Minnesota Muslims find safe place to recover from alcohol addiction: the mosque

Munira Maalimisaq was a nursing student when a volunteer stint at a detox center opened her eyes to alcohol abuse among Somali community members

In the midst of her struggle with alcoholism, a local 20-year-old Somali woman didn’t know where to find help. She was overwhelmed with guilt while attending mosque for religious observances.

“That’s a feeling you tend to feel when you’re in a situation that you shouldn’t be in,” said the woman, who asked not to be named because of the stigma that substance abuse carries in the Muslim community.

Alcohol abuse carries stigma in practically all communities. But for many Muslims, that is often magnified because Islam prohibits alcohol consumption of any kind.

The same place that caused the woman deep shame later offered her a lifeline. She noticed a group of people meeting in the mosque regularly to support each other. Soon, she was attending the weekly meetings and sharing her own experiences with alcoholism.

“I was a little hesitant at first, but I knew I was in a situation I didn’t want to be in anymore,” she said.

Those meetings were founded four years ago by Munira Maalimisaq. Maalimisaq stumbled upon the unusual concept of bringing substance-abuse treatment to mosques while studying for her nursing degree at Metro State University.

Today, the Muslim support groups draw more than 60 attendees who meet in two groups at two Twin Cities-area mosques.


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