Arabs dominated the early spread of Islam and created the Moslem
empire. In the 1000s, the Turks invaded Moslem lands and built their empire
on the remains of the Arab domain. This reduced the Arabs to the status of a
In the 1800s, Arab nationalism began to stir. Egypt gained a measure of
independence from Turkey. Today, most Moslem countries have gained
their independence. In some cases, religious differences between Islamic sects
keep Moslem nations apart, but cultural and religious ties, through common
opposition to the colonial powers and Israel, have long united the Moslem
The five most populous Islamic or Muslim countries in the world today
are Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Soviet Union in that
order. The areas of North Africa and the Middle East are predominantly
Muslim with Mecca in Saudi Arabia being a focal point for worship services
conducted within Islam. The star and crescent is a symbol which is com-
monly associated with Islam (figure 2-14).
ORIGIN OF ISLAM IN THE UNITED STATES
Muslims began to immigrate to the United States in the early part of the
20th century. They came to the United States in search of a better living.
Most of them came from the Middle East. Some came as seamen from Asia
and settled in port cities. After the First World War the number of immi-
grants progressively increased. Immigrants came from Russia and other
Muslim countries. New Muslim groups and societies began to spring up.
Islam also began to win converts through zealous Americans who came into
contact with Islam during World War 1.
During the early 1900s, Muslim groups in the United States consisted
largely of immigrants and local converts who were predominately non-
blacks. However, as early as 1913, Timothy Drew Ali, Prophet of
Islam, had emerged in Newark, New Jersey. He believed that only Islam
could unite the black people, whose true heritage was Moorish. In 1921,
Dr. Mufti Muhammad Sadiz, a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslims, arrived
in Chicago and began to gather converts. His success, primarily among black
people, was due to an emphasis on the basic message of human equality.
In the 1930s Islam also began to find a receptive audience among
black people in the northern urban centers. While many of the slaves
brought to America were Muslims, the movement in the years of the Great
Depression was a new phenomenon. Among the followers of Black National-
ist Marcus Garvey was an Egyptian, Duse Mohammed Ali. Garvey lauded
the black people of ancient Egypt and the medieval Moorish empires in his
newspaper The Negro World. Contact between American blacks and Islam
increased as a result of World War 1.
Islam is rapidly becoming a more prominent feature of the American
religious landscape. The number of adherents in the United States is said to
be about 2 million.
There are Islamic centers in the cities of Washington, DC; New York
City; Detroit, Michigan; Toledo, Ohio; and other major urban areas withil
the United States. A focal point for orthodox Islam is the Islamic Center in