Arshad Majid's family came to America from India when he was 4, and they brought their religious devotion with them. Majid remembers waking up early, climbing onto his father's lap and watching him read the Quran.
Later, Majid learned the meaning of the ''strange, squiggly'' lines in Arabic and embraced the faith, keeping a prayer rug in his Long Island office when he worked as a prosecutor.
Talib Abdur-Rashid was a different kind of ''immigrant,'' moving as a child from Greensboro, N.C., where he lived ''in the shadow of American apartheid,'' to make a new home in the South Bronx, he said.
He had another name before, one he won't reveal, and worshipped at a Lutheran church, until he found a new spiritual path with other American blacks in a Harlem mosque that followers of Malcolm X built.
The two men represent the dominant streams of Islam in America -- where immigrants from Pakistan, India and other South Asian countries and U.S.-born blacks comprise the majority of Muslims.
While some Arabs in the United States are Muslim, most are not. Some 77 percent are Christian, according to a survey last year by the Arab American Institute.
The complexities and divisions of worldwide Islam are here in the United States -- with Sunnis, Shiites, Sufis and others. Yet, there is a decidedly American twist, originating mainly from the Islam that came from the black identity movements of the early 1900s.
''The Muslim community in America is far from being monolithic,'' said Mahmoud Ayoub, a professor of Islamic studies at Temple University in Philadelphia. ''The community here reflects the world.''
Estimates of the number of Muslims in the United States vary wildly.
''The Mosque in America,'' a report commissioned by Muslim groups and released this year, put the figure at around 6 million. But the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center, in a report commissioned by the American Jewish Committee, said it was no more than 2.8 million
Another study, the American Religious Identification Survey, released in October by the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, estimated the number was closer to 1.8 million.
According to the mosque study, 33 percent of those active in mosques are South Asian and 30 percent are black. Arabs comprise 25 percent, while European immigrants, Africans, U.S.-born whites and others make up the rest.
''When I first began reading about Islam, there was something in the message,'' said Abdur-Rashid, imam of Harlem's Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, where he first embraced the religion. ''The fact that Islam is a way of life and not just a doctrine, the absolute centrality of almighty God and the prophetic tradition, and the very strong position that Islam has on social justice.''
Islamic communities are just developing in this country.
Nearly all of the nation's estimated 1,200 mosques were founded in the last 30 years, many with money from governments of predominantly Muslim countries.
The community has few institutions where religious leaders, or imams, can be trained. As a result, nations like Egypt often send imams to the United States, keeping Muslims in this country closely tied with worldwide Islam.
A clash of views is sometimes the result. Ayoub recalled how he argued with a conservative imam from overseas, who said U.S. Muslims could only marry virgins.
''Immigrant Muslims, and I don't exclude myself, we are a very mixed blessing,'' said Ayoub, who is from Lebanon. ''We do bring some ideas, and people may benefit from some of the things we know, but then we impede the Americanization of the Muslim community.''
Waves of immigration helped Islam develop in the United States, starting in the late 1800s, when Mideast natives came to this country to earn money.
Many became peddlers, work that required little English, then traveled the country, often serving farming communities. One of the earliest mosques, dubbed the ''Mother Mosque,'' is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
War and economic hardship overseas drew more Muslims to the United States in the 20th century. The largest influx began after 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson abolished an immigration quota system that had disproportionately benefited Europeans. Muslim communities are now thriving in Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, New York and other cities.
While migration was bringing Islam to parts of America, blacks born into the racism of this country were discovering the faith on their own.
In the 1930s in Detroit, as blacks were working to forge a group identity, Wallace D. Fard began preaching that he came from Mecca with a message: that blacks were members of an ancient tribe called Shabazz, Jane Smith wrote in her book ''Islam in America.''
Fard and his followers soon formed what became known as the Nation of Islam. Fard's top lieutenant, Elijah Muhammad, eventually succeeded him.
The Nation's belief that Fard had divine status and Elijah Muhammad was a prophet is the major source of division that continues today between the group and mainstream Muslims. In orthodox Islam, no one other than God is divine and the ancient Muhammad is considered the final prophet.
The Institute of Islamic Information and Education in Chicago calls the Nation a ''pseudo-Islamic cult.''
Islam among blacks is much broader than the Nation. Elijah Muhammad's son, W.D. Mohammed, took over the movement in the 1970s, but gradually moved his thousands of followers toward mainstream Islam.
He began promoting the Sunni branch of the religion -- followed by the majority of Muslims worldwide. Louis Farrakhan then decided to rebuild the old Nation of Islam under his own leadership.
''(W.D. Mohammed) began to rethink publicly the ideology that had characterized the Nation in its earlier days,'' Smith wrote. ''While always careful to credit his father with wise and skilled leadership, he made it clear that as Fard was not divine, so Elijah was not the pure and unblemished messenger of Allah.''
Many other blacks belong to mosques unaffiliated with either of these two leaders.
Despite efforts to bring black and immigrant Muslims together, experts say ethnic differences continue to divide them -- even as the immigrant members of the community grow more comfortable in their new country.
This year, Ramadan, the holy month when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, falls during Thanksgiving.
''We'll just have a smaller turkey this year, after we break our fast,'' Majid said.
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