Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights Ambassador Reflects on the Significance of Ramadan

Ramadan is a Muslim holy month that occurs on the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and lasts for 29 or 30 days. This year, Ramadan begins on May 27, 2017.  Last year the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights interviewed MDCR Ambassador Osman Ahmed to learn more about Ramadan celebrations.  As we gear up for this significant celebration, we invite you to check out Osman’s reflections below. 


Osmosman Aan Ahmed is a Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights Ambassador representing the Whitter and Lyndale neighborhoods and the Minneapolis Somali community.

Ahmed came to the Untied States and made Minnesota his home in 2004, as a refuge from Somalia.  He obtained a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science and International Studies at the University of Minnesota in 2012.  He started political organizing in 2008 by volunteering to register new voters. In 2012, he worked as an aide to Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim Congressman in America. Currently he works for United States Senator, Al Franken as a field Representative. 

Osman Ahmed comes to the ambassador program with extensive experience as a connector between the Somali community, government and nonprofit organizations. Ahmed is passionate about advancing civil rights protections and educating community. During Ramadan, Osman works to facilitate culture sharing experiences between Muslims and non-Muslims to  promote common humanity and equality for all.

Osman Ahmed’s Ramadan Reflections

What is Ramadan? 

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, where Muslims fast dawn to sunset with no food or drinks. Ramadan is act of worshiping Allah (God), and Muslims do extra worshiping during Ramadan such as praying more, reflecting on life, and paying extra attention to many things that happen throughout the year. Ramadan lasts for 29 or 30 days. 

How did Ramadan begin?

Ramadan coincides with when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (“Peace Be Upon Him”).  Because Muslims follow the lunar calendar, Ramadan does not start or end on the same date given the difference between the Islamic and Gagarin calendars.

How do you celebrate Ramadan?

Each year, Muslims fast 29 or 30 days, depending on the year, from dawn to dusk. We eat food when the sun sets at night, which is called Iftar or breaking the fast. After Iftar, Muslims pray  long prayer call Taraweeh. Muslims pray at home or at the mosques. During the prayer, an Imam, or leader of the prayer recites 1/30th of the Quran each night.  That way, attendees will have heard the entire Uuran recited during the month. On the last night of Ramadan, the leaders of Taraweeh conclude with the  last verses of the Quran. At the end of Ramadan, there is a huge celebration also known as Eid al-Fitr and there is great joy and happiness among Muslims families – the children in particular  because they get money on Eid day.  One of my favorite ways to celebrate Ramadan is by inviting my co-workers and friends who do not practice Islam to a dinner for a culture sharing experience. 

Why do you fast during Ramadan?

We, Muslims fast during Ramadan to reflect on life, to repent to Allah on sins that we commit as human beings, and to feel the hunger, and to remember the less fortunate people in our society. There are many people around the world who don’t have food, so Ramadan is when Muslims are to remember the less fortunate.  Ramadan always reminds me how fortunate I am to have food on the table, shelter over my head, and many other blessings. 

What are you favorite Minneapolis restaurants to visit during Ramadan celebrations?

Often I eat at home, as Ramadan is a great opportunity for families to eat together, pray together, and bond in ritual manners. However, sometimes I do go with friends to eat out at many of the buffet style restaurants in the Twin Cities.  Some of my favorites include, the Marina Grill, Safari Restaurant, Gandhi Mahal, Daalo Restaurant, and East Village Grill, and Kilamanjaro Restaurant. All of them prepare a plethora of tasteful food for those fast during Ramadan. Those are not fasting are also more than welcome to come eat and celebrate. 

The Minneapolis Civil Rights Ordinance specifies that it is illegal to discriminate based on  race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, age, marital status, and status with regard to public assistance. As a MDCR ambassador,  what inspires you to promote the message of common humanity  and educate your community of their civil rights protections?

 I believe its imperative to always remember we are humans first and we should always treat each other with respect and dignity. This belief drives me to be a civil rights champion. 


Join Osman,  become a MDCR Ambassador Today!

MDCR ambassadors are community liaisons, and play a critical role in ensuring the voice of the community is heard. The MDCR Ambassador Program focuses on educating and informing the community of its rights to file complaints of discrimination or police misconduct, become certified minority and women owned businesses and to otherwise engage with the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights.

Current employees of Nonprofit or For-Profit Community Organizations in Minneapolis that support principles of equal opportunity, non-discrimination and the objectives of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Ordinance are encouraged to  apply.  To learn more about the Ambassador Program, please fill out the contact form below.

Non Profit or For Profit Community Organization Employer


For reasonable accommodations or alternative formats please contact the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights at 612-673-2697. People who are deaf or hard of hearing can use a relay service to call 311 at 612-673-3000. TTY users call 612-673-2157 or 612-673-2626.   Para asistencia 612-673-2700 – Rau kev pab 612-673-2800 – Hadii aad Caawimaad u baahantahay 612-673-3500.


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