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North America has been home to Muslims for a long time
Muslims first arrived in North America centuries before Columbus due to trading expeditions with Native Americans. After Columbus, the slave trade transported African Muslim slaves, who retained their spiritual practice and religious identity, to the Americas.
Over the next few centuries, Muslim migrants from all over the world settled in the New World in search of personal goals, such as education or employment. While some dreamed of returning “home” one day, the subsequent generations largely knew no other place but the United States or Canada as their home.
Muslims in North America today
During the course of this timespan, many indigenous North Americans have studied Islam and adopted the religion; prominent among these are Africans and Hispanics, although individuals of all backgrounds are attracted to the simplicity and purity of Islam.
Today, there are approximately 7 million Muslims in the United States, with more than 2000 mosques across America. American Muslims actively contribute in a variety of professional fields, such as medicine, engineering, IT, architecture, education, and journalism. Muslims are also represented in the military and social service.
In Canada, the situation is similar, although there are only about a million Muslims. The greatest concentration of Muslim communities is located in the Greater Toronto Area and major cities, like Ottawa, Vancouver, Montreal, etc. Pockets of Muslims also reside in Mexico.
In this section, we explore Islam in North America, with a special focus on American Muslims – their history, challenges, and contributions.