Islam in the United States

American Muslims
Total population
3.3 million (1% of the U.S. population, 2016)
Regions with significant populations
(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]


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]

Gertrudis Serna & Hadji Ali (Hi Jolly).

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]


Drawing of Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori, who was a Muslim prince from West Africa and made a slave in the United States.

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 Fulani jihad 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]

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]

Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11

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

Turkish immigrant in New York (1912)
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)

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]

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 China National 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 Emperor Bahadur Shah II were killed during the conflict. And in the 20th century some descendants of his surviving children emigrated to the United States.[59]



Mufti Muhammad Sadiq, first Muslim missionary and an Ahmadi Muslim.

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

Noble Drew Ali

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

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-Mongoloid Paleoamericans (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

Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam since 1981
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

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

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]


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]


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.
A crowd of Black Muslims applaud during Elijah Muhammad's annual Saviors' Day message in Chicago in 1974
Paterson, New Jersey, within the New York City Metropolitan Area, has been nicknamed Little Ramallah, contains a neighborhood with the same name, and is becoming an increasingly popular destination for Muslim immigrants.[86]
Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, Ohio.

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]


According to a 2001 study written by Ihsan Bagby, an associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky, of Americans who convert to Islam, 64% are African American, 27% are White, 6% are Hispanic, and 3% are other. Around that time increasing numbers of American Hispanics converted to Islam. Many Hispanic converts in Houston said that they often had been mistaken as of being of Pakistani or Middle Eastern descent, due to their religion. Many Hispanic converts were former Christians.[92]

Since the arrival of South Asian and Arab communities during the 1990s there has been divisions with the African Americans due to the racial and cultural differences; however, since September 11, 2001, the two groups joined together when the immigrant communities looked towards the African Americans for advice on civil rights.[93]


According to a 2014 religious survey, 64% of Muslims believe religion is very important, compared to 58% of Catholics who believe so. The frequency of receiving answers to prayers among Muslims was, 31% at least once a week and 12% once or twice a month.[94] Nearly a quarter of the Muslims are converts to Islam (23%), mainly native-born. Of the total who have converted, 59% are African American and 34% white. Previous religions of those converted was Protestantism (67%), Roman Catholicism (10%), and 15% no religion.

Mosques are usually explicitly Sunni or Shia although they are over 55 Ahmadiyya mosques as well. There are 2,106 mosques in the United States as of 2010,[95] and the nation's largest mosque, the Islamic Center of America, is in Dearborn, Michigan. It caters mainly to the Shia Muslim congregation; however, all Muslims may attend this mosque. It was rebuilt in 2005 to accommodate over 3,000 people for the increasing Muslim population in the region.[96][97] Approximately half (50%) of the religious affiliations of Muslims is Sunni, 16% Shia, 22% non-affiliated and 16% other/non-response.[98] Muslims of Arab descent are mostly Sunni (56%) with minorities who are Shia (19%). Muslims of South Asian descent including Bangladeshis (90%), Indians (82%) and Pakistanis (72%) are mainly Sunni, other groups such as Iranians are mainly Shia (91%).[98] Of African American Muslims, 48% are Sunni, 34% are unaffiliated (mostly part of the Community of W.Deen Mohammed), 16% other (mostly Nation of Islam and Ahmadiyya) and 2% Shia.[98]

In many areas, a mosque may be dominated by whatever group of immigrants is the largest. Sometimes the Friday sermons, or khutbas, are given in languages like Urdu, Bengali or Arabic along with English. Areas with large Muslim populations may support a number of mosques serving different immigrant groups or varieties of belief within Sunni or Shia traditions. At present, many mosques are served by imams who immigrate from overseas, as only these imams have certificates from Muslim seminaries.[99][100][101][102]

Data from the General Social Survey in the United States show that 32 percent of those raised Muslim no longer embrace Islam in adulthood, and 18 percent hold no religious identification.[103]

