Can a Teenage White American Be a Muslim!?

Question and answer details
Daniel Gregory Phillips
I just wanted to know if a teenage white American can be a Muslim? Thank you
Ælfwine Mischler

Salam (Peace) Daniel,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam. The short answer to your question is yes. 

Islam is a religion that is meant for all people of all ages and races. It is not only for Arabs. Indeed, the majority of Muslims in the world are not Arabs. In fact, the Quran tells us that what makes one person superior to another is not the color of the skin but the level of piety: 

{O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware.} (Al-Hujurat 49:13) 

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) also emphasized this point in his final Hajj, when he told the Muslims that there was no superiority of Arab over non-Arab (or the reverse) or of white over black (or the reverse). 

In addition, the Quran points out that the Prophet Muhammad's message was for all the worlds, meaning that it was definitely not only for a certain ethnicity, or race: 

{And We have not sent you (Muhammad) save as a mercy to the worlds.} (Al-Anbiya’ 21:107) 

Elsewhere, the Quran specifically refers to differences in color and language: 

{And one of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your tongues and colors; most surely there are signs in this for the learned.} (Ar-Rum 30:22) 

When Malcom X visited Makkah after he became a Muslim, he commented on the great diversity of people he found there: 

There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and non-white. 

You can read more about this in Is Islam a Religion for Arabs Only? 

But I wonder what is really behind your question. Is it that you don't see any white Muslims around you? Or that you wonder whether Islam fits with typical American teenage culture? 

Countries that have a Muslim majority are mainly in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. But there are also countries in Europe with large Muslim populations: Bosnia and Herzegovina (40% Muslim), Albania (70%). Many European countries have Muslim minorities comprising both immigrants and natives who have converted to Islam. In the United States, there is no accurate count, but most sources estimate there are six to seven million Muslims. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) estimates that 1.6 percent of them are white Americans. 

It may be that the Muslims you see around you are African Americans or Arab or Asian, and thus you think that white people cannot be Muslim. But how would you know? Many Muslims (especially men) do not dress differently from those around them. 

And as to whether Islam fits with typical American teenage culture, I would have to say no, it does not. But that does not mean you could not be a Muslim

Muslims are forbidden to drink alcohol or use recreational drugs, and they are forbidden to have any sort of premarital relations. So if you believe that life is about having fun and your idea of a good time is to get drunk or high or to go dancing, clubbing, or dating girls (with all that is involved in these kinds of relationships), you would have a hard time being a Muslim. 

Again, this does not mean you could not be a Muslim. Islam is mainly about peacefully submitting to God, and being Muslim essentially means believing that there is only One Creator Who has no partners. If you do decide to become a Muslim and your lifestyle is so un-Islamic, go ahead and become Muslim. Know that you will eventually have to change, but don't be too hard on yourself. Take things one step at a time, and know that God will reward you for leaving what is forbidden in Islam. 

But if you believe that there is more to life than having this kind of fun; if you believe that people should be kind, generous, honest, trustworthy, hard-working, studious, and respectful of women and of their elders; if you believe that people should develop the spiritual side of their nature, then you would find it easy to be a Muslim because Islam teaches us all of this. 

Yes, Islam would probably require some changes in your lifestyle, but perhaps not too much — depending on what your style is now. But Islam should make you a better person, and accepting Islam does not mean that you can never have fun or smile. For example, you can participate in summer camps for Muslim youth, or you can play sports with your male friends. 

For more on what you can do, read the following: 

An Islamic Summer for the Youth

Muslim Youth in America 

You can read more in these articles: 

New Converts and Their Parents

What Is Islam?

About to Convert

A New Muslim and a New Life

How to Live as a Muslim

Readings for New Muslims 

There are many white men who have become Muslim, some of them as teenagers. A few have become famous, but the majority are not. Here are some links to stories of white men who became Muslim. You can get more from our Journey to Islam page: 

Guidance in Boarding School

Reviving Hungary's Lost Religion

Are Young People Bored With Religion?

I Had Not Gone Shopping for a New Religion

From "Fifteen Minutes for God" to a Lifetime

A "Typical American" Discovers Islam

American Performing Artist Discovers Islam

I hope this answers your question, Daniel. May God guide you in your search to know Him. If you have any more questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.