Islamic Center of Washington D.C.

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Washington-Washington, DC (DC)

  • Category: religious-islam
  • Section: Religious - Islam

The idea for an Islamic Center in Washington DC originated at the end of World War II. In late 1944, the Turkish Ambassador to the United States died unexpectedly. There was, however, no mosque at that time in Washington in which to hold the funeral. Several of the mourners thought it would be a good and necessary thing to bring a mosque to America’s capital city.

Inspired by the discussion, a handful of diplomats and American Muslims formed the Washington Mosque Foundation. The Foundation’s membership quickly grew to include representatives from every Islamic nation in the world. American citizens from around the Islamic world, as well as many members of the Arab and Muslim community in USA, supported the Foundation’s appeal for funds.

Enough money was raised that a site on the northwest section of Massachusetts Avenue—on Washington’s “Embassy Row”—could be purchased on April 30, 1946. A cornerstone was laid on January 11, 1949 (1368 ah), the 1420th Anniversary of the birth of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be unto him).

Prof. Mario Rossi, a noted Italian architect who had built several mosques in Egypt, was chosen to design the building. Construction became a labor of love for Muslims from around the globe. Carpets came from Iran, tiles from Turkey, and books and furniture arrived from many nations. Egypt donated a magnificent bronze chandelier, and sent the workmen who crafted the Qur’anic verses that adorn the mosque’s walls and ceiling.

In his 1985 book East Comes West: Asian Religions and Cultures in North America, E. Allen Richardson noted that the mosque represented a new type of cooperation among Muslim countries in support of a US mission, and became a symbol of Muslim unity and identity.

The Center was dedicated on June 28 1957 (1377 AH) in a joyous celebration that included ambassadors from all the Islamic nations, and an American contingent led by President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In his address, President Eisenhower praised the Islamic world’s “traditions of learning and rich culture” which have “for centuries contributed to the building of civilization.” The President concluded: “As I stand beneath these graceful arches, surrounded on every side by friends from far and near, I am convinced that our common goals are both right and promising.... Americans would fight with all their strength for your right to have your own church and worship according to your own conscience. Without this, we would be something else than what we are.”

The center is governed by a Board of Governors, largely made up of Ambassadors from various Islamic nations to the U.S. The current chairman of the board is His Royal Highness Prince Bandar Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United States.

At its founding, the Islamic Center proclaimed its goals, which remain as righteous and necessary today, as they did in 1957: “To promote a better understanding of Islam in America, to improve relations with the Muslim world and to foster a climate that would induce acceptance and appreciation of the Islamic truths.”

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Today (18 May)
current weather in this location
15.2 ° C
14.5 ° (min)     17.1 ° (max)
12 mm
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1015 hPa
Tomorrow (19 May)
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20.4 ° C
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