Muslim Women in America: The Challenge of Islamic Identity Today

Muslim Women in America: The Challenge of Islamic Identity Today

Muslim Women in America: The Challenge of Islamic Identity Today

Muslim Women in America: The Challenge of Islamic Identity Today

Synopsis

The treatment and role of women are among the most discussed and controversial aspects of Islam. The rights of Muslim women have become part of the Western political agenda, often perpetuating a stereotype of universal oppression. Muslim women living in America continue to be marginalized and misunderstood since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Yet their contributions are changing the face of Islam as it is seen both within Muslim communities in the West and by non-Muslims. In their public and private lives, Muslim women are actively negotiating what it means to be a woman and a Muslim in an American context. Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Jane I. Smith, and Kathleen M. Moore offer a much-needed survey of the situation of Muslim American women, focusing on how Muslim views about and experiences of gender are changing in the Western diaspora. Centering on Muslims in America, the book investigates Muslim attempts to form a new "American" Islam. Such specific issues as dress, marriage, childrearing, conversion, and workplace discrimination are addressed. The authors also look at the ways in which American Muslim women have tried to create new paradigms of Islamic womanhood and are reinterpreting the traditions apart from the males who control the mosque institutions. A final chapter asks whether 9/11 will prove to have been a watershed moment for Muslim women in America. This groundbreaking work presents the diversity of Muslim American women and demonstrates the complexity of the issues. Impeccably researched and accessible, it broadens our understanding of Islam in the West and encourages further exploration into how Muslim women are shaping the future of American Islam.

Excerpt

In the aftermath of the 9/11 terror strikes on the Twin Towers of New York City and the Pentagon, the presence of Muslims in the United States has increasingly raised apprehensions among the American public. From several vantage points, concerns about the threat of terrorism have overshadowed many other priorities and sometimes caused judgments to be clouded. Tempers have flared, resentments have been aroused, and hate crimes have been perpetrated against individuals suspected of being linked—sometimes in the most tenuous of ways—to terrorism. Often women have been the victims of prejudice and hostility. Some Americans are deeply persuaded that Muslims are guilty not only of violent behavior but also of treating women as inferior to men. For these reasons, we were inspired to write about the circumstances of Muslim women in the United States and Canada, both before and after 9/11, hoping to foster a more accurate understanding of Islam and Muslims in the West.

Tensions between Muslims and American society in general should not be overstated. What follows in this book describes not only the problems Muslims encounter but also the opportunities enjoyed by many American Muslim women to define their own identities and determine their own destinies. Muslim women have been empowered to participate in the public arena to pursue their interests, whether these interests are counteracting prejudice or pursuing professional dreams or serving the common welfare through community service. They have contributed in especially significant ways in the negotiation of what it means to be Muslim in the American context. As such they are deeply implicated in . . .

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