This Is Our Islam: To Be Young, Devout And Muslim In America Today


Source: NPR

For Muslim-Americans, there was a world before Sept. 11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and one after. Now, their community faces the dual threats of extremism and growing atheism.

Young Muslim-Americans are angry and frustrated, but not necessarily for the reasons you might think. While bound by their religion and their community, they have opinions as diverse as their backgrounds.

NPR’s Tom Gjelten met a group of young American Muslims to discuss the challenges they see ahead for their community. Below, meet the participants; be sure to click the audio link above to hear their spirited conversation.

Adam Sbita

Born and raised in Virginia, the 26-year-old Libyan-American is a youth counselor.

Adam Sbita

Courtesy of Adam Sbita

On Libya after the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi and the call for solidarity among the world’s Muslims

I know of people who went [to Libya] and were, like, “Yeah. What we did here in Libya, we’re going to go do there in Syria and help them out, and then when we’re done with Syria, we’re going to go to Iraq, and when we’re done with Iraq, we’re going to go to Palestine, and when we’re done with Palestine, you know, everything is going to be fine and dandy.”

On his racial and ethnic identity

I grew up black. Look at my complexion. I look white. But white kids did not accept me. I couldn’t be white. Black kids in my neighborhood, they accepted me. I was, like, all right. I guess I’m black. I’m Libyan. I’m from Africa.

Maryam Adamu

Born in North Carolina to immigrants from Nigeria, the 24-year-old research assistant at a think tank grew up in Arkansas.

Maryam Adamu

Brandon Chew/NPR

On growing up in the age of Islamophobia

If you’re even a little bit younger than me, you do not know an America without Islamophobia. Something that is terrifying to me is what it’s like to be a [Muslim] teenager in an environment where you’re always talked about as an “other” or a terrorist or somebody violent.

On how ISIS challenges American Muslims to think more critically

ISIS preys on our inability to walk and chew gum at the same time. It’s making us think more critically. It’s making us look critically at the way our media tells stories about how this happens. It’s making us think and look critically at American foreign policy. It’s making us think and look critically at the way we construct Islam in America.

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2 replies

  1. You do realise that “islamaphobia” is a word that is used to stifle debate and criticism of Islam?

  2. Yes , it is partially true that islamophobia is a mean to stifle debate . As far as criticism of Islam is concerned , the Islam which ahmadiyya community is representing, gives no room to be criticized . What I understand that what some Muslim groups are doing , is a big reason . It can not be denied that Islam and popular Muslim ideology are two opposite poles . Go through those books which describe & listen speeches of big moulvies when describe jehad kafir; study the lives of ahmadies of some Muslim countries ( even in Muslim dominated Indian Kashmir and Hyderabad , ahmadies can not organize their religious function , I had to shift the venue from Muslim dominated area to Hindu dominated area when we were celebrating khilafat _ centenary in 2008 ) ; it becomes difficult to say it Islam . Secondly, because of American and European policy towards Israel , general Muslims of Indian subcontinent and Arabs do not like them . Some of them are doing so called jehad against them . If we are to counter islamophobia , we shall have to adopt realistic approach like that mother who becomes serious when is told about the wrongs of her child , she does not start crying or blaming others . Follow that Islam which validates moral values , which accepts religious diversity , which warns human being when says ” murder of innocent is like murder of entire humanity ” , which ignites nationalism when says ” nationalism is an integral part of faith ” , which says that there is no compulsion in the matter of faith , which gives the motto Love for All , Hatred for None etc. etc.

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