Islam in Metro Detroit

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Islam is practiced by several Muslim American groups in Metro Detroit.


The first mosque in the city was the Highland Park Mosque, and the first imams who lived in Detroit were Kalil Bazzy and Hussein Adeeb Karoub. This first mosque failed in 1922. A multiethnic coalition founded the Universal Islamic Society (UIS), the city's second mosque, in 1925.[1]

The character changed in Detroit's Islam in the 1970s when the conversions of the members of the Nation of Islam to mainstream Islam occurred, and when immigration from India, southern Lebanon, Pakistan, and Palestine occurred.[1] B.D. Singleton of the California State University, San Bernardino wrote that the older Muslim population were often "marginalized or shut out of" institutions they themselves had created.[2]

In the 2000s a Bengali mosque in Hamtramck named the Al-Islah Jamee Masjid wanted permission to broadcast the adhan, the Islamic call to prayer, from loudspeakers outside of the mosque and requested this permission from the city government. It was one of the newer mosques in Hamtramck. Sally Howell, author of "Competing for Muslims: New Strategies for Urban Renewal in Detroit", wrote that the request "brought to a head simmering Islamophobic sentiments" in Hamtramck.[3] Muslims and interfaith activists supported the mosque. Some anti-Muslim activists, including some from other states including Kentucky and Ohio, participated in the controversy.[3] Howell added that the controversy, through an "international media storm", gave "a cathartic test of the 'freedoms' we were said to be 'fighting for' in Afghanistan and Iraq" to the remainder of the United States.[3] In 2004 the city council voted unanimously to allow mosques to broadcast the adhan on public streets, making it one of the few U.S. cities to allow this to occur. Some individuals had strongly objected to the allowing of the adhan.[4]

In 2013 the city council of Hamtramck became the first in the U.S. that was Muslim majority.[5][6]

By 2015 many Muslim women in the Detroit area asked to be able to wear hijab in public places and in any identification photographs. Several municipalities are having to determine how to deal with producing identification photographs of Muslim women who are under arrest.[7]

Ethnic relations[edit]

The authors Abdo Elkholy, Frances Trix, and Linda Walbridge all, as paraphrased by Sally Howell, stated that "relations between Albanian Muslims and other Muslims in Detroit were limited at best."[8]


The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has a Michigan chapter,[9] headquartered in Southfield.[10]

Individual mosques[edit]

Mosques in Dearborn include the Islamic Center of America and the Dearborn Mosque.

In Hamtramck the Bengali community has established mosques, including Al-Islah Jamee Masjid.[11] In addition, in Hamtramck the Yemeni community established the Mu'ath bin Jabal Mosque (Arabic: مسجد معاذ بن جبل‎),[12] which was established in 1976.[13] In 2005 the mosque, located just outside the south eastern border of Hamtramck, was the largest mosque out of the ten within a three-mile radius.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA has a Metro Detroit chapter, and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Center is in Rochester Hills.[14]

The First Albanian Bektashi Monastery (Tekke) opened in Taylor in 1953. Baba Rexheb, an Albanian Sufi, had established it.[8] In 1963 the Albanian Islamic Center in Harper Woods opened.[15]


Islamic day schools in the Detroit area include:

  • International Islamic Academy (IIA) - Detroit - Formed in 2011 by the merger of Dar Alarqam School and Al Ihsan Academy[16]
  • Muslim American Youth Academy (MAYA) of the Islamic Center of America - Dearborn[17]

As of 2015 Michigan Islamic Academy, a K-12 Islamic day school in Ann Arbor, has students who come from Metro Detroit.[18]

Public schools[edit]

In a thirty-year period ending sometime prior to 2010 Dearborn Public Schools and Detroit Public Schools both developed policies to accommodate Arab and Muslim students in collaboration with administrators, parents, teachers, and students. Policies adopted by the districts included observances of Muslim holidays, Arabic-language programs, policies concerning prayer, and rules regarding modesty of females in physical education and sports.[19] Since the early 1980s Dearborn district schools have vegetarian meals as alternative to non-halal meals. As of 2010 some schools use discretionary funds to offer halal meals, but most schools do not offer halal meals since they cannot get affordable prices from distributors.[20]

In 2005 Highland Park Schools made plans to attract Arab and Muslim students resident in Detroit and Hamtramck.[21] Dr. Theresa Saunders, the superintendent of the school system, hired Yahya Alkebsi (Arabic: يحيى الكبسي‎), a Yemeni-American educator, as the district's Arab Muslim consultant. It added Arabic-speaking teachers and began offering instruction in Arabic. Sally Howell, author of "Competing for Muslims: New Strategies for Urban Renewal in Detroit", said that the district began treating "Muslim families more directly like consumers".[19] Howell said that the district agreed "to segregate Muslim students from mainstream classrooms" but that the district routinely denied that this was the case.[19] Alkebsi said that he would bring halal food to HPS schools, but he was unable to do so. The district instead had vegetarian options.[20]


The number of halal-certified restaurants in Metro Detroit grew from 89 in 2010 to 236 in 2014.[22][23]

