Chippewa Valley Equality Initiative
Muslim Community Celebrates its 30th Anniversary in Altoona
Updated: Aug 9, 2021
The Islamic Society of Northern Wisconsin, also known as the Altoona Masjid (masjid is
an Arabic word for mosque) celebrated its 30th anniversary with a luncheon at the Lake Altoona County Park on Sunday, July 25. The event also was a celebration of Eid al-Adha which is the second holiest Muslim festival commemorating the end of the Hajj pilgrimage.
The mosque was founded in 1991 when community leaders at the time, including Dr.
Mahmoud Taman, Mr. Abdel Rahman Ouda, Dr. Irfane Khatib, Dr. Abdel Ghani Khatib, and Mr. Mostafa Ahmed, raised funds to purchase the church building on 2nd Avenue in Altoona,
Wisconsin from the Harvestime Church. Harvestime had used the building since 1960. Prior to that, it was a Lutheran Church since the early 1900s. In 1992, the mosque was topped with a finial on the spire shaped as the crescent, identifying the building as a mosque. The Altoona Masjid is among only 10 or so mosques in the state and perhaps the third oldest. In 2009 the mosque established a Muslim cemetery at Prairie View Cemetery in Lake Hallie.
The mosque has hosted hundreds of groups and visitors who wished to learn about Islam.
Throughout its history the mosque has been part of the greater Chippewa Valley community
participating in interfaith dialogues and supporting social justice initiatives. Longtime member of the mosque, Sahar Taman, said, “The people of Eau Claire, Altoona, and Chippewa Falls have welcomed us with open arms for these 30 years.” Dr. Alboury Sow, President, said, “The Board hopes to continue its engagement in the community such as our upcoming sponsorship at the Community Table. We are also focusing on Islamic education for our children.”
The July 25 event was attended by about 80 people from the Muslim community, many new to the community. Elyse Harvey, originally from Eau Claire, her husband DeAndre, and their three children, who are new converts to Islam, said, “We are extremely happy because we did not expect to find a mosque here. Everyone has welcomed us with open arms and we feel at home.”
Maryam Suhail, Vice President of the mosque board said, “We are delighted that so many
people came to the celebration and we hope to have more Muslims active in the mosque because there are approximately 70 Muslim families in the Chippewa Valley and we are reaching out to them.” For more information about the Islamic Society of Northern Wisconsin, please contact Info@altoonamasjid.com.