Islam in Greater Boston


Early 1900s  Muslim and Christian Lebanese and Syrian immigrants settle in Greater Boston.

1934  Seven Muslim families from Quincy Point establish The Arab American Banner Society, serving cultural, social, and charitable purposes.

1937-1952    The Arab American Banner Society, located at 470 South Street in Quincy, holds Friday prayers, or Jum’ah, and Eid celebrations, and gradually begins to offer various religious education programs to teach Islamic traditions and values.

1955   After a few years of meeting in the home of one of its members, the visit of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad to Boston marks a turning point for the community that would form Muhammad’s Mosque #11 (also Temple #11), a Nation of Islam mosque.

1957  Muhammad’s Mosque #11 is officially founded. The community purchases and restores a building at 35 Intervale Street in Dorchester to accommodate the growing Muslim community.

1958  The Harvard Islamic Society, a model for other university campuses, is organized by three students: an African American, a Sudanese, and a Palestinian.

1960s Ahmadi Muslims arrive in Boston, gathering at local homes for prayer.

1962-1964 The Arab American Banner Society builds a mosque on South Street in Quincy. Mohammed Omar Awad, a first-generation immigrant, serves as the first imam. Quincy mosque leaders become involved in the Federation of Islamic Associations, which organizes Muslim communities. The mosque would become known as the Islamic Center of New England in Quincy.

1965  The Immigration and Nationality Act, signed by President Lyndon Johnson, results in a drastic increase of immigration from Asia and the Middle East. Many religious minority groups, including the Muslim community, expand dramatically throughout Greater Boston and other parts of the United States.

1970 The Society for Islamic Brotherhood (SIB) rents, and later purchases, a building on Shawmut Avenue in Roxbury. Their mosque, Masjidun Li Hamdi Allah (the Mosque for the Praising of Allah), would become one of the oldest continuously operating mosques in Boston.

Early 1970s The Boston Sufi Order is founded, offering Universal Worship Services, classes, and dances.

1973 The Boston Nizari Ismaili Cultural Center is established by students at MIT and Harvard.

1977 Shakir Mahmoud becomes imam of the Muhammad’s Mosque #11 in Dorchester. Under his leadership, the community begins its transition from the Nation of Islam to Sunni Islam.

1979  The Islamic Center of Boston is established to accommodate the growing population of Muslim immigrant professionals in the western suburbs of Boston.

The Islamic Society of Greater Worcester is established.

1980-1983 The community of the Mosque for the Praising of Allah funds a full-time Islamic primary school.

1981 Muslim students from universities in Greater Boston organize to form the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB), located in Cambridge, to assist independent Islamic societies in various aspects of religious life.

1982 The Muslim World League and the local Muslim community bring Talal Eid, who was educated in Lebanon and Egypt, to Quincy to serve as imam. Eid’s work in Greater Boston includes great expansion of the religious education and interfaith dialogue in New England.

1984 Temple #11 changes its name to Masjid Al-Qur’an, signifying the community’s shift from following the Nation of Islam to Sunni Islam.

The Islamic Council of New England is established, serving as an umbrella organization for all Islamic centers and masajid in New England, and actively promoting interfaith dialogue.

1985 The New England Muslim Sisters Association (NEMSA) is formed to promote Islamic rights for women in various capacities, sponsoring conferences for Muslim women, assisting in the organization of local events, and actively distributing information about Islam.

1987  The Islamic Center of Boston purchases property in Wayland.

1988  The Muslim Council of Boston (MCB) is formed.

1990  The Muslim Youth of New England program is developed to provide more educational resources and social opportunities for Muslim youth.

The Boston Nizari Ismaili Cultural Center relocates to Commonwealth Avenue, which has a jamat khanaa (house of congregation) and two classrooms for religious education.

The Society for Islamic Brotherhood begins an effort to establish the first unified “Eid Prayer in Boston.”

