighbors," he said. "There's never been any issues."

The United States has seen a 58 percent increase in the number of mosques over the past decade, from 1,200 to roughly 1,900, according to Ihsan Bagby, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky and a researcher on American mosques.

Yet many U.S. mosques are repurposed existing buildings, retrofitted to accommodate ritual washing areas and separate entrances for men and women. Sometimes they require odd configurations for prayer so worshippers can face Mecca.

Thus the new $1.5 million mosque in Tredyffrin is truly an American Dream for Aziz. Since joining the congregation in 1998, he said, it has more than doubled in size as technology professionals arrived in the area from India and Pakistan.

The mosque has a prayer hall, library, multipurpose room, bathrooms with washing areas, WiFi and — most important — more space for the 60 or so families who worship there.

Except for dome-shaped accents around the vertical windows, it looks more like a community center than a house of worship. There are no minarets and no dome — cost-conscious omissions that Aziz said should help it blend in and attract younger generations.

"American mosques should take their own form ... (and) be appealing and open to people, not just Muslims," said Aziz, 57. "It is built for my children and my children's children."

Last week, the Pennsylvania chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations sponsored an event for community members to tour the mosque, learn about the faith, observe evening prayers and share dinner.

"If you get to know your neighbors, you are less inclined to be fearful of them," CAIR-PA Executive Director Moein Khawaja said.

About 50 people came, including the Rev. John Loring, pastor of the Baptist Church in the Great Valley, just across the street. The congregation was founded in 1711 by Welsh immigrants seeking freedom to worship in Pennsylvania, then a colony that emphasized its welcome to settlers of all faiths.

"Respect for all religions is an important part of who we are," Loring said.

Sally Bovais, 68, of Phoenixville, came with about 10 members of her nearby Presbyterian church. She said such events were important "to put a face to Muslim people."

"The stereotype is really very dangerous," Bovais said. "They espouse love and peace, and raise families and are involved in their faith. That's part of the thread of our nation."

11 Comments

4 years 24 weeks ago, 10:02 AM

HampsterW

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Mosque,

"community members say a tradition of religious tolerance, combined with an educated population and small-town friendliness, have yielded years of harmonious coexistence" = a town full of Liberals!!!!

Change you can truly believe in comes from the barrel of a gun---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ron Paul 2012----Vote the bastards out!---------------------------------
4 years 24 weeks ago, 10:26 AM

HKBauer

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just to further spur

just to further spur discussion: How dos this differ from a synagoge(sp?), buddist temple, or any other faith building a place of worship? I have issue with the Mosque being built at ground zero, however, built in a place not so sensitive its ok imho, any faith can be accused of the same atrocities that Islam is at a point in its history. As patriots are we not supposed uphold the constution for ALL people legally in this nation?
Now I do not agree with Islam,I do feel it is a religion of hate, but those who call themselves Christians, including myself, are we not to follow Christ and love those who hate us? Does that mean lie down and allow ourselves to become targets not at all but, we are to pray for them, Christ prayed and asked for forgiveness for theose who utterly beat, humilated, tortured, and crucified him, now he was perfect and we are not, but shouldnt we who follow him try to emulate him? Accept those who are unaceptable, love those who are unlovable?
Just my thoughts.

4 years 24 weeks ago, 11:23 AM

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what you are trying to get across. I get your point. let me say this right from the get go: I AM NOT ONE OF THOSE CHRISTIANS !!...I won't be feed to the lions and i won't be shamed into inaction with remarks like we should "emulate" Jesus.. #1, my religion is not trying to take over the world also my religion teaches tolerance of other religions...believe me, what is happening in Philly will be watched very closely by many. my attitude toward the Muslim faith was changed on 9/11...that was the fault of radical's within the Muslim faith..before 9/11 i gave them not a thought and if they wanted to move next door to me..no problem...now forget it..nimby..!! IMHO its up to the main stream Muslim world to denounce and eradicate the bad apples so we can live in peace..but you don't see that going on...so as far as i can see....no peace and vigilance is the order of the day

I have reasons for the things I do, just don't expect them to be reasonable
4 years 24 weeks ago, 4:41 PM

HKBauer

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Ivantank

Please forgive me I was in no way trying to shame anyone, if thats how it came across I apologize. I look on all Muslims with suspision, as you said mainstream muslims should be condemning every act of violance committed it their religions name, but you're right they are complacent to sit on the sidelines and do nothing. They are as guilty as if they committed the acts themselves. Thanks for your thoughts.
My faith does not threat convert or die, we don't make women second class citizens, or teach our young that by detonating a bomb strapped to yourself will gurantee you way to heaven.
Mine teaches that through forgivness of sins by accepting Christ as Lord and Savior is the only way to heaven and good works are due to your faith not faith because of your works.
I will not lie down and be lead like a lamb to the slaughter I was just trying to bring another way of looking at it. No offense is meant and I respect your right to disagree.

4 years 24 weeks ago, 10:32 AM

HKBauer

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well guys

gotta get to studying talk to ya later.

4 years 24 weeks ago, 10:39 AM

HampsterW

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I was just pointing out that I would wager that it is a town of mostly Liberals. I don't really give a shit where they build their Mosques as long as it is not in the same Zip code as Ground zero. The only praying that I will be doing for them is praying that they all go back where they came from, I guess that's not very Christian of me.

Change you can truly believe in comes from the barrel of a gun---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ron Paul 2012----Vote the bastards out!---------------------------------
4 years 24 weeks ago, 4:47 PM

HKBauer

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Hey Sam/GP

I see this possibly going downhill fast so please delete, after reading my own responses it is not sounding the way I mean it to at all.

4 years 24 weeks ago, 7:41 PM

ivantank

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R3bauer wrote:
I see this possibly going downhill fast so please delete, after reading my own responses it is not sounding the way I mean it to at all.

nice discussion is good for the soul...lets have a shot and a beer and remember the guys and girls that are away from home tonite serving in your military

I have reasons for the things I do, just don't expect them to be reasonable
4 years 24 weeks ago, 8:13 PM

HampsterW

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where you are coming from (the devils advocate) and quite right, but some things are not 'easily' excused...Nor even possible to be. I for one tend to stereotype in this case based on all that I have learned of the Muslims Religion, the teachings of the Koran etc. Violence, violence, violence to non believers........Yes Christianity was once that way but we have moved beyond that in a few centuries but the majority of the Muslims still live in the seventh fucking century and I don't see that changing any time soon.

Change you can truly believe in comes from the barrel of a gun---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ron Paul 2012----Vote the bastards out!---------------------------------
4 years 24 weeks ago, 10:57 AM

HKBauer

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Thats it exactly Hamp I was just approaching it from a diffrent angle. I have not forgotten what they started, I have yet to forgive those responsible, and those who stand alongside them, I feel they have declared war on our way of life, as a patriot I stand up for this nation not the government. I love this country and hate anyone who declares war on it. So I am not the worlds best example of Christianity but this is how I feel.

4 years 24 weeks ago, 1:51 PM

HampsterW

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It would be nice to

think that "the actions of the few reflect poorly apon the many" but with regards to the Muslim faith, I just can't believe that shit.........Those FUCKERS were singing in the streets nine years ago today.........I better go find something constructive to do or I may end up convicted of a 'hate crime' of some sort....Talk to you guy's later this afternoon.

Change you can truly believe in comes from the barrel of a gun---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ron Paul 2012----Vote the bastards out!---------------------------------

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