Islam has had a long history in the U.S, dating back to the African slaves in the 18th century. In the early-to-mid 20th century, leaders like Malcolm X inspired a new group of African-Americans to convert to Islam. In the last century, Muslims from the all around the world have immigrated to the U.S, including Muslims from the Middle East, South East Asia, Africa and many other places. Today, there are around 6-7 million Muslim in America.
Faith and Worship
As is the case with followers of other major religions, Muslim Americans 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 Muslim Americans are born into their faith; others convert later in life.
- 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.
- Mosques today offer prayer services in English or and many other languages, a reflection of the faith’s diverse following.
- Muslim Americans are both Sunni and Shiite, with the majority identifying as Sunni.
Muslim Americans are increasingly involved in civic participation: A recent survey of Muslim American 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. Muslim Americans 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 Muslim Americans include:
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Retired player for Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers
- Hamza Abdullah – Safety for NFL Cleveland Browns
- Husain Abdullah – Safety for NFL Minneosta Vikings
- Shareef Abdur-Rahim – Retired player, named NBA All-Star (2001-2002)
- Akon – Rapper and music producer
- Mara Brock Akil – Screenwriter and producer
- Muhammad Ali – Former boxing Heavyweight World Champion
- Reza Aslan – Scholar, author, activist
- Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def) – Actor and hip-hop artist
- Art Blakey – American Jazz drummer and bandleader
- Andre Carson – Indiana Congressman
- Keith Ellison – First Muslim Congressman, Representative from Minnesota
- Nazr Mohammed – Player for the Chicago Bulls
- Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) – British singer-songwriter, humanitarian and education philanthropist
- Sherman Jackson, Muslim scholar
- Jawed Karim – Co-Founder of YouTube
- Fazlur Khan – Structural Engineer (designed the Sears Tower and John Hancock Center)
- Aasif Mandvi – Actor, Comedian for The Daily Show
- Omer Asik – Former player for the Chicago Bulls
- Ingrid Mattson – Muslim scholar
- Warith Deen Mohammed – Former leader of the American Society of Muslims
- Ayman Mohyeldin – NBC and Al Jazeera English journalist
- Hakeem Olajuwon – Former player for NBA Houston Rockets
- Ayub K. Ommaya – Neurosurgeon, inventor of the Ommaya reservoir
- Mehmet Oz – Medical doctor, talk show host
- Salman Khan – Founder of Khan Academy
- Farah Pandith – Special Representative to Muslim Communities for the U.S. Department of State
- Ahmad Rashad – Former wide receiver for NFL Minnesota Vikings, and award-winning sports-caster
- Zaid Shakir – Muslim scholar, lecturer for Zaytuna College
- Suhaib Webb – Muslim lecturer, Imam of Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center
- Siraj Wahhaj – Muslim scholar, lecturer
- Usama Young – Free safety for NFL New Orleans Saints
- Hamza Yusuf – Muslim scholar, lecturer for Zaytuna College
- Lofti A. Zadeh – Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at UC Berkeley
- Fareed Zakaria – Editor of Newsweek International and news/talk show host
- Elias Zerhouni – Director, National Institutes for Health
- Ahmed Zewail – Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry (1999)