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ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES01

9600-MUSLIMS IN THE AMERICAS: THE SOCIAL AGENDA

Paper presented at the 1st International Conference of the International Islamic Forum for Science, Technology, and Human Development held in Jakarta Indonesia by Prof. Dr. Omar Hasan K. Kasule, Sr. MB ChB, MPH, DrPH (Harvard)* Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Islam Antarbangsa PO Box 70 Jln Sultan PJ Selangor DE 46400 Malaysia Fax (603) 757 7970 E-M

ABSTRACT

The social agenda proposed in this paper is based on the author’s field experience in organizing social programs for Muslim minority communities in the northern, central, southern and Caribbean regions of the American continent in the period 1981-1995. Three main challenges face these communities: (a) to preserve and promote their Islamic religious and cultural identity (b) to avoid being marginalized as fringe groups outside the mainstream society (c) to defend themselves against prejudice and discrimination that result from the increasing hostility between the Muslim world on one hand and European and America on the other (d) and the to play their full role in the political, economic, and social arenas in the society. To face these challenges these communities have to undertake the following: (i) Education: establish elementary and secondary Islamic schools for the education of their children in an Islamic ambience (ii) Economy: Establish an economic base by starting co-operative societies, financial institutions, and businesses. Establish professional and business networks to look out for and help one another succeed in a highly competitive environment. (iii) Social Welfare: Establish Islamic or community centers to offer programs that will preserve the Islamic identity and solve social problems (iv) Political: Develop political networks and lobbying skills to make sure that their voice is heard at the policy-making levels. This voice can defend and promote Muslim interests both in America and outside since America being a sole superpower wields a lot of influence over other countries (v) Legal Defence: Develop legal and grass-roots strategies for defending themselves from prejudices and discrimination. (vi) Networking: Set up interlocking and co-ordinated networks and organizations for synergistic action. The paper gives detailed historical and socio-demographic information on Muslim communities in the Americas as a background to the proposed agenda for social action.

 

*The author is a Ugandan-born physician educated at Harvard University who stayed, worked and travelled in the Americas over the past 15 years. He held the following appointments in that period: Teaching Fellow in Maternal and Child Health at Harvard 1983-1986, Consultant Physician on Quality Assurance SCIP Hospital Pittsburgh 1992-1995, Independent Consultant on epidemilogy in Washington DC 1990-1995, Representative of the International Federation of Student Organizations in the Americas 1984-1992, Director of the IIFSO Leadership Training Bureau 1992-1995, Executive Director of IIIT 1987-1990, Director of the IIIT Education Projects Bureau 1990-1995. He has spoken at conferences and leadership training programs in several countries all over the world


1.0 INTRODUCTION

1.1 Land of immigrants

The Americas is a land of immigrants. It is an experiment in creating a new society out of people from different cultures. It is thus both an opportunity if the experiment succeeds and a danger if it fails. Islam and Muslims have been part of this experiment since European arrival in America and perhaps even before that.

 

1.2 Land of Challenges

Muslims live as minorities in a Christian environment. The environment is changing rapidly towards being an agnostic industrialized society with no fixed moral or religious values. Muslims are challenged to prosper in this environment and preserve their own identity while at the same time they contribute to solving the acute social problems that are increasing daily in the American society.

 

1.3 Lessons for the Muslim World

The success of Muslims in the American society will be ax example even to Muslim-majority countries that are on the path to economic and industrial development and are importing or experiencing the same problems that Muslims face in America.

 

2.0 SOCIO-DEMOGRAPHIC BACKGROUND

2.1 United States of America

The total Muslim population has been estimated to vary 4-8 million; 56% immigrants and 44% American-born. Many of the American-born Muslims are children or grandchildren of immigrants. The ethnic distribution is as follows: Afro-American 42%, South Asians 24.4%, Arab 12.4%, Africans 6.2%, Iranians 3.6%, Turks 2.4%, South-east Asians 2.0%, white Americans 1.6%. The Muslim population is increasing rapidly due to a birth rate higher than the national average and conversion. The rate of conversion is very high among the Afro-American and Spanish-speaking communities.

 

Thirty-three percent (33%) live in suburbs or large metropolitan areas, 65% in inner cities, and only 2% in rural areas. The US the highest per capita number of advanced degrees of any Muslim community in the world this is because the immigration laws starting in the 1960s favoured immigration of highly educated and skilled persons. The level of education and the socio-economic status among the Afro-American and Spanish-American Muslims are still quite low.

