In this essay the author gives an historical overview of Islam in America from its earliest beginnings in pre-Columbia America until the present. Details on the origins, growth and spread of the three largest American Muslim groups - African American, Arab and South Asian - are explored as are the tensions and frictions between the three communities, which undermine the unity of these adherents and their potential influence on the United States' domestic and foreign policies. Also explored are the ideological struggles some Muslims - perhaps a large percentage in the three groups - have regarding their position in the American mosaic. Are they “Muslims in America” or are they “American Muslims?” Some African Americans, many of whom have adopted Islam and the “new” identity it provides as an antidote to this group's long history of ostracism and marginalization, are alienated from any wholesale embrace of their American heritage and identity. Among Arab and South Asian Muslims, some feel a loyalty to their homelands and are often opposed to U. S. policies related to them. Others see the U.S. as morally bankrupt and beyond redemption and are therefore unwilling to totally embrace an American identity. Post 9-11 events in the U.S. in which Muslims with immigrant backgrounds have been targeted have further alienated those who already had their doubts and pushed others who were on the fence into the camp of those who see no real place for Muslims in the American body politic. Lastly, the author lays out her views on how all three Muslim communities can find ways to unite internally and why it is to their advantage to fully embrace their American identity and citizenship in order to influence her future policies, both domestic and international.So Muslims as a group are alienated from America's heritage; they think she is morally bankrupt and beyond redemption; they are more worried about the Old Country's welfare than American interests; and so they do not fully identify as Americans. But the author thinks they should, not out of affection, but as a means to make America more pro-Islam. I, for one, am reassured by this essay.
Friday, November 05, 2010
From the Journal of Islamic Law and Culture: