Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque

"Home of Migration"

New residents bring new religious and community centers to Cedar-Riverside

This unassuming two-story tan brick building on the bustling thoroughfare of Cedar Avenue reflects a major shift in immigration in Cedar-Riverside-from Scandinavians and Europeans to East Africans. In 1998, Somalis opened their first mosque in Minnesota here, calling it the Riverside Islamic Center.

Initially this building housed a steam laundry, and then a small knitting factory owned by Scandinavian immigrant, Christian Nelson. The factory produced wool sweaters, underwear, cardigan jackets and hosiery. It 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 converted the space to their needs.

Large numbers of 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, and many Somalis felt they wanted a mosque tailored to their specific language and cultural needs. They also wanted their mosque to be close to Riverside Plaza so it would be accessible to elders and youth.

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." 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 provide 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. 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.

There are now more than 30 mosques in the Twin Cities and approximately half of them have been founded by Somalis. In Cedar-Riverside, Dar Al-Hijrah is one of three mosques, and has become part of a long history of religious organizations founded by newcomers to the neighborhood.

Images

Islamic Civic Society of America and Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque Cedar Avenue Entrance, 2015

Islamic Civic Society of America and Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque Cedar Avenue Entrance, 2015

At first glance this building may not look like a house of worship, but it is the oldest Somali mosque in Minnesota and the first one established in Cedar-Riverside. It was created in 1998 by a group of Somali community leaders. Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque was initially known as the Riverside Islamic Center. In 2000 it became the Dar Al-Hijrah Cultural Center and in 2006 the name changed to Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Civic Center, reflecting an interest in providing civic education along with religious guidance. Image courtesy of Anduin (Andy) Wilhide | Creator: Anduin (Andy) Wilhide View File Details Page

A permanent home for Dar Al-Hijrah, 2015

A permanent home for Dar Al-Hijrah, 2015

In 2015, Imam Sharif Mohamed, Abdisalam Adam and other leaders of Dar Al-Hijrah mosque raise their hands in prayer after their building is remodeled following a devastating fire. Image courtesy of Islamic Civic Society of America | Source: Islamic Civic Society of America View File Details Page

Wali Dirie, Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque, West entrance, 2015

Wali Dirie, Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque, West entrance, 2015

This is the popular entrance for members who live nearby. "Assalamu Alaikum," (Peace be with you) is a phrase you're likely to hear as you enter the mosque. You can respond, "Waa Alaikumu Salam," (And peace be with you, too). Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque is a place for peace and prayer. When you enter the mosque please be sure to take off your shoes. This practice maintains the cleanliness of the mosque (Muslim prayer includes kneeling and prostrating on the ground) and is part of showing humility before God that helps individuals perform their prayers. Image courtesy of Anduin (Andy) Wilhide | Creator: Anduin (Andy) Wilhide View File Details Page

Imam Sharif Mohamed leads the Friday prayer at Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque, 2016

Imam Sharif Mohamed leads the Friday prayer at Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque, 2016

The first floor of Dar Al-Hijrah is comprised of two large rooms covered wall to wall in soft rugs where hundreds of Muslims, mostly Somali and Oromo, come for their five daily prayers. The salat, or daily prayer, is one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith. While daily prayers are mostly in Arabic, some Imams give their sermons in Somali and English. Friday afternoons are special prayer days and attract large crowds of worshippers. Image courtesy of Wali Dirie, Islamic Civic Society of America | Creator: Wali Dirie, Islamic Civic Society of America View File Details Page

Prayer times at Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque, 2015

Prayer times at Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque, 2015

Daily prayer, or salat, is an important part of Islamic faith. Muslims must pray five times a day. At Dar Al-Hijrah, the first salat is in the early morning and the last one ends just before midnight. This is the prayer clock wall inside Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque. Image courtesy of Anduin (Andy) Wilhide | Creator: Anduin (Andy) Wilhide View File Details Page

Women's Prayer Room, Ramadan and Eid, 2013

Women's Prayer Room, Ramadan and Eid, 2013

Somali women gather together in the women's prayer room at Dar Al-Hijrah during the holy month of Ramadan. Islamic law requires separate worship spaces for men and women. Note that this view is from the back of the room so most of the women's faces are not shown. Muslim women have divergent views on being photographed based on their religious beliefs: some are okay with it and some are not. Image courtesy of Islamic Civic Society of America | Creator: Mohamud Mumin View File Details Page

Fire next to Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque, 2014

Fire next to Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque, 2014

On January 1, 2014, a devastating fire destroyed commercial and residential buildings adjacent to Dar Al-Hijrah. The Otanga grocery store was destroyed and three residents who lived above the store were killed. Dar Al-Hijrah mosque suffered extensive damage and had to vacate the building for a year while it was being renovated. 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. Image courtesy of Minnesota Public Radio News | Source: Minnesota Public Radio News | Creator: Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio News View File Details Page

Civic principles at work, 2015

Civic principles at work, 2015

Imam Sharif Mohamed and religious leaders from across Minnesota stand united against Islamophobia. The Islamic Civic Society of America is a civic institution that seeks to demonstrate the compatibility between Islamic principles and those of democracy. An example of its work was experienced on a cold winter's night in December when ICSA hosted an event to discuss Islamophobia in America. More than a hundred Minnesotans from diverse racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds came to support Muslim American colleagues, friends and neighbors, who have faced increasing incidents of prejudice and discrimination in recent years. Several elected officials and religious leaders (including imams, rabbis and pastors) denounced Islamophobia as a threat to American ideals of freedom and democracy, and vowed to help protect the rights of Muslim Americans. Image courtesy of Anduin (Andy) Wilhide | Creator: Anduin (Andy) Wilhide View File Details Page

Video

Adhan, "Call to Prayer," 2016

The call to prayer on a Friday afternoon at the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque. Muslims are required to pray five times a day as part of their Islamic faith. In most Muslim societies, the call to prayer is broadcast publically from the minaret, or tower attached to a mosque. In Minnesota, due to zoning ordinances and noise regulations, most mosques do not have a minaret and cannot broadcast the call to prayer publically. However, inside the mosque the call to prayer is broadcast as worshippers enter the mosque. Most Muslims rely on their cell phones to alert them when it is time for prayer.

Translation of call to prayer by Abdisalam Adam. Call to prayer recited by Ahmed Jamal at Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque. View File Details Page

Street Address:

504 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55454
[map]

Official Website:

Islamic Civic Society of America and Dar Al Hijrah Mosque, http://icsaweb.org/

Cite this Page:

Anduin (Andy) Wilhide, “Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque,” Augsburg Digi-Tours, accessed November 19, 2017, http://digitours.augsburg.edu/items/show/9.
Tour navigation:  Previous | Tour Info | Next

Share this Story