American-Muslims and the Muted Debate on Internal Pluralism

American-Muslims and the Muted Debate on Internal Pluralism

Abstract

The rainbow of Muslim diversity in the US is continuously adding new colors, and the collective identity of American Muslims is evolving as their lives unfold within varied experiences. While diversity on the ground should ideally be matched with perceptual schemes for coordinating such diversity, the discourse on pluralism among American Muslims oscillates between two utopian visions: hygienic Islamic unity and hygienic Americanism.

In the case of Muslims, the paper envisions a virtual moral community that rises above minority centrism and ethnic politics, a community in which universality forms its perceptual framework, Islamic ethics constitute its organizing principles, and ethnicity acts as meaning and experience placeholder. Such imagined community would concurrently embrace American life and relish in hybrid cultural heritages.

Culture, in reference to the fate of minority groups, stands for a three-pronged generative resource that functions as: (1) a meaning system that coaches group members’ motivation and the perception of their lived reality, furnishing an imaginative space of peoplehood; (2) a locus of connectedness that anchors individuals to social structure and coalesces groups’ efforts toward collective goals; and (3) a conduit for crucial social information that fosters economically facilitative norms.

The paper proceeds to focus on the case of American Muslims and how crucial for them to appreciate their own internal diversity. After a brief discussion of post-911 assimilation pressures, the paper develops an integration model that is more consistent with the realities of the Muslim communities in the US.

Read the paper: American Muslims-pluralism muted

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