The Muslims of America

By Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad | Go to book overview

8
Political Activity of Muslims
in America

Steve A. Johnson

Islam has become an American religion. Recent estimates of the number of Muslims in America range from 2 million to 8 million, with the most reliable 1986 estimate being approximately 4.7 million. 1 The first major wave of Muslims emigrating from the Middle East to the United States began between 1875 and World War I. This was followed by second and third waves of immigration between the 1920s and World War II, and 1947 and the mid‐ 1960s, respectively. 2 A recent study reports that "relative to the total number of all immigrants entering the U.S., the number of Muslim immigrants has nearly doubled over the last two decades...." 3 However, despite the growing number of Muslim immigrants attaining U.S. citizenship, and the fact that nearly 30 percent of all Muslims in the United States are indigenous American citizens, as a group Muslims remain essentially a political nonentity.

This study is an initial investigation, albeit sketchy, into the political activity of Muslims in America. It describes two independent spheres of political activity, the political activity between Muslim groups in America and the current political activity of Muslims vis-à-vis the larger non-Muslim American society.

On December 6, 1986, the Planning Committee of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) held a public hearing in Plainfield, Indiana, in an attempt to identify what a broad cross-section of Muslims in America viewed as strategic priorities for Muslims in the next decade. The report submitted by that committee noted six priorities, including community development, which was further subdivided into political, legal, and social action. The section of the report on political action is brief but important:

In order to exert influence on the political decision-making [sic] and legislation in North America, ISNA should launch a campaign to educate Muslim citizens about their voting rights and mobilize them to vote on issues affecting Islam and Muslims. On a longer term basis, ISNA should develop communication with and among politically active Muslims and establish a separate political organization in due course. 4

-111-

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The Muslims of America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Religion in America Series *
  • The Muslims of America *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Contents *
  • Contributors *
  • Introduction- the Muslims of America 3
  • Notes 8
  • I- The Muslims of the United States *
  • 1- Muslim Organizations in the United States 11
  • Notes 24
  • 2- Estimate of Muslims Living in America 25
  • Notes 35
  • References 36
  • II- Perceptions of Muslims in the United States *
  • 3- Perspectives of American Churches on Islam and the Muslim Community in North America 39
  • Notes 49
  • 4- The Muslim as the "Other" 53
  • Notes 61
  • III- Islamic Thought in the United States *
  • 5- Ismail R. Al-Faruqi 65
  • Notes 78
  • 6- Seyyed Hossein Nasr 80
  • Notes 92
  • 7- The Legacy of Fazlur Rahman 96
  • Notes 105
  • IV- Islamic Activity in the United States *
  • 8- Political Activity of Muslims in America 111
  • Notes 123
  • 9- Da''Wa in the West 125
  • Notes 134
  • 10- Muslims in Prison 136
  • Notes 151
  • 11- Islamic Education in the United States and Canada 157
  • Notes 173
  • V- Muslim Women in Intercultural Perspective *
  • 12- African-American Muslim Women 177
  • Notes 186
  • 13- Two-Way Acculturation 188
  • Notes 200
  • VI- American Muslims and the Question of Identity *
  • 14- Islamic Issues for Muslims in the United States 205
  • Notes 215
  • 15- American Foreign Policy in the Middle East and Its Impact on the Identity of Arab Muslims in the United States 217
  • Notes 231
  • 16- Convergence and Divergence in an Emergent Community 236
  • Notes 248
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