“As-Salamu Alaikum! Good morning!” booms Habeeb Quadri, looking out over a sea of kids gathered in the gymnasium of the Muslim Community Center Full Time School.

“As-Salamu Alaikum!” the students shout in reply, echoing the traditional Arabic greeting, “Peace be upon you.”

It is a scene played out in countless variations each weekday at the estimated 240 to 250 private Islamic schools in the U.S. offering instruction to K-12 students. The increasing enrollment in these schools reflects the religion’s growing number of American followers and the desire of parents to shelter young Muslims from discrimination and discomfort they might encounter at public schools.

But Islamic schools, like mosques and other Islamic institutions, can can be viewed with distrust and even hostility, which means their founders have to work overtime to gain a foothold in many communities.

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