Muslims buy first Cedar-Riverside mosque

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Muslims around the Twin Cities bought Friday the long-rented Dar-alhijra mosque near Riverside high rises in Minneapolis for $400,000.

The three-story building is located at 504 Cedar Ave., S., with 800-person capacity.

Dar-alhijra becomes the first Muslim-owned mosque in the Riverside neighborhood, thought to be home for the largest Somali immigrants in Minnesota. Three other mosques are also located in the area.

“This is a landmark step for Muslims in Minnesota.” said Sharif Abdirahman; the Imam of the mosque who spearheaded a massive fundraising campaign after the building was put up for sale in May last year with a deadline ending January this year.

Abdirahman says that the money was mostly donated by the Somali community in Minnesota with sizable help from non-Somali Muslims.

Muslims have rented the building since August 1998 for about $4,500 a month.

Imam Abdirahman says the mosque offers more than prayers to its congregation.

“We’re a comprehensive center with multiple programs and services.” he said.

The mosque has a Quranic weekend school and a six-day health clinic where a registered nurse takes free high blood pressure and diabetes tests. Periodically, a Somali medical doctor gives an awareness presentation on high risk diseases such as diabetes, TB and sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS.

The Imam also offers family counseling and some alternative dispute resolutions.

After noon prayer on Saturday, the second day of ownership, Imam Abdirahman thanks the worshipers for their generosity and invites them to a wedding ceremony for two active members. The ceremony is taking place at the spacious second floor, elaborately furnished for the event. Volunteers are finalizing the preparation, using wireless laptops.

“That’s another important service of the mosque.” said Imam Abdirahman who officiated the marriage.

An estimated 150,000 Muslims, of which more than half of them are Somalis, live in Minnesota. They own about 10 mosques and rent about 20 more.

Dar-alhijra officials hope to renovate the aging mosque in the near future.

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