Cedar Rapids Weather
Men Visit Cedar Rapids On 30-Mosque Tour
By Mark Geary, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS -- Aman Ali, 25, and Bassam Tariq, 23, are on a mission to visit 30 Mosques in 30 states. The Mother Mosque of America in Cedar Rapids is the oldest Muslim place of worship in North America. Sunday afternoon, it also became the 25th mosque the two young men have visited on their journey.
The Mother Mosque certainly isn’t the largest or fanciest Mosque they’ve pulled up to in their blue Chevy Cobalt, but it’s probably the most historic.
“I was really surprised that the first Mosque is in Iowa. I thought it’d be somewhere in Texas,” Tariq said. “I think this is a very cool place with a lot of acceptance.”
Ali agreed, “Not only is there a sense of history, there’s also a sense of appreciation and preservation. A lot of people think Islam came to the United States in the 1960s and 70s, but this is evidence it goes back to the 1800s.”
Imam Taha Tawil gave the two men a tour of the sacred building and explained the historical significance.
“This Mosque put the city of Cedar Rapids and the state of Iowa on the map,” Tawil said. The Imam later stressed the significance of the two mens' religious road trip.
“It’s a beautiful eye-opener for American people to see that Islam is alive and part of America,” Tawil said.
Ali and Tariq both took turns praying in the place where thousands of others have also bowed their heads. It’s something they do at every Mosque they visit. They described Cedar Rapids’ Mosque as peaceful and serene.
Throughout their quest, the two friends are blogging online at www.30mosques.com. Although they initially planned this trip for personal reasons, friends and family later convinced them to share their experiences with the world.
“There are so many people telling stories about Muslims. We felt it was time that we as Muslims tell our own story,” Ali said. “This was our way of not only teaching non-Islam people about Muslims, but also teaching Muslims about other Muslims.”
They’ve received emails and letters from people all over the world.
“We’re getting a lot of fan mail. A lot of people are very excited about what we’re doing,” Tariq said.
Sunday evening, the friends visited the Islamic Center to pray and eat. In Islamic culture, this particular Sunday is known as the “Night of Power,” one of the holiest evenings of Ramadan. Muslims fasted all day, but then joined together for a traditional Islamic meal which consisted of rice, curry chicken, flat bread and salad.
Next, they’ll stop in Chicago, Memphis, Lexington, Columbus before ending their trip in Dearborn, Michigan. Dearborn is home to one of the largest concentrations of Muslims in the United States. The mission began in the city where both men live – New York.
What's On KCRG