Islam is one of the major religions in the world. It is highly controversial because of global links to terrorism. Most terrorist groups associated with the religion have taken responsibility for major terror attacks in the United States and other countries around the world. Contemporary American society is comprised of a highly diverse Muslim population. Some top media personalities, artists, and entertainers are American Muslims. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, Muslims in the United States have experienced heightened discrimination and monitoring from both state and federal governments. Religion and integration as well as identity and politics are core aspects of Islamic culture in America.
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Religion and Integration
Muslims in the United States have created their own culture that incorporates all aspects of the American way of life including art, music, politics, and education. Within the Muslim community, different traditions and religious norms are practiced. For example, most Muslims adhere to the teachings of Shia Islam (Kabir, 2016). Others follow Sufism and a small percentage belongs to Sunni Islam. Global Islamic movements such as Salafi, the Tablighi Jamaat, and the Muslim Brotherhood have few followers (Kabir, 2016). Nondenominational Muslims are not affiliated with any of the aforementioned religious systems but describe themselves as simply Muslim. American Muslims are increasingly taking part in popular cultural aspects such as film, social media, literature, art, sports, and fashion. In popular Muslim art, the theme of discrimination dominates. The most prevalent challenges facing Muslims in the US include racism, prejudice, and discrimination. It is very difficult for members to popularize their cultural practices because they are widely viewed as sympathizers of terrorism (Moghul, 2017). In that regard, their art, music, and fashion are not common in the United States. Ignorance and stereotyping are the major reasons why the misconception that Muslims are terrorists is held by many Americans.
Identity and Politics
Identity and affiliation are core components of the Islamic culture in America. Religion is the major determinant of Islamic identity. Other determinants include education and American culture (Moghul, 2017). The majority of Muslims earn above-average incomes, pursue higher education, and are active participants in the American political system, especially about influencing America’s foreign policies on Muslim nations (Kabir, 2016). Several groups have taken the initiative to enhance counterterrorism efforts and promote dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims in the US to foster socioeconomic integration (Moghul, 2017). Freedom is an important component of Islamic culture in the US. Unlike Muslims in other nations around the world, American Muslims have more freedom about the influence of religion on their lives and cultural practices. For instance, most Muslim women do not cover their heads with the hijab (Moghul, 2017). Moreover, their dress code is more liberal and reflective of social and cultural integration. The proliferation of liberal beliefs among Muslims can be attributed to increased victimization and discrimination.
American Muslims in the US work in all sectors of the economy due to their successful socioeconomic integration. Religion plays a key role in the development of Islamic culture. However, Muslims in the US have more freedom that allows them to incorporate aspects of the American culture (dress code, film, music, and education) into their culture. The success that Muslims have achieved in the process of integration in the US has resulted in the creation of a unique Islamic culture that combines aspects of Islamic and American cultures.
Kabir, A. A. (2016). Muslim Americans: Debating the notions of American and un-American. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.
Moghul, H. (2017). How to be a Muslim: An American story. Washington, D.C.: Bacon Press Books.