Nasimco Scholarship Essays

Total population
3.3 million (1% of the U.S. population, 2016)
Regions with significant populations
Religion
Islam
(majority Sunni, also Shia, Sufi, non-denominational, Ahmadiyya, Ibadi, Nation of Islam, Five Percenters, Moorish scientists, Quranic Movement, Liberals)

Islam is the third largest religion in the United States after Christianity and Judaism.[1] According to a 2010 study, it is followed by 0.9% of the population, compared to 70.6% who follow Christianity, 22.8% unaffiliated, 1.9% Judaism, 0.7% Buddhism, and 0.7% Hinduism.[1][2] According to a new estimate in 2016, there are 3.3 million Muslims living in the United States, about 1% of the total U.S. population.[3]

American Muslims come from various backgrounds and, according to a 2009 Gallup poll, are one of the most racially diverse religious groups in the United States.[4] Native-born American Muslims are mainly African Americans who make up about a quarter of the total Muslim population. Many of these have converted to Islam during the last seventy years. Conversion to Islam in large urban areas[5] has also contributed to its growth over the years.

While an estimated 10 to 30 percent[6][7] of the slaves brought to colonial America from Africa arrived as Muslims,[8][9] Islam was stringently suppressed on plantations.[6] Prior to the late 19th century, most documented non-enslaved Muslims in North America were merchants, travelers, and sailors.[8]

From the 1880s to 1914, several thousand Muslims immigrated to the United States from the former territories of the Ottoman Empire and the former Mughal Empire.[10] The Muslim population of the U.S. increased dramatically in the 20th century, with much of the growth driven by a comparatively high birth rate and immigrant communities of mainly Arab and South Asian descent. About 72% of American Muslims are immigrants or "second generation".[11][12]

In 2005, more people from Muslim-majority countries became legal permanent United States residents—nearly 96,000—than there had been in any other year in the previous two decades.[13][14] In 2009, more than 115,000 Muslims became legal residents of the United States.[15]

History

Early records

One of the earliest accounts of Islam's possible presence in North America dates to 1528, when a Moroccan slave, called Estevanico, was shipwrecked near present-day Galveston, Texas.[16] He and four survivors subsequently traveled through much of the American southwest and the Mexican interior before reaching Mexico City.

"Muslims' presence [in the United States] is affirmed in documents dated more than a century before religious liberty became the law of the land, as in a Virginia statute of 1682 which referred to 'negroes, moores, molatoes, and others, born of and in heathenish, idollatrous, pagan, and Mahometan parentage and country' who 'heretofore and hereafter may be purchased, procured, or otherwise obteigned, as slaves.'"[17]

An early Egyptian and possible Muslim immigrant is mentioned in the accounts of the Dutch settlers of the Catskill Mountains and recorded in the 1884 History of Greene County, New York. According to this tradition, an Egyptian named "Norsereddin" settled in the Catskills in the vicinity of the Catskill Mountain House. He befriended the local indigenous American chief, Shandaken, and sought the hand of his daughter Lotowana in marriage. Rejected, he poisoned Lotowana and in consequence was caught and burned alive.[18][19]

American Revolution and thereafter

Records from the American Revolutionary War indicate that at least a few likely Muslims fought on the American side. Among the recorded names of American soldiers are "Yusuf ben Ali" and "Bampett Muhamed".[20]

The first country to recognize the United States as an independent nation was the Sultanate of Morocco, under its ruler Mohammed ben Abdallah, in the year 1777.[21] He maintained several correspondences with President George Washington.

On December 9, 1805, President Thomas Jefferson hosted an Iftar dinner at the White House for his guest Sidi Soliman Mellimelli, an envoy from Tunis.[22]

Bilali (Ben Ali) Muhammad was a Fula Muslim from Timbo, Futa-Jallon, in present-day Guinea-Conakry, who arrived at Sapelo Island during 1803. While enslaved, he became the religious leader and Imam for a slave community numbering approximately eighty Muslim men residing on his plantation. During the War of 1812, Muhammad and the eighty Muslim men under his leadership protected their master's Sapelo Island property from a British attack.[23] He is known to have fasted during the month of Ramadan, worn a fez and kaftan, and observed the Muslim feasts, in addition to consistently performing the five obligatory prayers.[24] In 1829, Bilali authored a thirteen-page Arabic Risala on Islamic beliefs and the rules for ablution, morning prayer, and the calls to prayer. Known as the Bilali Document, it is currently housed at the University of Georgia in Athens.

Between 1785 and 1815, over a hundred American sailors were held for ransom in Algiers. Several wrote captivity narratives of their experiences that gave most Americans their first view of the Arab World and Muslim ways, and newspapers often commented on them. The views were generally negative. Royall Tyler wrote The Algerine Captive (1797), an early American novel depicting the life of an American doctor employed in the slave trade who himself is captured and enslaved by Barbary pirates. Finally Presidents Jefferson and Madison sent the American navy to confront the pirates, and ended the threat in 1815 during the First Barbary War.[25][26][27] During negotiation of the treaty of peace which ended hostilities, American envoys made clear that the United States had no animosity towards any Muslim country.

