D.C.’s Oldest Mosque Pushes for Community Building

Various community leaders gather Sept. 9 at Masjid Muhammad in northwest D.C., the city's oldest mosque, for an open house event. (Courtesy of Masjid Muhammad)

Ahead of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Islamic leaders and various community members gathered Saturday for a forum to promote awareness and unity during an open house visit at the historic Masjid Muhammad, D.C.’s oldest mosque.

“We are having this open house for two reasons: To allow those who have never been in a mosque before an opportunity to see what it’s all about while coming together and praying and to also commemorate those that died in 9/11,” said Ibrahim Mumin, Masjid Muhammad’s communications director.

“It’s disheartening to hear sometimes some of things and questions that come up concerning American Muslims such as patriotism and community, but with this event we just want to show that we are all here to help ourselves and others and to better bridge the gap between different communities,” Mumin said.

During the event, attendees heard and asked questions regarding topics including broader community based events and religious holiday observances for District school teachers.

Panelists included Ward 5 ANC members, school district officials and representatives from the office of D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie.

“I’m grateful for community building efforts of the Masjid Muhammad Mosque because it engages the community and gives our residents a deeper understanding of Islam,” McDuffie said. “I am proud that the oldest mosque in the District of Columbia is located in Ward 5 and I am hopeful that efforts like this open house continue building a stronger community rooted in mutual understanding and respect.”

​The panel also included 5th District MPD Cmdr. William Fitzgerald, who expressed his gratitude for being allowed to speak at the Saturday event.

“These people are great,” Fitzgerald said. “When was asked to attend, I quickly said yes, because these are really good people who I am happy to interact with daily in the community.”

Following the forum, information was also given regarding some of Masjid Muhammad’s weekly community events including free Arabic classes, in-depth courses on the Quran, Kibar —the mosque’s senior nutrition program — and their Boy Scout troop.

To close out the event before attendees enjoyed refreshments, the mosque’s imam (head officiant), Talib Shareef, a retired member of the United States Air Force, thanked everyone for coming with a special call to unity.

“Today’s event served as a very important discussion,” Shareef said. “We really wanted this event today to serve as a community building event and show people what can be accomplished when we all work together and bring about more national unity post-9/11.”

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Lauren Poteat is a versatile writer with a strong background in communications and media experience with an additional background in education and development.