As the sun beats down through the trees, the adhan, or Muslim call to prayer, wafts through the nondescript house on Centerville Highway in Snellville.
Upstairs, about 18 men and women, Bosnians who resettled in metro Atlanta after the Balkan Wars, begin the Friday prayers and weekly congregational service.
Their first place of worship was in Clarkston --- the first stop for many refugees who move to Georgia --- in a former crack house. Then last year, members of the community bought 8.3 acres of land in Gwinnett County. They converted the house into a community center, Sunday school or mekteb and central masjid in an effort to better serve the large number of Bosnians who had settled in the area.
Now the Islamic Community of Bosniaks hopes to raise enough money to build a gym and eventually a cultural center and new masjid on the Gwinnett County site.
Although both places (the Clarkston site is a musallah or prayer center) are used for worship and other activities, they are now too small to handle the growing congregation, said Abdullah Kapic, one of the founders of the Islamic Community of Bosniaks, who moved to Georgia with his family in the late 1990s.
"The community has become very large and we want to accommodate everyone," said Kapic, who estimates about 5,000 Bosnians live in the immediate area. During a recent fund-raiser to build the gym, members had to erect a huge white tent in the front yard of the Gwinnett site to handle overflow. Sometimes they have to rent space.
The Bosnians are among several Muslim congregations renovating, expanding or building new places of worship in metro Atlanta. In addition to the Al-Farooq Masjid of Atlanta under construction in Midtown, there are many more springing up in the suburbs. By one count, metro Atlanta is home to 30 to 40 mosques or places of worship. . .
Mohamed Nimer, research director at the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, estimated there are 5 million to 7 million Muslims in the United States and more than a billion worldwide.
He also estimated there were about 1,300 mosques and places of worship in the United States as of 2003.