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By J.D. Gallop

Nearly 30 years ago, being Muslim in Melbourne meant quietly gathering in the living rooms of apartments for a moment of prayer or having to explain what sounded like a foreign, exotic religion to strangers.

There were no masjids — worship centers — for children to learn Arabic or shops like those found in urban centers to buy specially prepared meats and foods. But today, there are at least three worship centers across the Space Coast, from Melbourne to Merritt Island, with nearly 4,100 Islamic adherents and a growing visibility for the faith in schools and at work.

“I enjoy living in Brevard County,” said Sheikh Ahmad, a poet and charity organizer who moved from Pakistan to Pennsylvania in 1977. “When I first came here 13 years ago, there wasn’t much, there was not a lot for the Muslim community. But now you see a lot more — we have the mosque in Melbourne and a lot of students. [Read more…]