Muslim congregations in Central Jersey are busy improving and expanding existing facilities or planning new ones to keep up with the current demand and prepare for growth.
Although a mosque was a rarity in the area only two decades ago, the Muslim population has grown by 500 percent since 1990, and that growth is fueling a lot of activity.
For example, the Muslim Community of New Jersey in the Fords section of Woodbridge recently paved its gravel parking lot in order to accommodate its 100 families and the approximately 350 worshippers who attend weekly prayer services, said Dr. Mohammad Jazed, the mosque's president.
With so many answering Islam's five daily calls to prayer, improvement of the lot was an added convenience not only to the congregants but also to the neighbors of the mosque, Jazed explained.
"The first prayers are in the morning," he said. "We didn't want people parking on the street at 4:30 in the morning. And the last prayers are at 9:30 p.m. We didn't want people honking their horns that late at night."
Meanwhile, the Islamic Society of Central Jersey on Route 1 South in the Monmouth Junction section of South Brunswick plans to expand both its parking lot and its Noor Ul Iman school, a private facility for grades pre-K to 12 and a weekend religious school for students who attend public school. A total of 800 students attend both schools combined, said Imam Hamad Chebli, the mosque's spiritual leader.