Nineteenth century

On the morning of April 4, 1865, near the end of the American Civil War, Union troops commanded by Col. Thomas M. Johnston set ablaze the University of Alabama; a copy of the Quran known as the The Koran: Commonly Called The Alcoran Of Mohammed was saved by one of the University's staff.[28]

Two hundred and ninety-two[29] Muslims are known to have fought during the Civil War. The highest ranking Muslim officer during the War was Captain Moses Osman.[30] Nicholas Said, formerly enslaved to an Arab master, came to the United States in 1860 and found a teaching job in Detroit. In 1863, Said enlisted in the 55th Massachusetts Colored Regiment in the United States Army and rose to the rank of sergeant. He was later granted a transfer to a military hospital, where he gained some knowledge of medicine. His Army records state that he died in Brownsville, Tennessee, in 1882.[31] Another Muslim soldier from the Civil War was Max Hassan, an African who worked for the military as a porter.[32]

A Muslim named Hajj Ali (commonly spelled as "Hi Jolly") was hired by the United States Cavalry in 1856 to tend camels in Arizona and California. He would later become a prospector in Arizona.[33][34] Hajj Ali died in 1903.[31]

During the American Civil war, the "scorched earth" policy of the North destroyed churches, farms, schools, libraries, colleges, and a great deal of other property. The libraries at the University of Alabama managed to save one book from the debris of their library buildings. On the morning of April 4, 1865, when Federal troops reached the campus with an order to destroy the university, Andre Deloffre, a modern language professor and custodian of the library, appealed to the commanding officer to spare one of the finest libraries in the South. The officer, being sympathetic, sent a courier to Gen. Croxton at his headquarters in Tuscaloosa asking permission to save the Rotunda, but the general refused to allow this. The officer reportedly said, "I will save one volume as a memento of this occasion." The volume selected was a rare copy of the Qur'an.[35]

Alexander Russell Webb is considered by historians to be the earliest prominent Anglo-American convert to Islam in 1888. In 1893, he was the sole representative of Islam at the first Parliament of the World's Religions.[36] The Russian-born Muslim scholar and writer Achmed Abdullah (1881–1945) was another prominent early American Muslim.[37]

Slaves

Some of the slaves brought to colonial America from Africa were Muslims whose ancestors were converted to Islam by Arab invaders when they conquered most of North Africa.[6][10] Between 1701 and 1800, some 500,000 Africans arrived in what became the United States.[38] Historians estimate that between 15 and 30 percent of all enslaved African men and less than 15 percent of the enslaved African women were Muslims. According to 21st century researchers Donna Meigs-Jaques and R. Kevin Jaques, "[t]hese enslaved Muslims stood out from their compatriots because of their resistance, determination and education."[39]

It is estimated that over 50% of the slaves imported to North America came from areas where Islam was followed by at least a minority population. Thus, no less than 200,000 came from regions influenced by Islam. Substantial numbers originated from Senegambia, a region with an established community of Muslim inhabitants extending to the 11th century.[40]

Through a series of conflicts, primarily with the Fulanijihad states, about half of the Senegambian Mandinka were converted to Islam, while as many as a third were sold into slavery to the Americas through capture in conflict.[41]

Michael A. Gomez speculated that Muslim slaves may have accounted for "thousands, if not tens of thousands", but does not offer a precise estimate. He also suggests many non-Muslim slaves were acquainted with some tenets of Islam, due to Muslim trading and proselytizing activities.[42] Historical records indicate many enslaved Muslims conversed in the Arabic language. Some even composed literature (such as autobiographies) and commentaries on the Quran.[43]

Some newly arrived Muslim slaves assembled for communal salat (prayers). Some were provided a private praying area by their owner. The two best documented Muslim slaves were Ayuba Suleiman Diallo and Omar Ibn Said. Suleiman was brought to America in 1731 and returned to Africa in 1734.[40] Like many Muslim slaves, he often encountered impediments when attempting to perform religious rituals and was eventually allotted a private location for prayer by his master.[43]

Omar Ibn Said (ca. 1770–1864) is among the best documented examples of a practicing-Muslim slave. He lived on a colonial North Carolina plantation and wrote many Arabic texts while enslaved. Born in the kingdom of Futa Tooro (modern Senegal), he arrived in America in 1807, one month before the U.S. abolished importation of slaves. Some of his works include the Lords Prayer, the Bismillah, this is How You Pray, Quranic phases, the 23rd Psalm, and an autobiography. In 1857, he produced his last known writing on Surah 110 of the Quran. In 1819, Omar received an Arabic translation of the Christian Bible from his master, James Owen. Omar converted to Christianity in 1820, an episode widely used throughout the South to "prove" the benevolence of slavery. However, some scholars believe he continued to be a practicing Muslim, based on dedications to Muhammad written in his Bible.[44][45]

  • Ayuba Suleiman Diallo was the son of an Imam of Boonda in Africa, before being enslaved.

  • Omar Ibn Said was an Islamic scholar from Senegal.

Religious freedom

Views of Islam in America affected debates regarding freedom of religion during the drafting of the state constitution of Pennsylvania in 1776. Constitutionalists promoted religious toleration while Anticonstitutionalists called for reliance on Protestant values in the formation of the state's republican government. The former group won out, and inserted a clause for religious liberty in the new state constitution. American views of Islam were influenced by favorable Enlightenment writings from Europe, as well as Europeans who had long warned that Islam was a threat to Christianity and republicanism.[46]

In 1776, John Adams published "Thoughts on Government," in which he mentions the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a "sober inquirer after truth" alongside Confucius, Zoroaster, Socrates, and other thinkers.

In 1785, George Washington stated a willingness to hire "Mahometans," as well as people of any nation or religion, to work on his private estate at Mount Vernon if they were "good workmen."[47]

In 1790, the South Carolina legislative body granted special legal status to a community of Moroccans.

In 1797, President John Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli, declaring the United States had no "character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen".[48]

In his autobiography, published in 1791, Benjamin Franklin stated that he "did not disapprove" of a meeting place in Pennsylvania that was designed to accommodate preachers of all religions. Franklin wrote that "even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service."[49] Franklin also wrote an anti-slavery parody piece claiming to be translation of the response of a government official at Algiers to a 17th-century petition to banish slavery there; the piece develops the theme that Europeans are specially suited for enslavement on cultural and religious grounds, and that there would be practical problems with abolishing slavery in North Africa; this satirizes similar arguments that were then made about the enslavement of Blacks in North America.[50]

Thomas Jefferson defended religious freedom in America including those of Muslims. Jefferson explicitly mentioned Muslims when writing about the movement for religious freedom in Virginia. In his autobiography Jefferson wrote "[When] the [Virginia] bill for establishing religious freedom... was finally passed,... a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word 'Jesus Christ,' so that it should read 'a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion.' The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend within the mantle of its protection the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination."[51] While President, Jefferson also participated in an iftar with the Ambassador of Tunisia in 1809.[52]

Anti-Islam suppositions

However, not all politicians were pleased with the religious neutrality of the Constitution, which prohibited any religious test. Anti-Federalists in the 1788 North Carolina ratifying convention opposed the new constitution; one reason was the fear that some day Catholics or Muslims might be elected president. William Lancaster said:.[53]

Let us remember that we form a government for millions not yet in existence.... In the course of four or five hundred years, I do not know how it will work. This is most certain, that Papists may occupy that chair, and Mahometans may take it. I see nothing against it.

Indeed, in 1788 many opponents of the Constitution pointed to the Middle East, especially the Ottoman Empire as a negative object lesson against standing armies and centralized state authority.[54]

Modern Muslims

Small-scale migration to the U.S. by Muslims began in 1840, with the arrival of Yemenis and Turks,[40] and lasted until World War I. Most of the immigrants, from Arab areas of the Ottoman Empire, came with the purpose of making money and returning to their homeland. However, the economic hardships of 19th-century America prevented them from prospering, and as a result the immigrants settled in the United States permanently. These immigrants settled primarily in Dearborn, Michigan; Quincy, Massachusetts; and Ross, North Dakota. Ross, North Dakota is the site of the first documented mosque and Muslim Cemetery, but it was abandoned and later torn down in the mid-1970s. A new mosque was built in its place in 2005.[36]

  • 1906: Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) in Chicago, Illinois, started the Džemijetul Hajrije (Jamaat al-Khayriyya) (The Benevolent Society; a social service organization devoted to Bosnian Muslims). This is the longest lasting incorporated Muslim community in the United States. They met in Bosnian coffeehouses and eventually opened the first Islamic Sunday School with curriculum and textbooks under Bosnian scholar Sheikh Ćamil Avdić (Kamil Avdich) (a graduate of al-Azhar and author of Survey of Islamic Doctrines).
  • 1907: Lipka Tatar immigrants from the Podlasie region of Poland founded the first Muslim organization in New York City, the American Mohammedan Society.[55]
  • 1915: What is most likely the first American mosque was founded by Albanian Muslims in Biddeford, Maine. A Muslim cemetery still exists there.[56][57]
  • 1920: First Islamic mission station was established by Mufti Muhammad Sadiq, an IndianAhmadi Muslim missionary, followed by the building of the Al-Sadiq Mosque in 1921.
  • 1929: The Ross Masjid in North Dakota was founded by Syrian Muslims, there is still a cemetery nearby.[58]
  • 1934: The first building built specifically to be a mosque is established in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Mosque is where Abdullah Igram a notable Muslim veteran would teach the Quran, Abdullah Igram later wrote a letter to President Eisenhower persuading him to add the M option (for Muslims) on military dog tags.
  • 1945: A mosque existed in Dearborn, Michigan, home to the largest Arab-American population in the U.S.

Construction of mosques sped up in the 1920s and 1930s, and by 1952, there were over 20 mosques.[36] Although the first mosque was established in the U.S. in 1915, relatively few mosques were founded before the 1960s. Eighty-seven percent of mosques in the U.S. were founded within the last three decades according to the Faith Communities Today (FACT) survey. California has more mosques than any other state.

Chinese Muslims, known as Hui, have immigrated to the United States and lived within the Chinese community rather than integrating into other foreign Muslim communities. Two of the most prominent Chinese American Muslims are the Republic of ChinaNational Revolutionary Army Generals Ma Hongkui and his son Ma Dunjing, who moved to Los Angeles after fleeing from China to Taiwan. Pai Hsien-yung, son of the Chinese Muslim General Bai Chongxi, is a Chinese Muslim writer who moved to Santa Barbara, California after fleeing from China to Taiwan. And the Chinese Muslim artist Zhang Hongtu has become internationally known for his paintings and sculptures.

In the year 1857, the Mughal Empire was dissolved after the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and many children and grandchildren of the last Mughal EmperorBahadur Shah II were killed during the conflict. And in the 20th century some descendants of his surviving children emigrated to the United States.[59]

Sub-groups

Ahmadiyya

Main article: Ahmadiyya in the United States

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the oldest continuous Muslim community in the United States. Ahmadi Muslims were among the earliest Muslim missionaries in America, the first being Mufti Muhammad Sadiq, and between 1921 and 1925 alone they converted over 1000 people to Islam. Although at first their efforts were broadly concentrated at over large number of racial and ethnic groups, subsequent realization of the deep-seated racial tensions and discrimination made Ahmadi missionaries focus their attention on mainly African Americans and the Muslim immigrant community and became vocal proponents of the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Many Ahmadi Muslims fled countries like Pakistan due to persecution in recent times.[60]

Black Muslim movements

Further information: Black Muslims and American Society of Muslims

During the first half of the 20th century, a small number of African Americans established groups based on Islamic and Gnostic teachings. The first of such groups created was the Moorish Science Temple of America, founded by Timothy Drew (Drew Ali) in 1913. Drew taught that black people were of Moorish origin but their Muslim identity was taken away through slavery and racial segregation, advocating the return to Islam of their Moorish ancestry.[61]

Moorish Science Temple of America

Main article: Moorish Science Temple of America

The Moorish Science Temple is an American organization founded in 1913 by Prophet Noble Drew Ali, whose name at birth was Timothy Drew. He claimed it was a sect of Islam but he also drew inspiration from Buddhism, Christianity, Gnosticism, and Taoism. Its significant divergences from mainstream Islam and strong African-American ethnic character[62] make its classification as an Islamic denomination a matter of debate among Muslims and scholars of religion.

Its primary tenet was the belief that they are the ancient Moabites who inhabited the Northwestern and Southwestern shores of Africa. The organization also believes that their descendants after being conquered in Spain are slaves who were captured and held in slavery from 1779–1865 by their slaveholders.

Although often criticized as lacking scientific merit, adherents of the Moorish Science Temple of America believe that the Negroid Asiatic was the first human inhabitant of the Western Hemisphere. In their religious texts adherents refer to themselves as "Asiatics",[63] presumably referring to the non-MongoloidPaleoamericans (see Luzia Woman). These adherents also call themselves "indigenous Moors", "American Moors" or "Moorish Americans" in contradistinction to "African Moors" or "African Americans".

Nation of Islam

Main article: Nation of Islam

The Nation of Islam (NOI) was created in 1930 by Wallace Fard Muhammad. Fard drew inspiration for NOI doctrines from those of Timothy Drew's Moorish Science Temple of America. He provided three main principles which serve as the foundation of the NOI: "Allah is God, the white man is the devil and the so-called Negroes are the Asiatic Black People, the cream of the planet earth".

In 1934 Elijah Muhammad became the leader of the NOI, he deified Fard, saying that he was an incarnation of God, and taught that he was a prophet who had been taught directly by God in the form of Fard. Two of the most famous people to join the NOI were Malcolm X, who became the face of the NOI in the media, and Muhammad Ali, who, while initially rejected, was accepted into the group shortly after his first world heavyweight championship victory.[64][65] Both Malcolm X and Ali later became Sunni Muslims.

Malcolm X was one of the most influential leaders of the NOI and, in accordance with NOI doctrine, advocated the complete separation of blacks from whites.[66] He left the NOI after being silenced for 90 days (due to a controversial comment on the John F. Kennedy assassination), and proceeded to form Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity before his pilgrimage to Mecca and conversion to Sunni Islam. He is viewed as the first person to start the movement among African Americans towards Sunni Islam.

It was estimated that there were at least 20,000 members in 2006.[67] However, today the group has a wide influence in the African American community. The first Million Man March took place in Washington, D.C. in 1995 and was followed later by another one in 2000 which was smaller in size but more inclusive, welcoming individuals other than just African American men.[68] The group sponsors cultural and academic education, economic independence, and personal and social responsibility.

The Nation of Islam has received a great deal of criticism for its anti-white, anti-Christian, and anti-semitic teachings,[69] and is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.[70]

Five-Percent Nation

Main article: Five-Percent Nation

The Five-Percent Nation, sometimes referred to as NGE or NOGE, the "Nation of Gods and Earths", or the "Five Percenters", is an American organization founded in 1964 in the Harlem section of the borough of Manhattan, New York City, by a former member of the Nation of Islam named Clarence 13X (born Clarence Edward Smith and later known as "Allah the Father"). Clarence 13X, a former student of Malcolm X, left the Nation of Islam after a theological dispute with the Nation's leaders over the nature and identity of God.[71] Specifically, Clarence 13X denied that the Nation's biracial founder Wallace Fard Muhammad was Allah and instead taught that the black man was himself God personified.[71]

Members of the group call themselves Allah's Five Percenters, which reflects the concept that ten percent of the people in the world know the truth of existence, and those elites and agents opt to keep eighty-five percent of the world in ignorance and under their controlling thumb; the remaining five percent are those who know the truth and are determined to enlighten the rest.[72]

United Nation of Islam

Main article: United Nation of Islam

The United Nation of Islam (UNOI) is a group based in Kansas City, Kansas. It was founded circa 1978 by Royall Jenkins, who continues to be the leader of the group and styles himself "Royall, Allah in Person".

Conversion to orthodox Sunni Islam

After the death of Elijah Muhammad, he was succeeded by his son, Warith Deen Mohammed. Mohammed rejected many teachings of his father, such as the divinity of Fard Muhammad, and saw a white person as also a worshiper. As he took control of the organization, he quickly brought in new reforms.[73] He renamed it the World Community of al-Islam in the West; later it became the American Society of Muslims. It was estimated that there were 200,000 followers of W. D. Mohammed at the time.

W. D. Mohammed introduced teachings which were based on orthodox Sunni Islam.[74] He removed the chairs in the organization's temples, and replaced the entire "temple" concept with the traditional Muslim house of worship,the mosque, also teaching how to pray the salat, to observe the fasting of Ramadan, and to attend the pilgrimage to Mecca.[75]

A small number of Black Muslims however rejected these new reforms brought by Imam Mohammed. Louis Farrakhan who broke away from the organization, re-established the Nation of Islam under the original Fardian doctrines, and remains its leader.[76]

Shia Islam

See also: Shia Islam in the Americas

An estimated 786,000 Shia Muslims live in the United States.[77] They originate from South Asia, Europe, Middle East, and East Africa.[78] The "heart of Shiism in the U.S." is placed in Dearborn,[79] home to the Islamic Center of America. The North American Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities Organization (NASIMCO) is the largest umbrella group for North American Shias.[78]

Sufism

Some Muslim Americans adhere to the doctrines of Sufism. The Islamic Supreme Council of America (ISCA) is a small body representing Sufi teachings, which, according to adherents, is the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. The ISCA's stated aims include providing practical solutions for American Muslims, based on the traditional Islamic legal rulings of an international advisory board, many of whom are recognized as the highest ranking Islamic scholars in the world. ISCA aims to integrate traditional scholarship in resolving contemporary issues affecting the maintenance of Islamic beliefs in a modern, secular society.[80] It has been linked to neoconservative thought.

Quranic movement

The largest Quranist movement in the United States is the United Submitters International. This movement was founded by Rashad Khalifa. His movement popularized the phrase: "The Qur'an, the whole Qur'an, and nothing but the Qur'an". Although he was initially well received by many, his subsequent claims of divine inspiration caused friction between him and others, and he was assassinated in 1990.[81] Notable Americans influenced by Rashad Khalifa include his son, Sam Khalifa, a retired professional baseball player and Ahmad Rashād, a sportscaster and retired football player.

