A Long History of Muslim and Arab Americans
Muslims have lived in the United States since its founding.
October 18, 2015
1. Much of the current U.S. Muslim population consists of fairly recent arrivals. As of 2011, one in four of all U.S. Muslim adults had immigrated to the United States in the preceding decade alone.
2. Muslims have also lived in the United States since its founding.
3. In particular, a significant number of enslaved peoples from West Africa passed on their native Islamic faith under generations of American slavery.
4. Black Americans, including recent Somali refugees, are a major part of the Muslim American community. They represent 40% of native-born U.S. Muslims and 14% of foreign-born U.S. Muslims.
5. Ethnically Arab citizens have also been a prominent minority group in the United States since the late 19th century. Today, there are at least 1.8 million Arab-Americans.
6. However, until recently, Arab-Americans were overwhelmingly Christian. Many are descended from immigrants from the Ottoman Empire regions that became Lebanon and Syria in the 20th century.
7. Contemporary immigration has significantly increased the share of Muslims among Arab-Americans.
8. Another significant segment of Muslim Americans – about one in six – are from (or descended from) South Asian countries such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Sources: Pew Research Center, NPR, Minnesota Public Radio and the U.S. Department of State.