New Mosque in an Old Theater on Buffalo's West Side Reflects the Growing Presence of Islam

September 1, 2008

Author: Jay Tokasz

Source: The Buffalo News

From the outside, the old theater building on Connecticut Street looks like a gutted shell, held together by sturdy steel beams and strong brick walls.

But inside, especially on Friday afternoons, the building is a beehive of activity.

Muslim men begin streaming in at about 1:30 p.m., using a temporary finished space within the structure for prayers.

This week, the mosque will become even busier, as most area Muslims today mark the beginning of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month.

Masjid Al-Iman, one of three new mosques that have popped up on the West Side over the last few years, is evidence of the growing presence of Islam in Western New York.

“We came here because we felt this area was underserved,” said Al- Haj Dawoud Adeyola, general secretary of the Imams Council of Western New York and a member of the Islamic Cultural Association of Western New York. “We don’t have members per se. We don’t want anybody to feel excluded. It’s open to all Muslims.”

The Muslim growth has been spurred by an influx of immigrant refugees resettled on the West Side.

Many of the refugees and other immigrants hail from predominantly Muslim countries— including Somalia, Iraq, Yemen and Pakistan — and the mosque is a touchstone for those struggling with the transition to American culture.