“We didn’t believe such tremendous, huge water would come,” Tawil, the mosque’s imam, said, slowly shaking his head.
Lost were the community’s oldest Qurans and prayer rugs their ancestors had brought from what was the Ottoman Empire, but what today is Lebanon and Syria. Diaries, poems, interviews, photos — “all (of) that was taken from us,” Tawil said.
The Mother Mosque and those pieces of history lost to the waters of the Cedar River represented some of Islam’s earliest roots in North America. The building is widely recognized as the continent’s oldest mosque, in the sense that it was the first structure to be built from the ground up specifically as a mosque.
“These people are so blessed,” Tawil said, referring to the flood. “They were blessed when they designed this place.”