Six weeks after the basement of the Mother Mosque of America filled with muddy water from the Cedar River, its executive director is optimistic about the building's future.
"The mosque will be stronger than it was before," Imam Taha Tawil said. "Now we are able to make the mosque stronger physically. The windows downstairs were leaking cold air; now we can replace them properly."
As threats of a flooded Cedar River became closer to reality, Tawil and the congregation at the Mother Mosque, 1335 Ninth St. NW, believed the building would be safe. When the river flooded in 1993, he said, water didn't come anywhere near the Islamic worship center.
This time, however, water filled the basement and destroyed most of the mosque's books, records and historic documents.
"That was the sad part, all the books and documents that we lost," Tawil said.
Most of the documents and books were thrown into Dumpsters and discarded, he said, but the many copies of the Quran kept in the basement were taken to a member's farm and burned, as is Muslim tradition.
Tawil said he hopes the basement remodeling — which will include a larger fellowship area and a smaller kitchen — will be done by the end of October, in time for the end of the 30-day Muslim Ramadan observance.
The timing of the building's completion will depend largely on donations and contractors, he said. Islamic tradition prohibits Muslims from charging or paying interest, which means the mosque won't be able to take advantage of federal Small Business Administration loans.
"We are hoping for grants, we are applying for some of those," Tawil said. "That's our biggest option, as well as community donations." (MORE)