The ICW started on the campus of Winona State University when Muslim students gathered to perform Juma’a and Eid prayers. As the numbers of students increased and the facilities offered by the University became too small to accommodate the students’ needs, it became necessary to locate a permanent facility for the Muslims in Winona. In 1992, the Islamic Center of Winona was incorporated as “exclusively for charitable, educational, religious or scientific purposes within the meaning of Section 501(C)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.” Thus, it became the second Islamic Center to be established in the State of Minnesota, second only to the Islamic Center of Minnesota, in Fridley.
Following the incorporation, a fundraising campaign was started with generous contributions from the Twin Cities Muslim community. A building was purchased at 54 E. Third Street. The building had been a clothing store and was remodeled to serve as an Islamic Center. The second story of the building was remodeled to be a four-bedroom apartment which was rented to provide continuing income to keep the Islamic Center open. In addition to prayer services and festival celebrations, the building provided venues for holding wedding ceremonies and cultural and educational activities. Guest speakers were invited to give lectures and establish dialogues with the larger community members. Ramadan was celebrated every year by contributions from the ICW’s members in daily Iftar potlucks.
Following 9/11/2001, the ICW became a pivotal point for interfaith dialogues and for explaining Islam to the non-Mulsim community. On 9/13/2013, the building at 54 E Third St. was burned down. A two-year search ensued and a new building was acquired at 71 W Third St. in downtown Winona. The building had been a gym and tanning spa. It was remodeled to meet the ICW’s needs and a special prayer area was established. The building continues to function in this capacity to the present time. Periodic renovations and repairs and maintenance are constantly required as the building was erected in 1900.
The ICW was incorporated to perform the following functions:
In so doing, the ICW provides a place for Muslim community members to gather and exchange religious knowledge and to provide each other the necessary support. Additionally, the ICW engages in inter-religious dialogue with Christian, Jewish and other religious groups in the greater Winona area.