March 1990  A fire at the Quincy mosque causes about $500,000 in damage. Though the community comes together to restore the mosque, the population has grown to such an extent that its members soon seek a larger site.

1991 The Islamic Center of New England purchases a former horse farm to convert into a new Islamic Center in Sharon.

The Islamic Society of Boston purchases a duplex on Prospect Street in Cambridge for a community center.

1992 The Muslim Council of Boston submits a proposal to the Boston Redevelopment Authority for a parcel of land in Roxbury to develop a mosque and community center. The proposal receives the support of neighborhood representatives and city and state authorities and the Boston Redevelopment Authority designates the MCB as the developer of the land.

The Islamic Center of Boston in Wayland opens a community center, with classrooms and a social hall.

The Islamic Center of New England breaks ground at its new site in Sharon, with the help of many members of local Jewish and Christian communities.

1993 The Islamic Center of New England (ICNE) in Sharon is officially established, serving as an extension of the Islamic Center of New England in Quincy.

The Islamic Society of Boston purchases and renovates a former Knights of Columbus Hall near their original site on Prospect Street to host religious events for the Muslim community.

1994 Alhamra Academy, a full-time Islamic school, is founded by the Islamic Society of Greater Worcester.

1995 The Mosque for the Praising of Allah starts the Islamic Multi-Service Organization to address the social service needs of the Muslim community.

The Islamic Masumeen Center of New England is founded to provide a home to the growing Jafari community in Hopkinton. Originally serving only six families, the Hopkinton center grows to include over 100 families.

Masjid Al-Qur’an (formerly Mosque #11), which organizes 9,000 men to go to the Million Man March in Washington, DC, is widely credited with helping to significantly reduce crime and violence in Boston.

1997 A center for the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, Boston Chapter, is established in Sharon.

1998 The Boston Redevelopment Agency approves the purchase of land in Roxbury jointly by the Muslim Council of Boston and the Cambridge-based Islamic Society of Boston.

The Islamic Society of Framingham is established, operating Masjid-e-Basheer as a place of worship and community center.

1999 The Muslim American Society (MAS) Boston Chapter is founded.

The Islamic Center of Burlington is established as a multi-cultural, community service, and religious organization.

2000 Al-Noor Academy, located in Mansfield, is founded, emphasizing Islamic values through coursework and extracurricular activities.

2001 Alhuda Academy in Worcester is established, with over 100 students enrolling in pre-kindergarten through the eighth grade.

Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Muslim communities throughout Greater Boston devote many of their resources to educating the non-Muslim community on Islam and increasingly engage in outreach and interfaith activities.

2002  Imam Talal Eid establishes the Islamic Institute of Boston, a research institute that addresses the growing needs of the Muslim community.

November 7, 2002 A groundbreaking is held at the future site of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC), with Mayor Thomas Menino and Congressman Mike Capuano in attendance.

2004  Construction on the ISBCC mosque begins in Roxbury. For a more detailed history of the ISBCC in Roxbury, click here:

The Dawoodi Bohra sect, which originally met in Christian and Jewish worship spaces in Chelmsford, moves to its new mosque in North Billerica and serves over 250 members.

 June 2007     The Muslim American Society of Boston (MAS-Boston) assumes formal leadership of the ISBCC.

June 9, 2007 Thousands of people, including Muslims and non-Muslims alike, are present for a celebration of the capping of the minaret at the ISBCC.

June 27, 2007 The ISB and MAS hold an “Intercommunity Solidarity Day” at the ISBCC to emphasize the valuable addition of the cultural center for the broader Boston community.

July 26, 2009 The ISBCC formally opens its doors. Public officials, local residents, faith and civic leaders, and Boston’s Muslim community gather for the grand inauguration of the landmark ISBCC, which is the largest Islamic center in New England. An estimated 3,000 people attend the ribbon cutting ceremony, which is followed by Jum’ah prayers.