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American Muslims

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 Eastern 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 modeled 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.

Who are the American Muslims?

There are over 8 million Muslims who live in the United States, representing every race, ethnicity and culture. They come from all social demographics, and contribute to American society as entrepreneurs, engineers, industrialists, physicians, scientists and teachers. Many were born in the United States; others migrated to America seeking a better life.

The first Muslims in America were West Africans who traded with Native American tribes prior to Columbus. Later, large numbers of African Muslims were forcibly brought to the US to work on plantations as slaves. Very few retained their Islamic identity.

Today, many African Americans are rediscovering their Islamic heritage. From the 1930′s onward, the Nation of Islam (a different faith, not related to Islam) played a major role in bringing African Americans to mainstream Islam. Many who joined the Nation, such as Malcolm X, left it after realizing that the true teachings of Islam were universal and not restricted to a chosen race of people.

Like their fellow countrymen, American Muslims were shocked and saddened when terrorists attacked their homeland on September 11th, 2001. In today’s post 9-11 America, Muslims have taken on a new role – bridging the gap between the Muslim world and America, and educating the rest of America about the true and peaceful nature of Islam.

The American Muslim Life

Life portrays a unique aspect of being an American Muslim living in post 9/11 United States of America. The following segments are thought-provoking and somewhat hilarious videos that capture the challenges facing American Muslims.

An Introduction to American Muslims

A national conversation is needed on the role of Islam and Muslims in our country, as it has taken place in the past on American Jews, Irish Americans, Italian American, Japanese Americans, African Americans and many other groups.  In order for such a conversation to take place, we provide this brief introduction to Muslim America to share the history, accomplishments and demographics of Muslim Americans.

We hope that you will download the special report below and utilize it as a clear window into the Muslim American experience.  Who will benefit from it?  Everyone will, especially policy makers, civil society groups, media professionals, interfaith groups, educators and all those interested in having a nuanced and balanced look at our community and its rich history in our nation.

We are proud of the Muslim Public Affairs Council for its  “Introduction to Muslim America” which will spark a broader conversation and will help in clearing the fog of misinformation.  We ask you to read and share this document with all those who are seeking a way forward as we go through this journey together as Americans and people of conscience. 

 “An Introduction to Muslim America” (PDF format)


The Colors of Veil

Arab in America

Kimberly King is a former US soldier who ultimately found her identity in wearing the veil. She also became a vanguard of the growing American-Muslim community.

“Arab in America” chronicles the journey of an American-born character named, “Osama AhmedAbou-Bakr” and his plight to find a job in America’s post-9/11atmosphere.

The Teacher

Lady Like / Two Faiths One Film

A brief look at a high school physics teacher who provides his students with a different view of Muslims.

Sometimes it is the person you least expect who will give you the shirt off of their back.


Green Blue Sea / Youth Story

Where is the “Islam” Section?

An inspirational profile of a young Muslim Scuba Diver with a deep love and respect for the sea and the world.

Why is it so hard to find books about Islam? …inspired by a real-life trip to the bookstore.