Asra Husain's life at Pennsbury High School was about sticking close to the only other Muslim girl in the school.
The two students received special permission to pray in a quiet place during the day, and to be excused from the cafeteria during religious fasts. In middle school, classmates yanked the scarves off their heads.
"It was the first Gulf war," said Husain, of Morrisville. "It was rough. My name was Husain."
Now, more than 15 years later, the surrounding community has evolved, and as Husain celebrates the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, she is no longer one of a few.
Husain's family is among the founding members of a mosque that opened three months ago in Lower Makefield. The Zubaida Foundation is a mosque whose creation is a sign of the burgeoning growth of the Muslim community in Bucks County.
It is one of a number of gathering places for Muslims that have been established, some informal and some with a building and board of directors, said Iftekhar Hussain, president of the Pennsylvania chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-PA).
The organization estimates there are 1,000 Muslim families in Bucks County. CAIR-PA is about to embark on a new survey of the Muslim community in the five-county Philadelphia area. The last study, four years ago, found that about 200,000 Muslims lived in the region.
"It's a steadily growing population in Bucks, but that's true of Montgomery County, Chester and Delaware County," Hussain said.
Most of the area's "indigenous Muslims" who are largely African American live in Philadelphia, Hussain said. The majority of immigrant Muslims live in the suburbs, he said. Second- and third-generation immigrant Muslims who once lived in the city also have moved to the suburbs, said Nafti Achouri, who teaches Arabic at Bucks County Community College in Newtown. (READ MORE)