Open today 9:30 am - 4:30 pm

Latinx Muslims in Chicago

Chicago is home to one of the largest Muslim populations in the United States. The community is diverse in a variety of ways—there are followers of many nationalities, ethnicities, and races from the US and around the world, members of various faith traditions, and converts and those who were raised in the faith. 

Edmund Arroyo is a licensed clinical social worker originally from south suburban Blue Island. He converted to Islam in the 1990s and experienced some loneliness in his early days because of the lack of Latinx Muslims. Arroyo pointed out, however, that the Latinx Muslim community in Chicago is much bigger now.

For National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 through October 15, we’re highlighting some oral history interviews of Latinx Chicagoans from our exhibition, American Medina: Stories of Muslim Chicago. Their stories are as diverse as Chicago’s Latinx and Muslim communities.

Edmund Arroyo is a licensed clinical social worker originally from south suburban Blue Island. He converted to Islam in the 1990s and experienced some loneliness in his early days because of the lack of Latinx Muslims. Arroyo pointed out, however, that the Latinx Muslim community in Chicago is much bigger now.

Naadhera Muhammad was raised in the Logan Square neighborhood and is a member of the Chicago-based Nation of Islam (NOI). “It was there [at the NOI],” she remarked to her Teen Historian interviewers, “that I learned how to cook, how to take care of my home, my children, my husband . . . It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made [to join the NOI].”

Andrea Ortez is a native of Los Angeles who moved here to attend Loyola University Chicago, converting to Islam in 2009. “I never wanted my religion to be in contradiction to . . . what it meant to be Latina,” Ortez told her interviewer. “There wasn’t this tension, really, between those two spaces.”

Naadhera Muhammad was raised in the Logan Square neighborhood and is a member of the Chicago-based Nation of Islam (NOI). “It was there [at the NOI],” she remarked to her Teen Historian interviewers, “that I learned how to cook, how to take care of my home, my children, my husband . . . It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made [to join the NOI].”
You can listen to their excerpted oral histories by clicking on their names. To listen to more American Medina oral history interviews, visit our SoundCloud site. Listen to more interviews.

Andrea Ortez is a native of Los Angeles who moved here to attend Loyola University Chicago, converting to Islam in 2009. “I never wanted my religion to be in contradiction to . . . what it meant to be Latina,” Ortez told her interviewer. “There wasn’t this tension, really, between those two spaces.”

American Medina: Stories of Muslim Chicago

Our exhibition American Medina: Stories of Muslim Chicago draws from more than 100 interviews conducted with Muslim Chicagoans sharing their stories of faith, identity, and personal journeys. Dozens of objects from local individuals and organizations, such as garments, artwork, and photographs, as well as videos and interactive experiences expand on how and why Chicago is known as the American Medina. Learn more.

Virtual Teacher Book Club

Saturdays, October 24 and November 14, 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

$50 includes a copy of the book autographed by the author, mailed to you. 

Designed for educators, our two-part book club is reading Internment by Samira Ahmed, set in a near-future United States in which American Muslims are forced into internment camps. Participants will engage with classroom resources for American Medina: Stories of Muslim Chicago and meet author Samira Ahmed. Learn more and register.

Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago's Stories
X