Volunteer crews lent a hand Saturday, June 21, 2008, to clean up flood damage at the Mother Mosque of America in northwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Numerous books and artifacts at the mosque were destroyed when the Cedar River left its banks earlier this month. The Cedar Rapids center is the oldest mosque in the United States.
The oldest mosque in the United States is located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It only took several days of flooding and countless hours reading news reports for me to find this out. The mosque was dedicated in February of 1934. I love it when I learn something new about Iowa’s history. I lived in Iowa for 23 years and never knew about the Mother Mosque of America.
The oldest standing mosque in the United States is one of the many structures in Cedar Rapids damaged by flooding. Imam Taha Tawil is the executive director for the Mother Mosque of America. He was allowed access to the building Tuesday for the first time since it was flooded last week.
“There is a sadness, a hurt in my heart, because this mosque is like part of my family,” Tawil said. The mosque is one of many museums and historic buildings in Cedar Rapids hit by the floodwaters. “When I look around, I see the Czech Museum, the African American Museum, the Mother Mosque,” Tawil said, “and I said ‘flood doesn’t know color, flood doesn’t know race or religion or tradition. Flood is like death…it doesn’t distinguish.'”