Non-denominational Muslims

Non-denominational Muslims make up roughly one in seven of all American Muslims, at 15%. Non-denominational Muslims, do not have any specific affiliation with a religious body and usually describe themselves as being "just a Muslim". Muslims who were born in the US are more likely to be non-denominational than immigrant Muslims. 24% or one in four US-born Muslims are non-denominational, versus 10% of immigrant Muslims.[82]

Other Muslims

There are some mosquegoers who adhere to sects and denominations that form very small minorities. Examples of such small branches include progressive Muslims, Mahdavi Muslims and Ibadi Muslims.[83][84][85]

Demographics

The U.S. Census Bureau does not collect data on religious identification. Various institutions and organizations have given widely varying estimates about how many Muslims live in the U.S. Tom W. Smith, author of "Estimating the Muslim Population in the United States," said that of twenty estimates he reviewed during a five-year period until 2001, none was "based on a scientifically-sound or explicit methodology. All can probably be characterized as guesses or assertions. Nine came from Muslim organizations such as the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Student Association, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the American Muslim Council, and the Harvard Islamic Society or unspecified "Muslim sources." None of these sources gave any basis for their figures."[87] In 2005, according to The New York Times, more people from Muslim countries became legal permanent United States residents—nearly 96,000—than in any year in the previous two decades.[13][14][88]

CAIR claims that no scientific count of Muslims in the U.S. has been done, but that the larger figures should be considered accurate. Some journalists have also alleged that the higher numbers have been inflated for political purposes.[89][90]

According to Pew Forum estimate in 2016 there are 3.3 million Muslims, comprising about 1% of the total U.S. population.[3] A Pew Forum report on American religion found that Muslims accounted for 0.9% of American adults in 2014, up from 0.4% in 2007, due largely to immigration. Retention rates were high, at 77%, similar to Hindus (80%) and Jews (75%); most people who leave these religions become unaffiliated, although ex-Muslims were more likely to be Christians than ex-Hindus or ex-Jews were. Conversely, 23% of American Muslims were converts, including 8% from historically black Protestant traditions, 6% from being unaffiliated, 4% from Catholicism, and 3% from mainline or evangelical Protestantism. By race, in 2014, 38% were non-Hispanic white (including Arabs and Iranians, up from 32% in 2007), 28% were Asian (mostly Indians, Pakistanis, and Bangladeshis, up from 20% in 2007), 28% were black (down from 32%), 4% Hispanic (down from 7%), and 3% of mixed or other race (down from 7%). Since 2007, the black proportion had shrunk, while the white and Asian proportions had grown, mainly due to immigration as most black Muslims were native U.S. blacks.[91]

Race

According to a 2001 study written by Ihsan Bagby, an associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky

Gertrudis Serna & Hadji Ali (Hi Jolly).

A group of immigrants, most wearing fezzes, surrounding a large vessel which is decorated with the star and crescent symbol of Islam and the Ottoman Turks (1902-1913)

Noble Drew Ali

According to the U.S. Department of State, the largest ethnic groups of American Muslims are those of South Asian, Arab and African-American descent.

Islam is the third largest religion in the United States after Christianity and Judaism.[1] According to a 2010 study, it is followed by 0.9% of the population, compared with 70.6% who follow Christianity, 22.8% unaffiliated, 1.9% Judaism, 0.7% Buddhism, and 0.7% Hinduism.[1][2] According to a newer estimate done in 2016, there were 3.3 million Muslims living in the United States, about 1% of the total U.S. population.[3]

American Muslims come from various backgrounds and, according to a 2009 Gallup poll, are one of the most racially diverse religious groups in the United States.[4] Native-born American Muslims are mainly African Americans who make up about a quarter of the total Muslim population. Many of these have converted to Islam during the last seventy years. Conversion to Islam in large urban areas[5] has also contributed to its growth over the years as well as its influence on black culture and hip-hop music.

While an estimated 10 to 30 percent[6][7] of the slaves brought to colonial America from Africa arrived as Muslims,[8][9] Islam was stringently suppressed on plantations.[6] Prior to the late 19th century, most documented non-enslaved Muslims in North America were merchants, travelers, and sailors.[8]

From the 1880s to 1914, several thousand Muslims immigrated to the United States from the former territories of the Ottoman Empire and the former Mughal Empire.[10] The Muslim population of the U.S. increased dramatically in the 20th century, with much of the growth driven by a comparatively high birth rate and immigrant communities of mainly Arab and South Asian descent. About 72% of American Muslims are immigrants or "second generation".[11][12]

In 2005, more people from Muslim-majority countries became legal permanent United States residents—nearly 96,000—than there had been in any other year in the previous two decades.[13][14] In 2009, more than 115,000 Muslims became legal residents of the United States.[15]

History[edit]

Early records[edit]

One of the earliest accounts of Islam's possible presence in North America dates to 1528, when a Moroccan slave, called Estevanico, was shipwrecked near present-day Galveston, Texas.[16] He and four survivors subsequently traveled through much of the American southwest and the Mexican interior before reaching Mexico City.

"Muslims' presence [in the United States] is affirmed in documents dated more than a century before religious liberty became the law of the land, as in a Virginia statute of 1682 which referred to 'negroes, moores, molatoes, and others, born of and in heathenish, idollatrous, pagan, and Mahometan parentage and country' who 'heretofore and hereafter may be purchased, procured, or otherwise obteigned, as slaves.'"[17]

An early Egyptian and possible Muslim immigrant is mentioned in the accounts of the Dutch settlers of the Catskill Mountains and recorded in the 1884 History of Greene County, New York. According to this tradition, an Egyptian named "Norsereddin" settled in the Catskills in the vicinity of the Catskill Mountain House. He befriended the local indigenous American chief, Shandaken, and sought the hand of his daughter Lotowana in marriage. Rejected, he poisoned Lotowana and in consequence was caught and burned alive.[18][19]

American Revolution and thereafter[edit]

Records from the American Revolutionary War indicate that at least a few likely Muslims fought on the American side. Among the recorded names of American soldiers are "Yusuf ben Ali" (a member of the Turks of South Carolina community), "Bampett Muhamed"[20] and possibly Peter Salem.[21][22]

The first country to recognize the United States as an independent nation was the Sultanate of Morocco, under its ruler Mohammed ben Abdallah, in the year 1777.[23] He maintained several correspondences with President George Washington.

