How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Muslim refugees and new immigrants helping fuel new mosque growth

Photo by Steve Rhodes/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A mosque in Fremont, California, January 2009

Immigration is one of the factors driving the growth in the number of U.S. mosques, according to a new report that tracks a 74 percent jump in the number of mosques over the last decade. So are different patterns of settlement, as the suburbs draw more Muslim families away from urban centers.

Titled "The American Mosque 2011," the report is part of a University of Kentucky-led study. It cites several reasons for why the number of Islamic houses of worship in the country has gone from 1,209 mosques in 2000 to 2,106 last year. A few of these factors, from the report:

  • The increased number of Muslim refugees and new immigrant groups has led them to establish their own mosques where they can feel more comfortable in their own language and cultural environment. The new groups that are starting their own mosques are Somalis, Iraqis, West Africans and Bosnians.

  • The expansion of the Muslim population into new areas of a city, suburb or town has motivated Muslims to found mosques in these new areas where no mosques exist. In other words, Muslims get tired of driving an hour to the closest mosque and they decide to found a mosque closer to where they live.

  • Being a richly diverse community, the ethnic and religious divisions within the Muslim community has led Muslims to leave a mosque in order to establish their own mosque which better reflect their vision and understanding of Islam.