Report on Muslims in the U.S.A. Problems and Prospects

Report on Muslims in the U.S.A. Problems and Prospects

Islam, along with Judaism and Christianity, is the third Abrahamic religion to arrive on the American scene. Muslims constitute a growing and increasingly important segment of American society. Islam is one of the fastest-growing religions in the U.S. By the year 2010, America’s Muslim population is expected to surpass the Jewish population, making Islam the country’s second-largest faith after Christianity.

The American Muslim community is a mosaic of cultures, its members having come from all of the five major continents. In fact, a recent survey showed that most Muslims are immigrants — 77.6% versus 22.4% U.S. born. While there are no official population figures for religious affiliation in the United States, experts estimate that there are approximately six million American Muslims. Other estimates range from four to eight million.

The Britannica Book of the Year estimated that, in mid-2000, there were 4,175,000 Muslims in the United States, 1,650,000 of whom are African American in origin. An average of 17,500 African Americans converted to Islam each year between 1990 and 1995.

There are nearly 2000 mosques/Islamic centers nationwide as well as numerous Islamic day schools and Sunday and weekend schools.

Study on the Muslims of America grew out of a desire to expand the scope of scholarly investigation of the growing Muslim community in the United States, heighten public awareness of the Muslim presence, and provide better understanding of the ways in which Muslims experience the United States and adapt to their institutions, as they become increasingly an indigenous part of America.

Interest in the Muslims of America has grown in relation to their increasing presence in urban areas as well as the development of their distinctive institutions across the country. These include more than 2000 mosques/Islamic centers, some Islamic colleges, scores of parochial day schools, several hundred weekend schools, women’s organizations, youth groups, and professional and civic organizations.

The leadership of the Muslim community has been predominantly in the hands of lay volunteers concerned about maintenance of their heritage and the perpetuation of the faith by the next generation.

In the last two decades the Muslim community has been able to organize several printing presses, book distribution centers, and national and regional denominational magazines to help guide the faithful in maintaining Islamic beliefs, practices and also political motivations.

The dramatic growth of the Muslim community in the United States is a recent phenomenon, taking place primarily over the last three decades in response to changes in American immigration laws and the demands of the labor market.

In the last four decades, the United States has become a center of Islamic intellectual ferment as an increasing number of Muslim students have enrolled in American colleges and universities. Their understanding of Islam and its role in the world is being shaped and reshaped in the American milieu. Muslim intellectuals and leaders who have become a significant part of the American academic scene have been able to provide an interpretation of Islam relevant to life in the United States as well as to the Muslim world.

Initial investigation suggests that the number of Muslims who participate in Islamic institutions in America is small, but such participation can be seen to increase during periods of stress.

Recent international events such as 9/11 and the reaction of the American public to them seem to have stimulated Muslims to become involved in community activities on social, political, and educational levels.
Much of this activity is designed to influence the views of the general American public- specifically to blunt the negative image presented by the press.

Since 9/11 American Muslims are experiencing both exhilaration at the opportunity to increase their numbers and develop their institutions and frustration and dismay as they continue to experience prejudice, intimidation, discrimination, misunderstanding, and even hatred. It is increasingly important, therefore, to take fresh look at some of the ways in which they have succeeded in creating a distinct identity and establishing an Islamic community.

The 9/11 attacks launched President Bush’s global “war on terror”. Eight years later, it is still going on. The USA PATRIOT Act constituted a major assault on civil liberties in American society which apparently enhanced the distinctive mark between Muslim world and the West and most pervasively between the U.S.A. and Muslim community within it.

The Muslim community facing various challenges though the indigenous and the immigrant segments of this community respond differently to some of the challenges and problems.
Maintaining Islamic identity, projecting and defending Islamic institutions, building Muslim economic structures and participating American political life are main among the challenges.

Since the devastating attack of 9/11 the Muslim community is facing innumerable problems to lead their lives. Media Activity against Islam/Muslim, Discrimination, Prejudice, shutting down Muslim charities, violation of civil rights and immense problems byproducts of ‘War on Terror’ and ‘Patriot Act’ suppressing Muslim community in the U.S.A..

Eight years after Middle East militants carried out the September 11 attacks, Muslim Americans are raising their profile. The September 11 attacks put a magnifying glass on what until then had been a largely invisible Muslim American community, prompting many to organize.

The greater scrutiny prompted Muslims to engage more with one another politically and Political engagement of the Muslim community is now higher.

In the last two years, two Muslims have been elected to Congress, five have won seats in state legislatures and many more have been elected on more local levels, said Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim member of Congress.

New Era of Hope for Muslims in America has been initiated. President Obama’s address to the Muslim World on June 4th from Cairo was truly transformative in intent and effect. It was not a policy speech and did not seek to outline policy initiatives. It was a philosophical attempt to diffuse the mutual distrust and animus that under-girds U.S. relations with the Muslim World.

The speech acknowledges America’s mistakes but promised change and hope. President Obama took the two themes of change and we can from his campaign to Cairo. But as he himself and his press secretary have acknowledged, a speech alone cannot transform a relationship suffering from decades of abuse. Words alone from now on will rapidly loose their meaning and value unless accompanied by action that vindicates their promise.

American Muslims are experiencing both exhilaration at the opportunity to increase their numbers and develop their institutions and frustration and dismay as they continue to experience prejudice, intimidation, discrimination, misunderstanding, and even hatred

As modern societies enter the postmodern era, new issues are raised and new approaches must be developed. American Muslims are in a special position and have special challenge of finding ways to have postmodern society in the United States reflect the Judaeo-Christian-Muslim tradition Most American share.

Muslims have to change their outlook to other religions, often denouncing them as false and claiming superiority for themselves. Muslims should not only accept pluralism but actively promote it though dialogue and mutual understanding and harmonious co-existence.

The future of Muslim survival in American society is inextricably linked to the future of religious pluralism in this country. Any radical alteration in this pattern could threaten not only Muslim Americans but all other minorities who are targeted for discrimination.

If the present and recent past are significant guides to the future, it is possible to hope that Islam as a minority religion has a promising future and Muslims will be as well adjusted in the coming years as any other religious minority. Their religion will join Christianity and Judaism as the third branch of the Abrahamic tradition.

I think that – regarding the fact that in their home countries Muslims live under oppressive regimes – in America they may be able to develop their belief. At least they have the chance if they are strong enough to overcome their anti-Americanism and if American society overcomes its anti-Islamism. Then this impression of a “golden age of Islam in America” hopefully would swap over to the Islamic countries and make changes possible there, too.

The Muslim Community in the United States:

Historical Development

Islam in the United States started in the early 16th century, with Estevanico of Azamor being the first Muslim to enter the historical record in North America [1]. The Muslim population of the United States increased greatly in the twentieth century, with much of the growth driven by rising immigration and wide spread conversion [2]. In the year 2005 nearly 96000 people from Islamic countries became legal permanent United States residents, the largest number in the previous two decades [3].

Recent Immigrant Muslims make up the majority of the total Muslim population. Native born American Muslims are mainly African Americans who makeup one-third of the total Muslim population. Many of these have converted to Islam during the last 70 years. Conversion to Islam in prison [4] and in large urban areas has also contributed to its growth over years. Muslims in the U.S.A. come from various backgrounds, and are one of the most racially diverse religious group in the United States.

Muslims in the Early United States:

Estevanico[1] of Azamor may have been the first Muslim to enter the historical record in North Arecica. Estevanico was a Berber originally from North Africa who explored the future states of Arizona and New Mexico for the Spanish Empire. Estevanico came to the Americas as a slave of the 16th century Spanish explorer Alvaer Nuneg Cabeza de Vaca. After joining the ill-fated Narvaeg expedition in 1527, Cabeza de Vaca and Estevanico were caprured and enslaved by Indians,escaping to make an arduous journey along the coast of the gulf of Mexico. In 1539 Estevanico guided the first Spanish explorations of what is now the American Southwest[2].

Amadou Mahtar M’Bow , a Senegalese educator and former UNESCO director, has speculated that the presence of Islam in the United States of America began with the Moriscoes who accompanied the Spanish invadors.

In 1587 a shipload landed and settled in the coastal towers of South Carolina, reaching the mountains of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina [1].But this claim is not widely accepted. However, following their time great numbers of Muslim slaves were imported to this continent to work on the plantations of the south.

There is limited academic research regarding African Muslims transported to North America as slaves. Historacal records provides sparse information regarding both ethnic origins and cultuural differinces. However , some contemporary authors and historians speculate a sizable percentage of slaves possessed at least some knowledge of Islam. Alaves began arriving in America diring the 1520s. By 1900, roughly 500000 Africans were sent to this area, representing 4.4% of the 11,328,000 slaves imported world wide [2]. It is estimated that over 50% of the slaves to North America came from areas where Islam was followed by at least a minority population. Thus no less than 200,000 came from regions influenced by Islam. Subtantial numbers originated from Senegambia, a region with an established community of Muslim inhabitants extending to the 11 century [3].

Michael A. Gomez theorized that Muslim slaves may have accounted for “thousands, if not tens of thousands,” but dies not offer a precise estimate. He also suggests many non-Muslim slaves were acquainted with some tenets of Islam, due to Muslim trading and proselytizing activities [1]. Historical records indicate many enslaved Muslims conversed in the Arabic language. Some even composed literature (such as autobiography and commentaries on the Quran [2]. Despite living in a hostile environment, there is evidence that early Muslim slaves assembled for communal prayers. In limited cases, some were occasionally provided a private praying area by their owner.

A Chinese document known as the Sung Document records the voyage of Muslim sailors in 1178 AD. to a land known as “Mu-Lan-Pi” which has been claimed to some part of the Americas (specially, present-day California). If the document is authentic, and furthermore if the identification of Mu-Lan-Pi with America is correct, then it is one of the earliest records of pre-Columbian trans-oceanic travel from the Eurasian continent to the Americas. However both the authenticity of the Sung Document and identification of Mu-Lan-Pi with America are doubtful.

