Special Report: Muslims Find Welcoming Home in Mid-Missouri

6 years 11 months 6 days ago Wednesday, November 10 2010 Nov 10, 2010 Wednesday, November 10, 2010 9:06:27 AM CST November 10, 2010 in News
loading

COLUMBIA - Being different can sometimes be hard. Ask Rafa Nizam and he’ll tell you, "I feel having different skin color does sometimes make you feel alienated from everyone else." Nizam, a freshman at the University of Missouri, grew up in Columbia as part of the city's ever-growing Muslim population. For him, growing up both Muslim and American has, at times, been somewhat difficult. "It's an everyday struggle. It’s an everyday task to reconcile the two," Nizam said.

But ask him about his experience growing up in Columbia, and you’ll hear only good things.

“It’s been nice. It’s been pretty calm. It’s a very laid back lifestyle--nothing too hectic.”

Chances are, if you ask Muslims in this community about their experiences living here, you’ll probably hear an overwhelming number of positive responses. That’s because, despite all the anti-Islamic sentiment brewing around the country, they say Columbia has remained an island of peace.

Dr. Rezwan Islam, a member of the Islamic Center of Central Missouri, believes it has something to do with the character of people in the city.

“Most of Columbia is very educated. There are a lot of universities here, a lot of professionals here, and they understand in terms of judging you by who you are,” Islam said.

Rafa Nizam’s father is the former president of the ICCM. Dr. Rashed Nizam, thinks the center's history within the community is a big reason why things have remained calm all these years.

“The building was completed in 1983, but effort went even before” Rashed Nizam said.

“There were only five families from different parts of the world. They came here as some undergrad, some master's, and some Ph.D. students. And two of the Ph.D. students took the initiative of leadership, because as Muslims, we are obligated to pray in a mosque,” Nizam said.

The students' first prayer meetings started in what is now known as Tiger Hotel. But when the number of members grew too large for the venue, the group attempted to relocate to the university.

“So initially they tried to rent a place in the university, but could not use this university because state and religion I think, doesn’t go together," Nizam said.

So with a little help in the form of donations, the group bought land in a then underdeveloped downtown area, and went to work.

“They were able to buy this land, and eventually they filled the land,” Rashed Nizam explained. “This was actually very filthy and nobody used to come here to this part of this town.”

Finally in 1983, the Islamic Center of Central Missouri was complete, making it the first and only mosque in Columbia. According to Rashed Nizam, it was one of the earliest in the country.

But a lot has happened from the time when the mosque first opened its doors. In 2004, the center got some unwanted attention when the FBI targeted some members of the mosque as part of a terrorism-funding scheme based at the Islamic American Relief Agency office in Columbia.  

“The FBI suspected that IARA in Columbia was giving funds to terrorist organizations”, said Rafa Nizam. “Maybe something ended up in the wrong place, or maybe they were falsely accused, I don’t know what the case is, but they were shut down because of this.”

Despite this, the mosque has continued to take an active role in the community and members said, promote good judgment.

“We are very active in several community programs,” Rashed Nizam said. “That’s where we got started.”

The center interacts with the community in a number of different ways, from open houses that explain more about Islam and the culture, to community-based activities like the crop walk or volunteering at the soup kitchen.

And with Columbia’s Muslim population continuing to grow, Rafa Nizam believes it is important for everyone to work together to understand one another’s differences.

“Even though people may not know they are working with, or studying with a Muslim, there’s a high chance that there is someone there,” says Nizam.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA- A semi truck crashed over a guard rail on U-63 by E. Friendship Church Rd. late Monday night. ... More >>
1 hour ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 11:57:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA- A side motor vehicle collision on Highway 63 South has left two drivers in the hospital Monday night. ... More >>
1 hour ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 11:50:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – City council members approved the construction of two new roundabouts near Mill Creek Elementary School following a public... More >>
4 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 8:20:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - An unnamed organization reported to the Better Business Bureau that it lost more than $3,000 from a phishing... More >>
4 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 8:16:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Department of Transportation and Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety are challenging drivers this week to... More >>
5 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 8:00:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri's U.S. senators are pitching the Kansas City and St. Louis metropolitan areas as potential sites... More >>
5 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 7:32:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Race Matters, Friends is currently seeking out volunteers to sit in on, take notes on and observe court... More >>
5 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 7:27:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - One local business is helping raise money to donate to the Virgin Islands after Hurricanes Irma and Maria... More >>
6 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 7:05:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia is one of the top locations to start a small business, according to a 2016 Forbes list... More >>
6 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 6:57:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - City Manager Mike Matthes and his staff released a report Monday at the city council meeting on the... More >>
7 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 6:01:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – The Columbia Police Department is proposing changes to the standing alarm system ordinance. The first reading will... More >>
9 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 3:41:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The House Ethics Committee took the first steps in disciplinary proceedings toward Rep. Warren Love, R-Osceola after... More >>
9 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 3:31:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – People gathered at Columbia’s Planned Parenthood on Monday for a counter-protest against abortion opponents and the 40 Days... More >>
10 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 2:44:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Harry S. Truman VA Hospital invited behavioral health experts and local organizations to the 2017 Mental Health and... More >>
10 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 2:41:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
MEXICO - A 27-year-old man died after his car collided with a dump truck in Mexico, Mo. According the... More >>
10 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 2:32:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is headed to the United Kingdom and Switzerland on his second trade... More >>
11 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 2:02:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – If you passed Erifnus Caitnop on the road, you probably did not give it a second look. The... More >>
11 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 1:57:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
CARUTHERSVILLE (AP) — Authorities are searching for two inmates who escaped Sunday from the Pemiscot County jail. The... More >>
11 hours ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 1:53:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 47°
2am 47°
3am 47°
4am 47°
5am 47°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

12:37a
Last Call with Carson Daly
1:07a
Inside Edition
1:37a
Paid Program
1:00a
Top 30
1:30a
Page Six TV
2:00a
Paid Program

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
The Voice
8:00p
This Is Us
9:01p
Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders
7:00p
The Flash
8:00p
DC's Legends of Tomorrow
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld