African American Mosque Numbers Dropping at Accelerated Rate

The St. Louis Islamic Center @stlic

African American mosques are closing at an increasing rate, while the number of mosques in the United States continues to grow, according to a report released June 2.

The St. Louis Islamic Center
The St. Louis Islamic Center @stlic

“The American Mosque 2020: Growing and Evolving,” was jointly published by the Islamic Society of North America, the Center on Muslim Philanthropy and the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. It is authored by Ihsan Bagby, who produced similar survey reports in 2001 and 2010.

“In 2020, the U.S. Mosque Survey counted 2,769 mosques, which is a 31 percent increase from the 2010 count of 2,106 mosques,” Bagby explained.

“Undoubtedly, the primary driving force for the increase of mosques is the steady expansion of the population of Muslims in America due to immigration and birth rate.”

Several factors are leading to the closure of African American mosques, including the death of former Nation of Islam leader Warith Deen Mohammed, who was one of the founders of the African American Sunni Muslim movement.

There was an initial wave of conversions in the 1960s and 1970s, and mosques were created by new African American Muslim communities.

A secondary wave of African American conversions occurred in the early 1990s, spurred by the influence of the film “Malcolm X,” globalization and the prominence of some Muslims in hip-hop culture.

As members of the first wave get older, many African American mosques have struggled to remain open.

“Following the death of Warith Deen Mohammed in 2008, the community has never reconstituted itself and that has been a barrier for growth for the African American Muslim community,” said Bagby.

“African American conversion, while it is ongoing, has plateaued, especially in African American mosques,” he added.

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