Pioneers and Changemakers: Imam Mohamed Omar
Imam Mohamed Omar serves as Executive Director of Dar al Farooq, the local mosque and community center. Following the 2017 bombing of Dar Al Farooq, Imam Omar embraced the role of public advocate for the local Muslim community.
“I know keenly that the hate that led to the bombing can only be defeated by championing change and building bridges between the Muslim community and the broader city of Bloomington and Minnesota,” he said.
Imam Omar, a native of Somalia, fled the country at the age of 15 to escape civil war. He says he knows hardship and hate first-hand and he has dedicated his life to abolishing both. Coming to America, Imam Omar was once again forced to adapt by learning English—his fourth language.
Omar’s activism and leadership goes beyond his role at Dar al Farooq. Imam Omar cofounded the Muslim Coalition of Faith in Minnesota and the Muslim Coalition of Isaiah to show the Muslim community ways to become more civically engaged.
He is a board member of Sakan Community Resources, a group dedicated to finding affordable housing for those in need. Omar is also a member of UADEEG, a relief group formed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. UADEEG has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in direct aid to communities in need, especially to seniors, through food and grocery delivery.
Omar also serves on Bloomington’s Human Rights Commission and the Housing Coalition. He is a father of six and has lived in Bloomington for nearly 10 years.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
A: It is when I impact other people’s lives for the better or speak for those who feel voiceless. For example, for people who are scared and feel like they can’t to come to the mosque anymore, we do programs with our neighbors and build bridges. They see it’s not all white people who don’t like them. When I can build those bridges and help people see that they are Bloomingtonians. That’s the most rewarding part when you see the change and you know you were a part of it.
Q: What advice would you give to young people just starting out?
A: First of all, be hopeful. The future holds a lot of good things. Whatever has happened in the past, we can learn from it, but that’s not the future. Having hope in the future and living with hope is important. Having ambition and dreams based on your hopes and not your fear is more rewarding and uplifting. The more hope you have, the more you can achieve. Spread love. When bad times come, remember that good comes after the bad. Stay strong and work hard.