New Waterloo mosque getting warm reception - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New Waterloo mosque getting warm reception

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- The Cedar Valley is home to one of the larger Muslim communities in Iowa and it's growing.  A new mosque near S. Hackett and Sager Roads in Waterloo will be a place for worship and community gatherings.  Leaders in Waterloo are disappointed with the uproar over a planned mosque near ground zero in New York but say the new local mosque has been getting a much warmer reception.

A small building on Second Street in Waterloo is currently the place of worship for many area Muslims.  But the growing number of members is pushing the facility beyond its limit.

"I think we have now about 4,000 Muslims in this area. And that necessitated that we get a newer building because the old building is kind of becoming-- the cost of maintaining it-- is becoming quite a bit," said Mohammed Fahmy, Islamic education director.

So a new million-plus dollar mosque is being built.  The new mosque will include a kitchen, dining hall, community room, and prayer areas that are all much larger than what's in the old building.  The new space will also include Sunday school classrooms, which the old building doesn't have.  Support from the community has been so strong that the new building is already about 95 percent funded.

"We have been very much appreciated by our community at large. Many people donated monetary funds. Many people donated their time, and many people donated their talents in doing things," Fahmy said.

Despite the bad wrap many Muslims have gotten in recent years, the faith welcomes and encourages visitors.  In fact, at the upcoming close of Ramadan, a community picnic will be held in front of the new mosque.  It will serve as a celebration of progress and as an invitation for everyone to see what Muslims are really all about.

"We're very integrating people in our communities. We're very productive in our communities. And I think everyone who knows us appreciates that," Fahmy said.

And maybe with a better understanding of that, this faith might just continue to grow.

The Ramadan feast will be held at the new mosque on September 12.  Even though the holiday officially ends on the 10th, with celebration that would typically continue into the 11th, church leaders purposely moved the even back in observance of the 9-11 terror attacks.

The new mosque is set to be completed later this fall, opening its doors for worship sometime in November.

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek

 

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