The Navigator of Columbus, who during the famous voyage, brought along a copy of a travel narrative written by Portuguese Muslims who had sailed to the New World (America) in the 12th century. The narrative by Al Idrisi was called “The Sea of Tears”. In this narrative he discusses the voyage of 80 Muhagharrun (explorers) who lived in Lisbon during the reign of the Murabit Amir, Yusuf Ibn Tashufin.[1] In the narrative it mentions visits to fourteen islands. Over half of these islands were later traced to be in either the Canary Islands or the Azores. However , the ones not traced could have been as far away or the Azores.[2] However, the ones not traced could have been as far away as the Caribbean.[3] An early travel from 942 mentioned in the Annuals of Al-Masudi [4].

Istafan, the Arab, was guid for the Spanish that wished to settle the area that would later be called Arizona in 1539. Istafan was from Azamor, Morocco and had previously been to the New World in ill fated expediton of Panfilo de Narvaez to Florida in 1527.

1. Yusuf Ibn Tasufin reined 1061-1106AD., was a king of the Berber Almoravid empire in North Africa. Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. The Almoravids are a Berber dynasty(1040-1147 AD.) which lived between the current Senegal and south of the current Morocco.

2. The Azores is a Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, about 1,500 km.from Lisbon and about 3900 km. from the east coast of North America.  

3. The Caribbean is a region consisting of the Caribbean Sea, its islands and the surrounding coasts. The region is located southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and Northern America, east of Central America, and to the north of South America. These islands called the West Indies.

4. Aramco World , May-June 1992.[Saudi Aramco World is a bi-monthly magazine published by Saudi Aramco, the national oil company of Saudi Arabia, The bimonthly magazine is published in Houston, Texas.]

Brent Kenedy mentions him in his article in Islamic Horizons as being one of the first Moors and Muslims in America. Istafan was one of four to survive a five thousand mile tour of the American Southwest. Originally he was part of a three hundred member exploratory group [1].

Another early Muslim in this period was Nasruddin. He is famous for having killed a Mohawk princess who refused to marry him and for being the earliest permanent Arab settlers in the New World [2].

Ayub Sulaiman Ibn Diallo a go between for his people and the British after his repatriation. He continued to practice Islam during his two years of slavery in the 1730’s in Maryland. He was versed enough in Arabic to write at least a half dozen letters in that language, translate coin inscriptions for the BritishMuseum, and draw a map of West Africa writing place names in Arabic.

Salim the Algerian, who was a Muslim from a royal family of Algiers who studied in Constantinople. After returning from a visit to Constantinople, he was captured by a Spanish Man of War and later sold into slavery to the French in New Orleans. Eventually he became free after running from slavery, lived among Indian tribes, and settled in Virginia. It was ascertained that he knew Greek and he was given a Greek New Testament.  Several future members of the U.S. Congress

  1. Islamic Horizons, November-December 1994, pp.24-27
  2. History of Green Century, New York, pp, 19-22

Befriended him and he converted to Christianity. A New convert to Christianity he decided to go back home to spread the Gospel. After a disastrous journey to his homeland where he was shunned as an apostate, he returned to America, met Thomas Jefferson, attended the 1st Continental Congress, and died an insane man having given-up his family and religion for America. Near the end of Salem’s life, he regained his long lost sanity. Some say he renounced Christianity, other say he died in an insane asylum [1].

Wahab brothers were shipwrecked on the coast of North Carolina in the 1770’s. They settled, married and started a farm. Their ancestors today own one of the largest private hotel chains in North Carolina. Around this same time a ship of 70 Moorish slaves landed in Maryland.

Theodore Dwight, Jr. Wrote about a slave named Lamen Kebe who was a school teacher in Africa. He was the focus of two articles byDwight. Dwight also mentions Abdul Rahman and  Ayub Sulaiman Diallo in passing.

William Brown Hodgson was perhaps the most important person for documentation of the Islamic presence on the slave quarters. The main characters Hodgson documented were the following:

Bilali Muhammad, who wrote the only extant book of Islamic Law written in America and contributed several Islamic terms. Bilali (Ben Ali) Muhammad, a Fula Muslim from Guinea-Conakry, arrived to SapeloIsland during 1803. While enslaved, he became the religious leader and Imam for a salve community numbering approximately eight Muslim men residing on his plantation. He is known to have fasted during the month of Ramadan, worn a fez [1] and kaftan [2], and observed the Muslim feast ( Eid –al Adha), in addition to consistently performing the five obligatory prayers [3]. In 1829, Bilaili authored a thirteen page Arabic Risala on Islamic law and conduct. Known as the Bilali Document, it is currently housed at the University of Georgia in Athens.

Umar Ibn Said was a butler of a brother of a former Governor of North Carolina and who wrote a 13 pp. autobiography in Arabic. Abdul Rahman Ibrahim Sori who wrote two autobiographies, two copies of the Fatiha, signed a charcoal sketch of himself and dictated several letters to his family while he was traveling the U.S. to raise money to return to Africa.

  1. The fez is a red felt hat in the shape of a truncated cone. The fez originated in Ancient or Byzantine Greece, later finding popularity in the Ottoman Empire
  1. A kaftan  is a man’s cotton or silk cloak buttoned down the front, with full sleeves, reaching to the ankles and worn with a sash.
  1. Muslim roots of the blues, Jonathan Curiel, San Francisco Chronicle August 15, 2004

None of his Arabic writings show the least formal education but it is surprising that he remembered the little Arabic he knew after forty years in slavery before he returned to Africa to die. His story is documented in Prince Among Slaves by Terry Alford. In 1991, a mosque in Fayetteville, North Carolina, renamed as Masjid Omar Ibn Said in his honor [1].

A slave named London was detailed in a pamphlet by Hdgson. London was held in slavery by the Maxwell family of Savannah, Georgia. They latter moved to Florida where he died. An unknown slave correspondent from Georgetown, who wrote 5 chapters of the Quran from memory.

In 1856 the United States Cavalry hire Hadji Ali (Philip Tedro) a Greek convert to Islam and one of six camel handlers (three Arabs, two Turks, and Hadji Ali) in the short lived U.S. camel corp. The Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis introduced a bill in Congress that passed in 1855to import camels for military purpose in the Arizona desert. During the experiment, 77 camels and six handlers were brought over from East. When the War Between the States broke out, this experiment was abandoned. It was called off due to the impending Civil War. Hadji Ali was the only of the cameleers to remain in the U. S.. Hadji Ali became a prospector in the Colorado River Area. Hadji Ali lived to 1903 in Quartzsite, Arizona where he was a Prospector and resident Imam.

Alexander Russel Webb is considered by historians to be the earliest prominent Anglo-American convert to Islam in 1888. Before he became Muslim, he was a newspaper editor and later the consular to the Philippines for the U.S.A.. While a consular he began to read books on Eastern and oriental religions. Soon afterwards he began written correspondence with Indian Muslims and in 1888 he had a lecture tour of four cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Kalkata, and Hyderabad. The topics for this lectures included: Islam, the Better Way; and philosophical Islam. Upon returning to the U.S. he set up the Oriental Publishing Company which published at least a half dozen of books including “Islam in America” (Webb, Muhammad A.R., New York,1892.) and short lived periodical “Muslem World”. In 1893 he was the only person representing Islam at the first Parliament for the World’s Religions. [1].

Modern Imigration

Small-scale migration to the U.S. by Muslims began in 1840, with the arrival Yemenites and Turks [2] and lasted until World War 1. Most of the immigrants, from Arab areas of the Ottoman Empire. Came with the purpose of making money and returning to their hmerland.

However, the economic hardships of 19th century America prevented them from prospering, and as a result the immigrants settled in the United States permanently. Regarding the causes of immigrants’ staying permanently in the U. S. A. Gutubi Mahadi Ahmad asserts quite contrary- “Many, however, failed to realize their dreads and eventually returned, disenchanted, to their home countries. Those who were more successful and were able to adjust to the American way of life generally found in their kin relationships and trade partnerships forms of association that made any other kind of organization unnecessary. Tempted by their success in business and their ability to adjust, some decided to stay permanently and send for their families to join them.” [1] However these immigrants settled primarily in Dearborn, Michigan; Quincy, Massachusetts; and Ross, North Dakota. Ross Dakota is the site of the first documented mosque and MuslimCemetery, but it was abandoned and later torn down in mid 1970s. A new mosque was built in its place in 2005 [2].

1910-1950 saw several orthodox Sufi, Ahmadiyyah, Bahai, Shia and Black Nationalist groups arise. In the early part of 20th century, waves of immigrants form various parts of Muslim world, most notably Palestine, Lebanon and what is now Pakistan, appeared on these shores.

These people were mostly illiterate, unskilled Arabs who found work in the auto factories of Detroit or peasants from the Punjab who set up house in such places as Sacramento.

In 1950s the picture changed drastically. An influx of Muslim professionals, many of them physicians, finding conditions in their homelands inhospitable, settled in this country after completing their studies. The black movements, the back-to-Africa groups, had come into flower by this time. Great numbers of Muslins students from all parts of the world also began to arrive in this country.

This is the period which saw formation of the early Muslim Communities and mosques in such places as Detroit, Ann Arbor, Gary (Indiana), Cedar Rapids (Iowa), Sacramento and the like. Visiting scholars and missionary groups from the Middle East and the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent also began to arrive. And Islam began, in a very slow manner, to gain adherents among white Americans.

It was this period which also witnessed the formation of national Islamic groups, such as the Muslim Students Association (MSA) of the United States and Canada, later to be replaced by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and their supporting institutions. Regional and national conferences of Muslims for the discussion of issues of common concern were streamlined during this period. Many Muslims who had never practiced their religion now found their way back to their roots and began, for the very first time, to appreciate the value of their faith.

In 1915, what is most likely the first American mosque was founded by Albanian Muslims in Biddeford, Maine. A Muslim cemetery still exists there [1]. Construction of mosques sped up in the 1920s and 1930s, and by the 1952, there were over 20 mosques [2].

In 1906 Bosnian Muslims in Chicago, Illinois started the Jamaat-al-Hajrieje (a social service organization devoted to Bosnian Muslims). This is the longest lasting incorporated Muslim Community on the United States. They met in coffeehouses and eventually opened the first Islamic Sunday School with curriculum and textbooks under Shaykh Kamil Avdich (a graduate of al-Azhar and author of Survey of Islamic Doctrines).

In 1907 Tatar [1] immigrants from Poland, Russia and Lithunia founded the first Muslim organization in New York City.

In 1920 first Islamic mission station was established by an Indian Ahmadiyya Muslim Missionary, followed by the building of the Al-Sadiq Mosque in 1921.

