Muslims Do Not
See American Lifestyle as Satanic
By: Kaleem Kawaja
through the American media I often read commentaries
stating that many Muslims, including Muslims who
live in the US, see the American lifestyle as satanic.
In reality, nothing could be more inaccurate. While
the lifestyles of Muslims may be different from
those of Americans, and Muslims may disagree with
some elements of the US Government’s domestic
and foreign policies, they have immense respect
for the American nation - a nation with positive
values, vision and high achievements attained through
dedication and hard work.
A recent survey indicates the ethnic complexion
of American Muslims: 2 percent are White Americans;
33 percent African-Americans, 25 percent Arabs and
Iranis; 33 percent Asians; 3 percent Hispanic; and
the remainder other ethnicities.
The somewhat different lifestyles of American Muslims
is attributable partly to these demographic patterns,
most Muslims are immigrants from Asia and Africa.
The lifestyles are also partly attributable to the
fact that as a religious faith modern Islam still
recommends a clear set of do’s and don’ts
to its followers in their daily life. American Muslims
are attempting to follow these guidelines while
at the same time they are trying to integrate into
the mainstream of the American nation.
The attempt of Muslims to retain their distinctive
identity causes a very large number of American-Christians
and American-Jews, who had earlier merged into the
American mainstream, to regard them as reluctant
Americans. If the Americans who have embraced so
much consumerism, urbanization and ultra-liberalization
in the last fifty years look at their own lifestyles
in the 1950s they would find many similarities between
it and the preferred lifestyle of American Muslims
Some of the societal difficulties that ultra-liberalization
is causing in the American model, and that is the
subject of so much debate among Americans, further
reinforce the belief of Muslims that they are doing
the right thing by not fully merging into the American
melting pot. Another important fact is that the
American melting pot itself is getting transformed
into a mosaic where each major ethnic community
retains its distinctive strain while adding to the
luster of the whole. Thus now various immigrant
communities are integrating with, rather than assimilating
in, the American system.
As in any other community, there are fringe elements
among Muslims who may brand the American civilization
as a synthetic civilization. But they are a miniscule
minority that has very little following in the community.
For an overwhelming number of American Muslims the
core American values of work ethics, family values,
discipline, tolerance and democracy are still a
great attraction, simply because they represent
the basic tenets of Islam.
Americans should try to understand Islam and Muslims
as a whole rather than draw conclusions from isolated
incidents or Muslim attempts to remain distinctive.
Just as in Islam God has 99 different names, American
Muslims are somewhat different from their co-religionists
in other parts of the world. In fact right now the
many immigrant Muslims from far away lands are in
the process of actively integrating the Islamic
system with the American system to create a unique
American Muslim civilization. For Islam and the
global Muslim Ummah America is the last frontier
where they have to establish themselves as a viable
and constructive force in society. The “fear
of Islam and Muslims” that we hear in the
media sometimes is really the fear of the unknown.
American Muslims too have to understand that previously
many European communities who migrated to US had
faced very similar set of problems and hurdles.
(The author is a community activist. He can be reached