Before 1960, only five mosques could be found in metropolitan Chicago, all within the city limits. From research conducted in the late 1990s, I estimated that there were 67 mosques in the six-county region (cf. Numrich 2004). In a 2010 research project, I verified the locations of the 91 mosques shown on the accompanying map. This essay describes my research methods and findings for the 2010 project and discusses some implications of Islam’s growing institutional presence on Chicago’s (and America’s) religious landscape…
53% of the mosques (48 of 91) are located in the city of Chicago, 47% (43 of 91) in the suburbs. Notable clustering of mosques can be found on the city’s north and south sides (due to residential patterns of immigrants and African Americans, respectively) and in suburban Cook and DuPage Counties, the latter one of the wealthiest counties in the nation…
77% of the mosques (70 of 91) have adapted their facilities for use as a mosque. These include several former Christian churches, such as Islamic Community Center of Illinois on Chicago’s north side (see photo on map, courtesy author). Two mosques meet in functioning churches, including Batavia Islamic Center in the western suburbs (see map), which is featured in my book, The Faith Next Door (Numrich 2009: chapter 4)…
Nearly two-thirds of the mosques (58 of 91) have some exterior indication of their Islamic identity that would be recognizable to the average American passerby, such as domes, minarets, Islamic symbols, or English signage. All but two of the 21 newly built mosques have such recognizable Islamic markers, such as Masjid Al-Faatir on Chicago’s south side with its impressive dome and minarets (see photo on map, courtesy Frederick J. Nachman).
As Numrich notes, the number and locations of mosques is fluid and thus might have changed by 2015. Still, there is good data here (involving driving more than 2,400 miles to check out the locations) and the page includes a Google map with all the locations.
Come to think about it, I haven’t seen many stories recently about new mosques or communities objecting to proposals for mosques. Back in the early 2010s, this was a hot topic: see earlier posts here, here, and here. But, given the number of mosques within the Chicago region as well as some of the reaction to these high profile cases, it seems as though this is now normal. Even Wheaton, the “Protestant Vatican,” saw the opening of a mosque in late 2013.
Mosque spokesman Abraham Antar said he and his fellow congregants are excited about their new home, which he said is Wheaton’s first Muslim community.
“Wheaton is a city of faith, and we’re very privileged to be able to establish an Islamic community for Wheaton and especially for the western suburbs,” he said. “There are a lot of Muslims in Wheaton and the surrounding towns. It’s unfortunate for the (First Assembly of God) church that they lost their opportunity to stay there.”
Antar also said Islamic Center of Wheaton leaders are looking forward to getting to know other religious institutions in the area.
I don’t know how those conversations with other religious institutions are going but it would have been hard for Wheaton residents decades ago to imagine seeing a mosque within city limits.