 

There are over 1000 Islamic centers and mosques in North America. Besides offering salat, they undertake the following activities: sale of halal food and products, social activities, weekend and full-time schools, classes for adults, dawa, distribution of Islamic literature.

 

2.2 Canada

The total Muslim population in Canada has been estimated at about 0.5 million staying mostly in the central province of Ontario. The socio-demographic profile parallels that of the US. Canada has an official multi-cultural policy that favors Muslim social development while preserving their cultural identity.

 

2.3 Central and South America

There are small Muslim communities of usually 10-100 families living in the capital or main commercial centers of the 7 Central American countries of Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua amd the 11 South American countries of Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, and Venezuela. The majority are immigrants from Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. The rate of conversion is still low and immigration from the middle-east is still low but is increasing steadily.

 

Muslims in Latin Amarica did until recently have a high degree of acculturation and absorption into the South American Latin culture. Society has been intolerant of any other culture other than the catholic latin Amarican one. Some Muslims were forced in some countries to give their children Christian names because their Muslim names could not be registered on their birth certificates.

 

Programs in the area pioneered by Dr Ahmad Totonji and others starting in the late 1970s and early 1980s have succeeded in many returning to their Islamic identity, learning, and practising the diin. Mosques and schools are being started. Missionaries have been employed and contacts with the rest of the Muslim world are becoming more frequent.

 

2.4 The Caribbean

There are well-established Muslim communities of East Indian or Javanese origin on almost all the Caribbean islands. Their forefathers were brought to the caribbean by the British in the middle of the 19th century as labourers. There are very few recent immigrants from the middle-east. Many Afro-carribeans and Spanish-caribbeans turned to Islam starting in the mid-1970s and there are many thriving communities on almost all islands.

 

The East Indian and Javanese have over the years managed to succeed in business and some professions and are mostly middle-class. The recent converts are of lower socio-economic status with little education and few skills; many are struggling to survive and have a heavy burden of social problems.

 

The East Indian and Javanese immigrants, being small minorities in a Christian and sometimes hostile environment, they managed to preserve their sense of cultural identity as reflected in their religious practice, dress, food and customs but they largely lost the Javanese or Indian languages. The converts are undertaking a bold experiment of establishing an Islamic culture. When they come to Islam they dissociate themselves from their former society in dress, food, habits, and general behavior. The results of this experiment will be very interesting even in Muslim-majority countries where a new cultural synthesis is being undertaken to replace the old customs and the imported western values and customs.

 

3.0 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

3.1 Different eras of Muslim existence in the Americas

Muslim existence in the Americas can be divided in 6 eras: pre-Columbian, involuntary immigration 1500-1865, slow immigration 1865-1945, high immigration and conversion 1946-1980, Institution-building 1980-2000, and new challenges 2000 and beyond.

 

3.2 Pre-Columbian era before 1500 AD

It is thought that Muslims from the west coast of Africa reached America. There are however no written records to prove this. The evidence is mainly archeological and botanical. Certain art forms found in Mexico suggest existence of dark-skinned people in America before Columbus and since Islamic civilizations were highly developed in West Africa it is possible that some of these early travellers were Muslims. Many plant forms are also shared between the Americas and Africa suggesting trade connections.

 

3.3 The involuntary immigration 1500-1865

The 3 centuries following the ‘discovery’ of America by Columbus in 1492,  witnessed the arrival of Africans from West Africa who were abducted by European traders and sold as slaves to work on American plantations; a proportion of as high as 10% of them were Muslims because Islam was well established in West Africa at that time. Moriscos (Spanish Muslims who practised their religion secretly) were forced to migrate to the new world looking for freedom of religion. African Muslims rose in many rebellions to regain their freedom. Their descendants still live in the Bahia Blanca province of Brazil until today and have preserved some of their Islamic identity. The author knows at least one Muslim in the USA whose family has always been Muslim since they were landed in America. There is no trace of the moriscos.  Virtually all Muslims, African and Spanish, were forced to give up their Islamic African culture and after 2 centuries of persecution and oppression. The Javanese and other people in the Malay archipelago who resisted Dutch rule in malay archipelago were enslaved and were shipped as slaves the Dutch colony on the northern coast of the South American land mass which is today called Surinam. Later more javanese were imported as indentured labourers under conditions little different from slavery. Despite the suppression, these mostly Javanese Muslims were better able to preserve some of their Islamic identity than their African compatriots.

