Nigerian American Muslims in Chicago

By: Misbahudeen Ahmed Rufai  

On November 29, 1989, the Nigerian Islamic Association (NIA) was formally established in Chicago as a not-for-profit Islamic organization. Having been in Chicago for about six years, they felt estranged when visiting other mosques in the city and missed the social-cultural flavor of practicing their faith. This flavor includes post-salat (worship) practices, naming ceremonies (aqiqah), funerals, and weddings. While there is a common thread that runs through all Muslim communities, especially when it comes to the Qur’an and the Sunnah (traditions) of the Prophet Muhammad, African societies have cultural nuances that enhance the expression of Islam without deviating from the core Islamic principles. To remedy the situation, they started monthly Sunday meetings for prayers and socialization called Asalatu in individual homes and invited friends. After a year, they agreed to rent a store front on 1124 West Foster Avenue on Chicago’s Northside, for prayers and continuation of the asalatu. From this location, the group of Nigerians Muslims, mainly of Yoruba ethnicity, saved enough to buy a more spacious center at 932 West Sheridan Road. This paper will explore ways by which the Nigerian Islamic Association has, in its thirty years, served the as a home away from home for the more than 250 members. The paper will show through marriage performances, naming ceremonies, funerals, counseling, educational and other services, how the NIA meets the social-cultural needs of its membership while at the same remaining devout to Islam.

Yoruba Asalatu, NIA
Religious Community and Socialization
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Misbahudeen Ahmed Rufai

Professor/Faculty, Social Sciences, City Colleges of Chicago/Malcolm X College, United States
United States