On December 9, 1805, President Thomas Jefferson hosted an Iftar dinner at the White House for his guest Sidi Soliman Mellimelli, an envoy from Tunis.[24]

Bilali (Ben Ali) Muhammad was a Fula Muslim from Timbo, Futa-Jallon, in present-day Guinea-Conakry, who arrived at Sapelo Island during 1803. While enslaved, he became the religious leader and Imam for a slave community numbering approximately eighty Muslim men residing on his plantation. During the War of 1812, Muhammad and the eighty Muslim men under his leadership protected their master's Sapelo Island property from a British attack.[25] He is known to have fasted during the month of Ramadan, worn a fez and kaftan, and observed the Muslim feasts, in addition to consistently performing the five obligatory prayers.[26] In 1829, Bilali authored a thirteen-page Arabic Risala on Islamic beliefs and the rules for ablution, morning prayer, and the calls to prayer. Known as the Bilali Document, it is currently housed at the University of Georgia in Athens.

Between 1785 and 1815, over a hundred American sailors were held for ransom in Algiers. Several wrote captivity narratives of their experiences that gave most Americans their first view of the Arab World and Muslim ways, and newspapers often commented on them. The views were generally negative. Royall Tyler wrote The Algerine Captive (1797), an early American novel depicting the life of an American doctor employed in the slave trade who himself is captured and enslaved by Barbary pirates. Finally Presidents Jefferson and Madison sent the American navy to confront the pirates, and ended the threat in 1815 during the First Barbary War.[27][28][29] During negotiation of the treaty of peace which ended hostilities, American envoys made clear that the United States had no animosity towards any Muslim country.

Nineteenth century[edit]

On the morning of April 4, 1865, near the end of the American Civil War, Union troops commanded by Col. Thomas M. Johnston set ablaze the University of Alabama; a copy of the Quran known as The Koran: Commonly Called The Alcoran Of Mohammed was saved by one of the University's staff.[30]

Two hundred and ninety-two Muslims are known to have fought during the Civil War,[31] including Private Mohammad Khan, who was born in Persia, raised in Afghanistan, and emigrated to the United States.[32] The highest-ranking Muslim officer in the Union Army was Captain Moses Osman.[31] Nicholas Said, formerly enslaved to an Arab master, came to the United States in 1860 and found a teaching job in Detroit. In 1863, Said enlisted in the 55th Massachusetts Colored Regiment in the United States Army and rose to the rank of sergeant. He was later granted a transfer to a military hospital, where he gained some knowledge of medicine. His Army records state that he died in Brownsville, Tennessee, in 1882.[33] Another Muslim soldier from the Civil War was Max Hassan, an African who worked for the military as a porter.[34]

A Muslim named Hajj Ali (commonly spelled as "Hi Jolly") was hired by the United States Cavalry in 1856 to tend camels in Arizona and California. He would later become a prospector in Arizona.[35][36] Hajj Ali died in 1903.[33]

During the American Civil war, the "scorched earth" policy of the North destroyed churches, farms, schools, libraries, colleges, and a great deal of other property. The libraries at the University of Alabama managed to save one book from the debris of their library buildings. On the morning of April 4, 1865, when Federal troops reached the campus with an order to destroy the university, Andre Deloffre, a modern language professor and custodian of the library, appealed to the commanding officer to spare one of the finest libraries in the South. The officer, being sympathetic, sent a courier to Gen. Croxton at his headquarters in Tuscaloosa asking permission to save the Rotunda, but the general refused to allow this. The officer reportedly said, "I will save one volume as a memento of this occasion." The volume selected was a rare copy of the Qur'an.[37]

Alexander Russell Webb is considered by historians to be the earliest prominent Anglo-American convert to Islam in 1888. In 1893, he was the sole representative of Islam at the first Parliament of the World's Religions.[38] The Russian-born Muslim scholar and writer Achmed Abdullah (1881–1945) was another prominent early American Muslim.[39]

Slaves[edit]

Many enslaved peoples brought to America from Africa were Muslims from the predominantly Muslim West African region[6][10] Between 1701 and 1800, some 500,000 Africans arrived in what became the United States.[40] Historians estimate that between 15 and 30 percent of all enslaved African men and less than 15 percent of the enslaved African women were Muslims. According to 21st century researchers Donna Meigs-Jaques and R. Kevin Jaques, "[t]hese enslaved Muslims stood out from their compatriots because of their resistance, determination and education."[41]

It is estimated that over 50% of the slaves imported to North America came from areas where Islam was followed by at least a minority population. Thus, no less than 200,000 came from regions influenced by Islam. Substantial numbers originated from Senegambia, a region with an established community of Muslim inhabitants extending to the 11th century.[42]

Through a series of conflicts, primarily with the Fulanijihad states, about half of the Senegambian Mandinka were converted to Islam, while as many as a third were sold into slavery to the Americas through capture in conflict.[43]

Michael A. Gomez speculated that Muslim slaves may have accounted for "thousands, if not tens of thousands", but does not offer a precise estimate. He also suggests many non-Muslim slaves were acquainted with some tenets of Islam, due to Muslim trading and proselytizing activities.[44] Historical records indicate many enslaved Muslims conversed in the Arabic language. Some even composed literature (such as autobiographies) and commentaries on the Quran.[45]