 

3.4 Slow immigration 1865-1945

Large numbers of Muslims from the middle-east, Albania and the present-day Yugoslavia. Many were running away from the problems arising out of the progressive decline and break-up of the Ottoman state and were looking for opportunities in the new world. Many of them were employed in building the trans-continental rail-roads in the US and Canada. Those who went to Latin America became petty traders. Few of these came with their wives. They married locally and because of generally low education and lack of cultural contact with the Muslim world, most could not transmit Islamic culture to their children and grandchildren. The children and grandchildren became assilimilated and lost the language and culture of their fathers.

The campaign to abolish slavery and slave trade in Europe and America slave trade and slavery had almost succeeded by the mid-19th century. The reasons for success were more economical than moral; the slave owners realized that free men working for wages, though very low, were cheaper and less troublesome than slaves who were unwilling workers and often rebelled. In the middle of the 19th century, the British imported many indentured  laborers from their Indian empire to work on Caribbean plantations that had before been worked by slave labor.

 

3.5 High immigration and conversion 1946-1980

The third era, 1945 - 1980 witnessed the arrival of many Muslims as students and diplomats. Many of these preferred to settle sown in America. They started establishing Islamic centers and other social institutions. Because of higher levels of education, a higher level of Islamic consciousness and self-confidence characteristic of the 1970s as well as continous contact with the Muslim world, they were able to,preserve and even promote their Islamic culture and identity.

 

Muslims student are now being attracted to the Caribbean and Latin America because of cheaper education. There are medical schools on the caribbean islands of Grenada, Dominica, St Lucia, and Jamaica that admit foreign students. South American universities are also opening up.

 

A parallel phenomenon of conversion to Islam increased the number of Muslims in North America starting in the late 1950s. A similar phenomenon occurred in the Caribbean but much later starting in the mid-1970s. Conversions in Latin America are still few but are likely to pick up.

 

3.6 Institution building 1980-2000

The period 1980-today is witnessing the integration of Muslims into the American society. They are there to stay. This stage represents both risks and opportunity. The risk is the highly likely total integration and acculturation into the American melting pot and losing the Islamic identity. The opportunities for social development are immense. The American Muslim community could do a lot of good for itself as well as the rest of the Muslim world because it could potentially be in a powerful position.

 

The realization that Muslims are in America to stay and become a permanent feature of the American landscape has prompted them to build social institutions to serve their community. Establishment of social institutions will be discussed in more detail below.

 

3.7 New Challenges 2000 and beyond

Muslim communities in the Americas are bracing themselves for new challenges in the 21st century. The following trends will determine the nature of those challenges: (a) as Muslims settle down and build institutions they will become more visible as a potentially powerful minority because they are a microcosm of and represent the world-wide ummat of over 1.0 billion Muslims. This is likely to pit them into conflict with other centers of power in the American society (b) The increasing ideological, political, and economic confrontation between the Euro-American countries and the Islamic resurgence may result in hatred. Prejudice, marginalization, and discrimination for Muslims in America who may be looked at as a fifth column or as potentially disloyal citizens (c) A wave of anti-immigrant sentiment has started in the economically developed countries of America and Europe and is likely to gather momentum in the next 10-15 years. Muslims in America are likely to be victims unless they take measures to protect themselves (d) The economic performance especially of the US is likely to fall in the next decade due to: internal social problems that impair the educational achievement of youths and future workers, social dislocation due to drugs and family break-down, and rise of more competitive economies in Asia. Muslims being a minority are likely to suffer from this economic failure disproportionately.

 

4.0 SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS: NORTH AMERICA

4.1 Three phases of Institutional Development

Institutions are necessary for any community to have meaningful social action. Institutional development in North America can be divided into 3 stages: (a) Few institutions were formed in the first period that lasted until 1980 and if formed they tended to be local, narrow in focus and not very effective (b) The period of the 1980s saw the emergence of effective organizations at both local and national levels (c) the period of the 1990s is witnessing the formation of specialized and sophisticated institutions that will advance the Muslim social agenda into the 21st century.

 

4.2 The first phase- until 1979

The Muslim immigrants who arrived before the First World War established some mosques about which we now know little because they did not survive for long. The first mosque in America was built in Cedar Rapid, IA in 1928 and is famously called the mother mosque. The Federation of Islamic Associations that started in 1952 was not very effective beyond holding an annual convention.

 

A parallel development was the thriving of Islam in the afro-American community. Starting in the 1920s afro-Americans were attracted to the Nation of Islam in the West led by Elijah Muhammad. It had a core of moral lessons calling upon the followers to be disciplined in their personal lives but had very little Islamic content until Malcolm X and Warith Din Muhammad corrected the movement and turned it to authentic Islam. This group established many ‘temples’ mainly in the major cities. These became proper mosques in 1975 when the movement became part of the ahl al sunnat wa al jamaat.

 

It was not until the 1960s that a spate of mosque establishment started being fuelled by the growing numbers of the community. These were mostly rented or converted buildings and not built as mosques de novo.

 

In the 1970s permanent mosques started being built in many cities. Because of lack of alternative facilities the mosque also served as the community center, the shop of halal foods and Muslim clothing, lectures on religious subjects, social occasions, and even schools for children.

 

The impetus to this organizational effort was given by the formation of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) in 1963 and the conversion of many Afro-Americans to Islam. Many former MSA members did not return to their countries of origin but stayed in America and invigorated the communities in which they lived. Afro-American converts wanted to establish new institutions that would give them a new identity and wanted to stay away from the non-Muslim American institutions; they were therefore more apt to establish mosques and schools than their immigrant colleagues.

 

Efforts at co-ordination were also evident at this time but they were weak. The MSA continued to function as both a student and also a national organization for Muslim communities. The Council of Islamic Organizations was formed in Canada in 1973. The afro-Americans were at first organized under the Nation of Islam. This split on the death of Elijah Muhammad in 1975 into a large group called the American Muslim Mission and a smaller splinter group that continued under the old name of the Nation of Islam led by Louis Farrakhan.

 

It can be safely concluded that the organizational effort before 1980 achieved its aim of bringing Muslims together at the local level and providing them with essential services.

 

4.3 The second phase- 1980s

The end of the 1970s was a tumultuous period in the Muslim world. Many significant events occurred and they influenced Muslims in America to be more activist in their local work: the Iranian revolution in 1979, the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, and the rise of Islamic movements in Egypt, Sudan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Turkey to a more prominent political role. It was at that time that the discourse of Islamic movements changed from convincing people that Islam was the solution and the right choice to taking direct action to assert Islam’s role in the public political and economic life of the Muslim world.

 

The Islamic renaissance in America translated into increased activity. Many conferences and seminars were held with speakers invited from other parts of the Muslim world which contributed to creating an ideological unity. Institutions at the national level started; the most prominent event being the establishment of the Islamic Society of North America in 1983. The American Muslim Mission hitherto an organization devoted to working among Afro-American Muslims dissolved itself in favour of working together with other Muslims at the local level. Later other organizations at the national level were formed to cater for special needs: The Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA), the Malaysian Islamic Study Group (MISG), The Islamic Circle of North America, the Islamic Trend of North America, and the Islamic Heritage Society. Many new Islamic centers were built. Regional councils that co-ordinated the work of the Islamic centers appeared such as the Islamic Council of New England, The Washington DC Islamic Co-ordination Council, The Islamic Council of Southern California. On the academic-intellectual front professional groups emerged or became more active: The International Institute of Islamic Thought, the Islamic Medical Association, The Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers.

 

4.4 The Third Phase: 1990s

During this phase, organizational effort became more national in focus and more issue-oriented. Specialized organizations were started: The Council of Islamic Schools, The American Muslim Council, The American Muslim Network. Specialized Academic Institutions started: the School of Islamic and Social Sciences, The Institute of Islamic and Arabic Studies. A new trend also appeared in this phase: a multiplicity of organizations that were branches of affiliates of Islamic organizations in the home countries; this was a negative trend that threatened to tear the unity of American Muslims. In this phase Muslims in America have become politically more mature and have been able to present their concerns tio the federal and state governments in an effective way. They have also been able to use the court system to defend their rights. A major deficiency has been inability to use the media to advance their agenda and to defend themselves from the negative image that is painted of Islam in the west.

 

4.4 Examples of Islamic institutions

The Spanish Islamic Alliance of New York City was formed by a group of Spanish-speaking Muslims who have had an informal net-work since about 1985 under the name Alianza Islamica. This was registered in New York in 1994 and an Islamic Center funded initially by IIFSO was opened in the Barrio district of Harlem, New York City. The center receives new Muslims and has regular programs to teach Islam and the Arabic language. The center has managed to force drug dealers off the nearby streets and it has earned the respect of the police captain in that part of New York.

 

The Clara Muhammad School Of Washington DC is an elementary school  re-opened in 1991 under the general supervision of the Imaam of Masjid Muhammad in Washington DC. It is housed in a converted building in the south-eastern part of the city. Its student population varies 80-100. It offers the normal American curriculum in addition to Arabic and Qur’anic studies. An attempt is made to inculcate an Islamic culture in the dress and bahavior of the children.

