Brooklyn is a big demographic soup. Brooklyn is home to many different religions. Along with US citizens, our borough's population includes naturalized American citizens, legal visitors and immigrants, and also illegal immigrants. Their nations of origin reflect the global community: Europe and the former USSR, Poland and Russia; Mexico, Central and South American nations and the Caribbean, Asian nations, as well as India, Canada and Australia.
Queens is undisputably New York City's most ethnically diverse borough. But Brooklyn, too, is a 21st-century melting pot.
1. Clarification-Most US Muslims are African-American; Most Arabs are Christian
To set the record straight, the terms “Arab” and “Muslim”— the latter denotes an adherence to the religion of Islam — are not synonymous.
According to a 2009 report called Overview of Arab American Media in the United States, which can be found on the website of the National Arab American Journalists Association, "There are an estimated 7 million to 8 million Muslims in the United States, but only about 25 percent (1.7 million) are Arab. The largest group of Muslims are African American." (italics added)
Brooklyn's Muslim community spans quite diverse communities, including both Americans and immigrants from nations as far-flung as Egypt and Pakistan.
2. Immigrant Muslim Communities in Brooklyn: From Egypt to Pakistan
From the distant neighborhoods of Bensonhurst to Boerum Hill, religious Muslim communities dot the borough of Brooklyn.
Many are comprised of immigrants from such far-flung corners of the world as Pakistan and Bangladesh; Egypt, Palestine, Israel and the north African nations; Africa and elsewhere, who continue to practice the religion of Islam.
Many members of these communities may be naturlalized citizens or Americans by birth, whose parents or grandparents were immigrants to the US. (See below for the latter.)
Learn more: Muslim Immigrant Communities in Brooklyn
3. American-born Muslim Communities in Brooklyn
Religious American-born Muslims are comprised largely of first-generation Americans whose parents or ancestors were immigrants; Americans from all backgrounds who have found a spiritual home in Islam, and people of African American descent who have converted to one or another branch of the religion of Islam. Though they share the same religion of Islam, African American Muslims — for instance, in neighborhoods such as historically black Bedford-Stuyvesant — are in some ways culturally and ethnically distinct from the immigrant Muslim communities.
See a 2009 video from the African American spiritual leader of a Brooklyn mosque, A Special Message from Imam Siraj Wahhaj.
For general information, see Muslim Alliance in North America.
4. Arabic Language Media in Brooklyn: Newspapers
A 2009 study of Arabic newspapers in the US found six based in New York City, most in Brooklyn. That ranks Brooklyn, along with the entire state of New Jersey, as the fifth largest newspaper centers in the US for Arabic print publications, after California, which was home to seventeen Arabic newspapers, as well as Illinois, Michigan and Texas.
The report, Overview of Arab American Media in the United States, accessible on the website of the National Arab American Journalists Association, lists the following Brooklyn-based Arabic newspapers:
- Aramica Newspaper. The website includes some articles in English
- Cedar News Newspaper, a Lebanese newspaper printed in Arabic and some English, and in 2011 based in Windsor Terrace
- The Mirror International
- Arab Gazette Newspaper
These publications may meld news of politics and religion.
5. Mosques in Brooklyn
In terms of religious institutions, there are many mosques in Brooklyn. Among many who are religious and also community leaders :
- Masjid Al-Farooq, at 554 Atlantic Avenue
- Islamic Mission (Masjid Dawood) at 143 State Street
- Masjid At-Taqwa, at 1266 Bedford Avenue
To learn more about Muslims and Islam in Brooklyn: Muslim Immigrant Communities in Brooklyn