Muslims are playing a vital role in the development of the state of Mississippi. They cover all spectrums of society. The state’s Muslims are university professors, medical doctors, government officials, students, and members of virtually every other profession. They live in communities all over the state.
Most of Mississippi’s Muslims are either African Americans or immigrants and their descendants. In the twentieth century and particularly after the 1960s, significant numbers of African Americans began converting to Islam, mostly following the guidance of Imam W. Deen Muhammad. And though a handful of Muslims came to the United States as early as the 1840s, immigration from Muslim countries in the Middle East and South Asia grew dramatically in the twentieth century.
Regardless of race and country of origin, all Muslim communities pray, celebrate, and engage in cultural activities. Some mosques are operated by the African American Muslim community and are associated with Imam Muhammad and the Mosque Cares Ministry. Mosques operated by immigrant Muslims are affiliated with the Islamic Society of North America and the North American Islamic Trust.
By the second decade of the twentieth century, Mississippi had more than fifteen Islamic centers and mosques, located in cities and towns throughout the state: Biloxi, Clarksdale, Greenville, Hattiesburg, Hickory Flat, Jackson, Madison, Meridian, Mound Bayou, Oxford, Silver Creek, Starkville, Sumrall, Vicksburg, and Waynesboro. Most have prayer halls, and several have religious schools for children.
Many of Mississippi’s state universities, including Jackson State University, the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, and the University of Southern Mississippi, have Muslim Student Associations that provide opportunities for Muslim students and faculty to practice their religion, promote Islamic awareness, and increase understanding of the Islamic faith among non-Muslims.
Jackson is home to the International Museum of Muslim Cultures, which is dedicated to educating the public about Islamic history and culture. It opened to the public in 2001 and five years later moved to its current location at the Mississippi Arts Center.
- Kathy Hanrahan, Associated Press (7 January 2007)
- Brannon Ingram, Pluralism Project at Harvard University website, www.pluralism.org (2008)
- International Museum of Muslim Cultures website, www.muslimmueum.org
- Muslim Students Association website, www.msanational.org