Report: Mosque growth in U.S. tied to Muslims' increasing influence

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  • June 24, 2013 - 11:19 AM

The number of mosques in the U.S. more than doubled between 1994 and 2011, according to a new report by the Los Angeles Times:

“The majority of mosques in the United States are still existing buildings converted to an Islamic prayer space. But the number of newly built structures — such as the new Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley — has doubled in the last decade, to 632 in 2011 from 314 in 2000, according to the American Mosque 2011 study. Among metropolitan areas, Southern California is home to 120 mosques, second only to the New York area, the study found. (Estimates of the Muslim American population vary, but a 2011 Pew Research Center study placed it at about 2.7 million nationwide and growing.)”

The number of Muslims and mosques have grown significantly in Minnesota over the past decade or so as well. Currently, there are about 150,000 Muslims in the state, with close to 40 mosques.

According to the LA Times report, the growth in the number of mosques can be tied to Muslims’ increasing influence in the U.S.:

“Over the last several years, new mosques have risen in Mission Viejo, Irvine, Anaheim, Reseda, Rancho Cucamonga, Rosemead, Diamond Bar and Tustin. Additional mosques are slated for Temecula, Ontario, Lomita and Corona.”

“Strikingly, the new mosques have been funded entirely by local Muslims, who began settling in the region in the 1960s. Before 2001, new mosques were often funded by foreigners; the Saudis financed the King Fahad Mosque in Culver City, and Libyans helped build Masjid Omar near USC.”

“Stricter government scrutiny of foreign investments from Islamic countries after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, along with reluctance by local Muslims about accepting foreign money, helped change the practices, according to Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California.”

“‘Post 9/11, the dynamic completely changed,” Syed said. “The Muslim community at large in North America realized it is better if we develop our own funding, however long it takes.’”

“Syed said many Muslims have built successful businesses over the last few decades and are now positioned to give back. Some did relatively well during the recession, as they were able to buy undervalued properties while not taking on risky investments or interest-incurring debt, which is barred in Islam, he said.”


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