Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Little mosque on the prairie

by HPR Contributor | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Culture | August 12th, 2016

By Tessa Torgeson

There is a piece of history smack dab amidst the seas of wheat and corn, cattle, and derricks in northwestern North Dakota. A crescent moon and star fence along with a tiny cinder block structure with an aluminum dome and minarets pierce the vast blue sky. This structure was the first mosque built in America, right on the outskirts of the 90-person town of Ross, North Dakota, in the oil patch.

Although it is not active, President Obama mentioned this beautiful hidden gem when he was reflecting upon the history of American Muslims in February during his first visit to a mosque.

Syrian-Lebanese immigrants built the original mosque in 1929, settling in North Dakota because of The Homestead Act. While North Dakota is known as a Christian state with predominantly German, Russian, and Scandinavian immigrants, Islam is actually the second-most practiced religion in North Dakota. This was a surprising statistic found in The Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies census that was recently published in The Washington Post.

According to the Islamic Society of Fargo-Moorhead, there are about 6000 Muslims in the Red River Valley alone. Even though the number of Muslims on the oil patch is unknown and the mosque fell into disrepair, it was replaced in 2005 thanks to a collaboration between the founder's’ descendants and neighboring Christians. The mosque and grounds are still maintained by retired electrician Richard Omar, the son of the founders.

Just like nearby rural Christian churches, there is also a cemetery surrounding the mosque. Traditional Islamic names like Omar are etched into tombstones along with Norwegian ones like Benson. While it is true that death is the great equalizer, this also illustrates that differing religions and cultures have been quietly coexisting for over a century even in prairies of the Midwest. This is tangible proof that unity is possible even in a divisive, turbulent political landscape where Muslims are victims of discrimination, hate crimes, and even an immigration ban proposed by presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Unfortunately, Trump and his followers use the terroristic actions of fringe Islamic extremists to define the entire Islamic religion, thus discriminating and stereotyping the Muslim community. Prejudice against Muslims also called Islamophobia is “the last sanctioned racism,” writes Edward Said, author of “Covering Islam.” Even though violence is a violation of the central tenets of Islam, the mainstream media do not portray it as a peaceful religion, though they are quick to dismiss Christian terrorism as the work of extremists.

As the golden light dances upon the dome of the mosque while the sun sinks into the horizon and cicadas hum in nearby fields, it is sad to believe that people vilify Islam as a violent religion.

This little mosque on the prairie is a lesson that the ties that bind us together are greater than the ones that threaten to break us apart.

Recently in:

By the time this article is published, all the major new outlets in the area will have reported on the May 30th protest in Fargo demanding change and justice after the needless killing of George Floyd, as well as its aftermath. …

by Sonja ThompsonDebra Ruh is the CEO and Founder of Ruh Global IMPACT, a consulting firm that strives to help clients amplify their impact and become disability inclusion leaders. She also serves as the Chair of the United…

Best Bets

Ladies Ag Night

by HPR Staff

Thursday, March 19, 4:30- 8 pm1609 19th Ave N, FargoCass County Soil Conservation District is hosting their annual Ladies’ Ag Night supper event. This event has a goal of bringing together multiple generations of women involved…

by Sofia Makarova and Massimo Sassi The global pandemic is an incredibly challenging time for many. Nearlyone in every three Americans’ jobs have been affected, whether a temporary layoff, a permanent job loss, or a reduction in…

The Death of Empire by A Thousand CutsSome empires last longer than others. Rome was one. The Chinese empire died the death of a thousand cuts they made famous a thousand years ago. But the Chinese heart that was sliced centuries…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

It goes without saying that Valentine’s Day is the most profitable of all the holidays and the one with the most tortured history, literally. It is confusing how an ancient Roman festival that involved sacrificing animals and…

Fargo obviously loves their classical music. Audiences have still turned out during the 2019-2020 season of the Sanford Masterworks Series performed by the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra despite an unrelenting winter. That…

Well-deserved praise for writer-director Amy Seimetz’s efficient and provocative “She Dies Tomorrow” almost inevitably points to the film’s eerie timeliness as a metaphor for pandemic-inspired malaise and disequilibrium.…

This weekend, the 10th Annual Unglued Craft Fest will be held at the Plains Art Museum, featuring over 70 local and regional artists selling handmade items. Though most are Fargo-Moorhead residents, artists from Minneapolis, Sioux…

Theatre

Fargo Film Festival 2020

by HPR Contributor

by Dominic EricksonThis March, the Fargo Film Festival will celebrate its 20th year of entertaining die-hard cinephiles and casual moviegoers alike. The festival begins on March 17 and concludes March 21. The event is once again…

by Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comAdam Quesnell's last show at The Cellar beneath the Front Street Taproom in Fargo was in early September of 2018. He was embarking on a seminal move from Minneapolis to LA. As always, his comedy was…

by Jill Finkelsonjsfinkelson99@gmail.comFar North Spirits, located up in Hallock, MN, is the northernmost distillery in the lower 48. They may be young in the distillery world but the farm and the spirit reach far into the past.…

Wellness

Discover Yoga Differently

by HPR Contributor

by Laurie J Bakeremsdatter@gmail.com Part of modern yoga is participating in the world around us. We live in a time of upheaval in society and nature, and of great suffering in humans of all ages. Most of us perceive this suffering…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

“(Kafka’s) world knows no physical or moral order…We, the readers, are reliving our bad dreams…punishment is over all the characters, but the crime remains mysteriously hidden…” - William Hubben“The specter of color is…