With no Mosque in Salem, Muslims Find a Place to Pray

December 4, 2006

Author: Ruth Liao

Source: Statesman Journal


Marwan Albustami of Salem unrolled a child-sized prayer mat fringed in red and blue and explained how he teaches his children how to pray.

Young children learn the importance of prayer after witnessing the devotion of their parents' prayers five times per day, he said.

"They watch us. They ask when we're praying, but they learn to leave us, and observe us then," Albustami said.

Muslim prayers are performed at dawn, at noon, in mid-afternoon, at sunset and at night. They can be performed anywhere -- in the home, office or even outside -- but mosques provide a consecrated space for those prayers.

Despite a relatively small number of Muslims in the Salem area, a group of residents established their own worship quarters in Salem about two years ago. It's a modest, unfurnished apartment in a southeast Salem neighborhood. The apartment is not for the public, but it's well-known among Salem's tight-knit Muslim community.

"You feel like you're a part of something if you go to the mosque," said Amin Ackridge of Salem, a friend of Albustami. Mosques are considered the cornerstone of shared activity, said Ackridge, who said he wishes that more of a community center existed in the area.