What Are the Largest Muslim Immigrant Communities in Brooklyn?Census data is not readily available on the nations of origin of Brooklyn's immigrants. So it would be difficult to quantify the numbers of Brooklyn residents who came from, say, Egypt, Yemen or Pakistan.
Based, then, on community hubs of mosques, halal butchers, and stores specializing in religious items, here's an anecdotal list of some of larger Brooklyn Muslim immigrant communities:
- Bay Ridge: An influx of Muslim immigrants since the 1990s has given rise to a robust Muslim community in Bay Ridge. This once largely Irish neighborhood now has mosques, halal butcher shops, halal restaurants, and Muslim educational institutions. The Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, which holds classes, religious observances and community forums, is located in Bay Ridge.
- Boerum Hill: On Atlantic Avenue, across from the Atlantic Terminal subway station, is the Al Farooq mosque (also known as Masjid al-Farooq). Adjacent to the mosque are several stores that specialize in religious texts, clothing for men and women, incense, perfume, and religious objects.
- Cobble Hill: Also on Atlantic Avenue, but near the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, is one short block of Middle Eastern food stores and restaurants. Many, including the noted food emporium Sahadi's, are of Christian Arab heritage and have been neighborhood fixtures for decades. These bakeries, eateries and specialty food stores cater to a largely non-Muslim clientele from the nearby gentrified neighborhoods of Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights, among others.
- Flatbush: Flatbush is very diverse ethnically. It is home to Makki Masjid and Muslim Community Center, one hub of Pakistani life in New York City. This mosque is located in the center of several blocks of shops serving the Muslim population. Visitors will note the colorful signs in Arabic script over the barbershop, sari store, and jewelry stores as well. Nearby are orthodox Jewish neighborhoods; the neighborly proximity of religious Muslim and Jewish communities has been covered by global media.
- Students at Brooklyn's various educational institutions: Brooklyn's many educational establishments attract students of all, no, and multiple faiths. Notably, Brooklyn College has an active immigrant and first-generation Muslim student body including, according to local newspapers, a Palestinean student club at Brooklyn College.
- Kensington: This section of the area in Brooklyn known, simply, as Flatbush is home to many Muslim immigrants, whose daily needs are met by the mom-and-pop clothing stores, food shops, and small restaurants that line Coney Island Avenue.
- Greenwood Heights & Sunset Park: Sunset Park, although primarily Chinese and Latino, is also home to a vibrant Muslim community. The Al-Noor School, a private co-ed school, is located between the southern part of Park Slope and Sunset Park in an area that realtors have renamed Greenwood. Opened in 1995 this school is the largest Islamic School in New York City. Located in Sunset Park proper is Fatih Camii Mosque, a Turkish mosque built in 1980 on a site that years ago was an Irish and Norwegian dance club. The tile work inside is beautiful.
Brooklyn has long prided itself on being home to a broadly diverse population of people from all over the world. The Muslim community is one of many that contributes to the vibrant and ethnically authentic nature of Brooklyn, NY.
For More Information
A New York Times' award-winning series about a Brooklyn imam who has since moved to the suburbs: Muslims in America, written by Andrea Elliott (2006)
A report, Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream",by the Pew Charitable Trust (2007)
Arab American Association of New York
Islamic Leadership Council of New York