The 10th anniversary of the terror attacks of Sept. 11 inevitably puts a spotlight on Islam and in particular on the growing Muslim community in the United States. That spotlight reveals both ongoing problems as well as significant progress, and ReligionLink provides a roundup of resources for covering these topics.
The decade since 9/11 witnessed an unprecedented level of engagement between the United States and the Muslim world abroad and the Muslim community at home.
This engagement consisted of flash points – such as a rise in hate crimes against Muslims after Sept. 11 and a rise in anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world following the U.S.-led war in Iraq – as well as signs of hope and dialogue.
The title of a Pew survey from August 2010 aptly summarizes the mood of the country: “Public Remains Conflicted Over Islam.”
Here are a number of other developments, followed by a list of ReligionLink’s many resources on Islam.
- The Pew Research Center has just released a wide-ranging survey of Muslim Americans that shows “no indication of increased alienation and anger among Muslim Americans” and “no evidence of rising support for Islamic extremism among Muslim Americans.” In fact, the report, released Aug. 30, 2011, shows Muslims in the United States continue to reject extremism by much larger margins than Muslims in most other countries.
- A Gallup Poll published in August 2011 showed the views of members of different religious communities to the question of whether terrorist violence is ever justified. Nearly nine in 10 Muslim Americans said violent attacks on civilians are never justified, the highest level of disapproval among the groups surveyed.
- An article in the Aug. 29, 2011, edition of the Jesuit weekly America, titled “Muslims after 9/11: America’s Muslims: Mainstream and middle class,” also argued that Muslims are assimilating.
- The September/October edition of Sojourners magazine focuses on stories of constructive Christian-Muslim engagement.
- The popular uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, the so-called “Arab Spring” that has endured through the summer, have for some in the West recast Muslims and Islamic societies as promoters of democracy and values that resonate with Americans.
- Periodic attacks and plots by radicalized Muslims, such as the 2009 Fort Hood shooting and follow-up plot in July 2011, and the failed Times Square bombing in May 2010, continue to dominate headlines and the public perception of Muslims.
- The growing effort in state legislatures to ban Islam’s religious law code, known as shariah law, has raised concerns among Muslims and many civil and religious leaders, as did the fierce dispute over the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” — the Islamic center that had been proposed for Lower Manhattan.
- Mapping Muslim assimilation: Islam’s growing social infrastructure — Like Jews, Catholics and other immigrant groups before them, Muslims are building a social infrastructure in America that includes houses of worship, schools, health clinics, banks, charities and more. Muslims’ social and religious needs are diverse — and that diversity is reflected in the network of mosques and related social services centers they are creating.
- Muslims and civil rights: A continuing debate – Obama’s June 4, 2009, address to the Muslim world served as a fresh reminder of the tensions between civil rights and national security that have played out in the U.S. and abroad since 9/11. The president’s speech was welcomed by the Muslim community, which remains deeply concerned about attacks against Muslims.
- Understanding Islam: From Sunnis to Shiites and beyond — Muslims tend to avoid terms like denominations or sects to describe the different streams of tradition. All Muslims are one, they note, and share the same basic beliefs and rituals. But there are different schools of thought within Islam, denoted by historical and legal differences — differences that can lead to serious divisions.
- Covering Islam and politics — Muslims’ engagement with government and politics is becoming more prominent in the United States and abroad on issues ranging from immigration and terrorism to charities and civil rights. This guide lists research centers, organizations and scholars with expertise on the growing role of Muslims’ interactions with government and politics.
- Covering Islam 101: The basics — Fifty-eight percent of Americans say they know little or nothing about Islam’s practices. And what they know is sometimes wrong. Meanwhile, 32 percent of Americans say the media are the biggest influence on their perception of Muslims. This edition of ReligionLink is a journalist’s guide to covering Muslims and Islam in America. It is a complement to a Religion Newswriters webinar presented on March 11, 2008.
- Islam: A guide to U.S. experts and organizations — This ReligionLink guide includes more than 100 experts who specialize in such areas as civil rights, politics, foreign affairs, art, culture, history, law, family issues and more. It also includes Muslim advocacy organizations, research centers and think tanks.