Najabat Abbasi has big goals for his tenure as director of the Islamic Society of Lawrence.
He'd like to upgrade the Islamic Center, 1917 Naismith Drive, establish a cemetery for Lawrence Muslims and work for more interfaith dialogue among the society's members.
But he realizes he probably won't do all that in his two-year term, which began in February.
"As time is very short, I doubt I would be able to complete any one of them," Abbasi says. "However, if I start one of them, I will consider this as my achievement."
Abbasi, a retired engineer, follows Moussa Elbayoumy as director of the Islamic Society. Elbayoumy, who had been director since 2003, recently moved to the Washington, D.C., area to be vice president of Adventist Health System.
Abbasi is a native of India, and he's lived in Lawrence since 1988. He previously has served as facilities management secretary and assistant director of the Islamic Society. Friday prayer services typically draw between 150 and 200 people.
He describes the climate in Lawrence for Muslims as "good and welcoming." He says having members participate in activities such as the Lawrence Community Religious Alliance and other forums will help further that tolerance.
"This makes the members of the Muslim community feel comfortable to practice their faith freely and participate in the community life fully," Abbasi says. "Since 9/11, we have had and probably will have our share of bigotry, fear and misunderstanding as expressed in rare incidents of interaction, newspaper letters to editors, etc. However, these incidents are very rare as compared to other cities and states."