Mosque opens doors downtown
The North American Foundation of Islamic Services (NAFIS) has opened the Oshkosh Mosque for local and surrounding Muslim residents at the former First Baptist Temple at 138 Church Ave.
Mosque president Hassan Elannani, who led efforts to purchase the building in September on behalf of NAFIS, said he is volunteering as an imam to lead daily prayers and deliver the weekly Friday sermons at 1 p.m. Congregational prayers will be offered and the building will host classes and community events. Elannani, who also teaches at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s College of Education, said the mosque’s proximity to the university will help serve Muslim staff and students while attracting students from other states and countries.
He said the city was lacking a large place of worship for local Muslim community members who have had to travel to other locations for congregational prayers. The historic building, which had been vacant for more than 18 months before being purchased for $150,000, was built in 1901 as a Baptist temple and features a dome atop the roof, three arch stainedglass windows, a large podium backdrop of organ pipes, and original wood trim throughout. There is 9,250 square feet of space that includes a large prayer hall on the second floor, multipurpose halls, commercial kitchen and classrooms on the first floor. Parking space is behind the mosque. NAFIS is a nonprofit organization founded in 2005 that defines its mission as enabling Muslims in the U.S. to learn, practice and promote Islam in a manner that combines deep spirituality with civic engagement while cooperating with people of other faiths to achieve common goals.