 

The IIIT Education Projects Bureau, Herndon operated in the period 1990-1995 and provided support to more than 110 full-time Islamic schools in the US. It organized teacher-training programs in various cities of the US and Canada. It also developed a data-base on schools. It published a series of teaching materials for social studies for use in Islamic schools. This material replaces/supplements the normal American curriculum that does not represent Islam well or that propagates values that are not Islamic.

 

The Iqra International Education Foundation of Chicago was established in 1983. It concentrated on publishing books and teaching material for use in Islamic full-time or part-time schools.

 

The Muslim Teachers’ College in Randolph, Virginia is a pioneer institute that is looking far into the 21st century. It is undertaking the training of teachers for Islamic schools. The number of schools is likely to increase and hence the demand for qualified teachers.

 

The School of Islamic and Social Sciences opened recently in Leesburg, Virginia to teach courses leading to MA and PhD degrees. Graduates of this school will take up positions in the increasing number of Muslim social institutions.

 

The American Muslim Council of Washington DC was formed in 1990 to act as a political lobbying group working in Congress and the executive branch of the US government. It has succeeded in making the Muslim voice heard by policy-makers and has established good networks. More groups with similar functions are now being formed.

 

Dar al Hijra is a US5.0 million Islamic center recently opened in the Washington DC suburb of Falls Church. Besides offering the 5 daily prayers, it has a full-time elementary school, weekend and evening schools for children who attend public schools, classes for men and women, and social programs.

 

5.0 SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS: LATIN AMERICA

5.1 Overview

Institutional development in Latin America lagged behind that of North America for 3 decades; Latin America is at the moment where North America was 30 years ago. The main reasons for this are: (a) the immigrants to Latin America were less educated than those to North America and immigration was restricted just before the start of the second World War (b) There was no sizeable indigenous convert community (c ) the general socio-economic and political atmosphere was more oppressive and few countries in the region has democratic rights to organization and self-expression.

 

5.2 The period up to 1980

There were a dozen or so local Islamic organizations called charity organizations on the east coast of Brazil where mosques were built by the immigrant communities. These were largely inactive. There were no other organizations worth noting in the rest of Latin America

 

5.3 The period 1980 - today

The Islamic missionary activity of the 1980s resulted in major revival in Latin America. Islamic centers (normally rented premises) were established in the major cities. Foreign resident missionaries started teaching and getting the communities to pull together. The Islamic Dawa Center for Latin America was opened in Sao Paolo and it has been working in a modest way all over Latin America. A series of international Islamic conferences have been held annually to bring Muslims from different countries together and encourage them. The first and second conferences were convened by the author in Mexico City in 1987 and Bogota city in 1988 under the auspices of the International Federation of Islamic Student Organizations. Subsequent annual conferences were organized by the Latin American Islamic Dawa Center in Sao Paolo.

 

 

5.4 Examples of  Muslim social Institutions

The Islamic Dawa Center Of Latin America, Sao Paolo was established in Sao Paolo in 1988. It was responsible for paying salaries and supervision of 33 field workers in the various Latin American countries. It translated more than 30 Islamic books into Portuguese and Spanish and distributed them all over Latin America.

 

6.0 SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS: THE CARIBBEAN

6.1 Overview

East Indian Muslim immigrants established mosques and registered associations since the 1930s. These associations until today are very conservative and have confined their activities to running mosques and madrasats with few other social programs

 

6.2 The period up to 1980

This period was a defensive era. Muslims just wanted to ensure that they and their families offered salat and that their children learned reading the Qur’an. There were always differences, quarrels, and splits normally on minor differences in fiqh and this made the communities very weak. The Muslims undertook very little dawa to bring the non-Muslims around them to the din.

 

6.3 The period 1980-today

Like elsewhere in North and Latin America this was a period of revival. New organizations were formed. Afro-Caribbeans turned to Islam and brought a new vigor to the community. The youths became dissatisfied with the slow pace of the elders and formed new organizations. International Islamic organizations became involved in the work in the region.

 

6.4 Examples of Islamic social institutions

The Caribbean Islamic Secratariat, Port Of Spain was established in 1988 to co-ordinate dawa and social programs in the caribbean islands. With offices in Trinidad in appointed field workers to stay with and help local communities. It also provided financial support to communities to rent the premises thay used for schools and prayer. It organized leadership and management training programs to strengthen the organizational capability of local organizations. IIFSO undertook through the secretariat an innovative economic development program for new Muslims. Under the Revolving Credit Scheme they were given small loansto start businesses of their own so that they could stand on their feet. The loan repayments would be used to support others.    

