Islamic Center of Washington

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Islamic Center of Washington
Islamic Center of Washington - 2551 Massachusetts Avenue NW.jpg
The Islamic Center of Washington
Basic information
Location Washington,  United States
Geographic coordinates Coordinates: 38°55′1″N 77°3′25″W / 38.91694°N 77.05694°W / 38.91694; -77.05694
Affiliation Islam
Architectural description
Architectural type Mosque
Completed 1957
Minaret(s) 1
Minaret height 160 feet[1]

The Islamic Center of Washington is a mosque and Islamic cultural center in Washington, D.C., United States. It is located on Embassy Row on Massachusetts Avenue just east of the bridge over Rock Creek. When it opened in 1957 it was the largest Muslim place of worship in the Western Hemisphere. Some 6000 people attend prayers there each Friday.

The center was originally conceived in 1944 when the Turkish ambassador Münir Ertegün died and there was no mosque in which to hold his funeral. along with the ambassador of Egypt, Howar (Mohammed Issa Abu Al Hawa,1879-1982) form Jerusalem-Mount of Olives, helped found and provide early funding to a committee to build a major mosque in the U.S. capital. In 1948, Howar, placing a silver dollar on the ground for luck, began work at the site. The mosque was completed in 1954 and dedicated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on June 28, 1957. The Washington diplomatic community played a leading role in the effort to have a mosque constructed. Egypt donated a magnificent bronze chandelier and sent the specialists who wrote the Qur'anic verses adorning the mosque’s walls and ceiling. The tiles came from Turkey along with the experts to install them. The Persian rugs came from Iran, which are still in the mosque of the Center.[2] Support for the project also came from the American-Muslim community. The site was purchased in 1946 and the cornerstone was laid on January 11, 1949. The building was designed by Italian architect Mario Rossi and was dedicated on June 28, 1957 with President Dwight D. Eisenhower in attendance.[3] The center continues to be controlled by a board of governors made up of various ambassadors. Around the building are arrayed the flags of the Islamic nations of the world.

The mosque has been visited by many high profile dignitaries, including several presidents. The highest profile visit was by President George W. Bush on September 17, 2001, only days after the attacks of September 11.[4] On national television, Bush quoted from the Qur'an and worked to assure Americans that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful.[citation needed]

In addition to the mosque, the center contains a library and classrooms where courses on Islam and the Arabic language are taught.

The mosque was one of three buildings taken over in the 1977 Hanafi Siege. Muslim gunmen holding hostages made several demands, including the demand that the movie Mohammad, Messenger of God be destroyed because they considered it sacrilegious."[5]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Stewart, Nikita (August 1, 2005). "Muslims Find Room to Grow in D.C.'s Outer Suburbs". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 5, 2010. 
  2. ^ The Islamic Centeradded
  3. ^ p.10 of brochure
  4. ^ President Bush Rededicates Islamic Center of Washington, Press release of the White House on June, 27th 2007
  5. ^ Theresa Vargas (March 12, 2007). "'Some Things You Never Forget': Thirty years ago, gunmen stormed three D.C. buildings, taking 150 hostages and one life". Washington Post. p. B01.