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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: August 2012

8 - Between Experience and Politics

Summary

Since the late 1980s, the history of Islam in America has become increasingly more multifaceted. Between the time when the Berlin wall fell and when George W. Bush left office, many more Muslims immigrated to the United States. The United States became home to a large number of Muslim refugees from such war-torn regions as Afghanistan, Bosnia, Somalia, Iraq, and the Sudan. The number of converts to Islam increased to include sizeable Latin and European American communities alongside a growing African American Muslim community. American Muslims of varying religious understandings and ethnic backgrounds established many more mosques, self-help organizations, and political and civil rights advocacy groups. They became more active in public service both in their local communities and in the federal government. American Muslims also became more visible participants in cultural ventures as comedians, musicians, actors, and authors. Acts of violence carried out by militant Muslims and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq brought American Muslims into America's collective conscience as a security threat - a potential enemy within. Consequently, hundreds of American Muslims have found their civil rights abused and an untold number have been deported.

Most of the scholarship on Islam in America has focusesd on the activities of Muslims in this period. It is impossible for a single chapter to adequately represent the findings of this scholarship and to detail the complex developments that shaped Islam and Muslim lives in the United States at the turn of the twenty-first century.