USA: Rep. Keith Ellison to speak at Ahmadiyya Muslim mosque inauguration in Coon Rapids, MN

Keith Ellison-Mirza-Masroor-Ahmad

The inauguration, open to the public, will be held Saturday.

When a few families got together to form Minnesota’s only Ahmadiyya Muslim community more than 20 years ago, homes served as worship sites.

Since 1988, the largely north metro congregation has grown slowly but steadily to almost 90 members, moving from homes to rooms in libraries and community centers. On Saturday, it will mark a milestone — the opening of its permanent home at the Nusrat Mosque in Coon Rapids.

Eager to celebrate “humanity at large,” the congregation — the only Ahmadiyya Muslim group in Minnesota — has invited the “greater Minneapolis community” to the center’s 1 p.m. inauguration and for public tours starting at noon, said Imam Faran Rabbani.

Among those attending will be U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who will deliver a keynote address, Sen. John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin, and other community leaders.

Muhammad Khaliq, president of the Minnesota chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, said the mosque’s new space at 11450 Robinson Dr. was highly coveted.

At one point, the community bought land in Brooklyn Park, went through the zoning process and made architectural plans. But before ground was broken in 2013, the more affordable space in Coon Rapids became available.

“We thought [we were] better off buying it than building it,” Khaliq said. “It was already zoned as a place of worship and we thought, ‘Let’s get this instead of going through the hassle of building.’ ”

Purchasing the former office building was “easily affordable” for the community, Rabbani said. Within a year, it was converted into a fully functional mosque. In keeping with the community’s traditions, there’s space for men and women to worship and to conduct events.

While most members live in the north metro area, a few travel from as far away as Fargo, Duluth and Rochester to services in Coon Rapids.

“It was a matter of convenience, and it was centrally located to most people,” said Khaliq, who commutes from Mankato. “We are scattered all around, but this is perfect for us.”

Questions welcomed

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, established in 1920, is among the oldest American-Muslim organizations in the nation, Khaliq said.

“We don’t believe in any type of bad, terrorism or hurting other people,” Khaliq said. “We simply look at the commonalities of other religions rather than differences.”

Members are “Muslims who believe in the Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and are united under the leadership of the Khalifa of Islam, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad,” Khaliq said.

During Saturday’s inauguration, community members are welcome to ask questions about Islam and the community, Rabbani said.

“In the Minneapolis area, unfortunately, some of the Muslim youth that were misguided, they ended up traveling abroad to fight with ISIS,” Rabbani said. “ … I, on behalf of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community… want to let everybody to know that if you have any concerns or questions, reach out to us here at the Nusrat Mosque. We assure you that Islam has nothing to do with violence or extremism.”

In a news release, Nasim Rehmatullah cq cq/ctr, national vice president for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, encouraged members of the broader public to attend Saturday’s celebration.

“In a time when most Americans have never met a Muslim, we invite all Americans to join us in this celebration,” Rehmatullah said in the statement. “We believe this mosque, which is open to all people, will foster a spirit of community with neighbors and establish interreligious harmony and peace.”