A 2015 Pew Research report estimated there were around 3.3 million Muslims living in the United States. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/01/06/a-new-estimate-of-the-u-s-muslim-population/
In a taped episode of “In Focus” Radwan Jallad, President of The Islamic Center of Las Cruces shared some history about the center and the faith. Jallad says the center was formed in the early 1980s.
“It started with a group of students at New Mexico State University and they wanted a place to worship,” says Jallad.
Jallad says in the mid 1990’s the center was successful in fundraising to build the current structure that stands today. He says currently, membership is at its highest.
“The establishment of the mosque back in the 80’s was important, because most Muslim families will consider a town before they move to it (if there’s a Mosque or not),” says Jallad.
Jallad says he estimates there are around 3,000 to 4,000 Muslims in Las Cruces, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Gallup, and the Islamic Center was established to serve the community here in Las Cruces, and also provide a place of worship.
“We have our Sunday school which basically focus on the youth, we teach a little bit of Arabic,” says Jallad.
The Islamic Center in Las Cruces has a diverse membership from some 21 different countries, including many Americans from different U.S. cities, and Jallad says that provides a chance for a more global understanding.
“Even though we are all Muslim, we are all different,” says Jallad.
Radwan Jallad says that the group is all volunteers, and does not have a religious leader, and throughout the day members pray fives times, so the center provides a place to pray.
In recent years, Christian churches in Las Cruces have reached out the center. Jallad says until recent years, the center has not done much community outreach, mainly because he says the community has been very helpful.
“Everybody’s friendly to us and helpful,” says Jallad.
Jallad says that the Islamic Center of Las Cruces has established an outreach group to help provide understanding of Islam to those in the community who are interested in learning more about the faith.
For more information: http://www.icolc.org/
This interview was taped on January 23rd, 2017. This is the first part of a two-part interview with Radwan Jallad, President of The Islamic Center of Las Cruces.