The Islamic Society of Bosniaks in Utah held their first open house over the weekend to invite community members to pray and eat at their newly renovated mosque in the Fairpark neighborhood.
In a brightly painted green and yellow room, Dzemila Music serves dates and a potent traditional Bosnian coffee in ornate silver dishes.
“This is our table, so we’re kneeling and we eat here — and everybody eats from one dish,” she says. “This is not a souvenir for us; that's our dishes we use for making food and coffee and things like that.”
Music came to Utah in 1996 as a refugee, one of several thousand Bosniaks who would eventually resettle here during and after the Bosnian War.
Alija Music is president of the Islamic Society of Bosniaks in Utah. When he and the others first moved to Salt Lake, he says, they would pray at mosques run by other immigrants.
Over the years, as their population grew, they were able to form their own congregation, and eventually, buy their own building in 2009. Saturday’s open house was held to allow people to learn about their culture and beliefs.
“The idea is to grow this into something bigger, more profound,” says Music. “And we are so lucky we got such a good response today; many people came today.”
Music also wants to show off their extensively renovated exterior, a process that took more than eight months and $200,000. The brick building now has a smooth gray and burnt red facade. It’s crowned by a minaret, illuminated by green bulbs and a small gold crescent spire.
Mother and daughter Carolynn and Sarai Lambert posed for a picture in front of the mosque's entrance. They’re both Mormon and came to check out a different slice of life in Utah.
“I really just admire other faith traditions and cultures, and I love to learn about them, and I love the things that we share in common,” says Carolynn.
Alija Music says they’ve been fortunate that despite the anti-Muslim rhetoric that emerged from Donald Trump’s campaign, they have yet to receive any verbal or written threats as some other American mosques have.
Several hundred people attended Saturday's gathering, a turnout that has encouraged Music to hold more community events in the near future.