The St. Louis Dispatch yesterday ran an interesting article on African-American mosques:
The African-American Muslim experience is a mystery to most Americans, black and white. When they think about African-American Islam at all, many people think immediately of Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. What they don't think much about are the thousands (some claim millions) of black Americans, most in inner cities, who practice the more mainstream, traditional Sunni Islam followed by nearly a billion people throughout the world.
Islam has been a presence in the city for at least a century. Like many U.S. cities today, St. Louis presents several different faces of Islam - Bosnian, south Asian, Arab - and even within the African-American Muslim experience there have been many strains of Islam, some more faithful to its teachings than others.
But black Muslims in the United States are struggling. According to the most recent national study of Muslim houses of prayer, done in 2000, African-American mosques are in more dire financial straits than their immigrant neighbors, with 71 percent saying they were having some financial problems, compared with 45 percent of south Asian (Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi) mosques and 43 percent of Arab mosques.
And while many immigrant and African-American Muslims agree that they are all part of the umma - or world-wide community of Muslim believers - others say that ideal is unlike the reality, in which class and race divide the two communities.
The full story is available here.