In the Name of Allah, The Beneficent,
What is Islam's presence in the United States?
It is almost impossible to generalize about American Muslims:
converts, immigrants, factory workers, doctors; all are making
their own contribution to America's future. This complex community
is unified by a common faith, underpinned by a countrywide
network of a thousand mosques.
Muslims were early arrivals in North America. By the eighteenth
century there were many thousands of them, working as slaves
on plantations. These early communities, cut off from their
heritage and families, inevitably lost their Islamic identity
as time went by. Today many Afro-American Muslims play an
important role in the Islamic community.
The nineteenth century, however, saw the beginnings of an
influx of Arab Muslims, most of whom settled in the major
industrial centers where they worshipped in hired rooms. The
early twentieth century witnessed the arrival of several hundred
thousand Muslims from Eastem Europe: the first Albanian mosque
was opened in Maine in 1915; others soon followed, and a group
of Polish Muslims opened a mosque in Brooklyn in 1928.
In 1947 the Washington Islamic Center was founded during
the term of President Truman, and several nationwide organizations
were set up in the fifties. The same period saw the establishment
of other communities whose lives were in many ways modelled
after Islam. More recently, numerous members of these groups
have entered the fold of Muslim orthodoxy. Today there are
about five million Muslims in America.