Education and income

Contrary to popular perceptions, the condition of Muslims in the U.S. is very good. Among South Asians in the country, the large Pakistani American community stands out as particularly well educated and prosperous, with education and income levels exceeding those of U.S.-born whites. Many are professionals, especially in medicine (they account for 2.7-5% of America’s physicians),[104][105] scientists, engineers, and financial analysts, and there are also a large number of entrepreneurs. There are more than 15,000 medical doctors practicing medicine in the USA who are of Pakistani origin alone[106] and the number of Pakistani American millionaires was reported to be in the thousands. Shahid Khan a Pakistani-born American multi billionaire businessmen owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League (NFL) making him the first and only ethnic minority member to own one, he also owns English Premier League team Fulham F.C., and automobile parts manufacturer Flex-N-Gate in Urbana, Illinois.[107] 45 percent of immigrant Muslims report annual household income levels of $50,000 or higher. This compares to the national average of 44 percent. Immigrant Muslims are well represented among higher-income earners, with 19 percent claiming annual household incomes of $100,000 or higher (compared to 16 percent for the Muslim population as a whole and 17 percent for the U.S. average). This is likely due to the strong concentration of Muslims in professional, managerial, and technical fields, especially in information technology, education, medicine, law, and the corporate world.[108]

Conversion to Islam in prisons

In addition to immigration, the state, federal and local prisons of the United States may be a contributor to the growth of Islam in the country. J. Michael Waller claims that Muslim inmates comprise 17–20% of the prison population, or roughly 350,000 inmates in 2003. Waller states that these inmates mostly come into prison as non-Muslims. He also claims that 80% of the prisoners who "find faith" while in prison convert to Islam.[109] These converted inmates are mostly African American, with a small but growing Hispanic minority. Waller also asserts that many converts are radicalized by outside Islamist groups linked to terrorism, but other experts suggest that when radicalization does occur it has little to no connection with these outside interests.[110][111][112]

Population concentration

There were calculated to be 2.595 million Muslim adherents across the United States in 2010.[113] Islamic populations are 0.6% of the US population per Fareed Zakaria quoting Pew Research Center, 2010.[114]

By state

State Percentage[115]
 Illinois 2.8%
 Virginia 2.7%
 New York 2.0%
 New Jersey 1.8%
 Texas 1.7%
 Michigan 1.2%
 Florida 0.9%
 Delaware 0.8%
 California 0.7%
 Pennsylvania 0.6%

By city

New York City had the largest number of Muslims with 69,985. In 2000, Dearborn, Michigan ranked second with 29,181, and Los Angeles ranked third with 25,673; although Paterson, New Jersey, in the New York City Metropolitan Area, was estimated to have become home to 25,000 to 30,000 Muslims as of 2011. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was estimated to have 30,000 to 50,000 Muslims as of 2012.[116] Paterson, New Jersey has been nicknamed Little Ramallah and contains a neighborhood with the same name, with an Arab American population estimated as high as 20,000 in 2015.[117]


The number of mosques in the United States in 2011 was 2,106. The six states with the greatest number of mosques were: New York 257, California 246, Texas 166, Florida 118, Illinois 109, New Jersey 109.[118]


Pop art painting of Muhammad Ali.

Muslims in the United States have increasingly made their own culture; there are various Muslim comedy groups, rap groups, Scout troops and magazines, and Muslims have been vocal in other forms of media as well.[119]

Within the Muslim community in the United States there exist a number of different traditions. As in the rest of the world, the Sunni Muslims are in the majority. Shia Muslims, especially those in the Iranian immigrant community, are also active in community affairs. All four major schools of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) are found among the Sunni community.

Some Muslims in the U.S. are also adherents of certain global movements within Islam such as the Salafi, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Gulen Movement, and the Tablighi Jamaat.

As of December 2013 increasing numbers of Muslim Americans are celebrating Christmas;[120]Jesus is a holy figure in Islam.


In the 2000 Presidential election, nearly 80 percent of Muslim Americans supported Republican candidate George W. Bush over Democratic candidate Al Gore. However, due to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq which took place under the Bush Administration, as well as what some call an increased anti-Muslim rhetoric from the Republican Party after the September 11 attacks,[121][122] support for the Republican Party among American Muslims has declined sharply.

