Muslims Do Not See American Lifestyle as Satanic
By: Kaleem Kawaja
Washington, DC

Browsing 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 today.
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 at: kaleemkawaja@hotmail.com)

 


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