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The Mother Mosque of America

Guest Contributor: Tracy Pippins, Islamic Cultural and Heritage Center

Did you know the oldest purpose-built Mosque in the United States is right here in Cedar Rapids, IA? It’s true! While there are older buildings currently used as Mosques, those buildings were converted later and were not originally built for the purpose of being a Muslim house of worship.

The Beginning

In the late 1880’s, Middle Eastern families in search of adventure, rich agricultural land and an area populated by growing settlements found their way to Cedar Rapids seeking freedom and independence. Cedar Rapids, already home to growing Czech, Slovak, Moravian and Christian Arab communities, was the ideal place to settle and build a good life, full of compassion and acceptance.

In 1925, a group of local Muslims formed The Rose of Fraternity Lodge, with the goal of constructing the United States’ first mosque from the ground up. There were many places to offer Muslim prayers, but none was built or designed solely to be a Mosque. In 1934, they succeeded.

exterior of America's Pioneer Mosque

American’s Pioneer Mosque

The original name was Al- Nadi Al-Islami, “Muslim Temple” which was constructed to serve as a religious and social organization for the Muslim community in Cedar Rapids. It served in that capacity for more than forty years. However, as more Muslims started coming to Cedar Rapids, the building was no longer large enough to function and offer services. In 1965, the Muslims purchased a large piece of land on the southwest side of town and built the new Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids, at 2999 First Ave. SW. The original building was sold and used for a variety of different purposes.

white and blue exterior of a mosque in Cedar Rapids, IA

In 1990, the Islamic Council of Iowa purchased the original building, and began the project of renovation and restoration of the old Mosque under the leadership of Imam Taha Tawil. It was completed on February 15th 1992, with a grand opening and celebration. “The Mother Mosque is part of the fabric of Iowa and part of the community. This mosque is American from the ground up,” Imam Taha Tawil told C-SPAN in 2019.

Modern Mosque

Today, the Mother Mosque of America functions as a historical site and a source for accurate information on Islam and Mideastern culture. The Historical Center is open for visitors Tuesday & Thursday, 10am-4pm. Guided tours are provided upon request. Learn more about visiting the Mother Mosque at MotherMosque.org!

Exterior of The Mother Mosque of America in Cedar Rapids

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