Last October, about 40 people gathered at the future site of the House of Abraham mosque in Horn Lake and planted a pair of Magnolia trees to symbolize the seeding and blossoming and future growth of the historic place of worship.

After almost two years of controversy which ended up in federal court, contractors have begun moving dirt at the site in preparation for construction, which is expected to be complete later this fall.

“We finally got everything approved,” said co-founder Riyadh Elkhayyat said. “They have been doing work off and on at the site for a couple of weeks now and hopefully by the end of the year we will have it built.”

Elk bought the property on Church Road with the intent of building a mosque and cemetery to provide a place of worship for Muslim families so they wouldn’t have to travel 40 minutes to Memphis to attend prayer services.

Horn Lake rejected the site plan in 2021 citing concerns over inadequate water pressure for fire protection, traffic and noise, and vocal opposition from some residents. The property is zoned agricultural which allows churches as a permitted use under the city’s ordinances.

The mosque’s founders sued the city claiming they were being discriminated against based on their religion. A federal judge issued a consent decree ordering the city to allow the project to move forward. The city later approved a permit for the burial ground.

Elk said he is excited to see the project taking shape. He admits however, that he almost gave up. Had it not been for the media attention and controversy, he would have walked away.

“I would probably have given up,” Elkhayyat said.

Elkhayaat said he has since had several residents stop by the property to talk to him and that they have been very welcoming.

“I think a lot of the controversy was people were just scared of a new Muslim community being here and all of the negative things they hear about Muslims in general. But I think now they see that we are just like everybody else. I have even had a few families in Horn Lake call me wanting to learn more about it and when we will be opening.”

One of the trees they planted is still standing. The other one was killed by deer.

“One of them is good,” Elkhayyat said. “The deer tried to mark the other one by rubbing against it with their antlers and killed it. But once we finish we will grow another one.”

Elkhart said they are still busy raising funds to build the mosque. The cost is expected to be about $2.7 to $3 million, which they are about a quarter of the way there.

“Last Friday we did a fundraising at both local mosques,” Elkhayyat said. “They are very supportive. Everyone is excited. We have a good community here that is willing to support it.”

The mosque is expected to host about 150 worshippers.


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