Arabs and Muslims in America

What percentage of Muslims in America are of Arab descent? What percentage of Arabs (or people of Arab descent) in America are Muslims?

At least half of all Arab Americans are Christian, as I understand. A famous example was Danny Thomas, whose parents were Lebanese immigrants.

Christianity Today: Are Most Arab Americans Christian?
Apparently 75% of Arab Americans are Christian.

Since the government doesn’t collect census data for religion and the census results don’t include Arab as a racial group, the question is not answerable.

There are other sources of information on the ethnic origins and religions of Americans besides the Census Bureau.

I think this would depend upon whether you considered Black Muslims (Nation of Islam) to be Muslim. Most traditional Muslims don’t.

According to this, 12.4 percent of American Muslims are Arabic.

According to this, 42 percent of Arab-Americans are Catholic, 12 percent are protestant, 23 percent are Orthodox, and 23 percent are Muslim.


The terms “Black Muslim” and the “Nation of Islam” aren’t synonomous. Most Black Muslims that were formerly in the Nation of Islam are now in the American Society of Muslims, which reformed itself in the 1970’s and 1980’s and are now reasonably orthodox Sunni Muslims ( with their own traditions, to be sure, but no more actively heretical beliefs ). Those that remain in the Nation of Islam of today form the rump of the old organization, led by Farrakhan, that still cleaves to many of the old beliefs that most Muslims consider mildly ( or more strongly ) heretical. But they are outnumbered by a sizeble margin by the more orthodox group.

  • Tamerlane

Interesting. Thanks for the correction.

In fact, Elijah Muhammad’s son just died a few days ago. He’d taken over his father’s NOI organization and steered it to “mainstream” Islam, and now his congregants are regular Muslims. In fact, during the last Hajj, one of our local news programs did a bunch of stories on an American Muslim convert who went to Mecca. Another Muslim woman who was a filmmaker shot the video, and it was great to see this lady, veiled (but not with the niqab) in white, mingle with millions of people from around the world dressed just like her, and then in this exotic setting and architecture she’d turn to the camera and talk to the filmmaker in the purest accents of Brooklyn! It was fascinating; she got into a few friendly arguments, being an American, but she said that overall the sense of unity was amazing. It sounds like it must be a wonderful if crowded experience.

Most of the Arabs I know aren’t Muslim, but then again most of them are Lebanese. Most of the women I see who are wearing the head scarf are black Americans, Asian (like Indonesian or Malaysian), or from the Indian subcontinent. Of course, the two Muslims I knew best in college were a Bangledeshi who dressed more revealingly than me, and a girl who wore the veil and had the olive skin and dark eyes of an Arab–but was Iranian!