The first free Muslim immigrants may date back to the later 16th century, when captured Muslim soldiers were deposited on the coast of North Carolina and elsewhere in the South; if so, then the Melungeons, swarthy whites living on the Cumberland Plateau in remote parts of the southeastern United States, from Virginia to Kentucky, may be their descendants.
The modern history of Muslim immigration to the United States began a decade or so after the Civil War, consisting mostly of Levantines but also a few from Yemen, South Asia, Indonesia, and elsewhere.
For example, some 700 Punjabi farmers, some of them Muslims, emigrated from India to California.
This second wave of immigration lasted, with numerical ups and downs, until 1924, when the door to non-European immigration clanged nearly shut.
Detroit has the country's largest concentration of Arabs (mostly Lebanese, Iraqis, Palestinians, and Yemenis), a legacy of the days when Henry Ford employed Lebanese laborers.
Muslims since 1965 have arrived in the United States for three main reasons: (1) Refuge. colleges and universities attracted over half a million foreign students, many of whom chose to remain in the United States, where facilities for their profession are superior, political freedoms wider, and economic rewards greater.
Muslims tend to live in the major metropolitan areas where immigrants historically have congregated, including the country's largest cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago).
More broadly, the Islamic map of the United States features four major regions, all urban: the New York to Washington area; California, especially Los Angeles and San Francisco; a triangle stretching from Chicago to Cleveland to Detroit; and Texas, especially the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth areas.
The only town in the country with a substantial concentration of Muslim immigrants is Dearborn, Mich., where they make up perhaps 30 percent of the population; and one part of Dearborn, called Southend, is about 97 percent Muslim.
In contrast, efforts at Muslim-only towns (such as Baladullah, a Muslim enclave in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California) consist mainly of African-American converts to Islam.
With millions of Muslims now living in North America and Western Europe, the old dichotomy of Islam and the West exists no more.