Today, Muslims participate in all aspects of civil society in the United States. Regardless of ethnicity or faith, American Muslims serve the country as soldiers and officers in the armed forces, run for political office, vote in elections, pay taxes, serve the underprivileged through charitable work, and practice their faith in nearly every state of the nation. Muslims are teachers, doctors, scientists, journalists, and entrepreneurs, and can be found in any occupation, from every walk of life.
Who are these people who populate nearly one quarter of the world? They belong to an ancient religion revealed to the Prophet Mohammed around 610 AD and subsequently transcribed into the Quran. Muslims have settled in all regions throughout the world, with roughly five to seven million living in the United States as US citizens or as permanent residents. American Muslims are the most racially diverse of any religious group in the country. Some Muslims today can trace their ancestors back to slaves from Muslim communities in African countries, or from 20th Century Muslim immigrants from Baltic and Asian regions who were fleeing religious persecution, chasing the American dream, among many other things. Many Muslims immigrating to the United States in the past fifty years were escaping war-torn areas of the Middle East or fleeing religious persecution from regions throughout the world. Among African American communities, conversion to Islam has been especially pronounced in the past half century.
Unfortunately, in the past decade, American Muslims have experienced a sharp increase in discrimination and violent crimes. Hate attacks targeting Muslims of Arab descent, in particular, saw a sharp up-tick after 9/11, and most recently in response to the proposed Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan. In a wave of anti-Arab, anti-Muslim rhetoric from extreme ideologues, including activists, politicians, and the media, harmful misconceptions about Islam and Muslim culture have ignited the public discourse. Arab and Muslim communities are reporting greater incidents of racial profiling, school bullying, housing and employment discrimination, law enforcement misconduct, and abuses in immigration policies. Mosques are facing challenges like they haven’t before, and physical and verbal abuse and harassment towards American Muslims have all increased.
Daisy Khan, Executive Director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), will speak on the myths regarding the American Muslim and people who have been peddling fear in the United States. Her lecture will speak to a new paradigm of Muslim-West relations, and ways in which greater connection and understanding between the Muslim community and the general public can move forward through dialogues in faith, identity, culture, and arts.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Gamble Auditorium, Art Building