The most comprehensive study ever done on the American Muslim community, Journey into America explores and documents how Muslims are fitting into U.S. society, seeking to place the Muslim experience in the U.S. within the larger context of American identity.In doing so, it is a major contribution to the study of American history and culture.
Renowned scholar Akbar Ahmed and his team of young researchers traveled through over seventy-five cities across the United States—from New York City to Salt Lake City; from Las Vegas to Miami; from large enclaves such as Dearborn, Michigan, to small towns like Arab, Alabama. They visited over one hundred mosques and visited homes and schools to discover what Muslims are thinking, what they are reading, and how they are living every day in America.
Ahmed illuminates unexplored Muslim-American communities through his pursuit of challenging questions: Can we expect an increase in homegrown terrorism? How do American Muslims of Arab descent differ from those of other origins (e.g. Somali or South Asian)? Why are so many white women converting to Islam? He also delves into the potentially sticky area of relations with other religions. For example, is there truly a deep divide between Muslims and Jews in America? And how well do Muslims get along with other larger religious groups, such as Mormons in Utah?
Much like Ahmed’s widely hailed Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization (Brookings, 2007), Journey into America is equal parts anthropological research, listening tour, and travelogue. Whereas the previous book took the reader into homes, schools, mosques, and public places in heavily Muslim nations, Journey into America takes us into the heart of America’s Muslim communities in America. It is absolutely essential reading for anyone trying to make sense of America today, especially its Muslim population—the challenges it faces, the challenges it poses, and its prospects for the future.
List of Contents
Chapter 1: Muslim Odyssey
PART 1: AMERICAN IDENTITY
Chapter 2: Defining American Identity
Chapter 3: Searching for American Identity
PART 2: ISLAM IN AMERICA
Chapter 4: African-Americans as First Muslims
Chapter 5: Immigrant Muslims: Living the American Dream/American Nightmare
Chapter 6: Muslim Converts: Shame and Honor in a Time of Excess
PART 3: ADJUSTING AND ADAPTING
Chapter 7: Jews and Muslims: Bridging the Great Divide
Chapter 8: Mormons and Muslims: Getting to Know You
Chapter 9: The Importance of Being America
Praise for Journey into America:
“A timely and stimulating contribution to a critically important issue: The West’s (and especially America’s) relationship to Islam.” Zbigniew Brzezinski, Former National Security Advisor
“In the tradition of Alexis de Tocqueville, Professor Akbar Ahmed has had a conversation with and about America which illuminates an important part of our national identity.” Carol Moseley Braun, Former United States Senator, Ambassador and Presidential candidate 2004
“Professor Akbar Ahmed turns his intrepid approach to cultural dialogue and inter-faith understanding onto American society, in this brilliant follow-up to “Journey into Islam”. His insights should be required reading for anyone grappling with national security, national identity and national cohesion in today’s complex era.” Colonel David Kilcullen, author of Washington Post Bestseller and Economist Book of the Year, The Accidental Guerrilla
“My friend, Professor Ahmed, came to America in the great tradition of Alexis De Tocqueville: a perceptive foreigner affectionately looking at America and American identity. This important new book advances his heroic, even dangerous, ‘five minutes to midnight’ effort to save us from our foolish mutual animosities. Pray his efforts are not too late.” Tony Blankley, The Washington Times and The Heritage Foundation
“What a wonderful, wonderful work! Dr. Akbar Ahmed has written an important book on Islam in the United States today. With the refreshing perspective of both Dr. Ahmed and his bright young traveling companions, this book presents great insight into the diversity and vibrancy of American Islam and its potential to help achieve the American promise.” Eboo Patel, founder and Executive Director of Interfaith Youth Core
“I have not read a work as insightful, erudite, and innovative on the challenge of American identity since Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. Akbar Ahmed sets a new paradigm in the ongoing debate on defining American identity.” Melody Fox, Berkley Center at Georgetown University
“Ahmed’s media profile is now as high as that of any living cultural anthropologist. One does not have to agree with all his positions to recognize that, in the specific but crucial field of Islam and relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, his life’s work has done much to advance the values of anthropology. His celebrity should be welcomed as a gift to the discipline.” Jonathan Benthall, Former Director Royal Anthropological Institute, in Anthropology Today, October 2009
“Akbar Ahmed’s groundbreaking work on Islam in America taps into the moral urgency and pragmatic realism that is needed to sustain the emerging movement for social cohesion that he so skillfully documents. Ahmed charts the course for the next frontier in the e pluribus unum experiment that is the United States. What he proposes is crucial for the prospects for peace of the world.”Rev. Dirk Ficca, Executive Director, Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions
“Journey to America is an essential pillar in the effort to build the interfaith bridge of understanding. It will inform, provoke, and inspire Americans of all colors, cultures, and faiths.” Congressman Keith Ellison
“Akbar Ahmed is the 21st century Muslim Alexis de Tocqueville. If one wants to know why the world and not just America needs America to be America; if one wants stirring uplift and insight into the diversity and experience of being Muslim in America; if one wants to appreciate the genius of America’s founding fathers and the significance of their Bill of Rights; if one wants to absorb the experiences of different generations and different religions struggling together to understand the contemporary world; if one wants to understand how the constantly changing identity of the United States throughout the sweep of its history is relevant for today’s challenges; if one wants to appreciate how new useful knowledge can be created by what anthropologists call “participant observation research;” if one wants practical suggestions for building a better world at home and abroad together; then read Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam by Akbar S. Ahmed and his intrepid team.” Dean Louis Goodman, American University, Washington DC
“An absolutely riveting journey into an America most Americans have no idea about – as the US faces up to the tensions within its own Muslim communities it could not be more timely.” Christina Lamb, The Sunday Times Washington Bureau Chief
“One of the most exciting and readable accounts not only of Muslim life in the U.S. but of the context of American history more broadly. I have learned a great deal about my own country through Akbar Ahmed’s eyes.” Lawrence Rosen, Princeton University
“Your project is very pleasing to God. It’s truly a work of God, your desire to bring together the people of the world to have a greater love and respect for one another.” Archbishop Fiorenza, Archbishop of Catholic Diocese, Houston, Texas
“Journey into America is a journey ensuring that we can see all of our American brothers and sisters, and see that they are indeed created in the image of God.” Senior Rabbi Bruce Lustig, Washington Hebrew Congregation
“This is likely to be one of the most definitive works to date on the Muslim experience in the United States. It will have a catalytic affect and will in all likelihood stimulate a generation of scholars.” President Cornelius Kerwin, American University
“I think you’re the first one that has really tried to capture the rich texture of America, I just think it was a brilliant idea… its going to be very influential.” Ambassador J. Douglas Holladay
“Profound, commanding — simply brilliant. This is a powerful piece of writing.” Professor Tamara Sonn- College of William and Mary and
former president of the American Council for the Study of Islamic
Journey into America is essential reading for all who care about our future and our children’s future. It is ostensibly about Muslims in America, but it is more fundamentaly about who we are and the possibilities for discovering our common fears and aspirations. Akbar Ahmed is a man of vision, scholarship, courage, conviction, and profound decency.” Professor Brian Forst, author of “Terrorism, Crime and Public Policy”, Professor of Justice, Law and Society at American University, Washington, DC.