Today in York County, there will be a birthday party of sorts among a small group of Muslim people who have lived and worked quietly in York County for more than 25 years.
Muslims this week are celebrating the eighth-century birth of their holiest prophet, Muhammad.
Holy Islamville, a rural community of Muslims who have lived northeast of York since 1984, are expecting hundreds of Muslims from around the country to attend festivities today.
"It is really a celebration," said Dawud Plummer, an Islamville resident and elder. "For Muslims, this is a very important time."
The community of more than 150 people was established on property bought in 1983 as a place of Orthodox living, mainly by people from northeastern and Midwest cities who converted to Islam and sought a religious life. Most of the residents work in traditional jobs outside the community.
Holy Islamville has a school, a mosque and housing on its property. Over the years, it has hosted a variety of events during some of the most important times of the Islamic calendar.
Hundreds have gathered in past years for the Eid al-Fitr festival that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
Islamville residents also have partnered with several Christian churches in York County over the years on ecumenical programs aimed at showing that Holy Islamville residents are neighbors no different from any other group.
There have been educational programs and church suppers, and Islamville singers have appeared at Winthrop and other venues.
The community, located north of S.C. 49, again this year has invited local, state and federal law enforcement, as well as other local officials, to join the celebration.
The York County Sheriff's Office will be represented at Saturday's event, Lt. Mike Baker said, and the office will treat the event as it would any gathering of people in York County.
Islamville is a draw for other Muslims because of a shrine on the property from a perceived miracle. In 1996, several residents said they saw the names of Allah and Muhammad written in Arabic script.
Although Holy Islamville is outside the city limits of York, York Mayor Eddie Lee has attended many celebrations at Holy Islamville as an honored guest, sharing meals, conversation and fellowship.
"What we talk about so often is the shared humanity that all of us have, the things we have in common," Lee said. "And we share so much. The people at Islamville are our neighbors and our friends."
Islamville's families are involved in many facets of society: They are as American as any of us.
Islamville hosted a Boy Scout camp attended by more than 300 children in 2006. Last year, a contingent of tradesmen from Islamville helped build a Habitat for Humanity home off Rock Hill's Crawford Road.
The community is even considering building a welcome center, Plummer said.
"We live here and work here and raise our children here," said Plummer, a student at York Technical College. "We want people to know that we are proud to be here."
What is Holy Islamville?
The western York County compound began with about four families in 1984 but has grown through births and an influx of fellow orthodox Muslims.
Many came from Washington, Philadelphia, Detroit and New York to escape what they consider the decadence of large cities.
Located on a secluded 36-acre property off Paraham Road, the site is similar to rural compounds in about 20 U.S. states.
Most adults work outside the compound as teachers, nurses, engineers, tradesmen and school bus drivers.
Each day, they return home to life modeled on Islamic tenets.