The history of the African-American Muslim community in the Research Triangle region of North Carolina is rich and relatively unknown. The Triangle region is the metropolitan area incorporating the capitol Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill in central North Carolina. The Triangle, dominated by the Research Triangle Park, has been a center for white-collar employment and migration for the past several decades. In this area, which was formerly almost exclusively Protestant, an influx or people from other parts of the United States and from many countries, including Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Pakistan, India, Thailand, Korea, China, and Cambodia have introduced new languages, religions, and cultures.
While there has been considerable reworking of the religious and cultural fabric in the Triangle area, the African-American Muslim community has had an important local presence throughout. By-and-large, the African-American Muslim community is comprised of local people who converted to Islam and established a center for worship in the early 1970s. Sometime between 1972 and 1974, the small storefront property in Durham, near Duke University's West Campus, was purchased by the Nation of Islam. The Minister Kenneth (Murray) Mohammed led the Nation of Islam in Durham, and he is considered "one of the outstanding pioneers in the community." While the masjid was affiliated with the Nation of Islam, it was known as Mosque #34, as it was the site of the thirty-fourth Nation of Islam masjid. In its previous incarnation, the site housed a ballroom.
On February 25, 1975 Elijah Mohammed, the founder of the Nation of Islam died. Elijah Mohammed's son, Imam Wallace D. Mohammed was selected by several nationally known leaders of the Nation of Islam to lead the adherents throughout all of North America. In 1975, Imam W. D. Mohammed gradually began to evolve the Nation of Islam to the World Community of Al-Islam in the West. Led by Imam W. D. Mohammed, this transformation embodied the beliefs of Al-Islam. At this time, the masjid in Durham changed its name to Masjid Mohammed. The Durham masjid later was changed to Masjid Ar-Razzaq, and more recently to Ar-Razzaq Islamic Center.
The Muslims who worship at Ar-Razzaq Islamic Center are predominantly African-American. Of the seventy-five regular worshippers at Ar-Razzaq Islamic Center, twenty-five are children and teenagers.
There is a Sisters Arabic Class for women which meets on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings.
Description of the Center
Ar-Razzaq Islamic Center is at the site of a former ballroom in western Durham, located near Duke University's West Campus. Ar-Razzaq Islamic Center is located on West Chapel Hill Street in a busy residential and business area.
The interior of Ar-Razzaq Islamic Center is quite modest. The primary space in the building is the prayer hall, which is carpeted, with a dais along the west wall and the mihrab located in the southeast corner. From the street, one enters a small foyer before coming into the prayer hall. There are administration offices as well. A lower floor at Ar-Razzaq Islamic Center may be renovated for future use.
In North Carolina there are a number of Islamic Centers and Masjids affiliated with the Muslim American Society:
| Fayetteville: ||Masjid Ibn Omar Said (This building is a true masjid. It has been built from the ground up. According to Prophet Muhammed, a genuine masjid is built from Nothing; meaning it is not located in an extant structure.)|
Wilmington: Masjid Mohammed|
Raleigh: As-Seif Ud-Din
Durham: Islamic Center of Durham
Pluralism Project Notes
Ar-Razzaq Islamic Center is eager to take part in co-operative learning projects with schools and universities in the Triangle. Imam Abdul-Hafeez Waheed, Convenor of the entire body of Muslim American Society Imams in the state of North Carolina, considered this interview to be a "great opportunity to share our religion and history to where we have evolved in this miraculous evolution."
When visiting Ar-Razzaq Islamic Center, modest dress is highly recommended. One should leave shoes in the foyer. It is optional for women visitors to cover their heads upon entering the prayer hall.
Researcher: Karen G. Berthiaume Date: September 1999