The Islamic Center of San Antonio. Courtesy photo.
The Islamic Center of San Antonio. Courtesy photo.

A quarter of a century ago, the entire Muslim community of San Antonio would have fit into the small space of a cleared-out corner store for Eid, the celebratory community prayer at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Since then, the social infrastructure of the Muslim community has developed considerably, and the growth of this highly diverse population has been astounding. There are now more than 12 masajid (plural for masjid, a place of prayer) serving approximately 14,000 Muslims.

An overview of the more prominent Masajid in San Antonio:

  • The Islamic Center of San Antonio
  • The Muslims Children’s Education & Civic Center
  • Masjid Bait ul-Maqdis
  • The Raindrop Turkish House
  • Masjid Bilal Ibn Rab’ah
  • The Islamic Education Center
  • Masjid Ihklas
  • Masjid Firdaws
  • Husseiniyyeh
  • Zainabiyyeh
  • Ismail’i Jamatkhana

Many places of worship, all friendly, welcoming and happy to answer your questions. All these Islamic religious institutions aspire towards being a model community in order to serve the needs of its members. Their teachings are based on the Qur’an, the sound traditions and the life example of Prophet Muhammed (Peace & Blessings Upon Him). All will provide Islamic education to Muslims and the general non-Muslim public.

St. Francis and the Sultan, an event at the Islamic Center of San Antonio. Photo by Chuck Gibbons.
St. Francis and the Sultan, an event at the Muslim Children’s Education & Civic Center. Photo by Chuck Gibbons.

Our military is considerate of the various faiths the soldiers adhere to, and Muslim chaplains serve American Muslim soldiers at Fort Sam Houston and Lackland Air Force Base.

You will find along the IH-10 corridor between UTSA and Crossroads Boulevards the largest accumulation of Muslim-owned businesses, schools, and eateries, and so, if your pocketbook is straitened and traveling the world is limited, you can still experience the different cultures of which the Muslim community is comprised.

Let me take you on a quick trip around the Middle East right here in San Antonio: treat yourself to a grocery shopping trip at a “Mediterranean” Grocery Store, with exotic names such as Ali BabaSalaam International Market,  Mustafa Restaurant & Grocery, or AlMadina Meat Market.

I suggest treating yourself, family, and friends to one of the many restaurants catering halal, a welcome alternative to the palate – no offense to our local great Mexican cuisine of course. Go to Zabiha Search, and be astonished at the number of eateries.

The unique Islamic boutique The Sunnah The Better is where you can find gift items. clothing, books, oils, and incense.

Before 9/11, San Antonio’s universities hadn’t realized that their schools were deficient in recognizing and supporting their Muslim student body. That date served as a catalyst for increased inclusion and teaching, learning and supporting their students and Islam as a topic. Today, it is up to the engaged Muslim students to lead a Muslim Student Association, and these come and go as that leadership changes.

The Islamic Academy of San Antonio is an academic, state-accredited full time pre-K through sixth grade school, serving anyone without discrimination.

It is good to know that when 9/11 happened and San Antonio’s Sikhs and Muslims experienced tensions and grave incidents of hate, then-Mayor Edward Garza came to the masjid to visit with local Muslim leaders, and subsequently made an official TV news announcement that San Antonio would not tolerate any acts or threats of violence against any faith community. This single act of public outreach helped calm a potentially escalating fear.

Today, unfortunately, our town is not free of hate-crimes and the Council on American Islamic Relations has a local Chapter which handles incidents when needed, along with distribution of their excellent educational materials.

The Muslim American Society has a chapter in San Antonio, and their locale houses the MAS Youth Center as well as Masjid Bilal bin Rab’ah.

The Raindrop Turkish House houses the highly popular Dialogue Institute of the Southwest.

The large Ismai’ili community can be congratulated on the opening of their new Masjid, and Muslim Cultural Heritage Society, as well as the establishment San Antonio’s official Eid celebrations at LaVillita, showcasing to the larger community the lifestyles and cultural nuances of Muslim ethnicity.

This year Eid al-Adha will bring San Antonians together on October 12 at LaVillita. Muslims walk the “Middle Path” and on July 28, 2014 streams of Muslims from all walks of life will converge to the local Masajid, celebrating once again Eid al-Fitr, the celebration ending the fasting during the month of Ramadan.

You are welcome to stop by if you are in the neighborhood to see San Antonio truly as an international City on the Rise.

Featured/top image: The Islamic Center of San Antonio. Courtesy photo.


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Narjis Pierre

Narjis Pierre is from Switzerland. She came into Texas in 1984 to learn at The American Institute of Qur’anic Studies in Blanco. She co-founded San Antonio Muslim Women’s Association, and is a participant...