In addition to immigration, the state, federal and local prisons of the United States may be a contributor to growth of Islam in the country. J. Michael Waller claims that Muslim inmates comprise 17-20% of the prison population, or roughly 350,000 inmates in 2003. He also claims that 80% of the prisoners who find faith while in prison convert to Islam [2]. These converted inmates are mostly African American, with a small but growing Hispanic minority. Waller also asserts that many converts are radicalized by outside Islamist groups linked to terrorism, but other experts suggest that when radicalization does occur it has little to no connection with these outside interests [3].

African American Muslims:

During the first half of the 20th century few numbers of African Americans established groups based in Islamic and Black supremacist teachings [1]. The first of such groups created was the Moorish Science Temple of America [2], founded by Timothy Drew (Drew Ali) in 1913. Drew taught that Black people were of Moorish origin but their Muslim identity was taken away though slavery and racial segregation, advocating the return to Islam of their Moorish ancestry [3]. The Nation of Islam (NOI) was the largest organization, created in 1930 by Wallace Fard Muhammad [4]. It however taught a different form, of Islam, it promoted Black supremacy and white people as “devils”. Fard drew inspiration for NOI doctrines from those of Noble Drew Ali’s Moorish Science Temple of America. He provided three main principles which serve as the foundation of the NOI: “Allah is God, the white man is the devil and so called Negroes are the Asiatic Black people, the cream of the planet earth.”

In 1934 Elijah Muhammad became the leader of the NOI, he deified Wallace Fard, saying that he was an incarnation of God, and taught that he was a prophet who had been taught directly by God in the form of Wallace Fard. Although Elijah’s message caused great concern among white Americans, it was effecting among Blacks attracting mainly poor people including students and professionals. One of the famous people to join the NOI was Malcolm X, who was the face of the NOI in the media. Boxing world champion, Muhammad Ali was also a member of this organization. After the death of Elijah Muhammad, he was succeeded by his son, Warith Deen Muhammad. W.D. Muhammad rejected many teachings of his father, such as the divinity of Fard Muhammad and saw a white person as also a worshiper. As he took control of the organization, he quickly brought in new reforms [1]. He renamed it as the World Community of AL-Islam in the West, later it became the American Society of Muslims. It was estimated that there were 200,000 followers of W.D. Muhammad at the time [2]. He introduced teachings which were based on orthodox Sunni Islam [3].

He removed the chairs in temples with mosques, teaching how to pray salah, to observe the fasting of Ramadan, and to attend the pilgrimage to Mecca. It was the largest mass religious conversion in the 21st century, with thousands who had converted to orthodox Islam.

A few number of Black Muslims however these new reforms brought by Imam Mohammad, Louis Farrakhan who broke away from the organization, re-established the Nation of Islam under the original Fardian doctrines, and remains its leader [1].

However, today the group has a wide influence in the African American community. The Million Man March in 1994 remains the largest organized march in WashingtonD.C. [2]. The group sponsors cultural and academic education, economic independence, and personal and social responsibility. The Nation of Islam has received a great deal of criticism for its anti-white, anti-Christian, and anti-Semitic teachings [3] and is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center [4]

Muslim Population in the U.S.A.:

There is no accurate count of the number of Muslims in the United States, as the U.S. Census Bureau does not collect data on religious identification. There is an ongoing debate as to the true size of the Muslim population in the U.S.A.. Various institutions and organizations have given widely varying estimates about how many Muslims live in the U.S.A.. These estimates have been controversial, with the number of researchers being explicitly critical lf the survey methodologies that have led to the higher estimates [1]. Others claim that no scientific count of Muslims in the U.S. has been done, but the larger figures should be considered accurate [2]. Some journalists have also alleged that the higher numbers have been inflated for political purposes [3].

On the other hand, some Muslim groups blame Islamophobia[1] and the fact that many Muslims identify themselves as Muslims, but do not attend mosques for the lower estimates.

The following are various estimates of the Muslim population:

 1.6 million (2000)

 2.0 million (2000)

 6-7 million (2001)

 1.1 million (2001)

 1.9 million (2001)

 4.7 million (2005)

 2.4 million (2007)

 2.5 million (2009)

 7 million  (2009)

Religious Beliefs and Ethnic Affiliations:

According to the PEW Forum on Religion & Public Life, based on the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, 82% said they are absolutely certain that they believe in God and 9% fairly certain. The Importance of Religion in One’s life was another important question raised among Muslims, overall in the United States 59% believe it is important, whereas a high proportion of Muslims believed religion is very important (72%), and 18% said religion is somewhat important. The frequency of receiving answers to prayers among Muslims was 31% at least once a week and 12% once or twice a month [1].

The American Muslim Community is a mosaic of cultures, its members having come from all of the five major continents. The immigrant communities of South Asian and Arab descent and the native born of African Americans are the main ethnic groups of American Muslims. The most recent data covering a range of ethnicities is a report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in 2009. According to the CAIR studies, regular mosque attendees come from the following backgrounds: South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Afghanistani) 33%, African American 30%, Arab 25%, African 3.4%, European 2.1%,white 1.6%, Southeast Asian 1.3%, Caribbean 1.25, Turkish 1.1%, Iranian 0.7%, and Hispanic/Latino 0.6% [2].

Since the arrival of South Asian and Arab communities during the 1990s there has been divisions with the African Americans due to the racial and cultural differences, however since post 9/11, the two groups joined together when the immigrant communities looked towards the African Americans for advice on civil rights [1]. In 2005, according to the New York Times, more people from Muslim countries became legal permanent United States residents — nearly 96,000 — than in any year in the previous two decades [2],[3].

The 2007 Pew Forum survey of Muslim Americans finds two-thirds (65%) of the Muslim Americans are foreign-born. Among the foreign-born, most have immigrated since 1990, 24% are from the Arab region, 8% Pakistan, 10% Other South Asia, Iran 8%, Europe 5%, Africa 4% and other 4%. The native-born constitute 35%, with African Americans 20% of the total Muslim population, the majority of these are converts to the religion [4].

However, when Muslim respondents were asked about their race in a recent Pew Research Center survey, 37% answered White, 24% answered Black, 20% answered Asian, 15% answered “other/mixed race,” and 4% answered Latino [1].

Nearly a quarter of the Muslims are converts to Islam (23%), mainly native-born. Of the total who have converted, 59% are African American and 34% White. Previous religions of those converted was Protestantism (67%), Roman Catholicism (10%) and 15% no religion. Approximately half (50%) of the religious affiliations of Muslims is Sunni, 16% Shia, 22% non-affiliated and 16% other/non-response [2].

Different Islamic Traditions:

There exist a number of different traditions within the Muslim Community in the United States. Sunni Muslims are in the majority. Shia Muslims, especially those in the Iranian immigrant community, are also active in community activities. All four major schools of Islamic jurisprudence are found among the Sunni community. Some Muslims in the U.S. are also adherents of certain global movements within Islam such as the Salafi/Wahabi, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Gulan Movement, and the Tablighi Jamaat, as well as movements which most Muslims would consider non-Muslim, such as Jama’at Ahmadiyya or Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement or Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam.

Islamic Organizations in the U.S.A.:

The American Society of Muslims (ASM) is a predominantly African-American association of Muslims which is the direct descendent of the original nation of Islam. The group largly accepted beliefs and practices based on mainstream Islam, which was created by Warith Din Mohammad after he took control of the Nation of Islam in 1975. This has been a twenty three tears process of religious reorientation and organizational decentralization, in course of which the goroup was known by other name, such as the American Muslim Mission.

The number of members in the organization is between 2-3 million.  It should be noted that the original Nation of Islam beliefs differed sharply from traditional Islam, worshipped a man as God, did not recognize Muhammad as God’s final Prophet.

Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) based in Plainfield, Indiana, U.S.A., is a Muslim umbrella group that describes itself as the largest Muslim organization in North America. ISNA had its origin in the Muslim Student Association and was founded in 1963. ISNA is an association of immigrant Muslim organizations and individuals that provides a common platform for presenting Islam. Its membership may have recently exceeded ASM, as many independent mosques throughout the United States are choosing to affiliate with it. ISNA’s goal is “to be an exemplary and unifying Islamic organization in North America that contributes to the betterment of the Muslim community and society at large.” ISNA is an association of Muslim organizations and individuals that provides a common platform for presenting Islam, supporting Muslim communities, developing educational, social and outreach programs and fostering good relations with other religious communities, and civic and service organizations.

Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) is the third largest group in North America. According to the Islamic Circle of North America, the goal of ICNA “shall be to seek the pleasure of Allah through the struggle of Iqamat-ud-Deen (establishment of the Islamic system of life) as spelled out in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of [Muhammad].” Their major Dawah activities include dawah field trips, a toll-free number for non-Muslims, distribution of Islamic literature, dawah through mosques, dawah by mail, dawah through media, dawah in prisons, campus dawah support, dawah flyers online, and dawah through email. is an ICNA program. Since Why Islam (WI) was launched, in April 2000, the website has been used to propagate a better understanding of Islam for the general public. ICNA’s annual convention is one of the largest gatherings of American Muslims in the United States. The ‘Message International’ is the bi-monthly publication of ICNA.

The ISCA strives to integrate traditional scholarship in resolving contemporary issues affecting the maintenance of Islamic beliefs in a modern, secular society. The Council states that it promotes traditional Islamic legal rulings, and that it explicitly rejects puritanical forms of Islam, such as the Wahhabi Islam practised by Saudi Arabia, the Taliban, and many terrorist organizations who espouse Islamist ideologies. Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, founding member and current chairman of ISCA.

The Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA) is aan important Muslim organization headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan. According to its website, IANA’s goals include to “unify and coordinate the efforts of the different dawah oriented organizations in North America and guide or direct the Muslims of this land to adhere to the proper Islamic methodology.” IANA’s activities include conventions, general meetings, dawah-oriented institutions and academies, books of an academic, dawah-oriented or Islamic thought nature in both Arabic and English, magazines and other periodical literature, technical programs, youth programs, investment projects and other means possible in the U.S.A..[2] IANA folded in the aftermath of the attack of September 11, 2001 and they have reorganized under various banners such as Texas Dawah and the Almaghrib Institute.

IANA’s principles include presenting “the correct Islamic methodology derived from the Book of Allah and the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, according to the understanding and application of the early pious forefathers is the basic premise and framework for the work of IANA.”

The Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) is a group dedicated, by its own description, to Islamic societies on college campuses in Canada and the United States for the good of Muslim students. The MSA is involved in providing Muslims on various campuses the opportunity to practice their religion and to ease and facilitate such activities. MSA is also involved in social activities, such as fund raisers for the homeless during Ramadan. The founders of MSA would later establish the Islamic Society of North America and Islamic Circle of North America.

The Islamic Information Center is one of America’s premier Muslim advocacy organizations and is centered in the National Press Club, a worldwide hub of more than 300 international news organizations, in Washington, DC.

The goal of the group is to be complementary to other major Muslim initiatives such as CAIR and MPAC by giving a specific focus to the spiritual and philosophical aspects of Islam. The main purpose of this organization is to provide authentic Islamic information as taught by Prophet Muhammad and his Holy progeny.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) describes itself as America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group. Founded in 1994 by officers of the Islamic Association of Palestine, it is headquartered on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, with regional offices nationwide and in Canada. Through media relations, lobbying, and education, CAIR presents what it views as an Islamic perspective on issues of importance to the American public, and seeks to empower the American Muslim community and encourage its social and political activism.

It has condemned acts of terrorism – while naming no one in particular and has been working in collaboration with the White House on “issues of safety and foreign policy.”[1] The group has been criticized for alleged links to Islamic terrorism by conservative media, but its leadership strenuously denies any involvement with such activities.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) is an American Muslim public service & policy organization headquartered in Los Angeles and with offices in Washington, D.C. MPAC was founded in 1988. The mission of MPAC “encompasses promoting an American Muslim identity, fostering an effective grassroots organization, and training a future generation of men and women to share our vision. MPAC also works to promote an accurate portrayal of Islam and Muslims in mass media and popular culture, educating the American public (both Muslim and non-Muslim) about Islam, building alliances with diverse communities and cultivating relationships with opinion- and decision-makers.”

The American Islamic Congress is a small but growing moderate Muslim organization that promotes religious pluralism. Their official Statement of Principles states that “Muslims have been profoundly influenced by their encounter with America. American Muslims are a minority group, largely comprising immigrants and children of immigrants, who have prospered in America’s climate of religious tolerance and civil rights. The lessons of our unprecedented experience of acceptance and success must be carefully considered by our community.”

In addition to the organizations just listed, other Muslim organizations in the United States serve more specific needs. For example, some organizations focus almost exclusively on charity work. As a response to a crackdown on Muslim charity organizations working overseas such as the Holy Land Foundation, more Muslims have begun to focus their charity efforts within the United States.

Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) is one of the leading Muslim charity organizations in the United States. According to the Inner-City Muslim Action Network, IMAN seeks “to utilize the tremendous possibilities and opportunities that are present in the community to build a dynamic and vibrant alternative to the difficult conditions of inner city life.” IMAN sees understanding Islam as part of a larger process to empower individuals and communities to work for the betterment of humanity.

Islamic Relief USA is the American branch of Islamic Relief Worldwide, an international relief and development organization. Their stated goal is “to alleviate the suffering, hunger, illiteracy and diseases worldwide without regard to color, race or creed.” They focus of development projects; emergency relief projects, such as providing aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina; orphans projects; and seasonal projects, such as food distributions during the month of Ramadan. They provide aid internationally and in the United States.

With the growth of Islam within the United States, Muslims with similar interests and ideas have organized for various purposes. Among the types of Muslim organizations that exist are those for entertainment purposes as well as for professionals, such as doctors and engineers. The most well-known organization for Muslims within the medical profession is the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA). The largest Muslim organizations for women is the Muslim Women’s League.

Mosques in the U.S.A.:

There are 1,209 mosques in the United States and the nation’s largest mosque, the Islamic Center of America, is in Dearborn, Michigan. It was rebuilt in 2005 to accommodate over 3,000 people for the increasing Muslim population in the region.[1] Mosques (masjid in Arabic) are usually explicitly Sunni or Shia.

In many areas, a mosque may be dominated by whatever group of immigrants is the largest. Sometimes the Friday sermons, or khutbas, are given in languages like Urdu or Arabic along with English. Areas with large Muslim populations may support a number of mosques serving different immigrant groups or varieties of belief within Sunni or Shi’a traditions.

At present, many mosques are served by imams who immigrate from overseas, as only these imams have certificates from Muslim seminaries. This sometimes leads to conflict between the congregation and an imam who speaks little English and has little understanding of American culture. Some American Muslims have founded seminaries in the US in an attempt to prevent such problems.

In summery ,this historical breifing no Islam in America focused on American Muslims and Muslims that were becoming Americans. It stange that the religion of peace is always faced with violent confrontation from both within and without. This information points to the needs of more Islamic preaching, building more Islamic schools, fitghting assimilation, bi-lingual education, enhancing mosques’activity, and taking part in the greater society.

The Muslim Experience: Challenges, Worries and Problems

Muslims in the United States face a variety of challenges. Many of these are similar to those faced by other minority communities in America. However, Muslims also face challenges and opportunities that are tied to the character of Islam. The Islamic faith and its practice involve special obligations and responsibilities that shape the way Muslims as individuals and groups respond to the conditions of American society. Signification Islamic issues are involved in the life of Muslims in the United States as well as important American issues. Some Islamic issues do involve problems, but other issues involve challenges that are significant opportunities as well.

There are two different types of Islamic issues for Muslims in the United States. First as the “key concern is how to live an Islamic life in a non-Muslim country. [1] Here the basic issues are maintaining Islam as a way of life in a context where that is difficult, and deciding the meaning and implications of community- faith concepts such as hijra (emigration), Jihad (exertion), and da’wa (mission or calling) in the American context.

The second type of Islamic issue also is directly related to the special conditions of contemporary world. These are the issues involved in the treat transformations of human society which have been taking place in the past decades.

These changes have been described by some as the emergence of postindustrial society[1] while other speak of the development of postmodern perspectives and institutions.[2] Whatever descriptive little is given to the processes, the transformations of recent decades create the conditions within which special issues arise for Muslims and others living in the modern society in the United States.

The Islamic issues facing Muslims in the United States are shaped by the basic nature of Islam. The worldview and guidance for behavior provided by Islam contain specific elements as well as general approaches that are specially affected by the nature of American society.

It is often noted that Islam is not just a religion, but a total way of life. It refers to the comprehensive and inclusive nature of the Islamic ideal. Muslims have a guide and model that covers “the most mundane aspects of everyday life and behavior as well as the general principles directing the community.

In many ways, the process of secularization became most widely accepted and most clearly implemented in the United States of the twentieth century. The separation of church and state became almost a political dogma. Similarly, religion in the United States has come to be seen by many as a private and individual matter rather than a public one. To a remarkable extent, social attitudes and political expectations in the United States are built on an assumption that the basic faith of an American sill, in a significant way, be ‘just a religion’. The expectation is that religion can be separated from politics and a sense that the United States is a secular society.

The context and basic social framework within which Muslims live in the United States is kin some important ways secular. One of the major critical issues for Muslims is how Islam, which defines a comprehensive way of life, can function within such a secular context. Muslims, however, do face a special challenge of operating within a legal and social framework for implications of their faiths and the expectations of a secular society.

The issue of prayer in public schools can be used as an example of how American church-state issues relate to Islamic experiences. The subject of whether or not prayer should be allowed in American public school is hotly debated.

The specific conditions requisite for the regular prescribed prayers are not readily available in American schools or in offices and factories. In addition to the need for released time at the proper hours, the believer also needs facilities for the preliminary ablutions and an appropriate space. As relatively large Muslim communities develop in American cities some facilities are being made available. A room in a high school; in Dearborn, Michigan, for example, has been set aside for Islamic prayer. However, in general terms none of the proposals for prayer in public schools make Salat significantly easier for the Muslim students.

Public institutions in the U.S. have also been criticized for accommodating Islam at the expense of taxpayers. The University of Michigan–Dearborn and a public college in Minnesota have been criticized for accommodating Islamic prayer rituals by constructing footbaths for Muslim students using tax-payers’ money. Critics claim this special accommodation, which is made only to satisfy Muslims’ needs, is a violation of Constitutional provisions separating church and state.[1] Along the same constitutional lines, a San Diego public elementary school is being criticized for making special accommodations specifically for American Muslims by adding Arabic to its curriculum and giving breaks for Muslim prayers. Since these exceptions have not been made for any religious group in the past, some critics see this as an endorsement of Islam.[2]

Muslims in the United States face complex issues raised by the great social transformations of contemporary world history. The emergence of postindustrial or postmodern society creates special problems. All faiths, not just Islam, have had to confront and cope with the conditions created by the modernization of societies. Some people there is an inherent contradiction between all traditional religions and modernity, and others feel that only if such faiths are significantly altered can they be compatible with the needs of modern society.

The dynamic condition of Muslim communities in the United States represents significant refutation of these kinds of assertions when they are applied to Islam. It is possible for Muslim communities to survive and thrive in a variety of contexts within American society. There certainly are problems in fulfilling Islamic obligations in the midst of a secular society, but these problems can be resolved in many ways.

Muslim identity in the United States has been influenced by the American environment in general and by individual and corporate experiences of immigrants in various American localities during the last hundred years. It is also conditioned by the distinctive self-perceptions that immigrants bring with them to the United States. This identity is clarified and molded daily by the treatment Muslims receive in their places of residence and employment, in school, and by the courts. It is altered and negotiated repeatedly as a result of the discrimination they experience as they deal with the images projected about them by the host society in literature, the movies, and the media.

And in a very dramatic way, it has been shaped during the last five decades by the vagaries of American foreign policy in the Middle East and America’s relations with Muslim countries throughout the world.

Since the United States was not heavily involved in the Middle East, American foreign policy had little impact on American Muslim identity. With growth of Zionism [1] in the American Jewish community and its attendant influence on American on American policy, however, things changed drastically.

Truman’s recognition of Israel initiated fifty years of American foreign policy in the Middle East and resulted in what Muslims believe to be an injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people, primarily to win an election. Truman is reported to have explained his action with the words, “I am sorry, gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism: I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.

