Muslim Americans, Islam, and the "War on Terrorism" at Home and Abroad

By Jamal, Amaney; Maira, Sunaina | The Middle East Journal, Spring 2005 | Go to article overview

Muslim Americans, Islam, and the "War on Terrorism" at Home and Abroad


Jamal, Amaney, Maira, Sunaina, The Middle East Journal


Muslim Americans, Islam, and the "War on Terrorism" at Home and Abroad Bin Laden, Islam, and America's New "War on Terrorism," by As'ad AbuKhalil. New York: Seven Stories/Open Media, 2002. 106 pages. $8.95 paper.

Namaste Sharon: Hindutva and Sharonism Under U.S. Hegemony, by Vijay Prashad. New Delhi: LeftWord Books, 2003. 111 pages. Rs. 75.

Civil Rights in Peril: The Targeting of Arabs and Muslims, ed. by Elaine C. Hagopian. London, UK and Ann Arbor, MI: Pluto Press, 2004. xi + 238 pages. Notes to p. 308. Index to p. 318. Contribs. $75 cloth; $22.95 paper.

Muslims' Place in the American Public Square: Hope, Fears and Aspirations, ed. by Zahid Bukhari, Sulayman Nyang, Mumtaz Ahmad, and John Esposito. New York: AltaMira Press, 2004. xlii + 379 pages. Index to p. 394. $75 cloth; $29.95 paper.

Since the events of September 11, 2001 there has been an outpouring of writing and scholarship that focuses on the relationship of Muslim Americans to the United States (the nation) and the relationship between the United States (the state) and the countries involved in the "war on terrorism." Although some of these works address the construction of Muslim American identity as a process shaped by both domestic and international factors, most of these books have not taken into account the simultaneous effects of domestic and international geopolitical pressures on Muslim American identity. Today, Muslim Americans reside in an arena where the multiculturalist debate about the politics of cultural inclusion in the United States coexists with the domestic "profiling" of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian Americans as well as the particular political agenda and military interventions of the United States in the Middle East and South Asia.

Four new works provide critical perspectives and important information that shed light on the political implications of the construction of "Muslim-ness" and the "Muslim world" in the post-9/11 era, and even earlier, in the context of US interests in the Middle East and South Asia and the US government's profiling of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian Americans. While the domestic war on terrorism targets both Muslims and Arabs, and also South Asians, in the United States, there is often a conflation of "Muslim" and "Arab" identities, both in public and academic discourse. Two of the books we review here focus specifically on Islam in their titles, while the other two works address questions of Islam and Islamophobia in the context of Arab and South Asian nation-states. The categories of "Muslim," "Muslim American," and the "Muslim world" are political constructions that sometimes elide factors such as the specific history of the relationships of Arabs and of Arab and South Asian nation-states to the United States.

THE DOMESTIC "WAR ON TERRORISM"

Two recent monographs brilliantly illuminate the challenges Muslim Americans have faced in the United States both before and after 9-11: Civil Rights in Peril: The Targeting of Arabs and Muslims, edited by Elaine C. Hagopian, and Muslims ' Place in the American Public Square: Hopes, Fears and Aspirations, edited by Zahid Bukhari et al. Although these books address the key issues and concerns facing Muslim Americans today, each book captures from a different angle the multiple obstacles that Muslims must overcome on a daily basis.

Muslims ' Place in the American Public Square discloses, in an elaborate and sophisticated manner, what it means to be Muslim in America today. Chapters in this volume, written by authoritative scholars on the Muslim American community, outline the multiple factors that shape the civic and political life of Muslim Americans. Recognizing that Islam is both new and old and local and global, this compilation of essays enriches our understanding about what it means to be Muslim in the United States. The average Muslim is concerned about a plethora of issues that arise in everyday life experiences.

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