LEWISTON — The Masjidul Salaam Mosque has a new and permanent home, thanks to a two-year community effort and the dedication of our local Muslim leaders.

An opening ceremony was held for mosque’s new location at 254 Bartlett St., next door to the building they’ve been renting for the past few years.

Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. service was followed by a lunch celebration in the neighboring space.

Imam Abdikadir Abayle, resident leader of the Masjidul Salaam Mosque, and visiting Sheikh Salaah of Georgia lead the worship service, which focused on strengthening the community.

An English translation of the Arabic service said that “on Judgment Day, Allah will ask what we’ve been doing in this world. We have to do good things to get to Heaven. If we do good things, it will help us on that day.”

Abayle explained that more than 6,000 Muslims live in Lewiston, but attendance at the two mosques is very low. He was sending a message to encourage more people to go and worship.

“He doesn’t say build the mosque and then stay away,” he said.

Between the L/A Islamic Center on Lisbon Street and the Masjidul Salaam Mosque on Bartlett Street, Abayle hopes the community will be strengthened.

“We are responsible — all of us — for the religion,” he said. “We need to work on it together.”

Abayle wants to empower the youth here to connect to the mosque. These kids were born here, he said, so they don’t all have the same connection to their religion.

“If we get the kids in here, then they won’t be out on the streets doing something bad,” he said.

Abayle wants to encourage everyone from both of the Lewiston mosques to talk about issues in the community and about how to solve them.

“This mosque is open to all Muslims in Maine, in the county, and anywhere in the world,” he said. “That’s why it is called the House of Allah.”

Lewiston Community Resource Officer Joe Philippon has been holding meetings in the building at 254 Bartlett St. for almost two years now, which is how long it’s taken to transform the property into a place of worship.

“We’ve been meeting here once a month for outreach to improve police relations with this community,” Philippon said. “It became more about community issues and different perspectives on barriers between different cultures in Lewiston.”

Philippon added that attorney Mike Malloy “did some pro bono work to help the mosque leaders with the complexities of codes and permits during the transition between renting and owning a building.”

Abayle said, “This is a special day for our community.”

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