Inside American Islam
Top Islam expert Akbar Ahmed just visited one hundred mosques in America. We get his report.
A picture taken as part of Prof. Akbar Ahmed’s project “Journey Into Islam” (Credit: flickr/journeyintoamerica)
It’s been a head-spinning couple of months for American Muslims. After quiet centuries in the country, and years of post-9.11 life that were sometimes tense but overall peaceful, suddenly Muslims in America are confronted with headlines and attitudes shouting “Islamophobia.”
That’s tough to take for citizens who have quietly weathered some tough years of war and strain. Very tough.
We look at Americans, Muslim Americans, in the storm. We hear from the leader of a team that’s visited a hundred mosques around the country and ask – what next?
Akbar Ahmed, professor of Islamic Studies at American University’s School of International Service. He traveled with a team to some 100 mosques in America. The result is chronicled in his new book, “Journey Into America: The Challenge of Islam.” You can read an excerpt.
Resa Aslan, author of “No god But God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam” and a contributing editor for The Daily Beast. Read his latest piece there, “The Charlatans Have Taken Over 9/11.”
You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, or on Facebook.
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Tagged Akbar Ahmed, America, ground zero, Islam, Journey into America, Mosque, NPR, pn point, Quran, Religion, reza aslan, tom ashbrook
Inside America’s Mosques
From tie-dyed hippies to hard-line radicals, they’re not all the same — and they’re not what you think.
Foreign Policy Magazine
BY AKBAR AHMED | SEPTEMBER 9, 2010
The ninth anniversary of 9/11 is almost upon us, and the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims in the United States is as fraught as ever. Witness Florida pastor Terry Jones, whose planned “International Burn a Koran Day” held the nation shocked and riveted for weeks until he finally agreed to cancel the event.
In this environment of heightened intolerance, people focus on symbols, and no symbol is more representative of Islam than the mosque. But most outsiders have no idea what actually goes on inside mosques. Some have let their imaginations — and their mouths — run wild in depicting these places of worship as nurseries of homegrown terrorist plots against America, as the recent controversy over the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero in New York revealed.
But the conversation about mosques doesn’t need to be so ugly. Long before the latest controversies erupted, I, along with a team of young American researchers, traveled throughout the country studying U.S. mosques for the book Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam. From fall 2008 until fall 2009 we visited over 75 cities and over 100 of the estimated 1,200 mosques in the United States, some of which are little more than a room or two. And we were reminded that Muslims in America are as diverse as Americans overall. There is no one pattern that can describe them all, and any generalities fail to cover the whole picture.
Read the entire article here.
A Conversation with Akbar Ahmed: Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam
September 9, 2010 | 06:00PM
Bunn Intercultural Center (ICC) Auditorium, Georgetown University
Sally Quinn, founder of the Washington Post’s On Faith page, will moderate this conversation.
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. Scholar Akbar Ahmed and his team of young researchers traveled through over seventy-five cities across the United States and visited over one hundred mosques. 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? 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 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.
Sally Quinn, a Washington Post journalist, is the author of several books. She founded and co-moderates the Washington Post’s On Faith page.
Ambassador Ahmed on Fox News talking about the mosque controversies at Ground Zero and some of the issues raised in Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam. Watch the video here.
Listen to this interview that All Things Considered host Robert Siegel conducted with Akbar Ahmed on NPR about the book, the proposed Mosque at ground zero and in Murfreesboro and some mosque controversies that we encountered as we traveled.
Muslims all across the country have run into local opposition when they’ve tried to build new houses of worship. Robert Siegel speaks with Akbar Ahmed, a professor of Islamic studies at American University and author of Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam, about the experiences of Muslims in the U.S.
Click here to listen to the interview. The full transcript of the interview is here.
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Tagged Akbar Ahmed, all things considered, controversy, ground zero, Islam, Journey into America, Mosque, Muslim, NPR, Religion, robert siegel