Islam in the United
States of America by Sulayman Nyang
ABC International Group, Inc.
Distributor: Kazi Publications, Inc.
3023 West Belmont Avenue, Chicago, Il 60618
165 pages, $14.95
(Review by Dr. Shahid Sheikh)
Good books about Muslim-Americans
are, indeed, a rarity. However, Professor Sulayman
Nyang’s ‘Islam in the United States
of America’ is such a scholarly masterpiece.
Nyang is uniquely qualified to pen this study because
he has been diligently studying, writing and speaking
about Muslim-Americans for the past three decades.
He is among the pioneers in the field of Muslim-American
In the eleven essays, published over several years,
Nyang provocatively discusses a multitude of complex
topics dealing with the dilemma of being a Muslim
in contemporary society. These topics include demographics,
settlement patterns, involvement in politics, community
development, identity crisis and ethnic diversity
in a multicultural religion/society. Some of these
topics -- such as, organizations and institutions-building
(mosques, centers and press) -- are unique to this
book. In these essays, the author not only preserves
the history, development and contributions of early
Muslims but also aims to forge a coherent Muslim-American
identity for today and the future.
Nyang’s first-hand knowledge of Muslims can
be seen in his meticulous treatment of political,
social and economic developments among the ethnic
Muslim communities, such as,Albanians and Native-Americans.
His discussion of the history of the Islamic press
is equally illuminating. He deals with the question
of Muslim identity and lays bare the conflicts and
convergences among the various identity spheres.
At the same time, he separates Muslims into assimilationist
and simulationists groups. This ingenious distinction
between orthodox Muslims and the followers of Nation
of Islam and Sufis really deserves serious attention.
His thought-provoking discussions become more illuminating
when he discusses them from multiple perspectives,
for instance, psychology, sociology and race.
This study is a good model worth emulating for future
research on Muslim-Americans. Like all good scholarly
works, this work opens up many new areas of potential
research. Issues -- such as, institution-building
among various ethnic communities and identity crises
with their implications for the second and third
generation Muslims -- should lead to exciting research
with new conclusions.
This well-researched scholarship is a major contribution
to the existing literature on Muslim-Americans.
It will no doubt help scholars and students of politics,
sociology and international relations as well as
researchers, academics, reporters and the general
public interested in the study of Muslim-Americans.
The reviewer is executive director of the New York
City-based American Educational Research Institute
and the moderator of http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Muslim-Americans.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org