Approximately one percent of Iowans identify as Muslim, yet our state is home to a very important landmark for those of the Islamic faith. In Cedar Rapids, our state's second largest city, you can visit the 'Mother Mosque of America'.
What does it mean to be the 'Mother Mosque'?
It is the oldest building in the United States that was purposely built to be a mosque. There is at least one older mosque in the United States (in Chicago), but it is located in a building that was not originally built to be a mosque. The 'Mother Mosque' was completed in 1934 and has now been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
There is a sign in front of the building that offers some brief history. If you are interested in learning more, I would point you to the great information on the National Park Service's website. The website for the 'Mother Mosque' also has some great history and information. The State of Iowa has a great photo on their website of what it looked like in 1950.
The devastating floods of 2008 flooded the basement and according to research I found online, some of the records and other artifacts stored in the basement were ruined.
When my friend and I stopped to visit last Fall on a Saturday afternoon, it was not open so we did not stay long. I don't know if it is regularly open to the public but I do know that is no longer used as house of worship. It is now used primarily as a cultural and heritage center.
This particular marker was outside.
Some might assume that a landmark like this would be on one of the coasts where their is a larger population of Muslims. But that would not be correct. Instead, once again, Iowa is first.