Muslims and Islam in America
Fri, 15 Jan 2010 16:28:25 GMT
A Portrait in Diversity
In America, Islam has had a long history dating back to the 18th century, when African slaves brought Islam to our shores. During the 19th century, Muslim immigrants arrived from the Middle East. In the early-to-mid 20th century, leaders like Malcolm X inspired a new group of African-Americans to convert to Islam.
Today, estimates for the numbers of Muslims living in the United States vary widely because the U.S. Census does not track religion. Although a Pew study projects approximately 1.5 million adult Muslim Americans, 18 years of age and older. The total Muslim American population is estimated at 2.35 million, based on data from available Census Bureau data on immigrants' nativity and nationality. The American Muslim community is highly diverse, as the following points illustrate.
- Many Muslims in the U.S. are first- or second- generation immigrants who left their home countries in search of the American dream and a better future for themselves and their families.
About a quarter of American Muslims are African-Americans who converted to Islam over the past seven decades. The majority of African-American Muslims practice Sunni Islam.
- The largest ethnic group of Muslims in the United States is Arab - which includes 22 Middle Eastern countries and North African countries.
- Other major ethnic groups represented by Muslims in the U.S. are: African, Iranian, Turkish, Southeast Asians, South Asians, Caribbean, White American and Europeans besides smaller numbers from other groups.
Faith and Worship
As is the case with followers of other major religions, American Muslims are widely diverse when it comes to practicing their faith, with some more observant than others. The expression of practice varies according to individual belief and the interpretation of different religious communities. Some American Muslims are born into their faith; others convert later in life.
- About a quarter of Muslims are converts - Nearly one-quarter have converted to Islam, most of them from Christianity.
- Prayers are generally led by Imams, spiritual leaders much like Christian ministers or Jewish rabbis. Prayer services may also be led by a layperson who is respected in the community.
- Many mosques today offer prayer services in English or other non-Arabic languages, a reflection of the faith's diverse following.
- American Muslims are both Sunni and Shiite, with the majority identifying as Sunni.
At Home and At Work
- Family and marriage are at the foundation of the Islamic religion, which teaches Muslims to treat their parents, children, spouses, and other family members with respect, compassion, and fairness.
- American Muslims are increasingly involved in civic participation: A recent survey of American Muslim voters found that 89% vote regularly and 64% display the U.S. flag.10 In addition, many demonstrate deep commitments to their surrounding communities by volunteering their time and money to local charities.
- American Muslims can be found in all walks of life, from teachers and journalists, police officers and athletes, to CEOs, doctors and short-order cooks. Together, they play a vibrant role in both our democracy and our economy.
High-profile American Muslims include:
◦ Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali
◦ Fareed Zakaria, the editor of Newsweek International and host of CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS
◦ Supermodel and entrepreneur Iman
◦ Actor and hip hop artist Mos Def
◦ NBA basketball player Hakeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets
◦ Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota.
For more information about American Muslims, please explore our "Learn More" pages, including American Muslim Organizations, American Muslim Publications, Islamic Institutions in the U.S., and Public Opinion Research.
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