Saturday, March 24, 2007

More blacks "converting to Islam since 9/11

More blacks converting to Islam since Sept. 11
Pittsburgh among cities to see increase after terror attacks as religious leaders try to paint positive image
By Ramit Plushnick-Masti

PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Allahu Akbar, the Muslim call for prayer, rings out on a recent Friday and a group of black men and women gather to celebrate the Islamic day of rest.

The wooden house in Pittsburgh's rundown Homewood neighborhood looks like any other on the block. But the sign at the door, Masjid Mumin, and the rows of shoes lined up inside on gray, plastic shelves hint of the brand of Sunni Islam its members practice.

The mosque is one of seven in Pittsburgh, home to a vibrant community of about 8,000 to 10,000 Sunni Muslims -- some 30 percent of them black.

Following what appears to be a trend in cities nationwide, religious leaders in Pittsburgh say there has been a rise in black conversions to Sunni Islam since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

No national surveys have been taken to confirm the increase, but Islamic religious leaders in Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit have also reported growth, said Lawrence Mamiya, a professor of religion and Africana studies at Vassas College in New York. Experts estimate that 30 percent of the 6 million to 7 million Muslims in the United States are black, with only South Asians making up a larger number at 33 percent.(MORE)

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