The Muslims of America
Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad
The conference 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.
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 a fresh look at some of the ways in which they have succeeded in creating a distinct identity and establishing an Islamic community in North America. The dramatic growth in the number of Muslims in the United States has come about at a time when anger is rising among many American citizens toward Muslims overseas as well as hostility toward and discrimination against American Muslims. The situation of Muslims in America must be understood in terms of the dynamics of their relationship to their environment in the United States and its influence on the development of Islamic ideas throughout the modern world.
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 600 mosques/Islamic centers, two 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 the maintenance of their heritage and the perpetuation of the faith by the next generation. In the last decade they have 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 and practices in what is