Nowadays, historians do not know exactly when the first Muslims came to the USA. Nevertheless, the earliest migration is believed to take place at the beginning of the 14th century. In particular, these people were Moors who came from one of the African regions. Professionals presuppose that they made their way from Spain to the Gulf of Mexico. Some people also mention that Columbus was traveling to America with a book written by Muslims in the 12th century.
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Others believe that Muslims participated in the conquest of American territory developed by Spain in the 16th century. According to “Islam in America” (2014), the first wave of Muslims that is supported by evidence came to the USA with African slaves, as some of them followed Islamic tradition. Even though such religious practices were not allowed and many people were forced to become Christians, some individuals managed to keep their traditional clothing and names in secret until the early 20th century.
At the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century, many Muslims from Syria and Lebanon came to America looking for better economic opportunities. They were usually employed as manual laborers. Being reinforced by the Great Migration, African-American Muslims developed a movement targeted at the reconstruction of their culture and faith. In the 1930s, these people started establishing their own communities and building mosques. In the middle of the 20th century, America provided new opportunities for immigration, and Muslims from Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Africa, Asia, and Latin America arrived.
The number of Islam followers in America is not clear because various sources provide different information. For instance, it was stated that at the beginning of the 21st century, there were 1-5 million Muslims in the USA, as data provided by the American Muslim Council, the Center for Immigration Studies, and the American Religious Identification Study were not the same (“Islam in America,” 2014). About 10 years ago, the first Islam follower was elected to the US Congress.
However, he faced unequal treatment and was urged to prove his loyalty to the USA several times. His position was negatively perceived by many colleagues and the representatives of the general public, which proves that the negative image of Muslims spread throughout the country after 9/11. The loyalty of all politicians who represented the same population was questioned just because of their religion.
The number of Muslims in the USA remains unknown because data on religious affiliation is rarely gathered. As a result, the US Census does not provide any associated information. Nevertheless, the Pew Research Center revealed that there were less than 3 million Islam followers in America in 2011, while the Council on American-Islamic Relations stated that about 6-7 million Muslims live in the country (Williams, 2017). Unfortunately, the rise of terrorism and ISIS, in particular, worsened the negative perception of American Muslims. They often face violence from the rest of the population. Females who wear the headscarf turn out to be even more vulnerable because their dressing attracts much attention and reveals their religious affiliation. In this way, many innocent people suffer for their beliefs.
Thus, it can be concluded that the arrival of the first Muslims to the USA can hardly be traced. However, it is often associated with the waves of slavery. Muslim Americans used to search for a better life, but currently, they are unwelcome foreigners because they are often associated with terrorism.
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Islam in America. (2014). Web.
Williams, J. (2017). A brief history of Islam in America. Web.