Nowadays the Muslim population all over the world is 1.4 billion people. Study forecasts that in the middle of the century every forth individual would be Muslim. In the USA there are more then 7 million Muslims. As the population of the USA in general, Muslim Americans come from different backgrounds and trace their roots to many nations. However, unlike Jews or main Christian communities, American Muslim community is not homogenous.
Near 42% of Muslims in the United States are African Americans. Most of them are from families who have been Americans for hundreds of years. Thus, the situation with Islam and Muslims in the USA differs from that of Europe. In Europe both Muslims and Islam are foreign; in the USA Islam is rather new, but new immigrants make only the half of American Muslims. Islam is generally considered in the USA as a new religion of old citizens. However, there are some differences between American Muslim and Muslims in America – most of them are from Asian countries, the Middle East, and Africa.
American Muslims are more interested in domestic policy of the USA; immigrant pays more interest to the foreign policy issues. Among American Muslims the number of family with low income is above the national average. Among immigrant Muslims the number of high-played professional is above the average. American Muslims don’t believe in American Dream; newcomers are sure that in this country they could find different opportunities.
American Muslims often speak English only, though they can learn some Arabic for Islamic rituals. Newcomers Muslims often speak English, one or more European language and Arabic. Immigrants are politically weak but economically strong, American Muslims are in the reverse predicament.
After Sept. 11 the antipathy for Islam and Muslims terrorists caused the antipathy for Muslims at home. Hundreds of Muslims came under pressure by the authorities; thousands were placed into deportation proceedings. The cases of discrimination dictated the need for Muslim political participation in the USA policy. However, the absence or poorness of Muslim identity and difference of views inside the community confronted the political participation.
Inside African American community the discrepancy exists “over issues of national allegiance, ethnic identity, and religious orthodoxy.”(McCloud, 6) Besides, different groups of Muslim often have different opinions. Reaction of different Muslim groups to the Gulf War is an excellent example
“ In 1990, the Muslim World League and the World Supreme Council of Masajid sought to “create worldwide consensus in favor of the Saudi-American military coalition against Iraq.” In the U.S., these organizations offered material assistance to a convention of both African American and immigrant imams. In the African American Muslim community, the only obvious supporters of the offensive were the communities under Imam Warithudeen Muhammad. Most other Sunni Muslims, representing the majority, as well as the Nation of Islam, was opposed. both groups used their news organs to publicize their opinions and tried to influence the general public stance.” (McClod, 8)
Modern trends in the immigration laws and in the social care and medicaid could cause the growth of the population of indigenous Muslims and decline the immigrants flow. However, if two sets of Muslims in the United States merge, they will create the largest Muslim nation on the world. It is impossible without the creation of strong and coherent identity.
“Whether the religious affiliation or the national identity is the primary identity is of course the first question. For African Americans, the American experience, political or social is one filled with deceptions, hatreds and challenges. For immigrant Muslim Americans, the American experience has largely been a dream fulfilled but with moral compromise. Members of both groups have the same set of Islamic values and understandings of moral conduct in the public space.” (McCloud, 11)
The community has to produce skilled national leaders who can gain and keep access to the government. Good leaders have strategic minds. They can develop clearly articulated attainable goals. They can understand the art of compromise and the nature of coalitions. Islam obligates Muslims citizens in civic responsibility and this fact should be the starting point.
The construction of identity under the social conditions of postmodern America is the problem for Muslim as well as for other social groups. Analysts of postmodernity, like Dr. Anas Coburn, suggest that creation of coherent identity needs intensive work on two vectors. In the outward process Muslim community has to find the guidance to interrelate with society. In the inward aspect Muslims search the practice to unify experience and to save the entirety.
Ali A. Mazrui. “Between the Crescent and the Star-Spangled Banner: American Muslims and U.S. Foreign Policy”, International Affairs (London) Vol. 72, No. 3 July, 1996.
Anas Coburn. “Muslim Identity in Postmodern America” Seasons. The Journal of Zaytuna Institute, Summer 2003.
Aminah McCloud. “Muslims in America: Identity and Participation”. In “American Public Policy and American-Muslim Politics” 2000, International Strategy and Policy Inst. ISBN-13: 9780964720428
Sherman A. Jackson. “Muslims, Islamic Law and Public Policy in the United States” The Online Islamic Academy, posted July 03, 2005.