KSMU's Jennifer Davidson reported for this story.
The only mosque in Joplin, Mo. has burned to the ground. The cause of the fire is still unknown. The loss of property leaves the Islamic community there without a place of worship in its most sacred time of the year, Ramadan.
The imam of the mosque, Imam Lahmuddin, had only finished leading the special “Taraweeh” night prayers a few hours before he was awakened by a phone call from the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department. That prayer takes place every night around 10:00 during the month of Ramadan.
Lahmuddin got in his car and started driving.
“I could see the smoke from about two miles when I drove to the mosque," Lahmuddin said. So, when I saw that, my heart [was] pounding, and I hoped it’s not from the mosque. But it was from the mosque.”
This is the third time the Islamic community in Joplin has had to deal with fires on its property. One month ago, a man was caught on camera throwing a burning object onto the mosque’s roof. The FBI is offering a $15,000 reward for the arrest and indictment of those responsible for that fire.
Here's surveillance video of that incident, as provided in an FBI press release:
And a photo of the man the FBI is looking for, also from the FBI:
Bridgett Patton is a spokeswoman for the FBI out of Kansas City.
“If it is determined that this fire was deliberately set, then we will actively investigate to see if there is any connection or relationship to the fire that occurred at the center on July 4 of this year,” Patton said.
The Islamic Center of Joplin hosted volunteers from around the country after the Joplin tornado.
This week’s fire was a total loss. Lahmuddin says he doesn’t know where his congregation with gather to worship now. Typically during Ramadan, Muslims gather every evening at the mosque to break their fasts before praying into the night.
The fire comes less than two weeks before the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday, which is next Friday.