Muslims in Rochester Struggle with Assimilation, Identity

October 1, 2005

Source: The Rake

On October 1, 2005 The Rake reported, "Islam is America’s fastest growing religion, and it seems especially apparent in Rochester, [Minnesota]. In the early 1990s there were fewer than fifty observant Muslims living in the city, most of whom were South Asian; organized prayers were held only on Fridays, in makeshift accommodations. Today approximately five thousand Muslims live in the city, the vast majority of whom are Somali; they have the option of praying five times daily in a mosque owned by their community, presided over by an esteemed imam trained in Islam’s most distinguished university... Next year, the Rochester Islamic Center will be demolished to make way for a four-million-dollar mosque designed to hold eighteen hundred worshippers. Funded by a Saudi Arabian visitor to the Mayo Clinic and designed by a Syrian architect, the three-story building will be topped by a large dome and flanked by minarets that, at 180 feet tall, will rise prominently on Rochester’s skyline. Inside, ample and desperately needed classrooms, a library, and meeting areas are planned, along with a two-story prayer hall. When complete, it will be the first new mosque ever constructed in Minnesota. The Rochester Islamic Center is already unique due to the international community of Muslims who worship there... That is largely a result of demographics: The Twin Cities are home to more than a hundred thousand Muslims."