The word ISLAM could be defined with a two fold meaning which is the submission to God and peace. The submission requires a willing and fully conscious effort to submit your life to the Almighty God and do whatever he wants you to do. You should consistently and consciously give yourself to Allah’s service. One should therefore act according to the Qur’an and what the prophet of Allah, Muhammad encourages everyone to do. According to Haddad, (1993), once you get rid of the egoism, humble yourself and submit your life totally to Allah alone in action and in faith then you will surely feel peace at heart. Once you have established peace in your heart, then this will also be transferred to the external conduct (p. 65).
Islam is not just a religion to be to be talked about rather it is a complete sway of life that should be continuously practiced. Muslim are supposed to follow to the later the five pillars of this religion: pilgrimage to Makkah, declare faith in one Allah and his prophet Muhammad, fasting during the month of Ramadhan, praying, alms tax: and also believe in faith’s six articles: belief in the Holy Books, God, the angels, the prophet, the judgment day and God’s decree. All these should be done in good or in ill (Ankerberg & Burroughs 2008, p. 38).
Percentage of Muslims in America
The population of Muslims in America today is a mosaic of linguistic, ethnic economic, ideological, social and religious groups. Native Muslims in America are integrated very well in the American society, while newcomers are also adapting to the life in America. In terms of devotion to religion, the Muslim range from the secular, moderate and the highly orthodox. They resemble the Jews, Christians, Hindus and other American religions in the sense that they seek for social and political integration, while some of them prefer living primarily according to the cultural practices. According to Haddad (1993), the population size of the Muslims in America has been very difficult to measure because the Census exercise in the US does not track affiliations in religion. Variation sin estimates vary from 2 million to 7 million. However it’s quite clear that the Muslim population has been growing very rapidly in American as a result of high birth rate, immigration and conversion from other religious communities (p. 98).
A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2007 indicated that 65% of the Muslims in America were Immigrants of the first generation, 61% of those born in foreign countries arrived during the 1990s. 77% of those living in America are citizens with 65% of those born in foreign countries being naturalized citizens. According to Khan (2003), African-American citizens in America rage between one fifth and one third of all Muslims in America. The other large groups of Muslims are South Asians and Arabs. Although most people identify Islam with Arabs, the south Asians are the fastest growing Muslim population in America (p. 26). In fact they occupy around a quarter of the total Muslim population. There is also a growing population of Hispanic and white converts most of them who are women married to the Muslim men.
Although Muslims could be found in every part of the country, most of them live in major metropolitan towns in the Midwest and along the two coasts. Among the states with the largest Muslim population are California, Illinois, New York, Texas, New Jersey, Ohio, Maryland, Indiana, Virginia, and Michigan. We also have Muslim communities established near state universities. According to one Dr. Ahmed Totonji the Muslim population will reach ten million by the end of the century. Dr. Hisham who is also a member of International Institute of Islamic says that considering the current rate of growth, the number of Muslims will double within the next 28 years (Wuthnow, 2007, p. 49).
How Muslims are treated verses other religions in America
There are a lot of stories about discrimination of Muslims in America because of their cultures. For instance some are verbally abused by the non Muslim communities because of spotting beards or for wearing hijaab or just because of being a Muslim. According to most people in America, Muslims are all terrorists who have no mercy for people’s life. In fact some even think they are all related to Osama bin Laden. Most of the Americans think that Muslims encourage violence since it’s said that when Muslims die while fighting they go straight to heaven. Am not sure how true this is but it’s not right for people to generalize Muslims. Even in Christianity we have both the good people and the bad people (Khan, 2003, p. 109).
Most American companies are of the thought that all Muslims are immigrants. You find that some Muslims with excellent skills and abilities are denied employment because of this. Fr instance Murad Ali who is a Muslim born in America is doing his doctorate and has many positive referees and excellent experience and is also a veteran in military. This man applied for a job that only required 2 years of experience and a degree. Despite all his education and experience, he received a letter telling him that he did not qualify. This show3s how mush difficulty the Muslim brothers and sisters go through in the hands of Americans (Wuthnow, 2007, p. 78).
The discrimination against Muslim community increased steady after the September 11 attack. Since the attackers of September 11 were believed to have come from the Middle East, all the Muslims especially from Arab countries were treated with a lot of discrimination. Statistics from the American Arab Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC) indicates that more than one thousand Americans of the Arab tribe were arrested after the events of this day. There were however no charges placed against them. One wonders why arrest someone and not charge him. This is a clear form of discrimination. There was also a lot of security scrutiny at American airports and the Muslims were major victims of police brutality. The custom officials at the airport are also said to be fond of targeting travelers of Islamic religion for intense personal searches. Some of them have been falsely accused of trafficking drugs and they end up in jail no matter how much they plead guilty.
The effects of Muslims’ viewpoints on members of other religions in America
The Muslim community has various beliefs and viewpoints. Some of them are similar to beliefs of other religions. For instance both Muslims and Christians believe in God although they use different names to referee to him. However we have some beliefs that are very much different from other religions. For instance although they believe that God reveled himself in the Psalms, the Jewish law, and the Gospels, they are of the view that the Christian bible is corrupted. According to them the Qur’an is the ideal Book for the word of God. Anything else is just but a collection of corrupt writing by human beings (Haddad,1993, p. 92). It is such viewpoints by the Muslim community that brings a lot of differences with other religions. The Christians take such beliefs as a sign of disrespect for their religion and this normally brings a lot of tension between the two religions.
