Posted on November 21, 2022

Muslim Americans Make Historic Gains in Midterm Elections

Alejandra Molina, Washington Post, November 14, 2022

Nabeela Syed made history in this year’s midterms when she defeated a Republican incumbent in Illinois’s 51st District, making her the youngest member of the Illinois General Assembly and among the first Muslims elected to the state legislature.

“It is so important for us to have a seat at the table, for us to have a voice in the legislative process,” Syed, a 23-year-old Indian American who is Muslim, told a local TV news reporter soon after her win. Syed recalled a conversation with a friend who had never expected to see a name like hers on yard signs in their community.

{snip} Syed and Abdelnasser Rashid became the first Muslims elected to the Illinois legislature.


Syed is among a cohort of candidates who made history this year by becoming the first Muslim Americans to be elected to the state legislature in states including Texas, Illinois, Georgia and Minnesota. All of them are Democrats, many are women and a rising number are Somali Americans.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said the 2022 midterms have been a historic election: It tracked a record-breaking 145 American Muslim candidates running for local, state and federal office, including 48 state legislative candidates in 23 states.

As a result, more than 80 Muslim candidates won local, state, federal and judicial seats in over 20 states, according to a report from CAIR and the Jetpac Resource Center, a nonprofit that works to increase Muslim representation in U.S. government and politics. This signals the highest number of electoral wins among Muslim Americans since Jetpac and CAIR began tracking. In 2020, 71 were elected.

Jetpac also documented a record number of Muslims running for state legislative seats, including: 20 Muslim incumbents who successfully ran for reelection; two appointed lawmakers who ran for a full term and made history as the first Muslims elected to their respective state legislatures; plus 17 new Muslim candidates who won their campaigns.


Among the historic gains:

In Minnesota, 25-year-old Zaynab Mohamed, a Democrat, became the first Muslim woman of Somali descent to be elected to the state Senate.

In Georgia, four Muslim Americans were elected to state office. This includes Democrat Ruwa Romman, the first Muslim woman elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, and Nabilah Islam, the first Muslim woman elected to the Georgia Senate.


The 2022 midterm election results prove that “Muslims are a powerhouse,” said community organizer Nada Al-Hanooti — not just as candidates but also as a constituency.


“I think slowly, but surely, the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, will know that the Muslim community is a force to be reckoned with,” Hanooti said.