They have to make some accommodations.: Becoming Minnesotan

Male silhouette.
  • Name - Hared Mah
  • Age at interview - 23
  • Gender - Male
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 06.03.2004
  • Girls with Somali flag, Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis, June 2004.
    Somali girl cooking for a party, Brian Coyle Community Center, Minneapolis.

    Culture Clash, Religion, Somali

    Essential Question

    Becoming Americans: What does it mean to be an American?

    Problems in America: What could have helped this person’s adjustment in the U.S.?

    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 Hared Mah 7
    1:23 Minutes | 1.32Mb


    Narrator: Hared Mah (HM)

    Interviewer: Andy Wilhide (AW)

    AW:  You kind of talked about the challenges that you faced learning English, getting to know the system, like the bus system, and how to get around. What are some challenges about culture?

    HM:  I would say, generally, we are a Muslim community, a Muslim society, and the cultures are different. In terms of religion, sometimes, it’s very hard. You have to pray and you have to follow your religion. The environment is different, so it’s very hard, especially if you’re going to school or maybe working someplace. Yes, it’s very hard, because many Americans may not know about… Yes, everybody has religion, but the requirements may be different for each religion. There are also certain foods you have to avoid. You have to explain all that stuff. That’s a little bit challenging.

    I would say, also, like there is some other things that maybe people do in America but most Somalis or people consider it un-Islamic. There’s a little bit of conflict maybe sometimes between parents and their kids, what they do and all that stuff. It's very hard. They have to make some accommodations. Some people are not willing to make it.

    Related Glossary Terms


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


    Noun:  A group of people who share a common understanding of the same language, manners, tradition and law.


    Noun:  The arts, customs, and habits that characterize a particular society or nation.


    Noun:  A particular political or social setting, arena or condition.


    Adjective:  Pertaining to the religion of Islam, a monotheistic religion that originated with the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad having the same roots as Christianity and Judaism.


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

    Adjective:  Relating to believers of Islam.


    Noun:  The people of one’s country or community taken as a whole.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 535