By 2004, Bush's Muslim support had been reduced by at least half, who would vote for Democratic candidate John Kerry or a third party candidate.[123]

By 2008, Democratic candidate Barack Obama got 67% to 90% of the Muslim vote depending on region.[124] Some of his opponents question Obama's religious faith; see Barack Obama religion conspiracy theories.


Frocking ceremony for U.S. Navy's first Muslim chaplain, when Navy (rabbi) Chaplain Arnold Resnicoff attaches new shoulder boards with Muslim Chaplain crescent insignia to uniform of Imam Monje Malak Abd al-Muta Noel Jr, 1996

According to a 2004 telephone survey of a sample of 1,846 Muslims conducted by the polling organization Zogby, the respondents were more educated and affluent than the national average, with 59% of them holding at least an undergraduate college degree.[125] Citing the Zogby survey, a 2005 Wall Street Journal editorial by Bret Stephens and Joseph Rago expressed the tendency of American Muslims to report employment in professional fields, with one in three having an income over $75,000 a year.[126] The editorial also characterized American Muslims as "role models both as Americans and as Muslims".

Unlike many Muslims in Europe, American Muslims overall do not tend to feel marginalized or isolated from political participation and have often adopted a politically proactive stance. Several organizations were formed by the American Muslim community to serve as 'critical consultants' on U.S. policy regarding Iraq and Afghanistan. Other groups have worked with law enforcement agencies to point out Muslims within the United States that they suspect of fostering 'intolerant attitudes'. Still others have worked to invite interfaith dialogue and improved relations between Muslim and non-Muslim Americans.[127]

Growing Muslim populations have caused public agencies to adapt to their religious practices. Airports such as the Indianapolis International Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport[128], Kansas City International Airport have installed foot-baths to allow Muslims, particularly taxicab drivers who service the airports, to perform their religious ablutions in a safe and sanitary manner.[129] and Denver International Airport included a mosque as part of its Interfaith Chapel when opened in 1996[130] although such developments have not been without criticism.[131]

As of May 30, 2005, over 15,000 Muslims were serving in the United States Armed Forces.[132]

A Pew report released in 2009 noted that nearly six out of ten American adults see Muslims as being subject to discrimination, more than Mormons, Atheists, or Jews.[133] While Muslims comprise less than one percent of the American population, they accounted for approximately one quarter of the religious discrimination claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission during 2009.[134] According to FBI statistics, hate crimes against Muslims are rare, at 6.0 per 100,000, compared to blacks at 6.7, homosexuals and bisexuals at 11.5, and Jews at 14.8.[135][136]

On December 14, 1992, the Chief of Chaplains of the United States Army requested that an insignia be created for future Muslim chaplains, and the design (a crescent) was completed January 8, 1993.[137][138]


One of the largest Islamic organizations is the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) which says that 27% of mosques in U.S. are associated with it. ISNA is an association of immigrant Muslim organizations and individuals that provides a common platform for presenting Islam. It is composed mostly of immigrants. Its membership may have recently exceeded ASM, as many independent mosques throughout the United States are choosing to affiliate with it. ISNA's annual convention is the largest gathering of Muslims in the United States.[139]

The second largest is the community under the leadership of W.Deen Mohammed or the American Society of Muslims with 19% of mosques, mostly African-Americans having an affiliation with it. It was the successor organization to the Nation of Islam, once better-known as the Black Muslims. The association recognizes the leadership of Warith Deen Mohammed. This group evolved from the Black separatist Nation of Islam (1930–1975). The majority of its members are African Americans. This has been a 23-year process of religious reorientation and organizational decentralization, in the course of which the group was known by other names, such as the American Muslim Mission, W.Deen Mohammed guided its members to the practice of mainstream Islam such as salat or fasting, and teaching the basic creed of Islam the shahadah.

