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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: August 2012

5 - Rooting Islam in America


The interval between the world wars was pivotal for the history of Islam in America because it marked a period in which American Muslims' institutions and community building efforts took root and thus helped shape future developments in the history of Islam in America. Among these American Muslim institutions were local mosques and benevolent societies and a number of prophetic movements, mainly: the Ahmadiyya missionary movement, founded by the Indian reformer Mirza Ghulam Ahmad; the Moorish Science Temple, founded by the African American religious leader Noble Drew Ali; and the Nation of Islam, founded by Fard Muhammad whose identity is shrouded in mystery.

As the Muslim population in the United States became more diverse, particularly after the reformation of immigration and civil rights laws in the 1950s and 1960s, understanding of Islam and the character of Muslim institutions also changed and became more diverse. So, while the communities and institutions formed in the interwar period set roots for Islam in America and thus helped shape consequent developments in the history of Islam in America, they did not circumscribe the future practice of Islam nor the subsequent character of Islamic institutions in this country.

From Sojourners to Settlers

In the first stage of Muslim's voluntary immigration to the United States, which took place between the Civil War and World War I, the practice of Islam was generally ad hoc and improvisational.

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