Muslims pray at the Friday services at The Islamic Center of Wilson. The mosque just opened on Tilghman Road to handle the expanded numbers of Muslims practicing their religion in Wilson.
Drew C. Wilson | Times
By Drew C. Wilson
Times Staff Writer
The growing Muslim community in Wilson has a new mosque.
Abder Allan, of Wilson, is the president of The Islamic Center of Wilson, located on Tilghman Road.
“The organization was formed last year, but there has been a Muslim community in Wilson for a long time, a number of years,” Allan said.
The gathering place for worship had been primarily the Islamic Community Development Center on Barnes Street.
“It just got to the point where it outgrew its downtown location,” Allan said. “A lot of the members were going outside to locations in Rocky Mount, Goldsboro or Greenville. We wanted to look for a bigger place in Wilson so they didn’t have to travel to the other locations.”
Allan, who is from New York, moved to Wilson about 2003. Allan and his wife own Green Valley Realty in Wilson.
“I’ve got kids, so it’s a way better place for them to grow up,” Allan said. “So before they got really deep into school, we moved over here. Been here ever since.”
The Islamic Center is located in a 12,000 square-foot facility built in 1970 and was formerly the location for the First Presbyterian Church.
“It’s a perfect fit for what we’re looking for. I was actually on the phone getting a phone number for the location, getting internet service going. It’s only been like a month and we have been getting it ready for the members to come in and pray,” Allan said. “We don’t pray sitting down. We pray bowing down to the floor. So we had to put out carpet and get all of that ready.”
Muslims pray five times a day at times based on the lunar cycles, sunrise and sunset. The earliest time is a little after 4 a.m. and the latest is at 10 p.m.
The center is currently in the process of hiring an imam, or spiritual scholar to lead prayers.
According to Allan, more than 300 people came out for Eid al-Fitr, which is a celebration after the 30-day fast of Ramadan.
“We brought food, toys for the kids, barbecued out front. It was a great get-together. It was just a lot of fun and wishing health and well-being to everybody,” Allan said. “It was all positive. It was great. Everybody supported each other. The kids had a great time.”
Friday is a big day for the Muslim community, when a sermon is given at 1 p.m. at the center.
Allan said currently volunteers are helping to perform maintenance and some repairs on the building.
A concrete parking lot is under construction because what was there was not enough to support all of the members.
“We are also planning on doing some community outreach also, but that is on hold until we get the spiritual leader here and we are ready to do so,” Allan said. “We’re looking at getting together a social media committee and getting email set up for suggestions or questions. It’s really early and we are in the process of doing all of that.”
Allan said the most important thing for people to know is how similar Muslims are to those in other religions.
“What I mean by that is some people think that Muslims and Christian and Catholics are like this,” said Allan, as he spreads his arms far apart. “But really, we are on the same line. So many similarities. We have so much in common.”
“From the foundations on up. From believing in the prophets, from Abraham to Jesus, we have similar beliefs in all of those. It’s just we have one extra prophet, Mohammad, at the end,” Allan said. “We’re not that far off. That’s the message I want to get across, that we’re open and we want the same things.
Happy family, good kids, stay out of trouble, with a good moral compass. There is so much more in common than you think.”
The Islamic Center of Wilson is located at 2630 Tilghman Road.