Project Description

The research will highlight three main areas:

Evolution of Muslim Presence in the U.S.

This is an all-inclusive (no sampling) study of U.S. institutions from the 1900 to date. The objective is to account for Muslim institutions that ever existed. This research is comprehensive horizontally but not vertically. i.e. the research will account for all institutions but not dive deeply into any of them.

This was a time when the enslaved people, many of whom were Muslims, were brought to this country from Africa to satisfy the first need of serving the elite. Many people wrote about this subject and their work will be referenced.

Immigrant Muslims (many of Syrian, Lebanese, and Yemeni origins) of mainly unskilled workers who arrived in the late 1800s and early 1900s formed communities in different parts of the United States such as Dearborn, Michigan; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Lackawanna, New York; Ross, North Dakota, and many other localities. Some Muslims from the subcontinent came as farmers and settled in California as well. Muslims from Albania, Turkey, and Eastern Europe settled in Biddeford, Maine and were buried in Woodlawn Cemetery. They all came mainly to satisfy the second need which was to improve their own economic status.

The first organized Muslim movement in this country can be traced back to 1913 when Timothy Drew established the Canaanite Temple in Newark, New Jersey which grew to become of national significance. This phase will highlight the spread of Islam within the indigenous Muslims of the country highlighting the contributions of the Ahmadi movement in Islam (AMI), the Nation of Islam (NOI), and the Sunni movement and figures, those who trace their roots back to AMI, NOI or those who came independent of them.

The organized Muslim movements of this phase came mostly as a reflection of the societal view toward the black community to satisfy the third need of instilling racial pride of the African American community.

The second wave of Muslim immigration to the U.S. happened in the second half of the 20th century when students from different Muslim countries sought undergraduate and graduate degrees. Some of those students, particularly those who were active in Islamic movements while in their homelands, established student organizations like MSA (Muslim Student Association, 1963), MAYA (Muslim Arab Youth Association, 1974-2004), MISG (Malaysian Islamic Study Group, 1976), and many others. These students organized activities like Friday prayer on campuses and church basements.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the influx of Muslim students from abroad, spearheaded the purchasing of small churches and residential housing that the student, along with community members converted into Islamic Centers. These earlier edifices of worship sufficed for performing daily prayers and weekly gatherings.  Due to space limitation, both Friday and Eid (Muslim holiday) prayers were held in either rented spaces, church basements, or university halls.

Three major factors that galvanized the Muslim community to build more spacious accommodations are: the influx of Muslim immigrants, the large numbers of reverts, and the settlement of students after graduation. Up to the 1970s, only a handful of mosques were built from the ground up.  Since the 1980s, the architectural face of America and its landscape has been permanently changed with the construction of several hundreds of new Mosques with minarets and domes. The stated factors fulfilled the fourth need which was to seek better education, staying active, and owning a place of worship.

The sizable growth in the Muslim community in general and the determination to preserve Islamic principles and Muslim identity, protect Muslim rights, and support Muslim needs especially for a new generation, brought to focus a crucial fifth need of preserving identity and heritage. Since the mid-1990s, hundreds of full-time Islamic schools, full time and after hour hifth schools, and multiple universities have been established across the country. Institutions were apparent in the following areas:

  • Educational Institutions: Preserving the identity of the new generation began during the first half of the 20th century in the African American community with NOI establishing Clara Muhammad Schools. These schools were named after Sister Clara Muhammad, wife of NOI Elijah Muhammad and mother of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed. Some of those schools are still in existence today. On the immigrant community side, it was limited to weekend and after hour schools until the third quarter of the 20th
  • Professional organizations: Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS) later changed to North American Association of Islamic and Muslim Studies (NAAIMS), Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America (APPNA), Arab American Association for Engineers & Architects (AAAEA), and Association of Muslim American Lawyers (AMAL).
  • Financial Institutions: The inability of Muslims to obtain debt interest hindered the fulfillment the American dream of owning a home. The limitations on where and how they can invest their money gave rise to financial institutions that adhere to Islamic principles of financial transitions in terms of lending money or investing it. Muslim Savings and Investments (MSI) of ICNA and Baitulmal were from the pioneers in this area. Some organizations that made great advances in this field are La Riba, Guidance, AMANA, Alzad, and others. Realizing the potential in the Muslim community, several American institutions started providing mortgage contracts that adhere to Islamic principles like Devon Bank and the Michigan-based University Bank.
  • Humanitarian organizations: Fulfilling the third pillar of Islam, Zakah, along with the obligation of standing with those who are less fortunate and relieving the hardships inflicted on Muslims in other parts of the world paved the way for such organizations to exist starting in the 1980s. As the hardships increased, so did the charitable organizations.
  • Civil Rights & Social Justice Organizations: Since the establishment of Ellis Island, each new immigrant group has had to face civil and human rights challenges. Muslims are no exception which led to civil rights organizations. The new millennium did not leave humankind unchallenged and the horrifying events of September 11, 2001 perpetrated increased pressure from companies and law enforcement agencies against Muslims. Therein, the number of Islamic civil and legal rights organizations multiplied by many folds. Good examples are Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), and MAS Freedom.
  • Research Centers: United Association for Studies and Research (UASR), The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), and Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU)
  • Services & Dawah organizations: like North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), North American Imams Federation (NAIF), Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA), Council of Islamic Schools In North America (CISNA), Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Muslim American Society (MAS), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Islamic Community of North American Bosniaks (ICNAB), Congress of North American Bosniaks (CNAB), and Turkish American Cultural Society (TACS)

