Muslims in America:
America has a number of Muslims living in it, and just like in any other country, people belonging to various religious sects are allowed to practice their faith; similarly, in America too, a large number of ‘practicing’ Muslims can be found.
For this purpose, there are mosques and Islamic cultural centers located throughout America, in its various states. Like for example, In Chicago Mosque Maryam and Mosque Sadie are quite famous. Likewise, in Dearborn the Islamic Center of America is famous.
In Washington DC, which is the capital of America, we have the Islamic Center of Washington.
Location and Inauguration:
The Islamic Center of Washington is a mosque, as well as, an Islamic cultural center. It is located on Embassy Row on Massachusetts Avenue, just at the east of the bridge over Rock Creek.
Though the concept of this Islamic Center was conceived in 1944, it officially opened in 1957. At that time, it was easily considered as the largest Muslim place of worship in the entire Western Hemisphere. The Friday prayers are attended by what has been reported about 6000 Muslims!
How it Began:
In 1944, at the time of its conception, the Turkish ambassador Munir Ertegun has passed away, and it was realized that there was no mosque where his funeral could be held. Then it was decided by the ambassador of Egypt, Mohammed Issa Abu Al Hawa, that he would provide the required funds to build one major mosque in the capital of America.
In 1948, the work for the mosque began. The project was completed in 1954. The diplomatic community of the Washington played a very important role in making this project successful.
The Contribution of Other Countries:
A lot of other countries, helped in their own way, to build the Islamic Center of Washington. A beautiful, grand looking bronze chandelier was donated by Egypt. Egypt also sent some of its most qualified and talented calligraphic artists who wrote the Quranic verses on the walls of the mosque and even on its ceiling.
The tiles came in from Turkey. Turkey was also considerate enough to send people who were expert at installing those tiles. Iran also played it part by donating beautiful Persian rugs, which the mosque still has.
The American-Muslim community was also in full support of this project, naturally.
The Architecture of the Building:
The architect of the mosque is beautiful, to say the least. The design and architecture of the building was taken care of by an Italian architect, Mario Rossi. The building is white in color, and it is very beautiful.
The center, till date, continues to be controlled by a board of governors. The board of governors is made up by various ambassadors. The building is surrounded by an array of flags of the various Islamic nations of the world.
The Popularity of this Mosque:
The mosque has been visited by a number of famous personalities, which includes several presidents. The greatest visit was when President George W. Bush arrived at the mosque, on September 17, 2001.
This visit was necessary because just a few days ago before it, the famous but very sad 9/11 incident had taken place. George W Bush’s visit to this place was to assure the Americans that the majority of Muslims are peaceful and are not at all promoting violence. His visit was even broadcasted on national television. Therefore, this mosque became very popular.
Since it is not only a mosque, where Muslims can offer their prayers and listen to sermons, it is a cultural center, therefore, the place contains a library, as well. And even classrooms!
The Islamic center of Washington offers a number of courses related to Islam are offered. Arabic language is also taught to those who are interested. Since people know that Quran was revealed in Arabic, hence they are more willing to learn this language and love to interpret Quran directly without needing its translation.
The Islamic Center of Washington still remains a very recognized mosque where people not only offer their prayers, but opportunities to gain Islamic wisdom and knowledge are also made available to them. Not only is the building beautiful, it is also serving its purpose. It definitely is a very important place for the Muslims living in Washington.