Colorado’s Muslim community plays a vital role in the culture of the Centennial State. The community has grown to an estimated population of more than 70,000. They gather and worship at about fourteen mosques around the state, most of them in Aurora and the southeast Denver metro area—home to the Colorado Islamic Society, a community center, and the state's biggest mosque. Given their relatively small population, their voices are often omitted from the state’s narratives. The following are just a few of the stories of Muslim Coloradans.
Aurora, Colorado, plays host to the Colorado Muslim Society—the largest Islamic community organization in the Centennial State. One member of the society’s administrative staff is Iman Jodeh, who serves as public relations director and general secretary. She is also the spokeswoman for the Masjid Abu Bakr—the society’s flagship mosque.
“I don’t hide who I am to this day. Even in today’s current environment, I don’t hide who I am. I try to always show a peaceful and accepting approach with that ignorance that comes back to me. I don’t fight it back, I prefer to be patient and be peaceful, that helps with these situations over time.” Najwa Khalaf, an Aurora Muslim, spoke those words to me during an interview I conducted with her. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, adult Muslims made up less than 1% of the population of Colorado in 2019. Nonetheless, Muslim Coloradans have a rich history in the Centennial State. Najwa’s story is one such example of the growing Islamic community throughout the Denver-metro area.
Because it created such controversy on and off the field, nearly all of us remember when Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback, refused to stand for the national anthem during the 2016–17 National Football League season. Kaepernick stated that his actions were a protest of America’s prejudicial treatment of African Americans and other minorities. His actions made him the poster child of peaceful protest via refusing to stand during the national anthem, but, few people remember the National Basketball Association player who preceded Kaepernick’s peaceful protests. That NBA player’s name was Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf.