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For all of you who join me today, the article entitled The New Islam
Newsweek was written by Carla Power and Rising Number of Muslims
Threatens to Displace Jewish Lobby The Independent 3.13.98 written
by Mary Dejevsky , was retrieved from the site
The site is geared more towards articles that deal with America and
Islam. Feel free to browse the informative site.
May Allah be with you every step of the way...
The New Islam Newsweek 3.10.98
By Carla Power
The children of Muslim immigrants who came to America in the '60s are
coming of age.
Both pious and modern, they are the future of the faith
In El Cerrito, Calif., Shahed Amanullah knows it's time to pray, not
by a muezzin's call from a mosque minaret, but because his PowerMac
has chimed. A verse from the Koran hangs by his futon. Near the
bookcases--lined with copies of Wired magazine and Jack Kerouac
novels--lies a red Arabian prayer rug. There's a plastic compass sewn
into the carpet, its needle pointing toward Mecca. At the programmed
call, Amanullah begins his prayers, the same as those recited across
the globe--from the Gaza Strip to Samarkand.
In his goatee and beret, 30-year-old Amanullah wouldn't remind anyone
of Saddam Hussein or a member of Hizbullah, the sort of Muslims who
make headlines. He has never built a biological weapon, issued a
fatwa or burned Uncle Sam in effigy. "You think Muslim, you think
Saddam Hussein, you think ayatollah," says one Muslim-American
twentysomething. Not after meeting Amanullah. A native Californian,
Amanullah grew up running track, listening to Nirvana and reading the
Koran. He is a member of a burgeoning subculture: young Islamic
America. The children of the prosperous Muslim immigrants of the '60s
and '70s are coming of age, and with them arrives a new culture that
is a blend of Muslim and American institutions.
Online and on campus, in suburban mosques and summer camps, young
American Muslims are challenging their neighbors' perceptions of
Islam as a foreign faith and of Muslims as fiery fundamentalists or
bomb-lobbing terrorists. That image problem may be this generation's
biggest challenge in the New World. Within hours of the Oklahoma City
bombing in 1995, Muslims were prime suspects. "You'll die," was one
of the printable messages left on mosque answering machines around
the country. America's Muslims are not only taking on stereotypes,
they're taking on the status quo. As it was for Christians and Jews
before them, America is a laboratory for a re-examination of their
faith. America's Muslim community is a quilt of cultures: about 25
percent are of South Asian descent, Arabs represent another 12
percent and nearly half are converts, primarily African-Americans.
U.S. society allows them to strip away the cultural influences and
superstitions that have crept into Islam during the past 1,400 years.
By going back to the basic texts, they're rediscovering an Islam
founded on tolerance, social justice and human rights. Some 6 million
strong, America's Muslim population is set to outstrip its Jewish one
by 2010, making it the nation's second-largest faith after
Christianity. Richer than most Muslim communities, literate and
natives of the world's sole superpower, America's Muslims are intent
on exporting their modern Islam. From the Mideast to central Asia,
like to influence debate on everything from free trade to gender
At home, it is a generation committed to maintaining its Islamic
heritage while finding a niche in the New World. America's 1,500-odd
mosques are spread from Alaska to Florida. Muslims pray daily in
State Department hallways, in white-shoe corporate law firms and in
empty boardrooms at Silicon Valley companies like Oracle and Adaptec.
Last year Muslim organizations made life miserable for Nike when the
company marketed a shoe with a design resembling the name of Allah in
Arabic. After protests, Nike discontinued the style and started
sensitivity training for employees. In Washington, the American
Muslim Council lobbies on issues from school prayer to the Mideast
peace process. "We're learning to use our clout," says Farhan Memon,
a Muslim and 27-year-old partner in Yack!, a multimillion-dollar
Internet publishing business.
Clout doesn't come without confidence, says Manal Omar, a Muslim
woman raised in South Carolina. Tall and leather-jacketed, with a
trace of Southern drawl, she explodes any stock image of the crushed
and silent Muslim woman. In high school, she played basketball in
hijab--the Muslim woman's head covering ("my coach nearly freaked");
at college, she won national public-speaking prizes. Friends thought
she should become a stand-up comic. Instead, Omar went into refugee
relief. In her off hours, she's working on a series of books for
Muslim-American teenagers--"a sort of Islamic 'Sweet Valley High',"
If fighting stereotypes is American Muslims' biggest battle, it is
women who are on the front line. Raised playing touch football and
reading Seventeen magazine, women are returning to the Koran to
discover whether Islam sanctions the veils, seclusion and silence
that many Muslim women endure. (Short answer: no.) In Afghanistan or
Saudi Arabia, wearing a veil is the law. In Savannah, Ga., or Topeka,
Kans., it's a statement. "For some young women, the veil in America
works a bit like the Afro during the blackpower era," says Mohja
Kahf, a professor at the University of Arkansas. Amira Al-Sarraf,
34, a teacher at an Islamicschool in Los Angeles, explains: "I don't
have men flirting with me. I enjoy the respect I get."
At her wedding four years ago, Amanny Khattab wore an Islamic veil
under her translucent lace tulle one. She remembers the "living hell"
of her freshman year at Farmingdale High School on New York's Long
Island. "The week before school started, I bought all the cool stuff--
Reebok sneakers, Guess! jeans," recalls Khattab. "I wanted to look
just like everybody else, but with the scarf." It didn't work. But
enduring all the cracks--"towel-head," "rag-head"--made her
tough. "Non-Muslim women think I'm oppressed because I wear too
much?" says Khattab. "Well, I think they're oppressed because they
wear too little."
