The number of U.S. mosques and attendees has increased in last decade

The Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan. Editorial credit: Nagel Photography

A major new report on American mosques has shown that the number of masjids and attendees continues to grow despite increased hostility to Islam. 

The U.S. Mosque Survey 2020, by the Institute for Social Policy Understanding (ISPU), has just been released and says there are 2,769 mosques in the United States – a 31% increase from the 2010 count of 2,106 mosques.

The primary driving force for the increase of mosques is the steady expansion of the population of Muslims in America due to immigration and birth rate.

Almost one-fourth (24%) of mosque participants are aged 18-34, indicating that mosques have not lost the battle for the hearts and minds of young adult Muslims, but they have not won the battle either.

Mosques are becoming more suburban, the report says, as major declines occurred in the number of mosques located in towns/small cities and in downtown areas of large cities.

In 2010, 17% of mosques were found in downtown areas, but in 2020 that figure is down to 6%. This decrease is most probably tied to the decrease of African American mosques and the general move of mosques to suburban locations.

The number of African American converts has decreased

Jum’ah prayer averaged 410 attendees in 2020, as compared to 353 in 2010, which equals a 16% increase. Almost three-fourths (72%) of mosques recorded a 10% or more increase in Jum’ah attendance.

The total number of mosque participants, which is measured by the number of Muslims who attend Eid prayer after Ramadan, increased to 1,445, which is a 16% increase from the 2010 count of 1248. Using the Eid prayer count, the number of “mosqued” Muslims is approximately 4 million.

However, the number of converts to Islam in mosques declined dramatically. From 15.3 converts per mosque in 2010, the average number of converts in 2020 is 11.3. The primary reason is the decline in African American converts, especially in African American mosques.

In 2020, African American mosques comprised 13% of all mosques, but in 2010 African American mosques accounted for 23% of all mosques – a 43% decrease. This is especially noteworthy considering African American Muslims account for roughly 28% of all American Muslims according to ISPU.

Apparent causes are the decline of African American converts, the inability of mosques to attract and maintain African American young adults, and the overall ageing of African American Muslims, many of whom converted in the 1960s and 1970s.

In the past decade (2010-2019), 35% of mosques encountered significant resistance from their neighbourhood or city when they tried to obtain permission to move, expand, or build.

In comparison, from 1980-2009 the average percentage of mosques that met resistance was 25%. Apparently, negative attitudes toward Muslims grew in the last decade.

The average mosque budget in 2020 was $276,500 and the median budget $80,000. This is a substantial increase from 2010’s average budget of $167,600 and the median budget of $70,000.

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