 

The Central Islamic Organization of Guyana

 

The Guyana Islamic Institute

 

The Islamic Council of Jamaica

 

 

 

7.0 THE CHALLENGES

7.1 Overview

The main challenges face these communities: (a) to preserve and promote their Islamic religious and cultural identity (b) to avoid being marginalized as fringe groups outside the mainstream society (c) to protect themselves against discrimination and prejudice (d) to play their full role in the political, economic, and social arenas in the society.

 

7.1 Assimilation

Adult immigrants whom were born and were raised outside America can preserve their Islamic culture and identity. Children born in America have not had the opportunity to see any other society except the American one. What parents tell them about the Muslim world is not sufficient. The children become more confused when they go for short-term visits to the Muslim world and see that the secularized and westernized ruling classes actually look up to American culture. The children are under pressure from the mass media and from their peers to ‘integrate’ and ‘assimilate’ into mainstream society, the good and bad of it. It is unrealistic to expect children to grow up in a society and not be learn from and be influenced by it. What is needed is to empower Muslim families to exercise their right to choose what to absorb and what to reject in the general American culture being guided in this by the Qur’an and sunnat. This challenge can not be thrown at an individual family. The Muslim community as a whole must develop specialized institutions and programs to address the problem.

 

7.2 Marginalization

As Muslims and their families exercise their freedom of making choices about culture and life-style, they may find themselves being looked at as a marginal group on the fringes of society because they do not have the same cultural patterns as the rest of society. They may looked at and treated as foreigners.

 

7.3 Discrimination

Prejudices are likely to develop aganist Muslims as a result of being marginalized and as a fall-out from the increasing official and public antagonism to Islam that is growing in Europe and America.

 

7.4 Participation

The final common pathway for the processes of marginalization and discimination is likely to be denial of the full rights of Muslims to participate in the public affairs of society.

 

8.0 AGENDA FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

8.1 Education

Muslims must establish elementary and secondary Islamic schools for the education of their children in an Islamic ambience. This will ensure that children grow through the impressionable childhood and teenage years protected from picking up the negative values and practices of the society and exposed to those aspects that have been consciously selected as good. After such grounding they can be left to enter main-stream institutions. There is no convincing reason for establishment of post-secondary educational institutions. Their establishment could even be counter-productive. Once the children have reached University level, they should be in mainstream institutions sincew there is no fear about their Islamic identity

 

8.2 Economy

Muslims must establish an economic base by starting co-operative societies, financial institutions, and businesses. They will be able to expand economic opportunities in their communities and also be able to have a voice heard by policy-makers. As a further contribution to the society they live in, Muslims could introduce and experiment with Islamic economic approaches that can be an alternative solution to the problems of the modern economy

 

8.3 Social Welfare

Establishing Islamic or community centers to offer programs that will preserve the Islamic identity and solve social problems. These problems will manifest as: increasing family break-down, teenage delinquency, and addictions. The Muslim communities are likely to face more problems as they try to resist assimilation but at the same time try to play a full role in their adopted society that has values different from those of Islam.

 

8.4 Political

Muslims must develop political networks and lobbying skills to make sure that their voice is heard at the policy-making levels. Muslims must run for office and also exercise their voting rights. The aim should be to be visible and thus get respect.

 

8.5 Legal

Muslims must develop a sophisticated and pro-active legal defence system to make sure that their civil and religious rights are not violated.

 

8.6 Networking

Muslims must establish professional and business networks to look out for and help one another succeed in a highly competitive environment

 

NOTES

Kettani MA: Muslim Minorities in the World Today. Mansell Publishing Limited, London 1986

Shafiq Muhammad: Growth of Islamic Thought in North America: Amana Publications 1994


 

SLIDES

 

MAP OF THE AMERICAS

 

MAP OF NORTH AMERICA

 

MAP OF CENTRAL AMERICA

 

MAP OF SOUTH AMERICA

 

MAP OF THE CARIBBEAN

 

MAP OF THE US SHOWING WHERE MUSLIMS STAY

 

PIE CHART OF THE MUSLIM POPULATION: IMMIGRANT AND INDIGENOUS

 

PIE CHART SHOWING MUSLIM POPULATION BY ETHNIC GROUP

 

9.-30 EXAMPLES OF ISLAMIC CENTERS

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule 1996