Some newly arrived Muslim slaves assembled for communal salat (prayers). Some were provided a private praying area by their owner. The two best documented Muslim slaves were Ayuba Suleiman Diallo and Omar Ibn Said. Suleiman was brought to America in 1731 and returned to Africa in 1734.[42] Like many Muslim slaves, he often encountered impediments when attempting to perform religious rituals and was eventually allotted a private location for prayer by his master.[45]

Omar Ibn Said (c. 1770–1864) is among the best documented examples of a practicing-Muslim slave. He lived on a 19th Century North Carolina plantation and wrote many Arabic texts while enslaved. Born in the kingdom of Futa Tooro (modern Senegal), he arrived in America in 1807, one month before the U.S. abolished importation of slaves. Some of his works include the Lords Prayer, the Bismillah, this is How You Pray, Quranic phases, the 23rd Psalm, and an autobiography. In 1857, he produced his last known writing on Surah 110 of the Quran. In 1819, Omar received an Arabic translation of the Christian Bible from his master, James Owen. Omar converted to Christianity in 1820, an episode widely used throughout the South to "prove" the benevolence of slavery. However, most scholars believe he continued to be a practicing Muslim, based on dedications to Muhammad written in his Bible.[46][47]

  • Ayuba Suleiman Diallo was the son of an Imam of Boonda in Africa, before being enslaved.

  • Omar Ibn Said was an Islamic scholar from Senegal.

Religious freedom[edit]

Views of Islam in America affected debates regarding freedom of religion during the drafting of the state constitution of Pennsylvania in 1776. Constitutionalists promoted religious toleration while Anticonstitutionalists called for reliance on Protestant values in the formation of the state's republican government. The former group won out, and inserted a clause for religious liberty in the new state constitution. American views of Islam were influenced by favorable Enlightenment writings from Europe, as well as Europeans who had long warned that Islam was a threat to Christianity and republicanism.[48]

In 1776, John Adams published "Thoughts on Government," in which he mentions the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a "sober inquirer after truth" alongside Confucius, Zoroaster, Socrates, and other thinkers.

In 1785, George Washington stated a willingness to hire "Mahometans," as well as people of any nation or religion, to work on his private estate at Mount Vernon if they were "good workmen."[49]

In 1790, the South Carolina legislative body granted special legal status to a community of Moroccans.

In 1797, President John Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli, declaring the United States had no "character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen".[50]

In his autobiography, published in 1791, Benjamin Franklin stated that he "did not disapprove" of a meeting place in Pennsylvania that was designed to accommodate preachers of all religions. Franklin wrote that "even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service."[51] Franklin also wrote an anti-slavery parody that claimed to be translation of the response of a government official at Algiers to a 17th-century petition to banish slavery there; the parody develops the theme that Europeans are specially suited for enslavement on cultural and religious grounds, and that there would be practical problems with abolishing slavery in North Africa; this satirizes similar arguments that were then made about the enslavement of Blacks in North America.[52]

Thomas Jefferson defended religious freedom in America including those of Muslims. Jefferson explicitly mentioned Muslims when writing about the movement for religious freedom in Virginia. In his autobiography Jefferson wrote "[When] the [Virginia] bill for establishing religious freedom... was finally passed,... a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word 'Jesus Christ,' so that it should read 'a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion.' The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend within the mantle of its protection the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination."[53] While President, Jefferson also participated in an iftar with the Ambassador of Tunisia in 1809.[54]

However, not all politicians were pleased with the religious neutrality of the Constitution, which prohibited any religious test. Anti-Federalists in the 1788 North Carolina ratifying convention opposed the new constitution; one reason was the fear that some day Catholics or Muslims might be elected president. William Lancaster said:.[55]

Let us remember that we form a government for millions not yet in existence.... In the course of four or five hundred years, I do not know how it will work. This is most certain, that Papists may occupy that chair, and Mahometans may take it. I see nothing against it.

In 1788, Americans held inaccurate and often contradicting views of the Muslim world, and used that in political arguments. For example, the anti-Federalists compared a strong central government to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and the American army to Turkish Janissaries, arguing against a strong central government. On the other hand, Alexander Hamilton argued that despotism in the Middle East was the result of the Sultan not having enough power to protect his people from oppressive local governors; thus he argued for a stronger central government.[56]

Modern Muslims[edit]

Small-scale migration to the U.S. by Muslims began in 1840, with the arrival of Yemenis and Turks,[42] and lasted until World War I. Most of the immigrants, from Arab areas of the Ottoman Empire, came with the purpose of making money and returning to their homeland. However, the economic hardships of 19th-century America prevented them from prospering, and as a result the immigrants settled in the United States permanently. These immigrants settled primarily in Dearborn, Michigan; Quincy, Massachusetts; and Ross, North Dakota. Ross, North Dakota is the site of the first documented mosque and Muslim Cemetery, but it was abandoned and later torn down in the mid-1970s. A new mosque was built in its place in 2005.[38]

  • 1906: Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) in Chicago, Illinois, started the Džemijetul Hajrije (Jamaat al-Khayriyya) (The Benevolent Society; a social service organization devoted to Bosnian Muslims). This is the longest lasting incorporated Muslim community in the United States. They met in Bosnian coffeehouses and eventually opened the first Islamic Sunday School with curriculum and textbooks under Bosnian scholar Sheikh Ćamil Avdić (Kamil Avdich) (a graduate of al-Azhar and author of Survey of Islamic Doctrines).
  • 1907: Lipka Tatar immigrants from the Podlasie region of Poland founded the first Muslim organization in New York City, the American Mohammedan Society.[57]
  • 1915: What is most likely the first American mosque was founded by Albanian Muslims in Biddeford, Maine. A Muslim cemetery still exists there.[58][59]
  • 1920: First Islamic mission station was established by Mufti Muhammad Sadiq, an IndianAhmadi Muslim missionary, followed by the building of the Al-Sadiq Mosque in 1921.
  • 1929: The Ross Masjid in North Dakota was founded by Syrian Muslims, there is still a cemetery nearby.[60]
  • 1934: The oldest, still standing, building built specifically to be a mosque is established in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Mosque is where Abdullah Igram a notable Muslim veteran would teach the Quran, Abdullah Igram later wrote a letter to President Eisenhower persuading him to add the M option (for Muslims) on military dog tags.
  • 1945: A mosque existed in Dearborn, Michigan, home to the largest Arab-American population in the U.S.

