This profile was last updated in 2006
The idea for Masjid al-Halim, also known to its members as New Medinah, originated in 1983 when the Muslim Business Association of Mississippi purchased 63 acres outside of Sumrall to build a Muslim retreat center. They chose the location because of its natural beauty and its central location in the state, expecting that it would draw Muslims from nearby cities such as Hattiesburg and Laurel as well as Muslims from the coast. Planning for a large facility that would function as a masjid and community center began shortly after the purchase. Then in 1985 some Musilms involved with the purchase of the land suggested that it be used for an Islamic residential community and masjid. In time Masjid al-Halim succeeded in turning this ambitious idea into reality.
New Medinah is one of the most unique Muslim communities in the Southeast. Its masjid is the first Muslim worship center in Mississippi built from the ground up, and New Medinah also boasts the first and only Clara Muhammad school in the area and the only exclusively Muslim cemetery. But what makes it entirely distinctive is its location on a 120 acre plot of land where many of its members live and work. The residents of New Medinah live on a large farm and pasture where the streets are named after prominent Muslims throughout Islamic history. While many residents commute for work to nearby cities such as Hattiesburg, some manage fields and pastures for the cultivation of organic fruits and vegetables and halal agriculture. Locals from nearby often come to purchase produce from the farmers at New Medinah. Chickens and cows are raised in accordance with Islamic principles.
The groundbreaking ceremony for New Medinah in 1987 was a momentous occasion for Muslims in Mississippi. W. Deen Muhammad, son of Elijah Muhammad and head of the Muslim American Mission, attended as well as prominent imams and Muslim business and civic leaders from throughout the Southeast. Over 5000 people were present at the opening celebrations, recognizing the founding of New Medinah as a landmark in the history of Islam in Mississippi. As a kind of experiment in Muslim community living in America, New Medinah has been remarkably successful. In the near future, the leaders of New Medinah plan to register the community as a township with its own zip code and a small post office, making it the first exclusively Islamic town in the state.
Activities and Schedule
The masjid at New Medinah includes a large prayer room, a dining hall, two meeting rooms and a sports area. The residents of New Medinah meet every Friday at 1:00 for jum’ah prayer. The masjid remains open for prayer during day and evening throughout the week. Services are conducted primarily in English, with prayer and Qur’anic readings primarily in Arabic. Students at the Clara Muhammad school study Arabic language, Islamic history, writing, mathematics and other subjects. The community identifies itself as Sunni in the tradition of the American Muslim Mission. The membership is principally African American.