Jersey Muslims Make Plans for Vineland Islamic Center

April 10, 2006

Source: The Press of Atlantic City

On April 10, 2006 The Press of Atlantic City reported, "Muslims living in Cumberland County have always had to travel far to find services that follow their religious requirements.

They travel to Philadelphia for schools and events, to Cherry Hill for meat that is butchered in a particular way and to Atlantic City to eat at restaurants or shop at businesses that sell Muslim fashions.

However, that could all change in the coming years as the Bridgeton Islamic Center plans on building a multimillion dollar center and school building in Vineland.

The school, which will accommodate grades six through 12, will fill the gap that has left Muslims in southern New Jersey having to choose between public schools and attending school in another state... The national Mosque Study Project shows that 37 percent of mosques (Islamic centers) were located in rural or suburban areas outside cities.

The study was conducted in 2000 and is part of a larger study on American congregations coordinated by Hartford Institute of Religious Research.

The Association of Religious Data Archives shows that the Muslim population in New Jersey was at 120,724 in 2000, which is the fifth largest among the states. The survey is taken every ten years. The U.S. Census is prohibited by law to ask about a person religious affiliation... Judith Grove Harris, the managing director of Harvard University's The Pluralism Project, said that Muslim communities will grow in the rural areas as a result of economic forces.

Families who can afford to purchase houses with a backyard are moving outside the cities, she said. These families are also willing to invest in centers to establish a community presence.

Also, with New Jersey's rapid development, the rural areas are the only places that hold large areas of unused land, she said."