After 9/11 the U.S. foreign policy implementing on Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran profoundly has influenced American Muslim identity and on the ways in which Muslims choose to participate in the American process. Muslim Americans express broad dissatisfaction with the direction of U.S. foreign policy. According to Pew Poll most American Muslims say that the U.S. made the wrong decision in using force against Iraq, A majority of Muslim Americans say that the U.S.-led war on terror is not a sincere effort to reduce international terrorism.

Maintenance of Islamic Identity

One of the most crucial elements in the history and development of a social group is the maintenance of its identity. American Muslims find themselves in a country where identification is defined politically, linguistically, culturally, and ethnically. An American Muslim is therefore, first of all a U.S. citizen and for this reason carries an American passport that distinguishes him from nationals of other countries in the Muslim world. He is a U.S. citizen whose political loyalty is to these United States, and he affirms accepting all duties expected of citizens and asserting his rights guaranteed by the U.S. constitution. The loyal response to any national call to serve in the armed forces and bold assertion of the freedom of speech to do da’wa for Islam are two critical examples of the acid test of the Muslim American identity.

But the American Muslim also lives in other circles of identification. If he were not mindful of the nonracial nature of in its ideal form, the American Muslim, by virtue of his early conditioning in a racially conscious society, could easily trap himself in a world of racial consciousness that cuts him off from other Muslims in different racial groups. This is the major challenge to emerging Muslim umma. Muslim Americans are neither racially homogeneous nor ethnically monolithic. Because of this sociological fact, one challenge to Muslims is to attempt to build the bridges within the Muslim communities.

Establishing and Defending Islamic Institution

Second in importance only to the question of identity is the challenge to build and defend Islamic institutions. Muslims have been aware of this since the early years of their sojourn the United States. Both Muslim immigrants and native-born Muslims have tackled this question, although historically they have encountered great difficulty. Most of the Muslim immigrants in the early period were not intending to stay in this country. Because they wanted to strike it rich quickly and return home at the earliest opportunity, their minds were not directed toward institution-building. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority were illiterates, without the intellectual and social resources and leadership potential necessary for dealing with the challenges of building institutions. Efforts toward creating Muslim institutions were half-hearted and sporadic. Organizations formed to deal with such needs generally did not last. There were, however, some notable efforts.

Three different types of persons are now involved in the task of institution-building. The first are the custodians of the ‘Muslim Students Association’ heritage. They are now mainly professionals who seek social security and a sense of stability and continuity in the work of their national organizations, the Islamic Society of North America, and their local mosques or Islamic centers affiliated to it. The second are the African-American Muslims in the old NOI who followed Imam Warith Deen Muhammad in 1975. Third are those small orthodox Muslim groups that have existed in African-American society well before Warith Deen’s transformation of the NOI. This delicate task of institution-building should be followed by a unified endeavor out of a concern for self-preservation and a quest for cultural and religious continuity.

Building Islamic Economic Structures

In looking at the points of convergence and divergence within the Muslim community, one finds that the issue of Muslim economic activity in the United States has become a problem for some leaders. There is the issue of Muslim attitudes toward interest (riba). There is the question of ownership of property and the need to remain faithful to the Islamic precepts, which are likely to be subverted by Muslim involvement with the rules and practices of capitalist materialism. There is still the problem of trading in goods such as alcohol, pork, and other items considered forbidden (haram) to Muslims. Strict orthodox Muslims can easily find themselves condemned to a marginal existence in the current American social and economic system.

Three areas can be identified as of mutual interest to the entire Muslim community in the United States. The first area is the collective desire of Muslims to survive as individuals, as families, and as a community, which demands that they participate in their different ways in the American economy. Evidence for the different degrees of involvement with the American economy can be drawn from the activities of the old Nation of Islam the Darul Islam Movement, the Islamic Party of North America, the Ansarulla, the Hanafi, and Ultra-orthodox Muslim organizations located in American cities. Regardless of their differences, however, all of these groups can be seen as active or passive participants in the American economy. Here these African-American groups join their immigrant brothers in the game of economic survival.

The second area of mutual interest is in the selling of Muslim products or merchandise useful to Muslims. Muslims have found in the creation of their own businesses the best avenues to self-protection and the reduction of cultural trauma from the encounter with American society.

The third point of convergence between the immigrants and locals is the common Muslim interest in increasing Muslim cultural presence in American society which is inextricably linked to the economic question. By asserting their cultural presence, Muslims hope to win over non-Muslim entrepreneurs to make concessions to their community by not trampling on their sensitivities. It should be stressed, however, that despite this concern small business owners would not like to see competition from other non-Muslims business. Such rivals could reduce the independence of Muslim businessmen who specialized in providing services to fellow Muslims. These neighborhood stores, in areas where Muslims are numerous, are definitely appreciated by Muslims, although only a few Muslims might entertain the illusion that they protect Muslims from the economic penetration of the capitalist market.

The Muslim community diverges on other economic questions. The problem of interest in financial transactions remains the great divide between the rigidly orthodox Muslims and their brethren who are willing to make adjustments to American society.

Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 U.S.A.

On September 11, 2001, the United States was struck by the most devastating terrorist attack in its history.The September 11 attacks (often referred to as September 11th or 9/11) were a series of coordinated suicide attacks allegedly by al-Qaeda upon the United States on September 11, 2001. On that morning, 19 terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners.[1] The hijackers intentionally crashed two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing everyone on board and many others working in the buildings. Both buildings collapsed within two hours, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others. The hijackers crashed a third airliner into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. The fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville in rural Pennsylvania, after some of its passengers and flight crew attempted to retake control of the plane, which the hijackers had redirected toward Washington, D.C. There were no survivors from any of the flights. 2,973 victims and the 19 hijackers died as a result of the attacks. The overwhelming majority of casualties were civilians, including nationals of over 90 countries.

The United States responded to the attacks by launching a War on Terrorism, invading Afghanistan to depose the Taliban, who had harbored al-Qaeda terrorists, and enacting the USA PATRIOT Act. Many other countries also strengthened their anti-terrorism legislation and expanded law enforcement powers.

Top Muslim organizations in the United States were swift to condemn the attacks on 9/11 and called “upon Muslim Americans to come forward with their skills and resources to help alleviate the sufferings of the affected people and their families”.[1] Top organizations include: Islamic Society of North America, American Muslim Alliance, American Muslim Council, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Circle of North America, and the Shari’a Scholars Association of North America. Along with massive monetary donations, many Islamic organizations launched blood drives and provided medical assistance, food, and shelter for victims.

Numerous incidents of harassment and hate crimes [1] were reported against Middle Easterners and other “Middle Eastern-looking” people in the days following the 9/11 attacks.[2] Sikhs were also targeted because Sikh males usually wear turbans, which are stereotypically associated with Muslims. There were reports of verbal abuse, attacks on mosques and other religious buildings (including the firebombing of a Hindu temple) and assaults on people, including one murder: Balbir Singh Sodhi was fatally shot on September 15, 2001. He, like others, was a Sikh who was mistaken for a Muslim.[

According to a study by Ball State University, people perceived to be Middle Eastern were as likely to be victims of hate crimes as followers of Islam during this time. The study also found a similar increase in hate crimes against people who may have been perceived as members of Islam, Arabs and others thought to be of Middle Eastern origin.

The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 continue to cast a long shadow over Muslim Americans. Life has become more difficult for Muslims in this country in the post-9/11 era. Many worry about government surveillance, job discrimination, and being harassed in the public. Biggest problem facing U.S. Muslims, concerns about discrimination and prejudice top the list.  Muslim Americans have encountered bigoted acts in the past years. Muslims have been verbally harassed, physically threatened, or treated with suspicion because of their faith.

Biggest Problems – Discrimination, Prejudice

Prejudice, being viewed as terrorists, ignorance about Islam, and negative stereotyping lead the list of the biggest problems that U.S. Muslims say they face. At the same time, other problems that typically rank among the public’s top worries barely make the list of Muslim concerns. For example, according to PEW research just 2% volunteer economic and job worries. The rankings display a consistent pattern: Problems rooted in prejudice, ignorance or misunderstandings dominate the list. Pew poll shows beyond discrimination (19%), Muslim Americans say that their most important problems are being viewed as terrorists (15%), ignorance about Islam (14%), and stereotyping (12%). Significantly, an overwhelming majority of Muslims named at least one of these problems as a top concern for U.S. Muslims.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, there were occasional attacks on some Muslims living in the U.S., although this was restricted to a small minority.

In a 2007 survey, 53% of American Muslims reported that it was more difficult to be a Muslim after the 9/11 attacks. Asked to name the most important problem facing them, the options named by more than ten percent of American Muslims were discrimination (19%), being viewed as a terrorist (15%), public’s ignorance about Islam (13%), and stereotyping (12%). 54% believe that the U.S. government’s anti-terrorism activities single out Muslims. 76% of surveyed Muslim Americans stated that they are very or somewhat concerned about the rise of Islamic extremism around the world, while 61% express a similar concern about the possibility of Islamic extremism in the United States.

Within 36 hours of the bombing, attacks began on persons and mosques which were totally unrelated to the attacks:

Six bullets shattered windows of a mosque in Irving. A bag filled with blood and labeled ‘Pig’s blood’ was thrown at the door of a mosque in San Francisco, CA. Four bricks were thrown through the windows of a Muslim bookstore in Alexandria, VA. Also in Virginia, two mosques reported vandalism. In Canada, the front doors at mosques in St. Catherines, ON and Montreal, PQ were fire-bombed, with minimal damage. The British Broadcasting Commission (BBC) reported that there had been many death threats and assaults against Muslims.[2]

Continuing Harassment and Attacks

By 2001-SEP-25, three weeks after the attack, there have been many assaults on Muslims in the U.S. In addition, Sikhs are being targeted because some are being mistaken for Muslims. Hispanic-Americans have been harassed, presumably because of their skin color. One Egyptian Copt was murdered. Even members of the Baha’i Faith have been harassed. It is ironic that Baha’is are themselves viciously persecuted in Iran, and Copts are oppressed in Egypt.

Some examples are

On the afternoon of Saturday, 2001-SEP-15, a gunman killed the 49 year old owner of a gas station in Mesa, AZ. He was a Sikh. His family believes that he was killed because he “looked Middle Eastern.” Additional shots were fired at a Lebanese clerk and at the home of an Afghan family.

