Back to top

Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque, Minneapolis

Creator: 
  • Cite
  • Share
  • Correct
  • Print
Color image of group prayer during the purchase of a building for Dar Al-Hijrah, 2006.

In 2015, Imam Sharif Mohamed, Abdisalam Adam, and other leaders of Dar Al-Hijrah mosque raise their hands in prayer after the remodeling of their building following a devastating fire.

Dar Al-Hijrah was founded in 1998 in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood in Minneapolis and is the oldest Somali mosque in Minnesota. It signals the latest of many phases of immigration to the state, from Scandinavians and other Europeans in the nineteenth century to East Africans in the 1990s and 2000s. The congregation has a unique commitment to civic education and advocates for the idea that Islam is compatible with democracy through its sister organization, the Islamic Civic Society of America.

Somalis began arriving in Minnesota in the early 1990s, fleeing civil war in their homeland. At first they joined mosques that had been operated by other Muslim communities, mainly from South Asia or the Middle East. These mosques helped Somalis transition to new lives in Minnesota by providing religious space and community support.

By 1998, Cedar-Riverside had become home to one of the largest concentrations of Somalis in Minnesota. Many Somalis wanted a mosque tailored to their specific language and cultural needs. They also wanted their mosque to be close to Riverside Plaza, a housing complex where many Somalis lived, including both elders and youth.

Somalis opened up their first mosque, the Riverside Islamic Center, in a two-story brick building on Cedar Avenue. Previously, the building had housed a steam laundry and then a small knitting factory owned by Scandinavian immigrant Christian Nelson.

The factory remained in operation until the 1960s. The Guild of Performing Arts School and Theater rented the space for almost a decade before it was left vacant in the 1980s. By the 1990s, multiple groups, including a police precinct safety center, Bedlam Theater, and the West Bank Karate Club, had adjusted the space to their needs.

The new Riverside Islamic Center converted its first floor room to a prayer room for men (replacing the police center); a prayer room for women was established next door (next to Bedlam Theater). The second floor became offices, classrooms, and community meeting spaces. In 2000 it became the Dar Al-Hijrah (Home of Migration) Cultural Center in reference to “the experience of leaving your homeland to settle in another land that embraces you,” as mosque leader Abdisalam Adam puts it.

In 2006, Somali community members raised $400,000 over five months to purchase the building outright from local land developer Vicki Heller. At the same time, the name was changed to Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Civic Center, and in 2013 the name changed again to the Islamic Civic Society of America, which includes Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque.

These changes reflect a unique commitment by Somali leaders to providing civic education along with religious guidance in their community. They went from seeing themselves as immigrants and refugees to seeing themselves as American citizens and their mosque as an American institution. Part of their process of integration into American society included understanding their Islamic faith as compatible with U.S. democracy.

On January 1, 2014, a devastating, multi-building fire almost destroyed Dar Al-Hijrah, and it was closed for more than a year. Various neighborhood organizations offered assistance to Dar Al-Hijrah staff and members. Trinity Lutheran Congregation offered space for community meetings and offices in their building on 20th and Riverside Avenues. Worship services were held at the Brian Coyle Community Center.

After extensive renovation to the interior spaces, the mosque reopened in the spring of 2015 with a new entrance on Cedar Avenue. However, the more popular entrance remains around the back of the building. The mosque is a multi-purpose space used for religious worship, weekend Islamic school (dugsi) and community gatherings.

  • Cite
  • Share
  • Correct
  • Print
© Minnesota Historical Society
  • Bibliography
  • Related Resources

Adam, Abdisalam. Interview with the author, July 7, 2015.

Minneapolis, Minnesota. Islamic Civic Society of America.
http://icsaweb.org/about-us/

Wilhide, Anduin. “Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque: ‘Home of Migration.’” Augsburg Digi-Tours, June 19, 2017.
http://digitours.augsburg.edu/items/show/9?tour=1&index=12

Related Audio

Adhan (call to prayer) at Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque | Details

Related Images

Color image of group prayer during the purchase of a building for Dar Al-Hijrah, 2006.
Color image of group prayer during the purchase of a building for Dar Al-Hijrah, 2006.
Color image of Wali Dirie, executive director of the Islamic Civic Society of America and Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque, stands outside their new entrance at 504 Cedar Avenue, 2015.
Color image of Wali Dirie, executive director of the Islamic Civic Society of America and Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque, stands outside their new entrance at 504 Cedar Avenue, 2015.
Color image of Friday prayer at Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque, 2015.
Color image of Friday prayer at Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque, 2015.
Color image of Somali women pray in the women’s prayer room at Dar Al-Hijrah during the holy month of Ramadan. 2013.
Color image of Somali women pray in the women’s prayer room at Dar Al-Hijrah during the holy month of Ramadan. 2013.
Color image of a Minnesotans in solidarity with Muslim Americans against Islamophobia event, 2015.
Color image of a Minnesotans in solidarity with Muslim Americans against Islamophobia event, 2015.
Color image of the Islamic Civic Society of America, ca. 2015.
Color image of the Islamic Civic Society of America, ca. 2015.

Turning Point

In 2006, the congregation of Dar Al-Hijrah establishes permanent roots in Cedar-Riverside when it purchases the building where members have been worshipping for almost a decade. With support from the Somali community, they raise $400,000 over five months to purchase the building from a local land developer.

Chronology

1991

Civil war erupts in Somalia, forcing thousands to flee their homeland.

1993

Large numbers of Somali refugees begin arriving in Minnesota, including the founders of Dar Al-Hijrah, who settle in the Twin Cities.

1993–1998

Somalis worship in mosques and Islamic schools established by other Muslim communities in the Twin Cities, including Masjid Al-Huda, Dar Al-Haq (later Dar Omar Al-Farooq), and Al-Amal School.

1998

Somalis open their first mosque, the Riverside Islamic Center, on 504 Cedar Avenue in Cedar-Riverside. The mosque includes a men’s prayer room on the first floor and a women’s prayer space next door.

2000

The mosque is incorporated and the congregation changes its name to the Dar Al-Hijrah Cultural Center.

1998–2006

The congregation grows and includes Somalis, some Oromo, and other East African Muslims. Friday prayers attract up to four hundred worshippers. Dar Al-Hijrah acquires more space for Islamic school for children (dugsi), meeting space, and offices.

2006

Dar Al-Hijrah purchases the building on 504 Cedar Avenue and changes its names again to Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Civic Center, reflecting the congregation’s commitment to civic education along with religious worship.

2013

The congregation changes the organization’s name to the Islamic Civic Society of America because members see it as an American institution and want to show that Islam and democratic principles are compatible.

2014

On January 1, a devastating fire almost destroys Dar Al-Hijrah, and it closes for more than a year. During the closure, congregants worship at the Brian Coyle Community Center and mosque leaders use offices in the Trinity Congregation office building.

2015

After extensive renovations, Dar Al-Hijrah re-opens in the spring.

2015

Dar Al-Hijrah hosts public events with faith leaders from churches, synagogues, and mosques, along with elected officials and community members, to fight against Islamophobia in Minnesota and the United States.