Tariq Nelson has an interesting discussion going on at his blog about Muslim population figures. A study has come out saying that about 400,000 African-Americans are Muslims or about 1% of the black population of America. This contrasts with the 5% figure some Muslims have put forward and on this issue I tend to side with the low number, but I still feel it is a little low ( off the top of my head I think there may be 700,000 given the large numbers in some East Coast cities).
If Muslims are 5% of the black population they have accomplished astoundingly little. However, at 1% the state of the community becomes a little more realistic if not desirable.
There are some cities where there are more black Muslims than others. The East Coast cities have the most; Philly, NYC, New Jersey, DC, and Baltimore. Then you have those places where EC Muslims migrated such as Atlanta and the Carolinas. Next you have the old Midwestern cities that were strong in the NOI back in the day such as Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland.
But, outside of those areas, you will find the black Muslim populations pretty small. It is true that in Philly, Brooklyn or Newark you will run into black American Muslims sporting beards and hijabs/niqaabs all day long. But you may walk the streets of dozens of other cities for weeks without seeing a Muslim.
In prior conversations Tariq has told me there are probably 20 active black Muslims in Memphis and Memphis is a city with a huge black population. In a city like Wichita, where I have spent time, there are maybe 50 black Muslims in a city with 60,000 African-Americans.
Let’s look at St. Louis. At all of the masjids in the area there may be 200 African-American Muslims at jumma at all the masjids combined every week in a metro area with almost 500,000 African-Americans. I will grant you there are a few thousand lax Muslims out there; but are there tens of thousands? Even if so their children will not be Muslims more than likely.
The Muslim population in general is a mystery. Some Jewish organizations have said there are only about 1 million Muslims in America (and I once heard someone say 500,000) which both are absurdly low given the fact that a city with a dead Muslim population like St. Louis has between 70,000 and 100,000 Muslims. Some Muslims have said the Muslim population here is as high as 17 million which is absurdly high. Muslim organizations have touted the 6 million figure and that number keeps growing; but this in my mind was always a number put forth for political reasons to say that there as many, if not more, Muslims than Jews in America.
One thing that we do know if we compare the Muslim-Jewish populations is that our numbers are growing and theirs are declining. No one would dispute this. All of the major Northern industrial American cities that had historically large Jewish populations now have large Muslim immigrant and second-generation communities. This is not to mention there are growing and vibrant Muslim populations in cities with virtually no Jewish presence. So, if the number for Muslims is not 6 million, I think it may be close. But, at the end of the day, our population remains a mystery.