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Curious City: Do Chicago’s Arab And African-American Muslims Share Mosques? If Not, Why Not?

Before she moved to Wisconsin, LuAnn Sorenson taught English as a second language at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Many of her students were practicing Muslims, mostly from Saudi Arabia. 

LuAnn says she always looked for ways to get her students out of the classroom and interact with Americans, and she wondered how a city as diverse as Chicago could help. She came to Curious City with a question: In the Chicago area, do Arab Muslims attend the same mosques as African-American Muslims? 

So, Curious City brought four Muslim leaders from the Arab and African-American communities together to talk about their relationship, why it’s been divided, and how it’s changing with President Donald Trump in the White House. 

The discussion included interfaith and anti-racism educator Hind Makki (who identifies as Afro-Arab); Tariq El-Amin, the imam at Masjid Al-Taqwa, a mosque on Chicago’s Southeast Side; Sultan Muhammad, the imam at Mosque Maryam, the national headquarters of the Nation of Islam; and Kifah Mustapha, who is originally from Lebanon and currently serves as the imam at the Prayer Center of Orland Park.

Predominantly Arab Muslim attendees participate in the Eid Al Adha festival prayer at the Tinley Park convention center in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. (Courtesy Kifah Mustapha)

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