Muslim Population Flourishes in Ohio

The number of Muslims in Columbus, Ohio, has been growing significantly recently, with many seeing this having great and positive impact on the economy, Columbus Dispatch reported.

“I have noticed a general increase in Muslims that go to mosque,” Romin Iqbal, executive and legal director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations Columbus, said of Muslims moving to Columbus.

The increasing number of Muslims was noticed recently when thousands gathered at the Ohio Expo Center earlier this month for `Eid Al-Fitr prayer after the end of Ramadan.

The event, hosted by the Noor Islamic Cultural Center but open to all, was precipitated by the growing Muslim population locally — a population that can no longer fit within the walls of the Hilliard mosque, said Imran Malik, who handles community relations for Noor.

“The community overall is growing rapidly,” said Malik, whose mosque is planning to double its footprint to accommodate the growing community.

It’s hard to confirm the population growth because the US Census Bureau doesn’t ask about religion.

The Pew Research Center estimated in 2017 that 3.45 million Muslims were living in the United States, up from 2.35 million in 2007. In the country, and in Ohio, Muslims make up about 1% of the population, according to a 2014 Pew study.

Columbus City Councilman Emmanuel Remy attributes the increase in immigrant and Muslim population to the fact that Columbus is a great city for refugees, immigrants and new Americans.

“They’ve found it to be a welcoming city with a lower cost of living and plentiful jobs,” he said. “It’s about the friendliness they find here.”

Iqbal attributed part of central Ohio’s economic growth to the influx of immigrants and Muslims into the area.

The nonpartisan American Immigration Council said 42% of adult immigrants living in Ohio had a college degree or higher in 2015.

“More than anything else, it’s helping the economy,” Iqbal said.