The third largest group is the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). ICNA describes itself as a non-ethnic, open to all, independent, North America-wide, grass-roots organization. It is composed mostly of immigrants and the children of immigrants. It is growing as various independent mosques throughout the United States join and also may be larger than ASM at the present moment. Its youth division is Young Muslims.[140] Why Islam? is a community outreach project of ICNA;[141][142] it seeks to provide accurate information about Islam[143] while debunking popular stereotypes and common misconceptions through various services and outreach activities.[144][145]

The Islamic Supreme Council of America (ISCA) is a small organization 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 strives 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.

Islamic Society of Boston mosque in Roxbury.
Tucson Islamic Center, Tucson, Arizona.

The Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA) is a leading Muslim organization in the United States. According to its website, among the goals of IANA is to "unify and coordinate the efforts of the different dawah oriented organizations in North America and guide or direct the Muslims of this land to adhere to the proper Islamic methodology." In order to achieve its goals, IANA uses a number of means and methods including conventions, general meetings, dawah-oriented institutions and academies, etc.[146] IANA folded in the aftermath of the attack of September 11, 2001 and they have reorganized under various banners such as Texas Dawah and the Almaghrib Institute.

The Muslim Students' Association (MSA) is a group dedicated, by its own description, to Islamic societies on college campuses in Canada and the United States for the good of Muslim students. The MSA is involved in providing Muslims on various campuses the opportunity to practice their religion and to ease and facilitate such activities. MSA is also involved in social activities, such as fund raisers for the homeless during Ramadan. The founders of MSA would later establish the Islamic Society of North America and Islamic Circle of North America.[147]

The Islamic Information Center (IIC) (IIC) is a "grass-roots" organization that has been formed for the purpose of informing the public, mainly through the media, about the real image of Islam and Muslims. The IIC is run by chairman (Hojatul-Islam) Imam Syed Rafiq Naqvi, various committees, and supported by volunteers.[148]

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was established in the U.S. in 1921, before the existence of Nation of Islam, according to its members.[149][150] This sect, however, is considered heretical by mainstream Muslims and not considered a part of the Ummah, or worldwide community of Muslims.

Muslim Congress is another National Muslim Organization. It is primarily a Social Welfare organization and runs many social projects, including Food Distribution to the homeless in their "No More Hunger" project and also provides Scholarship. It is under the leadership of Islamic Scholars.


Muslim political organizations lobby on behalf of various Muslim political interests. Organizations such as the American Muslim Council are actively engaged in upholding human and civil rights for all Americans.


In addition to the organizations listed above, other Muslim organizations in the United States serve more specific needs. For example, some organizations focus almost exclusively on charity work. As a response to a crackdown on Muslim charity organizations working overseas such as the Holy Land Foundation, more Muslims have begun to focus their charity efforts within the United States.


There are two museums dedicated to the history of Islamic culture in the U.S. and abroad. The International Museum of Muslim Cultures in Jackson, Mississippi opened in early 2001.[160] America's Islamic Heritage Museum in Washington, DC opened on April 30, 2011.[161]

Research and think tanks

The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, with offices in Dearborn, MI and Washington, DC, is an independent, nonpartisan research organization specializing in addressing the most pressing challenges facing the American Muslim community and in bridging the information gap between the American Muslim community and the wider society.


American populace's views on Islam

A nationwide survey conducted in 2003 by the Pew Research Center and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reported that the percentage of Americans with an unfavorable view of Islam increased by one percentage point between 2002 and 2003 to 34%, and then by another two percentage points in 2005 to 36%. At the same time the percentage responding that Islam was more likely than other religion to encourage violence fell from 44% in July 2003 to 36% in July 2005.[162]

July 2007 Newsweek survey of non-Muslim Americans[163]
Statement Agree Disagree
Muslims in the United States are as
loyal to the U.S. as they are to Islam
40% 32%
Muslims do not condone violence 63%
Qur'an does not condone violence 40% 28%
Muslim culture does not glorify
Concern about Islamic radicals 54%
Support wiretapping by FBI 52%
American Muslims more "peaceable"
than non-American ones
52% 7%
Muslims are unfairly targeted by
law enforcement
38% 52%
Oppose mass detentions of Muslims 60% 25%
Believe most are immigrants 52%
Would allow son or daughter to date
a Muslim
Muslim students should be allowed
to wear headscarves
69% 23%
Would vote for a qualified Muslim
for political office
45% 45%

