American Muslims Get Involved in U.S. Politics

October 7, 2006

Author: Faiza Elmasry

Source: Voice of America

Minnesota is home to thousands of Muslims from around the world. Like other immigrants, they have worked hard to establish themselves and support their families. But, since 9/11, the state's Muslims have become more concerned about presenting the real image of their faith and getting involved in their local communities.

When pediatrician Hyder Mohamed Khan immigrated from India 30 years ago, and settled in Minneapolis, he could hardly find a place to do his prayers. Today, he says, he has dozens of choices. "There are 25 to 30 places where Friday prayers are being offered in town," he says. "There are a dozen mosques in this community."

And across the 'North Star State', mosques and other Islamic organizations have become part of many communities, according to Ikram Ul Huq, Religious Director of the Muslim Community Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. He says there are more than 20 mosques in the state and 33 other Muslim organizations.

"We have SNAP, Sisters Need a Space, a small organization that was started to help Ikram Ul Huq, religious director of the Muslim Community Center in Bloomington, Minnesota Ikram Ul Huq, religious director of the Muslim Community Center in Bloomington, Minnesota battered sisters. We do have some cases where their husbands have gone away and they need a space. We also have 'Alber,' [Arabic for righteousness] where if you're in need for finding a job or some financial assistance, initially, they do help out." These institutions, Ul Huq says, grew out of the need to serve the expanding Muslim communities across Minnesota.

"Until 1998, the Muslim community in Minnesota, the whole state, was about 5,000 to 6,000 people," he says. "But in 1998, there was an influx of Somali immigrants, about 70,000 of them. Then we had another 15,000 from Bosnia and Kosovo. They got political asylum." Ul Huq estimates the number of Muslims in Minnesota to be more than 150,000.