In Pakistan, tradition dictates that women pray at home rather than
at the mosque. In America, women not only go to the mosque--they're
on the mosque's board of directors. Saudi Arabian clerics have ruled
that it's un-Islamic for women to drive. But try telling a 16-year-
old from Toledo, Ohio, who's just gotten her driver's license that
the Koran prohibits her from hitting the road. She'll probably retort
that the Prophet's favorite wife, Aisha, once directed troops in
battle from the back of a camel. That willingness to challenge
convention is revitalizing a religion that many think has stagnated
since the Middle Ages. Today a reformation is afoot. Muslims
worldwide are working to square a faith founded in Arabia with
modernity. Debates rage: Is Islam compatible with Western-style
democracy? With modern science? With feminism? American Muslims,
wealthy, wired and standing on the fault line between cultures, are
well positioned to bring a 13-century-old faith into the next
The United States is arguably the best place on earth to be Muslim.
Multicultural democracy, with its guarantees of religious freedom and
speech, makes life easier for Muslims than in many Islamic states in
the Middle East. It's an idea they'd like to export. U.S. Muslim
social organizations send money and medicine to beleaguered Kashmiris
and Bosnians. The Web site of the Minaret of Freedom Institute, an
organization devoted to "promoting the establishment of free trade
and justice," has links to the Islamic University of Gaza. "The U.S.
Constitution describes the perfect Islamic state," says Muhammed
Muqtader Khan, who teaches American politics to Muslims. "It protects
life, liberty and property."
Growing Muslim-American political consciousness may be the surest
sign of assimilation. While their parents may have been happy to sit
on the sidelines and pine for the Old World, the new generation
realizes that to protect its rights as Americans--and Muslims--it has
to speak out. Some mosques educate their communities to be more
politically assertive, registering voters and holding programs on how
to be an active PTA parent. Freshly minted Muslim lawyers are joining
other ambitious young politicos in Washington. "When people say we'll
never have elected Muslim-American officials, I say, 'Hey, those are
the same things they said about a Catholic named Kennedy running for
president'," says Suhail Khan, a 28-year-old congressional staffer.
Muslim and Arab groups have protested against airport-security
profiling, which they say unfairly targets them as potential
terrorists. Last month the American Muslim Council organized a fax-
and-phone campaign against bombing Iraq. The No. 1 foreign-policy
concern is the Arab-Israeli peace process. Recently, the Arab
American Institute--which involves both Muslims and Christians--took
a congressional delegation to Syria for a 3 1/2-hour meeting with
President Hafez Assad to discuss the issue.
In the 1996 election, three times as many Muslims supported Bill
Clinton as Bob Dole. The White House has not forgotten. Last month
the First Lady threw a Ramadan party in the marble-and-gilt Indian
Treaty Room in the West Wing. Hillary Clinton's talk--which touched
on everything from peace to democracy to the trials of being a
beleaguered minority--drew fervent applause. Long after the First
Lady left, guests loitered, munched baklava and hummus and took
snapshots of one another. Having made it to the White House, it
seemed, they didn't want to leave.
Rising Number of Muslims Threatens to Displace Jewish Lobby The
By Mary Dejevsky
In a little more than a decade, the number of Muslims in the United
States is set to overtake the number of Jews, in a shift that has far-
reaching implications for America's domestic and foreign policy.
By 2010, it is estimated that the US Muslim population -, which has
risen from an estimated 0.4 per cent of the population to almost 1.4
per cent today - will pass the declining number of Jews. The 1997
Britannica Book of the Year gives only proportions, saying Jews, who
accounted for 3.3 per cent of the population in the mid-Seventies,
will account for only 2 per cent in 2000.
By 2010, it projects, the proportion of Muslims and Jews will have
switched. Figures obtained from Jewish and Muslim organisations,
however, suggest the crossing point may already have been reached.
They give similar figures for their current numbers - about 6 million
each. The US Census Bureau does not record statistics by religion or
culture. But what is incontestable, is that in purely numerical
terms the position of Jews and Muslims is being reversed.
The increase in Muslim numbers reflects partly immigration from the
Indian subcontinent and north Africa in the Sixties and Seventies,
but also the accelerating rate of conversion by American blacks.
Converts are estimated to account for half the present number of
Muslims and the number of converts is increasing fast.
If it were just a matter of numbers, the effect of this shift might
be limited. The prominence of American Jews has long enabled them to
punch above their weight in politics and business. But the Muslims
are catching up. The growing influence of US Muslims is reported in
this week's Newsweek magazine, which stresses the vitality of what
it calls the "new Islam" - an Americanised blend of the strands of
Islam which has little truck with restrictions on women. "The US is
arguably the best place on earth to be Muslim," the report
says. "Multicultural democracy, with its guarantees of religious
freedom and speech, makes life easier for Muslims than in many
Islamic states in the Middle East." It says Muslims are emerging in
the professions and as a cohesive voting bloc.
US Muslims, it concludes, may become a force to be reckoned with. The
demographic trend has not gone unnoticed by the White House. At the
end of Ramadan, the President sent a message to the Islamic countries
and American Muslims, and Hillary Clinton hosted a party for Muslim
women. It is in foreign priorities where the demographic shift may be
felt most keenly. Already, the coolness between Israel's present
government and Washington has clipped US wings in the Middle East. It
has also provoked divisions among American Jews about how Washington
should proceed . But while policy differences and declining numbers
may weaken the
celebrated "Jewish lobby", there is as yet no Islamic lobby to
challenge for more influence. And Washington, still caught in the
thicket of past hostilities with Iraq, Iran and Libya, is finding it
hard to contemplate a change of direction. Within the decade,
however, it may not be thirst for Middle East oil that pushes
Washington to treat with Arabs, but a wealthy, vocal and streamlined
lobby right in its midst.
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