The July 2005 Pew survey also showed that 59% of American adults view Islam as "very different from their religion," down one percentage point from 2003. In the same survey 55% had a favorable opinion of Muslim Americans, up four percentage points from 51% in July 2003.[162] A December 2004 Cornell University survey shows that 47% of Americans believe that the Islamic religion is more likely than others to encourage violence among its believers.[164]

A CBS April 2006 poll showed that, in terms of faiths[165]

The Pew survey shows that, in terms of adherents[162]

A 2011 Gallup poll found that 56% of Protestants, 63% of Catholics, and 70% of Jews believed that American Muslims had no sympathy for Al Qaeda.[166] A 2015 Brookings poll found that 14% Americans believe most Muslims support ISIS and another 44% believe Muslims partially support ISIS.[167]

American Muslims' views of the United States

PEW's poll of views on American Society[168]
Statement U.S.
Agree that one can get
ahead with hard work
71% 64%
Rate their community as
"excellent" or "good"
72% 82%
Excellent or good
personal financial situation
42% 49%
Satisfied with the
state of the U.S.
38% 32%

In a 2007 survey titled Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream, the Pew Research Center found Muslim Americans to be "largely integrated, happy with their lives, and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and Westerners around the world."[168]

47% of respondents said they considered themselves Muslims first and Americans second. However, this was compared to 81% of British Muslims and 69% of German Muslims, when asked the equivalent question. A similar disparity exists in income, the percentage of American Muslims living in poverty is 2% higher than the general population, compared to an 18% disparity for French Muslims and 29% difference for Spanish Muslims.[168]

Politically, American Muslims were both pro-larger government and socially conservative. For example, 70% of respondents preferred a bigger government providing more services, while 61% stated that homosexuality should be discouraged by society. Despite their social conservatism, 71% of American Muslims expressed a preference for the Democratic Party.[168] The Pew Research survey also showed that nearly three quarters of respondents believed that American society rewards them for hard work regardless of their religious background.[169]

The same poll also reported that 40% of U.S. Muslims believe that Arab Muslims carried out the 9/11 attacks. Another 28% don't believe it and 32% said they had no opinion. Among 28% who doubted that Arab Muslims were behind the conspiracy, one-fourth of those claim the U.S. government or President George W. Bush was responsible. Only 26% of American Muslims believe the U.S.-led war on terror is a sincere effort to root out international terrorism. Only 5% of those surveyed had a "very favorable" or "somewhat favorable" view of the terrorist group Al-Qaeda. Only 35% of American Muslims stated that the decision for military action in Afghanistan was the right one and just 12% supported the use of military force in Iraq.[168]

In 2011, a Gallup poll found that 93% of Muslim Americans considered themselves loyal to the United States.[170]

American Muslim life after the September 11 attacks

President George W. Bush inside the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C.
Muslim children in New York City supporting Park51.

After the September 11 attacks, America saw an increase in the number of hate crimes committed against people who were perceived to be Muslim, particularly those of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent. More than 20 acts of discrimination and violence were documented in the post 9/11 era by the U.S. Department of Justice.[171] Some of these acts were against Muslims living in America. Other acts were against those accused of being Muslims, such as Sikhs, and people of Arabian and South-Asian backgrounds[171] A publication in Journal of Applied Social Psychology found evidence that the number of anti-Muslim attacks in America in 2001 increased from 354 to 1,501 following 9/11.[172] The same year, the Arab American Institute reported an increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes ranging from discrimination and destruction of private property to violent threats and assaults, some of which resulted in deaths.[173][174][175]