On the evening of Saturday, 2001-SEP-15, a gunman killed a Pakistani Muslim store owner in Dallas, TX.

Adel Karas, 48, an Egyptian-American grocer was shot and killed near his International Market store in San Gabriel, CA. He was a Copt — neither Muslim nor Arab. No money was taken. Police are investigating the murder as a possible hate crime.

A man drove his car through the front entrance of Parma Mosque in ClevelandOH.

Near Chicago, IL, there was a march in which about 300 anti-Arab youths waved flags, shouted “USA, USA,” and attempted to march on a mosque in Bridgeview, IL — a suburb southwest of Chicago. Colin Zaremba, 19, said: “I’m proud to be American and I hate Arabs and I always have.” Three demonstrators were arrested.

In Chicago, a Molotov cocktail was thrown t an Arab-American community center. There were no injuries and little damage.

In Huntington, NY, Adam Lang, reportedly a drunken driver, 75, allegedly tried to kill a Pakistani woman with his car. He later followed the woman into a store and threatened to kill her for “destroying my country.”

In Gary, IN, a man wearing a mask pumped over 20 bullets from a high-powered assault rifle at a Muslim, Hassan Awdah. He survived. Hassan is a U.S. citizen, born in Yemen.

In Suffolk County, NY, a man allegedly made anti-Arab threats and pointed a handgun at the employee of a gas station. He was arrested.

In a prison in WashingtonState, two inmates fought over an anti-Muslim slur.

 A gasoline bomb was thrown into the home of a Sikh family in California.

Two mosques were firebombed with Molotov cocktails during the weekend of OCT-20-21. They are located in Burlington and Mississauga.

On a small number of occasions Muslim women who wore distinctive hijab were harassed, causing some Muslim women to stay at home, while others temporarily abandoned the practice. In 2006, one California woman was shot dead as she walked her child to school; she was wearing a headscarf and relatives and Muslim leaders believe that the killing was religiously motivated.

The “War on Terrorism” and Muslim Profiling

The 9/11 attacks launched President Bush’s global “war on terror”. Eight years later, it is still going on. The first target was Afghanistan where the Taleban government was harboring al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden. A U.S.-led coalition ousted the Taleban, but Osama bin Laden remains at large, believed to be hiding in the rugged terrain between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The global war on terror was also one of the reasons given by the Bush administration for ousting Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. But events have proven that there was no link between Saddam and the 9/11 attacks.

The “war on terrorism” was not limited to overseas foes, but was extended to potential “enemies” at home. The USA PATRIOT Act constituted a major assault on civil liberties in U.S.A. It was clear to American Muslims that Muslim community was the primary target of this legislation, which gave law enforcement agencies unprecedented powers—and conversely stripped away cherished civil liberties for those unfortunate enough to fall within the wide net it cast—under the guise of “preserving national security” in waging the war on terrorism.

Profiling has been institutionalized in the post-9/11 America. State and federal agencies, under the guise of fighting terrorism, have expanded the use of this degrading, discriminatory and dangerous practice. The damage to civil liberties has been extensive

Eight years after 9/11, incidents of racial and religious profiling in the United States have increased dramatically. Soon after the 9/11 attacks, racial profiling became the norm at American airports where anyone belonging to the Arab or Muslim communities was systematically called out for questioning and sometimes even detained. Eight years hence, August 14, 2009 detention of Indian Muslim superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s detention at NewarkAirport in New Jersey is only one of the scores that take place every day.

In the waning days of the Bush administration — FBI director Robert Mueller signed new guidelines allowing broader FBI authority in pursuing potential threats to national security. The new guidelines allow agents to consider race or ethnicity in determining whether someone is a suspect.

These guidelines – which became effective Dec. 1, 2008 — allow the FBI to launch a criminal investigation against someone without any factual predicate and without approval from FBI headquarters.

The Obama administration has also formalized laptop seizure rules. On August 27, 2009, the Obama administration disclosed that it will carry on Bush administration policies that allowed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to seize and search international travelers’ laptop computers, cellular phones, cameras, and other electronic devices, even in the absence of suspicion of criminal activity. The DHS made public two directives that formalized operational practices established by the Bush administration to carry out searches of the personal digital instruments of travelers, US citizens or not, passing across US borders. According to the directives, border police “may detain electronic devices, or copies of information contained therein, for a brief, reasonable period of time to perform a thorough border search. If DHS turns up nothing incriminating, to regain the confiscated item the traveler must return to the border crossing where the item was seized, or else pay for its shipment.

Although the electronic media search regulations apply to all passengers but Muslims are perhaps the main target at present because they are the target of extra scrutiny at the airports and other points of entry.

“For many hard-working, law-abiding Muslim Americans, questions about their political beliefs, religious practices, and charitable causes they support, as well as surrendering their business cards, credit card numbers and laptop and cell phone data, have become the price of admission to return home to the U.S.,” says Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates.

On June 30, 2009 the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued a report titled: The Persistence of Racial and ethnic Profiling in the United States. The report said: “The Obama administration has inherited a shameful legacy of racial profiling codified in official FBI guidelines and a notorious registration program that treats Arabs and Muslims as suspects and denies them the presumption of innocence and equal protection under the law.……….As a result, in 2009, with a new administration in office, the practice of racial profiling by members of law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels remains a widespread and pervasive problem throughout the United States, impacting the lives of millions of people in African American, Asian, Latino, South Asian, and Arab communities.”

As a candidate, President Barack Obama’s campaign released a “Blueprint for Change,” which stated that, if elected, “Obama and Biden will ban racial profiling . . . ” In 2005 and in 2007, then-Senator Obama cosponsored End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) which has continued to languish in Congress since its introduction in 1997. ERPA is the key piece of federal legislation as it would compel all law enforcement agencies to ban racial profiling; create and apply profiling procedures; document data on stop/search/arrest activities by race and gender; and create a private right of action for victims of profiling.

Eight years after 9/11, there is a rising tide of Islamaphobia, intensified by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and U.S. government measures at home. Americans’ attitudes about Islam and Muslims are fuelled mainly by political statements and media reports that focus almost solely on the negative image of Islam and Muslims. Politicians, authors and media commentators are busy in demonizing Islam, Muslims and the Muslim world. Eight years after 9/11 attacking Islam and Muslims remains the fashionable sport for the radio, television and print media.

One of the biggest challenges that American Muslims face is the demonization of Islam. American Muslims often accuse American media and Hollywood of taking isolated cases of Muslim extremism as a pretext to label all Muslims as extremists.

Media Activity Regarding Islam and Muslim

Looking back to the Oklahoma City bombing, 1995-APR-19

Shortly after the bombing, TV and radio newscasters speculated that the terrorist act had the markings of a Middle Eastern perpetrator:

Washington-based journalist Steven Emerson allegedly said on a national news program that the bombing “…was done with the intent of inflicting as many casualties as possible. That is a Middle Eastern trait.”

One day after the bombing, Bob Grant of the Bob Grant Show responded to a caller who suggested that there was no evidence that the terrorists were Muslim. Grant allegedly commented “…in the Oklahoma case…the indications are that those people who did it were some Muslim terrorists. But a skunk like you. …What I’d like to do is put you up against the wall with the rest of them, and mow you down along with them. Execute you with them. Because you obviously have a great hatred for America, otherwise you wouldn’t talk the way you talk, you imbecile.”

In their coverage of the bombing, the New York Times commented: “Some Middle Eastern groups have held meetings there (Oklahoma), and the city is home to at least three mosques.” Mere presence of a conference or mosque in the city was deemed to be suggestive of an involvement in a mass murder.

Even after Timothy McVeigh was arrested and the government identified two white males as perpetrators, CNN correspondent Wolf Blitzer insisted that “there is still a possibility that there could have been some sort of connection to Middle East terrorism. One law enforcement source tells me that there’s a possibility that they (the Caucasian suspects) may have been contracted out as freelancers to go out and rent this truck that was used in the bombing.”

A lot of people seemed to agree with this media speculation. Within two days after the Oklahoma City bombing, there were hundreds of recorded instances of harassment and hate crimes against Muslims, Arabs, Iraqis, people who appeared to be Muslims, and Muslim organizations and buildings.

Two days after the explosion, Timothy McVeigh was arrested. But the anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, and anti- Iraqi attacks continued for weeks.  One Muslim woman miscarried after an attack.Local Muslims later asked to participate in a mass memorial service led by the Governor. They were refused. However, Muslim delegations from other areas of the country were allowed to attend. The service was entirely Judeo-Christian in format.

A 1998 United Nations report on “Civil and Political Rights, including Freedom of Expression” in the United States sharply criticised the attitude of the American media, noting “very harmful activity by the media in general and the popular press in particular, which consists in putting out a distorted and indeed hate-filled message treating Muslims as extremists and terrorists”, adding that “efforts to combat the ignorance and intolerance purveyed by the media, above all through preventive measures in the field of education, should be given priority.”

Reinforcing Prejudicial Views Against Islam & Muslims

Contributing to the rise of discrimination against Muslims was the continuing anti-Islam and anti-Muslim rhetoric, especially by some evangelical leaders and neoconservatives. Anti-Muslim bias has become an endemic disease. Besides print media, many radio talk show hosts are perpetuating the myth that Islam is a violent faith. The decades old media habit of associating Islam with violence found its eternal ‘justification’ in the attacks of 9/11. Fox News was dedicated to a full-time anti-Islam campaign.

There was also an effective opposition to Islam in America in the political arena. Political and religious leaders also exploited this anti-Islam rhetoric as shown by the remarks of many prominent political leaders. Groups and individuals who had a vested interest in demonizing of Islam and Muslims in the United States have also seized the opportunity to attack Muslims and Islam.

As stereotyping and making Islam scapegoat and Muslims and Islam became a popular past time for the US media, many religious and political leaders never missed any opportunity to attack Islam in the name of extremism. Just two examples: In July 2005, Colorado Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo calls for a nuclear attack on Islam’s holiest site, Mecca, if there is another terrorist attack on US. A WashingtonDC radio talk show host repeats “Islam is a terrorist organization” 23 times on his July 25, 2005 program. He also repeatedly claimed that “the problem is not extremism. The problem is Islam.”

