Creating an Islamic-American Culture
Modern American Islam has experienced an surge of Euro-American converts. However, they struggle to develop a recognizable platform for their American Muslim experience. Instead, they are often overshadowed by the immigrant and African-American experiences. This is because the conversion of Euro-Americans is typically within one of the aforementioned constructs. However, that does not negate the need to explore this Muslim demographic.
One primary issue is that of “white privilege” in this country’s social structure. As members of the dominant American social group, Euro-American Muslims have a different social experience than those of African-American, Latino American, or other immigrant minority groups. Additionally, there are other issues such as familial and communal reactions to conversion. Euro-American’s exposure to Islam is limited in comparison to minority groups, which may affect the reaction many white converts receive. Questions on how native-born white Muslims integrate Islam into their cultural construct, which is the one that tends to be the most vehemently opposed to the religion, are also absent in current literature.
There also exist for Euro-American Muslims the increased likelihood for experienced racism. Being discounted by the immigrant Muslim populations is not unique to native-born white American Muslims but shared with African American and Latino Muslims. However, as members of the dominant structure, being subject to racism is most likely a new experience for them. In addition, there is the loss of their “white Americaness” and no longer being immediately identified as such. As Muslims, Euro-American converts are relegated to the position of “other” that is occupied by minority groups. These issues and questions demonstrate that the Euro-American Muslim experience is one with distinctive socio-cultural nuances resulting from their history in this country.