In a 2007 survey, 53% of American Muslims reported that it was more difficult to be a Muslim after the 9/11 attacks. Asked to name the most important problem facing them, the options named by more than ten percent of American Muslims were discrimination (19%), being viewed as a terrorist (15%), public's ignorance about Islam (13%), and stereotyping (12%). 54% believe that the U.S. government's anti-terrorism activities single out Muslims. 76% of surveyed Muslim Americans stated that they are very or somewhat concerned about the rise of Islamic extremism around the world, while 61% express a similar concern about the possibility of Islamic extremism in the United States.[168]

On a small number of occasions Muslim women who wore distinctive hijab were harassed, causing some Muslim women to stay at home, while others temporarily abandoned the practice. In November 2009 Amal Abusumayah, a mother of four young girls, had her hijab pulled following derogatory comments while grocery shopping.[176] In 2006, one California woman was shot dead as she walked her child to school; she was wearing a headscarf and relatives and Muslim leaders believe that the killing was religiously motivated.[177][178] While 51% of American Muslims express worry that women wearing hijab will be treated poorly, 44% of American Muslim women who always wear hijab express a similar concern.[168]

In 2011, The Learning Channel (TLC) broadcast a television series, All-American Muslim, depicting the lives of different American Muslims in Dearborn, Michigan.[179]


Some Muslim Americans have been criticized because of perceived conflicts between their religious beliefs and mainstream American value systems. Muslim cab drivers in Minneapolis, Minnesota have been criticized for refusing passengers for carrying alcoholic beverages or dogs. The Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport authority has threatened to revoke the operating authority of any driver caught discriminating in this manner.[180] There are reported incidents in which Muslim cashiers have refused to sell pork products to their clientele.[181]

Based on data from a 2006 poll by the Pew Research Center, this graph records the distribution of feelings of U.S. Muslims on the topic of suicide bombings, separated by age group.

Terrorism that involved Muslim perpetrators began in the United States with the 1993 shootings at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, followed by the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York City. The latest was the June 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting in Florida. After the September 11 attacks and the start of the Afghanistan war in 2001, there was concern about the potential radicalization of American Muslims. A 2007 Pew poll reported that 15% of American Muslims under the age of 30 supported suicide bombings against civilian targets in at least some circumstances, on the other hand, 11% said it could be "rarely justified." Among those over the age of 30, just 6% expressed their support for the same. (9% of Muslims over 30 and 5% under 30 chose not to answer).[168] A March 2010 Bipartisan Policy Center paper points out an increasing number of American Muslims are playing high-level operational roles in al-Qaeda and aligned groups, as well as a larger numbers of American Muslims who are attaching themselves to these groups.[182]

Between 2001 and the end of 2009, there were 46 publicly reported incidents of "domestic radicalization and recruitment to jihadist terrorism" that involved at least 125 people between 2001 and the end of 2009. There had been an average of six cases per year since 2001, but that rose to 13 in 2009.[183]

While the seeming increase in cases may be alarming, half "involve single individuals, while the rest represent ‘tiny conspiracies,’ " according to Congressional testimony.[184] Furthermore, a 2012 study by the University of North Carolina indicated that the yearly number of cases of alleged plots by Muslim-Americans appears to be declining. The total of 20 indictments for terrorism in 2011 is down from 26 in 2010 and 47 in 2009 (the total since 9/11 is 193). The number of Muslim-Americans indicted for support of terrorism also fell, from 27 individuals in 2010 to just eight in 2011 (the total since 9/11 stands at 462).[185][186] Also in apparent decline is the number of actual attacks: Of the 20 suspects indicted for terrorism, only one was charged with carrying out a terrorist act. This number is down from the six individuals charged with attacks in 2010.[186]

Muslim Americans are significantly represented among those who tip authorities off to alleged plots having given 52 of the 140 documented tips regarding individuals involved in violent terrorist plots since 9/11.[185][186]

The Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 caused 280 injuries, and 5 civilian and police deaths.[187] Attempted attacks, like the Curtis Culwell Center attack and 2015 Boston beheading plot have attracted substantial media coverage[188] and inflamed community relations.[189] In 2015 the New America Foundation released information about violent extremist groups in the US.[190] While the Boston Marathon bombing had a high injury toll, only four deaths were counted by the group, and the group's count of only deaths from violent extremism showed that since 9/11, 48 people had been killed by anti-government extremists, compared to 28 by Jihadists.

