Many Minnesotans do know about Muslims - they have been very understanding.: Becoming Minnesotan

Abdisalam Adam, displaying Somali objects and books, 2004.
  • Name - Abdisalam Adam
  • Age at interview - 38
  • Gender - Male
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 06.24.2004
  • Somali girl, Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis, June 2004.
    Eid al-Adha meal at a Somali home, Minneapolis, February 1, 2004.

    We Are Here

    Religion, Somali

    Essential Question

    We Are Here: What does it mean to this immigrant group to be here in America?

    Cultural Preservation: How does a person weave his or her traditional culture into a new American identity?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    Somalis generally follow the Islamic religion, which has its own set of rules and practices its believers mus follow.  Muslim people are supposed to avoid pork and alcohol, in addition to other foods that are not processed according to Islamic law.  Women must dress modestly, including covering their hair with a headscarf.  Each person should pray at five set times each day and fast from dawn to dusk during the holy month of Ramadan. It is sometimes difficult to follow these rituals while living in the U.S.  However, as more and more Somalis have settled in Minnesota, there is a greater understanding and acceptance of Islamic practices.

    To learn more about Somali history and culture, visit our Somali Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Abdisalam Adam 11
    1:47 Minutes | 1.72Mb


    Narrator: Abdisalam Adam (AA)

    Interviewer: Andy Wilhide (AW)

    AW:  Compare back when you first came and how hard it was to find a place to pray to now. Do you find that more people are aware of what you need to do and what it means to be Muslim now?

    AA:  Right, that’s a good question. Of course, when the Somalis started coming to Minnesota, many mainstream Minnesotans had not had much contact with Muslims, so the idea of prayer, of fasting, of not eating pork, the woman’s hijab, wearing the head cover or hijab, all this was totally new to many Minnesotans. However, as I said earlier, as we say, “Minnesota nice.” As I mentioned earlier they’re very welcoming and open to understanding and finding out why you are doing this or why you are requiring this. A lot of the schools, for example, the school system, the social services, many of the employers all began to ask about who these new immigrants are, and we’re able to explain to them why we are doing this and how important it is for us. Once they understood that, they provided accommodations. It’s much easier in some buildings and some places where they are many Muslims and many Somalis, and they provide a room where prayer can be performed. And the fasting, also they know about that, when it’s time to eat at the end of the day, they do have arrangements for people to take their break or take time off. All this has been quite positive. So, today, I believe many Minnesotans do know about Muslims. They do know about the requirements. They have been very helpful and very understanding and very accommodating. I’m very grateful for that.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun:  An adjustment of differences; state of agreement; reconciliation; settlement.


    Noun:  The act or practice of abstaining from food or of eating very little food.


    Adjective:  Thankful; appreciative.


    Noun:  The headscarf worn by many Muslim women as part of the Islamic practice of dressing modestly.


    Noun:  A person who comes to a country to permanently settle from another country.


    Noun:  That which is common; the norm.

    Adjective:  Common; usual; conventional.


    Noun:  A person who is a follower and believer of the Islamic faith.

    Adjective:  Relating to believers of Islam.


    Verb:  To need; to call for as necessary.  (requires, requiring, required)


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 527