By MEGHAN PIERCE
Sunday News Correspondent
KEENE — A new mosque is on track to open next month on Route 101 in Keene.
The Masjid al Latiff and Interfaith Community Center, or MALIC Center, is being opened by Will Coley, the future mosque’s imam and caretaker.
“You have some that are under construction in big cities like Manchester and Concord. … And you have worship centers,” in rented spaces that usually are only open for Friday worship, he said.
The MALIC Center will be open for Muslim worship every day for prayer, five times a day, and for the longer Friday worship service. The center is on track to hold its grand opening the first week of November, Coley said.
“We will be open for all of that,” he said, including 24 hours a day during the last 10 days of Ramadan.
“That’s what happens during the last 10 nights of Ramadan in big mosques, and we’re going to make sure it’s available in our community as well.”
The tri-state region serves about 50 Muslim families, Coley said.
Originally from Tennessee, Coley also is known as “the Redneck Muslim.” He converted to Islam 10 years ago.
He was busy Saturday with the work of cleaning up the house that will serve as the mosque and interfaith worship center. He will also live in part of the house with his wife and five children, Coley said.
The Keene-based Shire Free Church is donating the house to Coley.
Previously, the church had rented the home at a discounted rate to a low-income family who was recently evicted for lease violations, said Shire Free Church minister Ian Freeman Saturday.
Coley met members of the Shire Free Church at the libertarian/Free State event PorcFest and grew to love the state of New Hampshire, he said.
Coley said he is grateful for the donation of the house, which will mean the mosque will not have a mortgage and therefore will not be beholden to any large donors and can instead focus on its mission of serving the community. The center will also be used as a warming shelter for the homeless during the day and an interfaith worship space for small groups.
The center is also for Muslims of all sects, and disputes between the various strands of Islam will not be entertained, he said.
“If you want conflict, this is the wrong place for you. This is a place for service and a place of service to the community and if you come here for anything else you are in the wrong place,” he said.
Coley said it made sense to him to return the gift of the building back to the community so that other religious groups could have a free space to use.
“Are you a Christian? Come here. Are you a Muslim? Come here. Are you Jewish? Please, come here. We have space for you,” Coley said. “I want you know it’s your space, too.”
The Shire Free Church is an interfaith church, Freeman said.
“Islam is one of the most misunderstood” religions, Freeman said, and because Coley is such a great communicator about the true nature of Islam, gifting the house fits with the Shire Free Church’s mission.
“To have it also be an interfaith center is an added bonus. I think it totally aligns with the vision of the Shire Free Church,” Freeman said.
Since the previous tenants of the house caused a great deal of damage an online fundraising is taking pace to ensure the mosque has the funds for repairs and the renovations needed.
The Shire Free Church is matching all donations, which are being accepted online at www.launchgood.com.