Islamic extremism in the United States

At least one American not of recent immigrant background, John Walker Lindh, has been imprisoned, convicted on charges of working with the Taliban and carrying weapons against American soldiers. He had converted to Islam while in the United States, moved to Yemen to study Arabic, and then went to Pakistan, where he was recruited by the Taliban.

Another American that was not of recent immigrant background, José Padilla, of Puerto Rican descent and the first Hispanic-American to be imprisoned and convicted on suspicion of plotting a radiological bomb ("dirty bomb") attack. He was detained as a material witness until June 9, 2002, when President George W. Bush designated him an enemy combatant and, arguing that he was not entitled to trial in civilian courts, had him transferred to a military prison. He had converted to Islam while serving his last jail sentence in prison, and went to Pakistan where he was recruited into Al-Qaeda. The most recent murderous attack on marines, four killed and several injured in Texas, by a twenty four-year-old man, a naturalized US citizen with an engineering degree, is a major reminder that homegrown terrorism is a new menace facing United States and many other countries throughout the world. In the past few years increasing number of lone home grown terrorists have created a major rift between the governments law enforcement agencies and Muslim populations. The root cause of this phenomenon is poorly understood. The turbulence in the Middle East, ongoing civil war and violence by ISIS have made Muslims target of prejudice and bias.


A 2011 Gallup poll report stated that there has been an increase in Islamophobia over the past decade and defined it as "An exaggerated fear, hatred, and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from social, political, and civic life."[191] Another 2011 Poll provided by the Washington Post[192] through the Public Religion Research Institute states that 48 percent of Americans are uncomfortable with Muslim women wearing the burqa. 2014 Pew poll found that Muslims were the most disliked religious group in the United States with an average 40% cold rating, which is lower than the 41% cold rating received by atheists.[193] According to a poll in November 2015 by the Public Religion Research Institute[194] 56 percent of Americans believe that the values of Islam are at odds with the American values and ways of life.

Public institutions in the U.S. have also drawn fire for accommodating Islam at the expense of taxpayers. The University of Michigan–Dearborn and a public college in Minnesota have been criticized for accommodating Islamic prayer rituals by constructing footbaths for Muslim students using tax-payers' money. Critics claim this special accommodation, which is made to satisfy the needs of Muslims alone, is a violation of Constitutional provisions separating church and state.[195] Along the same constitutional lines, a San Diego public elementary school is being criticized for making special accommodations, specifically for American Muslims, by adding Arabic to its curriculum and giving breaks for Muslim prayers. Since these exceptions have not been made for any religious group in the past, some critics see this as an endorsement of Islam.[196]

The first American Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison, created controversy when he compared President George W. Bush's actions after the September 11, 2001 attacks to Adolf Hitler's actions after the Nazi-sparked Reichstag fire, saying that Bush was exploiting the aftermath of 9/11 for political gain, as Hitler had exploited the Reichstag fire to suspend constitutional liberties.[197] The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Anti-Defamation League condemned Ellison's remarks. The congressman later retracted the statement, saying that it was "inappropriate" for him to have made the comparison.[198]

At Columbus Manor School, a suburban Chicago elementary school with a student body nearly half Muslim Arab American, school board officials have considered eliminating holiday celebrations after Muslim parents complained that their culture's holidays were not included. Local parent Elizabeth Zahdan said broader inclusion, not elimination, was the group's goal. "I only wanted them modified to represent everyone," the Chicago Sun-Times quoted her as saying. "Now the kids are not being educated about other people."[199] However, the district's superintendent, Tom Smyth, said too much school time was being taken to celebrate holidays already, and he sent a directive to his principals requesting that they "tone down" activities unrelated to the curriculum, such as holiday parties.

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