Kokomo — The Islamic Association of Kokomo will open a community center in Kokomo with the hope that people will come to learn about the religion.
The Kokomo Board of Zoning Appeals has approved a special exception for the organization to open the community center in a former credit union building at 1135 S. Main St. on Oct. 31.
Seyed Zarbadi, president of the Islamic Association, said the organization has been meeting weekly in the Carver Community Center and in local churches since the 1980s. The new community center will give the group a permanent home and also a place to make people more aware of Islam, he said.
“We have been fortunate to have great people in the community who have allowed us to use their facilities,” Zarbadi said. “We’re part of the community.
“Just like people have a home church or synagogue, we want a home of our own.”
Zarbadi said there have been Muslims in Kokomo for almost three decades and the membership figures have fluctuated over the years. Numerous Indiana cities have Islamic centers, including Angola, Plainfield, Muncie, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, South Bend and West Lafayette.
“We’re excited,” Zarbadi continued. “We would love to have anybody come. People are curious and they want to learn about us from us. It’s so important people get to know we’re like everyone else.”
Osman Musa, secretary for the association, said the plan was to build a facility near the intersection of Berkley Road and Boulevard, but finances prevented them from moving forward with construction.
Musa said 20 to 30 people attend the Friday sermon at the Carver Center and family events that take place on Sunday attract about 50 people.
He said there are no plans to do extensive remodeling of the building, which contains 4,000 square feet with open space and offices. Musa said there is a need for a place for families to meet.