Leaders of a growing Muslim community in Memphis, Tennessee, wanted to build an Islamic center where they could gather not just to worship, but to host weddings and other parties; gather on weekends and holidays; house a day care for children; and have activities for the elderly. When they finally succeeded in purchasing a plot of land opposite a church, Dr. Bashir Shala, head of the board of trustees for the Memphis Islamic Center, expected hostility. “Memphis is the buckle of the Bible Belt,” Shala says. Pastor Steve Stone of Heartsong Church, had something else in mind.
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