Applying the true teachings of Islam, the need for forming coalitions to better serve the community at large, or being unified against those who seek to harm the growing Muslim community are all factors that paved the way for the different Muslim organizations to come together in satisfying the sixth need: united we stand, divided we fall. These coalitions happened among Indigenous organizations, immigrant Muslim organizations, as well as between indigenous and immigrant Muslim organizations. Muslims feeling the need to be politically empowered and civically engaged made them fairly active in local and national elections, as well as giving back to the society they live. The main highlights of this era:

  • For most of the 1900s, the indigenous and the immigrant communities had little interaction with each other and had segregated places of worship. Beginning in the late 1900s to present time, members of both communities frequent each other’s places of worship and have common programs.
  • Several steps had been taken to solidify efforts and bridge differences between NOI and the rest of the Muslim world. For example, “Minister Farrakhan invited Imam Mohammed to address NOI congregation on Savior Day, Friday prayer is held in several NOI Mosques and Ramadan is observed along with the rest of the Muslim world; and Minister Farrakhan speaks out in support of Muslim causes in America and Abroad” (5)
  • California Islamic Declaration: early 1990s was a milestone in the history of Islam in America when indigenous Muslims and immigrant Muslims were brought closer together as a result of “Warith D. Muhammad, Jamil al-Amin and the presidents of Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) previously signing the California Islamic Declaration, establishing a National Shura Council designed to discuss matters of national and international importance in order to make collective statements and to take appropriate collective actions.”(5).
  • ISNA started as an umbrella for several Muslim organizations like MSA, MAYA, NAIT, AMSS
  • Muslims participated in a large scale for the first time in the 2000 election by forming the “American Task Force (ATF)” which was headed by Dr. Agha Saeed. Many Muslims used to consider voting as unlawful or abstain from it at best.
  • USCMO is US Council of Muslim Organizations formed in 2014 to represent national and major Muslim organizations.
  • Muslim organizations are helping the community by:
    • Participating in relief efforts whenever a calamity hits home
    • Providing medical services free of charge to those of limited income through Mosques clinics
    • Provide food and cloths either directly or through homeless shelters and food banks
    • Participating in programs like “Adopt a street”, “Habitat for Humanity”,
  • Joining hands with national organizations of other faiths to achieve common goals like protecting civil liberties and fighting injustices
  • Participating in interfaith activities to better understand each other’s beliefs and values

I stated the phases of Muslim presence in this country and the research results will either confirm it or directs me to modify it.

The mosque questionnaire will be filled out for each institution still in operation. Identified institutions that are no longer in service will be listed with starting and closing dates. Information will include:

  • Detailed information about the facility
  • The structure of the organization responsible about the facility and how it operates
  • The composition of the congregants

The school questionnaire will be filled out for each institution still in operation. Identified institutions that are no longer in service will be listed with starting and closing dates. Information will include:

  • Detailed information about the facility
  • Basic information about the students
  • Basic information about the teachers, staff, & services

The organization’s questionnaire will be filled out by national organizations as well as local ones with major regional impact. Information will include:

  • Name, address, contact information
  • Classification, line of work (Relief, civil liberties, legal, etc.)
  • Year of establishment, year of closure and reason if no longer in service
  • A brief description of the organization and its main focus
McKinney Islamic Association (MIA) History
Islamic Center of Irving (ICI) History
EXPORT MASTER INFO

Muslim Contributions

This will highlight major Muslim contributions to this society by featuring selected ones in multiple areas. I will be interviewing contributors if alive to obtain a variety of perspectives.

  • One of the components of the research we are doing is show major accomplishments of Muslims in different areas. If you believe you or someone else have something worthy of being mentioned, please fill out this form
  • If the above accomplishment is for someone else, please help us communicate with that person or with someone related to him

Demographic Study of few Major Muslim Communities

Surveying the Muslim community in the entire country is beyond the scope of this research. However, it is extremely important to supplement the above two sections with an in-depth study of few major metropolitan areas to truly show what the Muslim community is composed of. The survey will highlight the following aspects:

  • The ethnic composition of the Muslim community
  • The community presence in the public square (doctors, engineers, lawyers, educators, accountants, business owners, and more)
  • The financial and political strength of the Muslim community
  • Gender, age, family size, and marital status

Once the survey is completed, it will show the Muslim community as:

  • Inseparable and part of the fabric of this society: Take a cross section of any segment of the society and most likely you find Muslims there.
  • Highly skilled: Scientists, doctors, engineers, academicians, lawyers, managers, and business owners are a few categories overflowing with Muslims.
  • Positive contributors: Scientifically, financially, and morally.
  • Loyal: They serve in the armed forces and sacrifice themselves for their country.