For many, the annual Minnesota Muslim Convention in Minneapolis is like a homecoming.
“It's something I love about Minnesota — I'm related to 50 percent of the people,” joked Canadian-raised emcee Boonaa Mohammed between speakers at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Saturday morning.
For 18 years, the convention has brought together Muslims from across the state and beyond. Lead organizer Amina Adan describes it as a “spiritual retreat.”
“People come in and get information, but also regroup and think about what's going on with our modern day and our Muslim community in Minnesota,” said Adan.
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Around 8,000 people attended this year’s convention, according to Adan.
The schedule included lectures with 68 speakers on navigating life with faith, as well as a Quran recital competition and a Muslim singles social event.
Wares at a multicultural bazaar ranged from henna to Turkish-imported furniture to modest activewear. Other booths educated attendees on opportunities like culturally relevant children’s books or Islamic financing companies, which offer interest-free mortgages in accordance with Muslim beliefs.
“There's just beautiful people who live around the Cities that you hardly see,” said real estate agent Fatoun Ali. “And this is a time that they all come together and celebrate events and bring their ideas and businesses.”
Ali pointed out the range of vendors reflecting immigrants from the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The convention included sessions in Somali, Oromo, Amharic and Arabic to be inclusive of languages spoken by Muslim people in Minnesota.
With family-friendly entertainment — including a kids’ arcade and babysitting area — people of all ages participated at the Minnesota Muslim Convention.
Many youths said the convention made them feel inspired.
“It's nice to see a lot of people just like me, or similar to me, all at one place at one time,” said high school sophomore Nayad Ahmed, who volunteered helping with babysitting at the convention. “That, you know, shows us the unity.”