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Physical and Symbolic Space
“The First One That We Bought”: A New Building and Community Ownership
The physical space of the masjid carries many meanings. Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center is located on a relatively busy street in Faribault, among homes and businesses in a low brick building that previously housed the business Marathon Multimedia. The sign in front of the masjid bears the business’ name, and nothing on the outside of the building would signify to an outsider that it is a mosque. However, most, if not all, Somalis in the area know that this is the masjid, and many Americans in town seem to know this as well.
When talking about the physical space of the masjid, many attendees emphasized with pride that the building is owned, not rented, by the people of the masjid. When asked what made the masjid special to him, Bashir, a Somali liaison to the Faribault schools who also helps with education at the masjid, said: "This masjid is our community. It’s the first one that we bought. And it’s very close to where I live, so I always come here to pray all the time."
This masjid is our community. It’s the first one that we bought. And it’s very close to where I live, so I always come here to pray all the time. —Bashir
Community ownership of the building is a fairly new development in the masjid’s history: it existed in rented space in a business park until July 2013, when it moved to its current building. People seemed very proud that the community owned the masjid, partly because it gives the masjid its own permanent space in Faribault. The masjid is now part of the city in a more permanent way than before. And while most people who come to the masjid rent their homes, they own the masjid together with others in the community. One of the imams at the masjid said: "This masjid is not owned by one person, this masjid is for the community, for the Muslim community…for the people…so that they can worship here…There’s no difference—everybody’s the same, when it comes to Islam."
This masjid is not owned by one person, this masjid is for the community, for the Muslim community…for the people…so that they can worship here…There’s no difference—everybody’s the same, when it comes to Islam. —An imam at Abubakar
The masjid has two levels, a ground floor and a finished basement, including separate prayer areas for men and women. Its basic layout is unchanged from when it was a business, although masjid members mentioned plans to remodel parts of the building when the community has paid it off, which will take two to three more years. These remodeling efforts will include installing areas for people to wash when they make wudu, or ritual ablutions, before each of their five daily prayers. This involves washing the face, hands, arms, and feet, and currently people must do it in the bathrooms. This makes the foot-washing portion of wudu particularly difficult. Younger people have to put their feet in the sinks, and older, less-flexible people pour water on their feet on the floor. A fundraising effort selling food and soda during events at the masjid is helping to raise money to pay off the building, add areas for foot-washing, and make other changes.
For more information on the history of the masjid, see History of Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center.