Muslims observe Ramadan at the Comfort Inn

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Henrico County will be making a major decision Tuesday whether to approve a proposal for a Muslim mosque.

There have been questions and concerns from that Lakeside community surrounding the 3.6 acres located on Impala Drive, right next to an elementary school.

Neighbors worried about noise and traffic, some even showed concerns for the religion. NBC12 got a rare look into Henrico's growing Muslim community and why they so badly want to build a mosque in Lakeside.

It is the first week of Ramadan. For one month, Muslims will refrain from drinking, eating, or sexual intimacy during daylight hours. Instead, they learn lessons of patience, spirituality, humility, and submissiveness to God.

Every Friday, more than 100 Muslims living in Henrico come to pray and have service at the Innsbrook Comfort Inn.

On a good day, they'll get a big meeting room, but space quickly runs out every week and people crowd into the hallway to pray on top of hotel bed sheets laid out next to a sea of shoes and the ice maker.

"It's no way for us to bring the family here and to pray, so we'd like to have a permanent place where all the family members can pray together," said Muslim Community Leader Mike Surani.

There is only one permanent Muslim mosque in the Richmond area and it is The Islamic Center in Chesterfield, now the new one they want to build in Henrico will look much like this one.

More than 5,000 Muslims live in Henrico County and for 10 years, they have longed for another Islamic Center.

"We started searching for land back in 2005, 2006, we found it in 2008 and hopefully we will have our mosque on that land and hopefully we will solve this problem. (No more Comfort Inn?) No more Comfort Inn," Surani said.

Their services are calm and meditative. Just like any other religion, all they want is a place of worship, somewhere other than a Comfort Inn.

The county rejected their proposal two years ago. They hope they'll approve the second time around.

The hearing for the mosque will be at the Henrico County Government Building Tuesday night starting at 7 p.m. The public is welcome to weigh in. Then the county board will vote afterwards.

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