The founding roots of the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati (ICGC) goes back to the 1950s when the community purchased a tiny house on Fairview Avenue to serve as a masjid or mosque and meeting place for the growing community. The Arabic word masjid means “a place where people prostrate toward God”. In 1980, as the community steadily grew, they purchased a larger house on Clifton Avenue that continues to serve as a mosque to Clifton and its surrounding neighborhoods.
The current ICGC property in West Chester was purchased in 1988. There were a number of community leaders spearheading the building of the Center who worked with Ahmad Samawi, founder of Mid-American Development Company. Not only did Mr. Samawi offer the services of his development company, he also made a significant financial commitment to build the Center. The community came together and turned a long-held dream into a beautiful reality when the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati opened in 1995.
In Memoriam of Ahmad Samawi (1933-1998)
Ahmad Samawi was born in Damascus, Syria, where he spent his youth being raised in a highly respected and deeply religious family. He came to the United States to earn an engineering degree from the University of Texas. He returned to participate in building numerous highly successful businesses in various parts of the Middle East. He later spent time in Germany and Switzerland, before finally immigrating to the United States in 1981 and adopting Cincinnati as his home. Here he founded the Mid-American Development Company and served as its president until his death.
After settling in Cincinnati, Samawi became actively involved in the affairs of the local Muslim community. He was greatly concerned about the negative image and stereotyping of Muslims and Arabs in this country and spent his boundless energy promoting dialogue and better understanding between Christians, Jews and Muslims. He was a founding member of the National Policy Council of Arab American Institute and its Presidents Circle.
Samawi was the prime moving force behind the vision and the actual building of the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati (ICGC). He devoted several years of his life and all his resources to ensure that Cincinnati had one of the most beautiful and accessible Islamic centers in the western world, a most generous gift to our Greater Cincinnati community. A grateful Muslim community has named the mosque at the Islamic Center as Ahmad Samawi Mosque, to forever remind everyone of his legacy. In addition, he quietly supported the work of numerous civic and cultural organizations in this area.
In the words of U.S. Senator Rob Portman, recorded as part of his tribute on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on January 6, 1999, “Mr. Samawi has inspired us all with his vision for a more spiritually united Greater Cincinnati.”
At the time of his death, Samawi was survived by his wife Uschi; sons Ashraf and Hisham; daughters Janan, Laila, Nada and Dana; brothers Riffat, Eid and Anwar; and sisters Firyal and Fatma.
West Chester Campus
Home of the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati (ICGC), this 18-acre campus-like facility features a masjid (mosque), a community center housing a multipurpose hall/gymnasium, administrative offices and over 20 classrooms, and an educational building with a mirrored auditorium and several adult classrooms.
Masjid: Our masjid or mosque offers serene and peaceful places to pray, read the Qur’an and contemplate. A beautiful 14,000-sq.-ft. building, the masjid has many must-see architectural and design elements.
Community Center: This multipurpose building, often referred to as the gym hall, holds classrooms for our very active Weekend School program. It is also built to support social gatherings, sports activities and general recreation. The gym is used to host community dinners, parties, and weekend lunches.
Educational Building: This is where you will find our Mirror Hall, an auditorium that accommodates more than 400 people for interfaith discussions, professional seminars, weddings, and more. The building also houses classrooms and conference rooms used for various educational and cultural activities.
Contact the ICGC office to take a tour of this beautiful facility. Open house tours are available the first Saturday of every month. Weekday tours require an appointment.