Muslim Charities Shut Down

At the same time, the government had launched a campaign against Muslim charitable organizations for allegedly providing financial or other material assistance to groups the government designates as “terrorist.” A provision of the reauthorized USA Patriot Act gives the government largely unchecked power to designate any group as a terrorist organization. And once a charitable organization is so designated, all of its materials and property may be seized and its assets frozen. The charity is unable to see the government’s evidence and thus understand the basis for the charges. Since its assets are frozen, it lacks resources to mount a defense. And it has only limited right of appeal to the courts. So the government can target a charity, seize its assets, shut it down, obtain indictments against its leaders, but then delay a trial almost indefinitely.

Dozens of charitable groups have been investigated since 2001. Several were shut down, without any official finding that they were aiding terrorist organizations. The organizations shut down were not on any government watch list before their assets were frozen. The predictable result is that Muslims have no way of knowing which groups the government suspects of ties to terrorism. Organizations and individuals suspected of supporting terrorism are guilty until proven innocent. The government action has so far resulted in shutting down five major Muslim charities. But there was only been one indictment, no trials, and no convictions. Only one official criminal charge was brought against a Muslim organization for support of terrorism, and that case had not yet made it to trial.

Government crackdown of Muslim charities caused tremendous fear and anxiety among the Muslims, with many fearful that a simple act of charity could lead to federal agents knocking at their door. Since 9/11, millions of dollars in donations were seized and frozen, leaving Muslims with unfulfilled obligations. Some found FBI agents at their doors, asking about specific checks they had written. According to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the U.S. government has closed down 25 Muslim charities and frozen $8 million in donations in Illinois alone.

In July 2007, two Muslim charities – the Goodwill Charitable Organization and Al-Mabarrat Charitable Organization – were suspected of having ties to extremist groups in Lebanon. Assets of the two charities were frozen. In February 2006, the Treasury Department froze the assets of KindHearts USA, padlocking the doors of the Toledo-based charity “pending an investigation.” On Sept. 21, 2006, US authorities, raided another major Muslim charity, the Michigan-based Life for Relief and Development (LIFE). Federal agents also raided the home of the charity’s President and Chief Executive officer, Khalil Jassemm, and the Dearborn office of Muthanna Alhanooti, a former official of the charity.

In May 2009 five former officials of the Holy Land Foundation, once a leading American Muslim charitable organization, were sentenced up to 65 years imprisonment on charges related to humanitarian aid given to Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.

The federal government has rejected a plea by Muslim groups that wanted a list of pre-approved Islamic charities to which they could donate without being suspected of helping fund terrorism. The case of Dr. Nasar Chaudhry of New York symbolizes the Muslim dilemma. In April 2005, his office and home were raided in a federal investigation for making donations to a Muslim charity in 1996.

Eight years after 9/11, Muslim charity organizations remain under pressure. In June 2009, the American Civil Liberties Union released an extensive report about how the U.S. terrorism finance laws and policies were unfairly preventing the seven-million-strong American Muslim community from practicing their religion through charitable giving. The 164 page report, “Blocking Faith, Freezing Charity,” is the first comprehensive report that documents the serious effects of Bush administration terrorism finance laws on Muslim communities across the nation. The core of the report is about how Muslims are being scared away from making Zakat (a religious obligation) donations to Muslim charities. “U.S. terrorism finance laws and policies unfairly prevent Muslim Americans from practicing their religion through charitable giving, create a climate of fear and distrust in law enforcement and undermine America’s diplomatic efforts in Muslim countries,” the report said.

In short, eight years after 9/11, Muslims in America remained at the receiving end with assault on their civil rights and their faith. Muslims are the prime targets of the post 9/11 reconfiguration of American laws, policies, and priorities which have not been changed under the Obama administration. Defending civil rights remains the single most important challenge before the seven million-strong American Muslim community.

American Foreign Policy and Muslims Double Loyalty

 What bothers Muslims in the USA most is not US domestic policy towards immigrants but US foreign policy towards their homelands. It is more difficult for Arabs and Muslims to feel home here, because the United States have been nearly constantly at war with their homelands. “Especially the policy in the Israeli Palestinian conflict strikes them most because from their point of view Washington takes sides against the Palestinians.

Muqtedar Khan said: “Muslims love to live in the US, but they also love to hate it.” He calls this a “schizophrenic relationship” with the new homeland. The situation in the Middle East and in Afghanistan and, war against Iraq, make it difficult to combine the loyalty towards their original countries and the loyalty towards the United States of America.

Most Say Muslims Are ‘Singled Out’

Most believe life for Muslims has gotten more difficult since 9/11. Government anti-terrorism efforts are seen as singling out Muslims – and most of those who express this view are bothered by the extra scrutiny. Native-born Muslims, both African American and others, more often believe that they have been singled out. More than half of Muslim Americans (54%) believe the government’s anti-terrorism efforts single out Muslims for increased surveillance and monitoring. And most of those who believe the government gives extra scrutiny to Muslims say this attention bothers them either a lot (40%) or some (34%). The belief that government anti-terrorist policies target Muslims is much more widespread among immigrants who came to the U.S. before 1990 (61%) than among more recent Muslim immigrants (40%). A large majority of native-born Muslim Americans say that U.S. anti-terrorism policies single out Muslims for extra surveillance. This view is shared as widely among African American Muslims (72%) as among native-born Muslims who are not black (74%). Notably, many non-Muslims also believe that government anti-terrorism policies single out Muslims. Nearly half of the public (45%) believes these policies do target Muslims, while 43% say they do not. However, about half of the Americans who think Muslims are singled out (52%) say they are bothered a lot or some by this, compared with 74% of Muslim Americans.

Problem within the Muslim Community

The most pressing problem facing the Islamic movement in the US is the problem of competent leadership. There is no individual or group in a position to truly lead the community, or even a significant part of the community, with any real legitimacy. Many of the problems involved in the present leadership crisis in the Islamic movement in America can be traced to our perceptions of leadership and what the criteria for leadership are in Islam. One common misperception is grounded in the concept that immigrants are muhajireen, and non-immigrants can only be ansar (helpers) of the muhajireen. This idea is interpreted as indicating that the immigrant Muslims are like a class or caste that is entitled to leadership because their immigrant status. This understanding is adopted from the Qur’an, in which Allah gives special mention to the muhajireen who migrated from Makkah to Madinah with the Prophet Muhammad (saw). How this can be interpreted as applying to relations between immigrants and non-immigrant Muslims in the US is a mystery. The muhajireen of Madinah were distinguished by their bay’ah to the Prophet, and their migration was a testimony to that bay’ah. Most Muslim immigrants to the US, by contrast, did not migrate to please Allah. Moreover, the Prophet (saw) made every effort, once the muhajireen had arrived in Madinah, to unite the two groups, to the extent that he encouraged and performed intermarriages between the two groups to create kinship-ties.

The idea of two separate groups distinguished by class, race, or any other criterion aside from piety, is false and destructive, yet many Muslims, even the most scholarly, adopt this symbolism and use it to categorize activists and the nature of their tasks.

Closely akin to this destructive fallacy is the idea that only the Arabs can lead, and that every other Muslim group must be the helper of the Arabs. This arrogant and irreligious proposition is also easily refuted.

Some Muslims in the U.S. have adopted the strident anti-American rhetoric common in many Muslim-majority countries. In some cases, these are recent immigrants who have carried their anti-American sentiments with them. The Egyptian cleric, Omar Abdel-Rahman is now serving a jail sentence for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He had a long history of involvement with Islamist and jihadi groups before arriving in the US.

There is an openly anti-American Muslim group in the U.S. The Islamic Thinkers Society , found only in New York City, engages in leafleting and picketing to spread their viewpoint. [1],[2]

It had also been noted that a growing form of Islam in prison pushes these same radicalized anti-American agendas. Commentators have pointed out that inmates are good targets for radicalized groups pushing these agendas because many of them are already dissatisfied with the system that has jailed them.[1] To this end experts have testified that this situation causes a threat to security, since it enables groups who engage in terrorism to recruit new members among the prison population.[2],[3]

Some Muslim Americans have been criticized for letting their religious beliefs affect their ability to act within mainstream American value systems. Muslim cab drivers in Minneapolis, Minnesota have been criticized for refusing passengers for carrying alcoholic beverages or dogs, including disabled passengers with guide dogs. The Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport authority has threatened to revoke the operating authority of any driver caught discriminating in this manner.[4] There are reported incidents in which Muslim cashiers have refused to sell pork products to their clientèle.

The 2007 Pew poll reported that 15% of American Muslims under the age of 30 supported suicide bombings against civilian targets in at least some circumstances, while a further 11 percent said it could be “rarely justified.” Among those over the age of 30, just 6% expressed their support for the same. (9% of Muslims over 30 and 5% under 30 chose not to answer). 5% of American Muslims had a favorable view of al-Qaeda.[1]

Daniel Pipes, Steven Emerson and Robert Spencer have suggested that a segment of the U.S. Muslim population exhibit hate and a wish for violence towards the United States.[2],[3]

Muslim convert journalist Stephen Schwartz and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer have all separately testified to a growing radical Islamist Wahhabi influence in U.S. mosques, financed by extremist groups. According to Barsky, 80% of U.S. mosques are so radicalized.[4],[5] In an effort to address this extremist influence, ISNA has implemented assorted programs and guidelines in order to help mosques identify and counter any such individuals.

General Overview and Conclusion:

American Muslims are experiencing both exhilaration at the opportunity to increase their numbers and develop their institutions and frustration and dismay as they continue to experience prejudice, intimidation, discrimination, misunderstanding, and even hatred

As modern societies enter the postmodern era, new issues are raised and new approaches must be developed. American Muslims are in a special position and have special challenge of finding ways to have postmodern society in the United States reflect the Judaeo-Christian-Muslim tradition Most American share.

The relationship between America and American Muslims very closely attached with ‘America-Muslim World’ relationship as a whole. There is great need to usher in culture of human rights in Islamic world and Muslim societies. Though Qur’an contains all provisions of declaration of human rights charter, by UNO, Islamic countries present stark contrast and human rights record of Muslim countries is among the worst in the world today. It brings worldwide criticism and creates an impression that Islam has no respect for human dignity can actively promote such culture.

Muslims have to change their outlook to other religions, often denouncing them as false and claiming superiority for themselves. Muslims should not only accept pluralism but actively promote it though dialogue and mutual understanding and harmonious co-existence.

