‘Americanization’ of Muslims and Islam

Source: Star Tribune

On May 29, 1999, the Star Tribune published an article
on the third biennial conference of the National Student Conference
on Islam at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. The theme of this
year’s conference, “Muslims & Christians, Friendship &
Faith,” expounds on the Student Conference’s goal of instilling an
understanding of Islam and Muslim culture in undergraduate and
seminary students. Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, professor of the History of
Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at the Center for
Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, gave a
lecture at the conference on the Americanization of Muslims and
Islam. Haddad stated that Muslim faith and practice in the United
States is vibrant and growing at a fast pace: “some kind of Saudi
Islam seems to be the norm. They’re doing a lot of reinterpretation.”
She also addressed the fact that many children of Islamic immigrants
attempt to distance themselves from the culture and religion of their
parents. Haddad interviewed a range of white American female
converts, who feel more comfortable in American society as Muslims
because they are “respected for who they are rather than for the way
they look.” In addition, women’s lives are not “tied to an outside
job” and the role of wife and mother takes precedence. Mark N.
Swanson, director of the Islamic Studies Program at Luther, stated:
“Every group in the United States has Americanized in some sense.
Each one has to find its own axis of acculturation. Different
communities find their place along the axis where they’re loyal to
their traditions and also feel they have a role in this society.”