Muslims who reside in America today, whether on a permanent or a temporary basis, find themselves in a unique situation. While they form a small minority of the American population, they represent a wide spectrum of humanity both geographically and by race and ethnicity. Never at any other time or place in the history of the world have Muslims from so many different countries and cultures and races inhabited one land, with more than two hundred countries represented.
Although Muslims have been present in various areas of the country for nearly a century and a half, it is only recently that most Americans have become aware of their presence. A blend of Asians, Middle Easterners, Africans, African Americans, and Europeans, the Muslim community is taking its place as one of the major ethnoreligious groupings in the American cultural milieu. Muslims in America are doctors, engineers and scientists, intellectuals, teachers, and service workers. Some are also poor, uneducated, and homeless refugees fleeing from war-stricken parts of the world. Muslims are concerned with issues of leadership, education, identity, and appropriate roles for men and women in today’s society, as well as basic needs in the areas of health, human services, and language training. In recent years they have seen their youth emerge as models of faith and practice, young men and women serving as leaders and interpreters of the faith.