Mosque in Como neighborhood provides learning and worship

by Anna Ewart

Many students might not know it, but since 1997 there has been a mosque tucked in the heart of the Southeast Como neighborhood.

Dar Al-Farooq, which means House of Farooq in Arabic, is a mosque and community center located on 17th Avenue Southeast. Muslims from across the metro area practice and learn about their religion there.

Abdi Gonjobe, coordinator of educational and religious activities for Dar Al-Farooq, said the center offers classes, social services and other opportunities for people to learn about Islam. Classes about Islam are offered for both children and adults.

The adult classes are part of the Islamic University of Minnesota, an independent educational organization.

“It’s a pretty new program,” Gonjobe said. “I expect it to grow.”

He said between 10 and 15 people attend classes.

On Nov. 7, a group of high school students visited Dar Al-Farooq to learn about Islam, Gonjobe said.

Roughly 300 people visit the mosque regularly. According to the Islamic University of Minnesota, there are about 150,000 Muslims in Minnesota.

Within Dar Al-Farooq there is also a small library of well-known Islamic texts. Books are available in Arabic, English and various other languages.

Gonjobe, a Kenya native, said many of the mosque’s community members are Somali, but Muslims from across the world worship there too.

Sheikh Walid Idris gives daily sermons and lessons and on Fridays – the Islamic holy day – prayers are simultaneously translated into English from Arabic, which are broadcast into another room where women pray.

Later in the evening, worshippers can ask the Sheikh about his lectures and discuss religion.

Gonjobe said there are generally more visitors on Fridays, which is an opportunity for community members to socialize.

Second-year graduate student Zoya Gesina, a Ukraine native, said she has visited Dar Al-Farooq occasionally for the last year.

“I like it,” she said. “I feel peaceful there.”

She also said the center is a family place where women and children can go.

Dar Al-Farooq allows its community members to use its facilities to celebrate weddings and births.

In September, it held a rummage sale and Gonjobe said visitors donated more goods than the center could hold.

He also said the center would like to provide more social services like these to community members.

“There is a need for a bigger space,” he said.

The center’s board of directors has been considering expanding or moving Dar Al-Farooq, he said.

Some of the center’s community members live in the area. However, Gonjobe said it can be a difficult area to buy a house because many buildings are expensive or are rental properties.