The Muslims of America

By Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad | Go to book overview

and on the attitudes of Muslim business people toward the American capitalist system. The divergent attitudes identified in our classification of different definitions of the Muslim identity in the United States will have significant effects on the future role of Muslims in the economy. Assimilationist Muslims will fare very much like assimilationist members of other religious traditions operating within the U.S. economy. They will develop intellectual justifications for dealing with banks that charge interest and with home-building companies that include interest in their mortgage rates. The simulationists, on the other hand, will in the coming years create economic structures that are faithful to Islamic economics and reassuring to those who believe in God and the Sunna of Prophet Muhammad.

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 interreligious 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. 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. Were this to occur, Will Herberg's statement on American religion could be amended to read that being American means that one may be a member of the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or any of the other religious traditions in American society.


Notes
1.
For some insights on the racial situation in the United States at the time Gunner Myrdal wrote his book, see his An American Dilemma, Anniv. Ed. ( New York: Harper & Row, 1964).
2.
See my editorial in the American Journal of Islamic Studies 1: 1 ( spring 1984), v-ix.
3.
Included in this category are groups like the Ansarullah; the Islamic Party of North America; the Islamic Brotherhood, Inc., of New York; the Darul Islam Movement; and the Institute of Islamic Involvement in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. For details on their views of Islam in America, read the numerous publications of the Ansars, the back issues of al-Islam, The Western Sunrise, and Jihadul Akbar, and Vision.
4.
Although there is no agreement on the number of Muslims in the United States, a widely cited figure is 3 million. For latest attempts at tabulations, see Yvonne Haddad, Islamic Values in the United States: A Comparative Study ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1987). Arif Ghayur, "Muslims in the United States: Settlers and Visitors," Annals ASPSS454 ( March 1981).

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