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  Respectful Communities > Interfaith Programming > Taking Heart > Muslims in Mnnesota

Muslims in Minnesota

Muslims come from all races, nationalities, and cultures. They follow the five essential "pillars" of Islam, which are daily prayer, devotion to one God or Allah, fasting during the month of Ramadan, paying Zakat or charity, and the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca. While Muslims may have varied languages, foods, dress, and customs, they all consider themselves Muslims.

A diverse and unique Muslim community exists in Minnesota. The first Muslims immigrated to Minnesota and the surrounding states in the 1880s, founding several mosques that still stand as some of the oldest mosques in the region. Indeed, the longest-standing mosque in North America is the Mother Mosque of America in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The population of Minnesota Muslims grew most rapidly in the 1990s with the influx of Somalian, Bosnian, and East African refugees. Today there are approximately 150,000 Muslims living in Minnesota, many in the Twin Cities metro area.

The Minnesota Muslim community is especially diverse. In fact, only 4% of Minnesota Muslims are Arab. About 38% are immigrants, 17% multigenerational, and 45% first-generation Americans.

Three-in-four American Muslims have a college education, and many Muslims in Minnesota are pioneers in their fields. While 50% of Americans believe Islam is oppressive to women (according to a poll by CAIR—the Council on American-Islamic Relations), Muslim women in Minnesota hold important positions in non-profit organizations and the fields of law, medicine, business, and journalism, among others. This is also true at the helms of Minnesotan cultural and political life:

  • Minnesota was the first state to represent a Muslim to the United States Congress—Representative Keith Ellison.
  • Hip-Hop icon Brother Ali is a Muslim and Minnesota native.
  • Three Somali-Americans ran for City Council in St. Cloud in 2014.
  • Ilhan Omar, newly elected state representative in Minneapolis District 60B, is the first East African Muslim woman to hold elected office in the United States.

Further Reading

Being Muslim in Minnesota (MPR News, 2016)

Deep Muslim Roots in Minnesota and U.S. (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2014)

Ilhan Omar Wins Minnesota House Seat (MPR News, 2016)

Three Somali Americans Seek Office in St. Cloud (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2014)

Politcally Outspoken Minnesota Hip-Hop Artist Brother Ali (yes! magazine, 2013)

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