Notable residents[edit]

Religious leaders:

Elected officials: James Karoub (Michigan House of Representatives, 15th District, 1963-1968) Rashida Tlaib (Michigan House of Representatives, 6th District, 2009-2014) Abdullah Hammoud (Michigan House of Representatives, 15th District, 2016–present)

Rima Fakih was a Muslim until she converted to Christianity in 2016.[24]

See also[edit]

Ethnic groups:



  1. ^ a b Gibson, Dawn-Marie (Royal Holloway, University of London). "Old Islam in Detroit: Rediscovering the Muslim American Past." (Book review). Journal of American History, 2015, Vol.102(1), pp.205-207. DOI 10.1093/jahist/jav220. CITED: p. 206. - Cites page 174 of Old Islam in Detroit (2014)
  2. ^ Singleton, B.D. (California State University, San Bernardino). "Howell, Sally. Old Islam in Detroit: rediscovering the Muslim American past." (Brief article)(Book review) CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, 2015, Vol.52(5), p.877(1).
  3. ^ a b c Howell, "Competing for Muslims," p. 209.
  4. ^ "Hamtramck OKs prayer call over heated objections." The Detroit News. April 28, 2004. Retrieved on September 9, 2013. Document ID: det18788929. "HAMTRAMCK ? The City Council on Tuesday night approved an ordinance to allow mosques to broadcast the Islamic call to prayer onto public streets over some heated objections. The unanimous vote by the council makes it one of the few cities in the United States to approve the practice. "This is about uniting our community," said Shabad Ahmed, 37, a Bangladeshi immigrant and the first and only Muslim member of the Hamtramck City Council. Supporters of the change outnumbered[...]"
  5. ^ Bailey, Sarah Pullman (21 November 2015). "In the first majority-Muslim U.S. city, residents tense about its future". Washington Post. Retrieved 22 November 2015. 
  6. ^ Felton, Ryan (15 November 2015). "Michigan town said to have first majority Muslim city council in US". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 November 2015. 
  7. ^ Warikoo, Niraj. "Muslim women fight for right to wear Islamic headscarf" (Archive). Detroit Free Press. June 30, 2015. Retrieved on November 1, 2015.
  8. ^ a b Howell, Old Islam in Detroit, p. 147.
  9. ^ "Muslim Organization Plans Legal Action Against Dearborn PD After Altercation" (Archive). CBS Detroit. May 7, 2014. Retrieved on September 29, 2014.
  10. ^ "Contact." CAIR Michigan. Retrieved on September 29, 2014. "21700 NORTHWESTERN HWY, SUITE 815, SOUTHFIELD, MI 48075"
  11. ^ Metzger, Kurt and Jason Booza. "Asians in the United States, Michigan and Metropolitan Detroit Archived 2006-06-20 at the Wayback Machine.." Center for Urban Studies, Wayne State University. January 2002 Working Paper Series, No. 7. p. 10. Retrieved on November 6, 2013.
  12. ^ Almasmari, Hakim. "Hamtramck, Michigan: A Yemeni oasis" (). Yemen Observer. November 21, 2006. Retrieved on September 9, 2013.
  13. ^ "Masjid Mu‘ath Bin Jabal" (Archive). University of Michigan. Retrieved on December 10, 2015.
  14. ^ "Metro Muslim chapter holds blood drive in honor of 9/11." The Detroit News. September 11, 2014. Retrieved on September 27, 2014.
  15. ^ "Albanian Islamic Center" (Archive). Building Islam in Detroit Website. University of Michigan. Retrieved on September 29, 2014.
  16. ^ "Vision & Mission" (Archive). International Islamic Academy. Retrieved on November 1, 2015.
  17. ^ "Home." Muslim American Youth Academy. Retrieved on November 1, 2015. Address is "19500 Ford Road, Dearborn, MI 48128, United States"
  18. ^ "MIA Demographic Data" (Archive). Michigan Islamic Academy. Retrieved on November 1, 2015.
  19. ^ a b c Howell, p. 220. "HPS, like a dozen or more local charter schools, sought to outmaneuver more experienced districts by[...] and agreeing to segregate Muslim students from mainstream classrooms, a policy that is routinely denied in Highland Park but is also very much on display in local charter schools."
  20. ^ a b Howell, p. 223.
  21. ^ Cecil, Angel. "HIGHLAND PARK SCHOOLS SEEK MORE ARAB, MUSLIM STUDENTS." Detroit Free Press. January 28, 2005. News p. B2. Retrieved on September 8, 2013. byline says: "HAMTRAMCK, DETROIT INTEND TO KEEP THEM"
  22. ^ "America's Muslim Capitals Slide #1" (Archive). The Daily Beast. "#1, Detroit, Michigan Estimated Muslim population (percentage): 1.3 Total mosques (rank): 3 Number of halal restaurants: 89"
  23. ^ ""
  24. ^ "First Muslim Miss USA Rima Fakih converts to Christianity". Fox News. Retrieved 2016-10-17. 

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