The Islamic Society of Tulsa has purchased 15 acres in south Broken Arrow for a possible future mosque.
The parcel is on the east side of 129th East Avenue, just south of the Creek Turnpike, said Masood Kasim, chairman of the society.
Kasim said the Islamic Society considers the land a good investment in addition to a possible mosque site. It could be years before a mosque is built there, he said.
The Tulsa Muslim community has outgrown its space in the Masjid Al Salam mosque at 4620 S. Irvington Ave. and has had to move major holiday celebrations to Expo Square to accommodate as many as 4,000 worshipers. The mosque can accommodate just over 1,000 people.
In the meantime, Kasim said, negotiations are underway for another site in Broken Arrow, which has an existing building that could be used for a mosque in the more immediate future.
Kasim estimated that 7,500 Muslims live in the Tulsa area, a dramatic increase from the 20 or 30 families that lived here when he arrived in the early 1980s. About 200 Muslim families live in the area around the recently purchased parcel, he said.
Mujeeb Cheema, executive director of the North American Islamic Trust, a national organization that supports Muslim interests, including mosque development, said that in general, mosque construction has gone smoothly in the United States, with a few notable exceptions.
Cheema now lives in Chicago but maintains close ties to Tulsa, where he lived for many years.
He was involved in the development of the Al Salam mosque in Tulsa, a project he said went well. As part of the project, the Islamic Society of Tulsa paid for major storm sewer improvements that benefited the entire neighborhood.
And he does not expect any problems in developing a mosque in Broken Arrow.
“We are people of goodwill, and we assume goodwill from others,” he said.
He said zoning for the property is appropriate for a house of worship, and in fact the parcel is directly north of a church, Walnut Grove Church and David Ingles Ministries, 11719 S. 129th East Ave., Broken Arrow.
Adam Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the state has 12 mosques, and they have been developed without problems. Nationally, he said, a few isolated mosque proposals have been protested, including the so-called Ground Zero mosque proposal in New York City.
He said the city of Edmond turned down a request last year for an expansion of a mosque, but after talking to the mayor, he believes the decision was based on concerns about parking, and not on anti-Muslim sentiment. Islam is the largest non-Christian religion in Tulsa County, according to the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.