Construction of mosques sped up in the 1920s and 1930s, and by 1952, there were over 20 mosques.[38] Although the first mosque was established in the U.S. in 1915, relatively few mosques were founded before the 1960s. Eighty-seven percent of mosques in the U.S. were founded within the last three decades according to the Faith Communities Today (FACT) survey. California has more mosques than any other state.

Sub-groups[edit]

Ahmadiyya[edit]

Main article: Ahmadiyya in the United States

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the oldest continuous Muslim community in the United States. Ahmadi Muslims were among the earliest Muslim missionaries in America, the first being Mufti Muhammad Sadiq, and between 1921 and 1925 alone they converted over 1000 people to Islam. Although at first their efforts were broadly concentrated over a large number of racial and ethnic groups, subsequent realization of the deep-seated racial tensions and discrimination made Ahmadi missionaries focus their attention on mainly African Americans and the Muslim immigrant community and became vocal proponents of the African-American Civil Rights Movement[61]. Many Ahmadi Muslims fled countries like Pakistan due to persecution in recent times.[62]

Black Muslim movements[edit]

Further information: Black Muslims and American Society of Muslims

During the first half of the 20th century, a small number of African Americans established groups based on Islamic and Gnostic teachings. The first of such groups created was the Moorish Science Temple of America, founded by Timothy Drew (Drew Ali) in 1913. Drew taught that black people were of Moorish origin but their Muslim identity was taken away through slavery and racial segregation, advocating the return to Islam of their Moorish ancestry.[63]

Moorish Science Temple of America[edit]

Main article: Moorish Science Temple of America

The Moorish Science Temple of America is an American organization founded in 1913 by Prophet Noble Drew Ali. He said they practiced the "Old Time Religion" of Islamism but he also drew inspiration from Mohammedanism, Buddhism, Christianity, Gnosticism, and Taoism. Its significant divergences from mainstream Islam and strong African-American ethnic character[64] make its classification as an Islamic denomination a matter of debate among Muslims and scholars of religion.

Its primary tenet was the belief that they are the ancient Moabites who inhabited the Northwestern and Southwestern shores of Africa. The organization also believes that their descendants after being conquered in Spain are slaves who were captured and held in slavery from 1779–1865 by their slaveholders.

Adherents of the Moorish Science Temple of America believe that the so-called "Negroid Asiatic" was the first human inhabitant of the Western Hemisphere. In their religious texts members refer to themselves as "Asiatics",[65] within the teachings of Noble Drew Ali, the members are taught man cannot be a Negro, Colored Folk, Black people, Ethiopians or African-Americans, because these names were given to slaves by slave holders in 1779 and lasted until 1865 during the time of slavery.

The Moorish Science Temple of America is legally and lawfully recognized as the first and oldest Islamic Organization in America, with its current leader R. Jones-Bey.

Nation of Islam[edit]

Main article: Nation of Islam

The Nation of Islam (NOI) was created in 1930 by Wallace Fard Muhammad. Fard drew inspiration for NOI doctrines from those of Timothy Drew's Moorish Science Temple of America. He provided three main principles which serve as the foundation of the NOI: "Allah is God, the white man is the devil and the so-called Negroes are the Asiatic Black People, the cream of the planet earth".[66]

In 1934 Elijah Muhammad became the leader of the NOI, he deified Fard, saying that he was an incarnation of God, and taught that he was a prophet who had been taught directly by God in the form of Fard. Two of the most famous people to join the NOI were Malcolm X, who became the face of the NOI in the media, and Muhammad Ali, who, while initially rejected, was accepted into the group shortly after his first world heavyweight championship victory.[67] Both Malcolm X and Ali later became Sunni Muslims.

Malcolm X was one of the most influential leaders of the NOI and, in accordance with NOI doctrine, advocated the complete separation of blacks from whites.[68] He left the NOI after being silenced for 90 days (due to a controversial comment on the John F. Kennedy assassination), and proceeded to form Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity before his pilgrimage to Mecca and conversion to Sunni Islam. He is viewed as the first person to start the movement among African Americans towards Sunni Islam.

It was estimated that there were at least 20,000 members in 2006.[69] However, today the group has a wide influence in the African American community. The first Million Man March took place in Washington, D.C. in 1995 and was followed later by another one in 2000 which was smaller in size but more inclusive, welcoming individuals other than just African American men.[70] The group sponsors cultural and academic education, economic independence, and personal and social responsibility.

The Nation of Islam has received a great deal of criticism for its anti-white, anti-Christian, and anti-semitic teachings,[71] and is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.[72]

Five-Percent Nation[edit]

Main article: Five-Percent Nation

The Five-Percent Nation, sometimes referred to as NGE or NOGE, the "Nation of Gods and Earths", or the "Five Percenters", is an American organization founded in 1964 in the Harlem section of the borough of Manhattan, New York City, by a former member of the Nation of Islam named Clarence 13X (born Clarence Edward Smith and later known as "Allah the Father"). Clarence 13X, a former student of Malcolm X, left the Nation of Islam after a theological dispute with the Nation's leaders over the nature and identity of God.[73] Specifically, Clarence 13X denied that the Nation's biracial

Gertrudis Serna & Hadji Ali (Hi Jolly).
A group of immigrants, most wearing fezzes, surrounding a large vessel which is decorated with the star and crescent symbol of Islam and the Ottoman Turks (1902–1913)

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