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Muslim foundation breaks ground on Mosque after multiyear zoning fight

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — The first Mosque is being built in Carmel. Al Salam Foundation is moving forward nearly three years after a judge blocked an effort to stop it. Mosque representatives say the groundbreaking felt like a holiday.

Al Salam founders dreamed up the idea for the Islamic Life Center roughly a decade ago, so finally getting the go ahead to build now is exciting. At the end of the day they are Hoosiers, and should be able to practice who they are.

At the corner of 141st and Shelborne sits a plot that will eventually hold Carmel’s first ever mosque. The empty field now represents a long-standing dream.

“You can feel the energy and everyone’s sense of happiness and gratitude because it’s been so many years,” Maryam Qureshi-Ahmad, Al Salam Secretary, said.

She says it’s been a journey getting to this point. The organization held a groundbreaking symbolizing the start of something new on Saturday.

“Felt like a holiday for us because the atmosphere (and) the energy was just so good. Everyone was just so happy to be there,” Qureshi-Ahmad said.

Al Salam first proposed a zoning change to the City of Carmel in 2018 to allow it. The city agreed, but plans were later stopped after a handful of residents filed a petition against it. Their complaints increased noise and traffic dangers.

“We all are Hoosiers at the end of the day, and we all belong to be and practice who we are and what we feel to practice. That’s the beauty of this country,” Qureshi-Ahmad said.

The judge rejected their request, and allowed the plan to move forward. Qureshi-Ahmad says the area has a growing muslim population, and it’s important to have a place of worship close by.

Qureshi-Ahmad explained, “It’s very exciting to say I actually belong somewhere instead of feeling like ‘Where should I go?’ or, ‘What should I do?’”

Al Salam representatives say despite the fight, they continue to see support from the local community and interfaith community.