Also, Islamic world today is torn with violence and some countries are notorious for what has come to be known as ‘jihadi culture’. Muslims must go back to the real Qura’nic meaning of jihad as defined by the Prophet (PBUH) and seen to be active promoters peace and culture of dialogue in the world. Muslims must understand root causes of violence in Islamic world and do every thing possible to remove these causes. If peace is central to Islam what are Muslims doing to promote it? Why Islam is being associated with ‘jihadi culture’, instead of culture of peace? Muslims must seriously debate this question and take active steps to fight this ‘jihadi culture’.

To many Muslims, the war in Iraq and the conflation of Iraqi regime change with the “war on terror” seemed a bid to deepen US control over geo-strategic regions and energy resources. Other US policies also generated popular hostility: violations of human rights and international law in the treatment of prisoners of war in Iraq and GuantanamoBay, tacit approval of Israel’s policies regarding the Palestinian Authority, and US visa restrictions. Taken together, these actions fostered a perception that the United States was engaged in a war against Islam, despite formal pronouncements to the contrary.

Juan Cole, Professor of History at the University of Michigan, says the war in Iraq has fueled anti-American sentiment worldwide. “The United States, by pursuing the Iraq misadventure, has enormously increased the pool of potential recruits for anti-American terrorism, and not just among Muslim groups. It’s been in the world an extremely unpopular enterprise and widely viewed as an atrocity and generating enormous anger and resentment against the United States.” (VOA Newscom)

New Era of Hope for Muslims in America has been initiated. President Obama’s address to the Muslim World on June 4th from Cairo was truly transformative in intent and effect. It was not a policy speech and did not seek to outline policy initiatives. It was a philosophical attempt to diffuse the mutual distrust and animus that under-girds U.S. relations with the Muslim World.

The speech acknowledges America’s mistakes but promised change and hope. President Obama took the two themes of change and we can from his campaign to Cairo. But as he himself and his press secretary have acknowledged, a speech alone cannot transform a relationship suffering from decades of abuse. Words alone from now on will rapidly loose their meaning and value unless accompanied by action that vindicates their promise.

Muslims Must Develop an Intolerance for Intolerance. In the aftermath of Sept. 11th, ordinary Americans displayed an extraordinary resolve to preempt any backlash against American Muslims. President Bush described those who commit acts of bigotry as those who are from among the worst of people. American leaders at all levels took special measures to ensure that the lives, the mosques and the properties of Muslims were safe. Under extremely testing circumstances, the American people displayed a remarkable commitment to tolerance and intolerance for bigotry. In this display of respect for diversity, Muslims need to catch up with the Americans.

As moderate Muslims struggle with extremists like bin Laden and the Taliban to interpret and represent Islam, they must adopt a policy of containment towards anyone and everyone who seeks to advocate hatred towards any community. Moderate Muslims must not hesitate to confront those who make bigoted comments.

One of the biggest challenges that American Muslims face is the demonization of Islam. American Muslims often accuse American media and Hollywood of taking isolated cases of Muslim extremism as a pretext to label all Muslims as extremists. Muslims demand that American media and policy makers stop painting with a wide brush and treat individual Muslims, each Muslim group, and every Muslim country on its merit.

Muslims too must reciprocate. While many Muslims acknowledge the support and sensitivity of most Americans, some Muslims continue to embarrass everyone with the narrowness of their vision and the crudeness of their sentiments.

Sheik Muhammad Al-Gamei’a, the former Imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, in one sentence called all Muslims stupid and all Jews as best equipped for terror. He said, “Muslims just aren’t smart enough to carry something like that off [Sept. 11 attacks], only the Jews are capable of planning such an incident.”

But statements such as these make Muslims look irrational, hateful and purveyors of conspiracy theories. When such statements are made by Islamic scholars, who hold or have held important religious positions, it not only gives Islam a bad name but also raises the question, what have these scholars been teaching their congregations? In pluralist societies, where different ethnic, racial and religious communities live in close embrace, such bigots must not be allowed to hold influential positions.

Bigotry is a sign of ignorance and lack of ethical sensitivity. It is extremely disturbing that some Muslim scholars and Imams are displaying this anti-social trait. It is time moderate Muslims rebelled against the tyranny of intolerance in some Muslim pockets.

September 11 will have a devastating impact on the future of the Islamic community. While most Americans are being extremely tolerant towards Muslims, they are also becoming more vigilant. There will be closer scrutiny of individual Muslim leaders, Muslim organizations and Muslim activities in America. The near future will be a very testing period for the American Muslim community. They will not only have to prove their loyalty to America but also their innocence.

American Muslims are in a unique position today. They know and understand the Muslim world and they know and understand the US as well. They can constitute a bridge of understanding, dialogue and peace between America and the Muslim world. The Muslim world is their origin and America is their destiny. If they do not serve as harbingers of harmony and the promoters of peace between the two, they will be betraying their past as well as their future.

To play this central role, American Muslims must not allow themselves to be marginalized either in American politics or in the Muslim world’s public sphere. If American Muslims wish their voices to be heard in America, and their advice respected and followed, the first thing they have to develop as soon as possible is an extreme intolerance for intolerance and extremists.

American Muslims must avoid the impulse to blame the US (or Jews or Hindus) for all Muslim miseries. Muslims must develop a balanced attitude towards the US. They must be critical of the US but also self-critical. Muslims must be always willing to express their disagreements with US policies but Muslims must also not be stingy in expressing their solidarity with the US. Muslim must condemn all efforts, in the media or by the government that seek to profile Muslims. But simultaneously Muslims must also be ready to condemn those who defile the old glory.

The community must also protect itself and all its members – locally, nationally and globally – as well as pursuing the well-being of its members. This means the provision of social and other services, ensuring a reasonable standard of living, and facilitating community needs such as employment, childcare and business development. The Muslim community in America should and must always work in unity and for the interests of Muslims throughout the world. The self-interests of individuals or groups must never take priority over the needs of poor and oppressed Muslims anywhere. And we must always operate in a spirit of unity and self sacrifice.

The Islamic ideal of informing the total way of life by divine revelation is in tune with the broader movements moral awareness in the United States. Muslims in the United States have a special opportunity which has been articulated by Muslim activists in terms of da’wa (mission). Ismail faruqi, for example, has said, “If you look upon this as an event in world history, you will see that Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, has prepared the course of history to welcome you in the West…. By bringing you here…Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, has carved out a vocation for you, a new mission, and this mission is to save the West.[1]

Suzanne Haneef said “As the number of indigenous and immigrant Muslims continues to increase in the Western world, it is hoped that they will make very significant contributions to the societies in which they live, side by side with other likeminded people, by making Islam’s point of view known, and drawing upon the vast legacy of its teachings to work toward solutions of the many grave problems and dilemmas confronting mankind.

The identity question is central to the Muslim presence in the United States. The American Muslim can maintain his identity only by holding steadfastly on the rope of tawhid (unity of Allah). This is definitely not an easy task, because numerous forces are at works which are likely to make life difficult. Though Muslims differ in some of the burning issues of American society, however, their sense of unity is evident in their common faith in tawhid, in their collective practice of Muslim rituals and in the expression of solidarity on matters affecting all Muslims living in America. To put this another way, one could say that, though divergence exists in the realm of perceptions of and attitudes toward American society, convergence exists in the realm of rituals and fellow feelings towards one’s coreligionists.

Institution-building among Muslims has been slow. This has been due largely to the type of immigrant Muslim who came to America and the slow pace of conversion of native-born Americans who were intellectually and socially equipped to lake the leadership in this process.

Again it should be stated that those immigrants who could have founded Muslim institutions were primarily interested in making money in the shortest possible time and returning to their respective countries. Related to this is the fact that in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Muslims were on the defensive in their relationship with the Western countries, and Muslim immigrants were not psychologically prepared to settle permanently outside of Darul Islam.

Muslim economic structures are beginning to emerge, and their success is going to depend in the availability of capital within the Muslim community and on the attitudes of Muslim business people toward the American capitalist system. The divergent attitudes of the Muslim community in the United States will have significant effects on the future role of Muslims in the economy.

The rise in Muslim self-confidence and the increase in the number of Muslims in the country will lead assimilationist Muslims to participate more and more in the American political system. Related to this is the fact that the trends in inter-religious relations in America and the Muslim world could affect not only the image of Muslims in the United States, but also their self-perception in American society.

The future of Muslim survival in American society is inextricably linked to the future of religious pluralism in this country. [1] Any radical alteration in this pattern could threaten not only Muslim Americans but all other minorities who are targeted for discrimination.

If the present and recent past are significant guides to the future, it is possible to hope that Islam as a minority religion has a promising future and Muslims will be as well adjusted in the coming years as any other religious minority. Their religion will join Christianity and Judaism as the third branch of the Abrahamic tradition.

Muslim should participate in the secular political arena for betterment of Muslim community coming ahead. Are Muslims allowed to participate politically under secularism? The answer is a very emphatic YES. The Prophet (PBUH) instructed Muslims to help a transgressor as well the one who is transgressed. How does one help a transgressor? One helps the transgressor by holding his hand from transgression. Antagonism, war, and fighting are not always the solutions. We know that Islam means peace. If friendship and mutual understanding can solve the problems, Muslims must try this way first. Unless Muslims are close to a transgressor, they will not be able to hold his hand from transgression. Muslims need not beg, Muslims are beginning to gain some power, which they must learn to use constructively with far-sighted vision.

The success of Muslim triumph remains to be seen how Muslims and Islamic organizations will deal with the serious problems of increasing fragmentation, growing indigenous-immigrant rifts, financial problems, discontent among a growing number of Muslim women toward the traditional Islamic roles for women and unprepared Islamic leadership.

In the concluding remark I would like to say that in America it could be easier for Muslims than in any other place in the world – if there wasn’t American foreign policy and 9/11. In Germany for example it is much more difficult for Muslims to live their culture. There have been very intense debates whether Muslims should be allowed to slaughter animals without anasthesia (to gain halal food) or about building mosques. My impression was that the American society is much more open in these matters.

Also I think that – regarding the fact that in their home countries Muslims live under oppressive regimes – in America they may be able to develop their belief. At least they have the chance if they are strong enough to overcome their anti-Americanism and if American society overcomes its anti-Islamism. Then this impression of a “golden age of Islam in America” hopefully would swap over to the Islamic countries and make changes possible there, too.