American Muslims: Changing Identities & Communities Essay

Pages: 4 (1295 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: History  ·  Written: August 31, 2019


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In this chapter, the author instills a tremendous amount of appreciation for the diversity within Muslim communities worldwide. The chapter also tacitly addresses the confluence of culture, religion, ethnicity, and nationality. While these are all related factors, it is interesting to see how people’s allegiances and identities will shift accordingly. It is interesting the way Curtis describes immigrants from South Asia and the Indian subcontinent who also gave up their identities and customs. Many readers will not be aware of the fusion between Punjabi and Mexican people in California or between the Bengali and African American and Latino people in New York City. These are not anthropological data that most readers will be aware of. Likewise, many people will not have heard of the Druze, who the author also mentions in this chapter. Altogether, Curtis admires the magnetic pull American society had for people around the world. Even when immigration policies in the United States were overtly racist, barring access to all but Northern European people, immigrants who would later be labeled “brown” or “other” continued to come to the country with idealistic visions.

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Another unusual fact that Curtis elucidates in the text is the way that Muslim culture itself changed in the twentieth century. For example, alcohol is an Arabic word and alcoholic beverages were totally acceptable in Muslim communities until the 1960s or 1970s, according to Curtis. Also, during Ottoman times a hundred or more years back, there was greater homogeneity among Muslim cultures than there is today. The empire would have controlled the cultural expressions of Islam. Ottoman madrasas would have taught curricula that suited the empire’s dogma and political purposes.

Essay on American Muslims: Changing Identities & Communities Assignment

After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, nationalism became a major force in the lives of Muslims around the world. The Sunni-Shi’a divide, which Curtis does not discuss, also became more salient and used as a tool to divide and conquer. These are all issues that affected Muslim communities around the world. In the United States, the African American embrace of Islam through movements like the Nation of Islam created some unexpected tensions in society. The Nation of Islam came under attack from mainstream global Muslim organizations, as Curtis points out. Malcolm X sympathized with a global Muslim identity and thus broke his ties with the Nation of Islam. It is interesting how Malcolm X recognized that aligning with a global brotherhood of Muslims might help to empower African American communities. Curtis also shows how global political events like President Nasser’s regaining of the Suez Canal, had an impact on subcultures in America.

Curtis cleverly segues an anecdote about Malcolm X meeting President Nasser with an introduction to the Muslim Brotherhood. Nasser was a Muslim Brother, and the Muslim Brotherhood became one of the most influential Islamist forces in recent history. Islamism is not Islam; it is the nefarious fusion of church and state that can seriously undermine human potential. Islamism became a disruptive force in global politics throughout the twentieth century, but Curtis cuts short the chapter in the early 1970s. Above all, this chapter shows how religion can be used as a political weapon, and how to recognize the difference between religion as a community and religion as propaganda. When early Muslim immigrants moved to the United States, they preserved their traditions because they needed a community. They never wanted their religion to become a governing force in their lives. In fact, many immigrants abandoned their faith altogether. Participation in a global market economy has been a tremendous benefit to people from around the world, demonstrating that all people simply want the best life possible. Religion can be important to people in their private lives, as it was for the Juma family.

Works Cited
  1. Curtis, Edward E. “Twentieth-Century Muslim Immigrants: From the Melting Pot… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "American Muslims: Changing Identities & Communities" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

American Muslims: Changing Identities & Communities.  (2019, August 31).  Retrieved February 29, 2020, from

MLA Format

"American Muslims: Changing Identities & Communities."  31 August 2019.  Web.  29 February 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"American Muslims: Changing Identities & Communities."  August 31, 2019.  Accessed February 29, 2020.