Muslims also deny the fact that Jesus Christ who by the way according to them is a prophet of God just like Moses, died on the cross because of the sins of man. They also deny that he resurrected after three days. This is a direct confrontation of the Christians community whose faith largely relies on Jesus Christ, the son of God. Further more, the Muslims also believe in the holy war or the jihad. This is the believe that when they die while in the battle field, they go straight to heaven. According to Ankerberg & Burroughs (2008), this has been a major source of problem especially in America. We have seen over the news where young Muslim boys are involved in suicide bombing that ends up killing many people. This is one of the reasons as to why the Islamic religion is feared (p. 76).
Efforts made to help members of other religions understand Muslims beliefs
Its such a good thing that we have people who are dedicated to try and make people from other religions to understand the Muslim beliefs and reduce the notion that Muslims support violence. One such effort is through the interfaith understanding. For instance Heba Elkobity who is a Muslim with Egyptian heritage and her friend Nancy Lazarus who is a reformed Jew staying in Maryland work together at the schools where their children attend in New York and within the community the live to try and make people from various religions live together and understand on another religion. According to Salasky (2010), the two friends even organized for students from Williamsburg’s Beth Ei Temple go visit a mosque in Hamton. The two dozen Jewish students, their teachers and parents and rabii, Me’irah lliinsky were welcomed by Ahmed Noor who is a cofounder and a trustee of the mosque together with his wife ZiZi. These group was taken through an introductory talk which dealt with the Muslim faith and the Islam community. This group was allowed to ask whatever questions they wished to know about Islam and they were all answered appropriately.
Some of the students like Lazarus daughter were shocked to find that the Muslim population was so much bigger in comparison with the Jews in America. Moreover they also found out that the three religions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism were so much alike. They also got to learn about why Muslims put on scarves and so on. Such discussions should be encouraged if America wants to fight against discrimination of Muslims. The parents, teachers and the religious leaders are in a better of position to teach their followers especially the young kids on the importance of interrelation among all religions (Salasky, 2010). They should make them understand that we are all children of God. People should take the difference between various religions as a chance to learn more form one another rather than a source of conflict.
Ankerberg, J. & Burroughs, D. (2008). What’s the big deal about other religions?: Answering the questions about their beliefs and practices. North Carolina: Harvest House publishers.
The two authors brought in an aspect of what is the big deal where they talk about the points of view of various religions of the world including Islam and Christianity. For each religious group, there is a history and the origin and the key teachings of these groups. The book also addresses the key differences in various religions. The authors say that you should not care about what other religions teach or talk about since all of them lead to God. It is not right to tell someone that his religion is not right because you are not God. On top of this, its indicated that Christians are inmost cases a very judgmental religion. The book says that there is only one religion. Al that has happened is that there are many versions of the religion. As long as we all believe I God there is no cause for alarm. However we need to respect every religion as unique as it may be.
Haddad, Y. Y. (1993). The Muslims of America. New York: Oxford University press
This book is about the history, organization, outstanding thinkers, responses, challenges and the future of the Muslim population in not only America but also in Canada. The book got information from both the Muslim and non Muslims just to make sure that the information is not biased. Some of the contributors include scholars, political activists, and even American Muslim intellectuals among other. Haddad says that American Muslims are experiencing a lot of difficulties in their attempt to develop their institutions and increase in number. They receive frustrations from every corner in America. From discrimination, prejudice, misunderstanding, intimidation and even hatred. There has been an increase in American Muslim population over time as they continue to grow in population and occupy urban areas in America. He also accuses the American media for all the problems that Muslims are going through because it is through media that false allegations have been made against the Muslim. Everybody will always believe in what the media says and therefore giving it a better hand to manipulate the Americans minds.
Khan, A. (2003). Islam, Muslim, and America: understanding the basis of their conflict. New York: Algora publishing.
The book gives an introduction about the history of the Muslim in the west and the teachings of Islam. In this context it describes the reasons as to why there is a division between the Muslim and the Western countries’ beliefs. Further more there are discussions about the true Islamic beliefs and other misconceptions that Americans have in the religion. Khan says there are lot of misinformed Americans who just hate Islam because of the events of September 11 by they don’t really understand what the religion is all bout. Interest about Muslims got on the rise after this date and now most Muslims are looked at as terrorists who are a threat to the nation at large. He also says that Islam is all about submission of one’s life to Allah. On top of this they also believe in the first man being Adam and therefore they are all children of God just like Christians and Jews
Salasky, P. (2010, March 14). PAIR urges interfaith understanding. Daily Press, 10 Life & Family. (Salasky, 2010)
Prue Salasky (2010), journalist and editorial writer and author of “Pair urges interfaith understanding,” writes in an article published on Sunday March 14 of the Daily Press about Jewish students from Williamsburg during a visit to Hampton Mosque and Islamic Center. Female acquaintances Heba Elkabaitry, a Muslim of Egyptian heritage and Nancy Lazarus, a Reform Jew from Maryland are members of five-member interfaith club. The duo work in the community, where they most recently gathered at a mosque by two dozen Jewish students and a host of other guests. Salasky is a journalist and editorial writer who lives in Norfolk, Virginia with her husband Mike, an attorney. They are empty-nesters after raising three children.Wuthnow, R. (2007). America and the challenges of religious diversity. New Jersey: Princeton University press.
The United States has become home to almost all the religions of the world. We have the Christians, Jews and the Muslims who are increasing every day among many other religions. The question here is therefore how the country is adapting to these daily changes in many religions. The book looks at how community leaders, teacher and even the clergy deal with the various challenges that come with hosting diverse religions of which every one has its on beliefs. Only by understanding the differences in culture will people live together in peace and harmony but as long as we overlook the differences and pretend everything is ok, there will be continuous discrimination especially among the Muslims.