Islam is the third largest religion in the United States and has more than 3 million followers. This accounts for approximately 1% of the American population (GhaneaBassiri, 2010). Since the 9/11 attacks, the controversy regarding the compatibility between American and Islamic cultures and values has dominated political and social discourses. The attacks marked the beginning of an era in which Muslims are portrayed as violent and anti-American terrorists whose main aim is to fight the influence of American values on the world. The US has had longstanding stable relationships with Islam nations. However, the relations deteriorated after the 9/11 attacks.
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Muslims are part of American history and played a great role in the establishment of the American nation. They first came to America in the 16th century and participated in major wars that played a key role in forming the history of the US (GhaneaBassiri, 2010). For example, they took part in the Civil War, the Vietnam War, and World War II. Therefore, their values are based on peace and freedom for everyone. After the 9/11 attacks, many American Muslims joined the U.S. Armed Forces to help fight terrorism and protect America. Recent attacks on Muslims are indications that many Americans misunderstand the foundation on which Islam rests (Smith, 2010).
Islamic culture is under attack because Muslims have been portrayed as anti-American, the Quran has been burnt, Islam has been described as a violent religion, Islamic religious beliefs have been attacked, and many politicians have called for the deportation of Muslims (GhaneaBassiri, 2010). Muslims are Americans too and it is unconstitutional to attack them because such attacks undermine the values of tolerance, peace, love, and freedom that form the foundation of the US.
Islamic Culture in the US
American Muslims have created their own culture that is founded on the teachings of Islam. For instance, they have created comedy groups, Scout troops, political activism organizations, and rap groups that promote Islamic ideals and lifestyles (Smith, 2010). Moreover, they are actively involved in politics through various media platforms such as the internet and television. Muslim communities follow a wide variety of traditions originating from Sufism and Shia Islam. Many American Muslims are also members of Islamic global movements that fight for the rights of Muslims in different parts across the world (Smith, 2010).
Muslims are also actively involved in the American political system. However, their political party affiliations are primarily based on America’s foreign policy on Islamic nations. Several aspects of Islamic culture such as mosques, Islamic centers, and Islamic institutions are a major component of American civic life (Smith, 2010). American Muslims take part in all aspects of American culture. For example, they take part in the activities of Boy and Girls Scouts, Rotary Clubs, and Veterans of Foreign Wars (Smith, 2010).
They are law-abiding citizens who serve in the management committees of schools and other learning institutions. Like other religions, Muslims have created Islamic institutions that serve all Americans regardless of their religious affiliation. For example, the University Muslim Medical Association offers free health care services to needy people regardless of their religion (Smith, 2010). Other aspects of Islamic culture that are part of the American public life include charity work, interfaith outreach, civic engagement, and participation in political matters.
Muslim Americans face overwhelming pressure because of the negative image created by radical Muslim groups that believe in violence and terrorism. The group’s well-being is under threat because its members have been subjected to institutional discrimination, government surveillance, and hate crimes. Muslims are a critical component of the American culture primarily due to their participation in the various aspects of American civic life.
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GhaneaBassiri, K. (2010). A history of Islam in America: from the new world to the new world order. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Smith, J. I. (2010). Islam in America. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.