In the mid-1970s, there were very few Muslims in Nashville. Only a handful used to offer Jumu’a prayer (weekly Friday congregation) at the Afro House (now known as the Black Cultural Center) of Vanderbilt University. As time progressed, attendance in Jumu’a prayer gradually grew from 5 to 40 by 1979. At that time, the Nashville Muslims got together and organized themselves for the first time, paving the way for the formal emergence of the Islamic Center of Nashville (ICN).
With a collection of $30,000 and a generous donation from Yusuf Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens) of England, the ICN purchased an old house in 1979 on the corner of Twelfth Ave. and Sweetbriar Street. The community continued to use it as a Mosque until 1989 when the old house was demolished and a new Mosque was built.
The Muslim community of Nashville kept growing at a fast rate throughout the 90’s when we were blessed to have an influx of Kurdish and Somalians move to Nashville. In 1995, the ICN bought a 10.6 acre land on Charlotte Pike near exit 199 off of I-40 West. Development of this land constitutes the core of the present day challenge for this community. Besides the mosque, ICN’s major achievements include the purchase of land for Muslim graveyard, the purchase of land for Muslim Community Complex for a full-time Islamic school, community center and mosque, the establishment of a full-time Islamic school (founded in 1995) as well as a weekend Islamic school, and the launching of many other social, religious and educational activities. On December 1, 2008, the first phase of the new school building was completed and opened, from Pre-K thru 6th grades.
The ICN provides educational opportunities for people of other faiths to learn about Islam. Schools, classes, churches, individuals, institutions, etc. visit our mosque on a weekly basis, as well as our members being regularly invited to speak to groups such as schools, workplace, law enforcement, interfaith, etc. Also, our center prides itself in working towards making our great city of Nashville a better community through community service programs such as Habitat for Humanity, M.S. Walk, Walk as One, etc.
The Muslims in Nashville are well diverse with ethnic representations mainly from Kurdistan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Palestine, Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia and United States, and many others from Yemen, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Oman, Kuwait as well as African countries. Yet, the community is quite cohesive, well organized and closely tied together.
Presently, the greater Nashville community has over 30,000 Muslims and five major mosques in Nashville (Islamic Center of Nashville, Salahadeen Center of Nashville, Masjid Al-Farooq, Islamic Center of Tennessee and Masjid Al-Islam). The greater region includes the Islamic Center of Clarksville, the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, the Islamic Center of Williamson County, the Islamic Center of Columbia and the Masjid Al-Salam Shelbyville.