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Missoula Growing Muslim Community Looks for a Mosque

For long years, the Muslim community in Missoula, Montana, have been using two buildings in the city as a mosque and gathering place.

Both the International Muslim House, located on Fifth Street near the University of Montana campus and the headquarters of the Montana Islamic Society, used as a mosque, are owned by the university which wants to use them now as residential housing.

The decision left the Muslim community in urgent need of a new place of worship.

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“It’s a very urgent problem for us,” Aseel Niazai, a member of the Missoula Muslim community who is originally from Afghanistan, told Missoulian.

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Niazai, also a representative of a refugee advocacy organization, estimates there’s probably between 400 and 500 Muslims in Missoula.

“We are growing day by day,” he said. “We have a large population from Afghanistan, we have lots of people from Iraq, Syria, and countries in Africa like the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

A Priority

UM has reserved a space in the University Center for people to use as a meeting and prayer space.

Yet, the space in too small has no kitchen and lacks separate floors for men and women like the current house.

Niazai said he’s met with Missoula Mayor Jordan Hess to discuss the issue.

“This is a priority for us,” Niazai said, noting that other problems and issues have been pushed to the backburner.

“We need to have a big place because we, as a Muslim community, are growing day by day so we need to have an appropriate place,” Niazai said. “So, everyone is working on it.”

Muslims pray five times a day, with each prayer made up of a series of postures and movements, each set of which is called a rak‘ah.

The five prayer times are divided all through the day which starts with Fajr prayer at dawn.