Understanding Islam in the USA – Statistics or lack thereof
Amazingly, there is no definitive estimate for the number of Muslims in the United States of America.
There are many estimates, ranging from about two million to possibly seven million (1 or 2 per cent of the US population), but there is little reliable data. Undoubtedly, however, there are large numbers of Muslims in some parts of the US! In 2001 there were more than 1,200 mosques in the US; that figure is now possibly 1,500 or more. According to a Hartford Institute study, Muslims in the US come from many backgrounds. Only about 25 per cent are Arab, 30 per cent are Afro-American and 33 per cent are South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi). The remaining 12 per cent are from various other backgrounds.
Changes to the USA
The largest numbers of mosques are found in California, New York, New Jersey and Michigan. It is not surprising these days to find mosques in medium-sized towns (populations of 25,000) in rural America – something that did not exist 25 years ago. In 2004, Dearborn (population 100,000 and near Detroit) in Michigan state became the home of North America’s largest Islamic centre (at a cost of US$12,000,000 and comprising 11,000m2 or 120,000 square feet of space).
There are over 30 mosques in the Detroit area.
A few years ago the restaurant chain McDonalds made national headlines in the US by serving a halal form of their famous chicken McNuggets in Dearborn. Halal meat products are killed and prepared according to traditional Muslim ceremony (“In the name of Allah”). McDonalds even extended its practice of selling halal McNuggets into some other restaurants in the area. While this has not become an absolute national trend, it is a testimony to the Muslim presence in the USA.
San Francisco, USA
According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle (10 September 2004), in the San Francisco area there are at least 200,000 Muslims. This includes about 12,000 Afghans, 32,000 Iranians and 6,000 Pakistanis. The number of Muslims in the area has “boomed” in the past 20 years. This boom has transformed areas in the South Bay and East Bay, where restaurants, bookstores and other establishments have sprung up. So many Muslim-oriented restaurants and food establishments have opened that, in 1999, a Bay Area Muslim engineer and entrepreneur began a website, zabihah.com, as a guide.
Attitudes in the USA
The tragedy on 11 September 2001 and the following Afghan and Iraq wars have certainly shaped American attitudes towards Muslims in general. However, at the same time Muslims have started to live in small-town America, which is opening doors for close contact and relationships.
Pray for the Muslims in the USA:
* Pray for Christians in the USA to have increased understanding of Muslims and Islam. Christians must be the first to fight stereotypes and Islamophobia. Attitudes need to be in line with scriptural values concerning “our neighbours”.
* Christians in the US need to be prepared to share their faith with Muslims in a patient and non-aggressive manner. Pray for training programmes. Cultural and personal sensitivity is very important.
* Pray that God will raise up church-planters who can create ethnically-orientated church communities in regions where Muslims form a high percentage of the population. Some denominations have already taken up the challenge.
* Pray that churches and church leaders will seek the wisdom needed to help converted Muslims become integrated into typical American churches: the cultural differences are strong.
1 “Faith Communities Today”, coordinated by Hartford Seminary’s Hartford Institute for Religious Research
2 Jonathan Curiel, “Muslims find Bay Area leans toward tolerance”, San Francisco Chronicle (10 September 2004). Website: www.sfgate.com
Background on the USA (World Factbook)
Britain’s American colonies broke with the mother country in 1776 and were recognized as the new nation of the United States of America following the Treaty of Paris in 1783. During the 19th and 20th centuries, 37 new states were added to the original 13 as the nation expanded across the North American continent and acquired a number of overseas possessions. The two most traumatic experiences in the nation’s history were the Civil War and the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Economy of United States of America
The economy is marked by steady growth, low unemployment and inflation, and rapid advances in technology. US business firms enjoy greater flexibility than their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan in decisions to expand capital plant, to lay off surplus workers, and to develop new products. At the same time, they face higher barriers to enter their rivals’ home markets than foreign firms face entering US markets. The rise in GDP in 2004-06 was supported by substantial gains in labor productivity. Long-term problems include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, sizable trade and budget deficits, and stagnation of family income in the lower economic groups. The merchandise trade deficit reached a record $750 billion in 2006. In November 2010, in an attempt to keep interest rates from rising and snuffing out the nascent recovery, the US Federal Reserve Bank (The Fed) announced that it would purchase $600 billion worth of US Government bonds by June 2011.
Statistics on United States of America
Population: 313,847,465 (July 2012 est.) World Rank #3
Life Expectancy at Birth: 78.49 years. World Rank #51
Ethnic groups: white 79.96%, black 12.85%, Asian 4.43%, Amerindian and Alaska native 0.97%, native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander 0.18%, two or more races 1.61%
Note: a separate listing for Hispanic is not included because the US Census Bureau considers Hispanic to mean a person of Latin American descent (including persons of Cuban, Mexican, or Puerto Rican origin) living in the US who may be of any race or ethnic group (white, black, Asian, etc.); about 15.1% of the total US population is Hispanic
Religions: Protestant 51.3%, Roman Catholic 23.9%, Mormon 1.7%, other Christian 1.6%, Jewish 1.7%, Buddhist 0.7%, Muslim 0.6%, other or unspecified 2.5%, unaffiliated 12.1%, none 4%
Languages: English 82.1%, Spanish 10.7%, other Indo-European 3.8%, Asian and Pacific island 2.7%, other 0.7% (2000 census)
Note: Hawaiian is an official language in the state of Hawaii
School Life Expectancy: 16 years
“My visit to the Mosque during Ramadan” – video
Described while driving home from Chicago, Bill explains his visit to a mosque.