Mall of America Moves to Accommodate Minnesota Muslims

Mohamed Hassan, Mshale (Minneapolis), December 13, 2008

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Every year, as Muslims in America are compelled to engage in business, work and shopping during the holidays, many find themselves away from mosques and other places where they can hold prayers without interruption. They are forced to seek privacy in corners and alleyways, places that often subject them to unwanted attention. Some Muslims also worry that their repetitive calls of “Allah akbar!” (God is great!) during prayers could be misconstrued as calls for Jihad.

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This year Muslim leaders from the Twin Cities area were able to persuade MOA, the largest enclosed mall in the United States, to set aside a room for prayers.

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But Mohamed [Fatuma Mohamed, a muslim woman] and other Muslims did not know there was a prayer room, even though MOA and Muslim volunteers had intended to have eight posters in three languages, (English, Somali and Arabic) to be displayed at all entrances to the mall.

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Regardless of the glitch, many Muslims appeared excited that the MOA reserved prayer space for them and promised to continue doing so in the future.

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Sheikh Neelain Muhammad, an imam at the St.Paul-based Da’wa Islamic Center, and five other volunteers from the center were among the many volunteers who were at the mall to make sure that day went on without incidents, especially from teenagers.

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The presence of culturally competent volunteers at the mall avoided the law enforcement solution that often leads to the arrest of Muslim youths.

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Mahmood Kanyare, one of the community volunteers, said the volunteers reminded the youth about good manners in Islam.

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