MPAC/ISPI Conference Tackles "American Muslim Identity"


Washington, DC: Last weekend, over 120 people joined the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the International Strategy and Policy Institute for a day-long conference entitled "American Muslim Identity: Present and Future" in Chicago, IL.
Dr. Sulayman Nyang, professor of African Studies at Howard University and author of "Islam in the United States", compared the historical experiences and development of the American and European Muslim communities. In his keynote speech, Nyang described how many immigrant Muslims have relinquished “the myth of return” and are increasingly taking ownership and pride in their rights and responsibilities as Americans. He called on American Muslims to embody Islam’s emphasis on social justice as a method of bridge building with their fellow Americans.
Dr. Inamul Haq, Professor at the East-West University (Chicago) and Benedictine University (Lisle, IL), and MPAC Senior Advisor Dr. Maher Hathout defined the decades-old notion of an American Muslim identity. Hathout described the Muslim American Identity as rooted in the notion that there is neither dissonance nor friction between Quranic and Constitutional ideals.
"For any American, the 'American identity' is a constitutional identity not an ethnic identity," Hathout said. "We are Americans because we believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights just as we are Muslims because we believe in God and the Qur’an as the word of God to man. The synergy between our Muslim identity and American identity can revive our dynamic understanding of Islam and, at the same time, contribute positively to America's pluralism."
During a session which considered the "Muslim American Identity on Campus", MPAC Communications Director Edina Lekovic and National Director Ahmed Younis discussed the need for young Muslims to counter the isolation imposed on them alternately by their community and society by acting as catalysts for change. They also discussed the emergence of the Muslim American Project, initiated by American Muslim college students from nearly two dozen universities who aim to develop a collective identity for young American Muslims and empower them to become leaders for their future.
SEE: "Feeling Pressure: Muslim Americans Discuss Their Struggles" (Daily Herald, 11/21/05)
http://www.dailyherald.com/search/searchstory.asp?id=123611
In a session which discussed how to develop effective political engagement, MPAC Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati, CAIR-Chicago Communications Director Ahmed Rehab, and attorney Faiyaz Husain stressed the importance of political and civic participation in creating in-roads that can stimulate the integration of American Muslims as a contributing element within the nation.
All proceedings of the conference were available as audio files at www.mpac.org on Wednesday, Nov. 24.

MPAC will address the progress of Muslims in establishing a contributing role within American pluralism during its fifth annual national convention on December 17, 2005. The day-long event, which is expected is draw over 2,000, will focus on “Examining Our Role in America.” For more information or to register for MPAC’s Convention, visit www.mpac.org.
[CONTACT: Edina Lekovic, 213-383-3443, communications@mpac.org]

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