When mosque in Minnesota becomes ‘Islamic’ and ‘Islamic-American’: This is the story of a Muslim community and its growth
As mosques in Minnesota have expanded, some have come under fire for their practices, including wearing head scarves and sharia law, the teachings of Islam.
The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has called on the Minnesota legislature to prohibit the use of the phrase “mosque,” but other Muslim organizations have welcomed the change.
Mesa-based mosque Al-Waqar mosque in Mesa, Arizona is a pioneer of the practice of Islamic law, but the Muslim community there also has roots in its Islamic roots.
Al-Qurays mosque in Phoenix, Arizona, is a second-largest mosque in the U.S. and is home to thousands of imams, according to its website.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the use or the interpretation of a religion,” said Darrel L. Johnson, executive director of CAIR-MN, a group that represents about 15,000 Muslim Americans.
“It’s just that we don’t use it as a synonym for something.”
Johnson added that CAIR is also concerned that the mosque’s use of “Islamic-based terminology” may be used as a way to exclude other Muslims.
“We want to make sure that this mosque is not a barrier for others to come in and be an integral part of our community,” he said.
Some mosques have also sought to distance themselves from the practice.
Al Azhar in Cairo, Egypt, says it has no ties to the mosque in Minneapolis, and the mosque has declined to provide information about its members or the imams.
“It’s an issue that we have to be very careful about.
It’s an area where we are really concerned,” said Imam Ahmed Fares, director of Islamic studies at Al Azar University in Cairo.
In Minneapolis, Al Azer has a mosque in a renovated former school building.
The Islamic Society of St. Paul and Minneapolis said it is not affiliated with the mosque, and said it was not affiliated in the past with any mosque in Twin Cities.
“There are many different ways that a mosque can be called Islamic and one way is not being very careful,” said Al Azera, who also is the Muslim chaplain for the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
“You can be a good example for your community and be inclusive of people, but it doesn’t mean that the imam has to be in there.”
Amina Khan, a Minneapolis resident and member of the Muslim Student Association, said she doesn’t agree with the new rules.
“We’re still an open and welcoming community.
We have mosques all over the city, and we are very proud to be an Islamic community,” Khan said.
“The only way to have a sense of safety is to not have a Muslim mosque.”
The Minneapolis mosque was first established in 1891 and opened in 1922.
It has more than 2,300 members, according the mosque website.
In the past few years, the mosque and the Islamic Society have moved to separate buildings, but Al Azhari said the decision was made because the former school buildings were torn down.
“This was a way of preserving the heritage of the mosque so that it can continue to function as it has been for generations,” he wrote on the mosque site.
“This is not to say that this building will not be converted to a mosque.
However, the original intent was to remain an Islamic mosque.”
Contact Erin Murphy at 651-228-5453.
Follow her at twitter.com/erinmurphy_gmn.