Sunday, February 11, 2007

Identity search: to be Muslim in America

From the Denver Post

An excerpt:

As Colorado's Muslim community grows and matures in a post-Sept. 11 world, scenes like this are becoming more commonplace. A new generation of Muslims with feet firmly in the U.S. is pushing greater engagement with the wider community through service projects and interfaith work.

Below the surface of such gestures, Muslims in Denver and across the country are in the midst of an identity struggle with profound implications.

That debate - which centers on issues ranging from the role of women to coping with assimilation - is one in which "progressive" and "conservative" are loaded terms and a scarf worn on the head is a dividing line.

Whereas the old guard of U.S. Muslims dwelled on events in the Middle East, the next generation is more interested in understanding American culture, said University of Denver religious studies professor Liyakat Takim.

"There is tension between conservative and more liberal or reform- minded Muslims focused mostly on openness to America," he said. "The differences are healthy. It shows the community is thinking and evolving.

"Muslims," he said, "are going through a process of transition from being Muslims in America to being American Muslims."

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