The changing face of American Islam

I recently got back to Thailand after a one-and-a-half month stay in the United States, where I was a student of Islamic Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, and where I spent seven years during the 80s and 90s. The tour revealed to me a very different Islam in the post-9/11 United States. In the face of widespread bias and prejudice, personal attacks, deep suspicion and misinformation about Islam marked by the prevalence of Islamophobia in the American mindset, Muslim society in the US has undergone a tremendous internal transformation, with the aim being to prove loyalty to the American nation by undertaking steps towards political, social and civil integration. The seven million-strong American Muslim community is emerging and evolving as both an integral part of the American socio-political milieu and a distinct section of the worldwide Muslim community. There is historical evidence to suggest that the presence of Islam in the Americas began around the 10th century, when Muslims from Spain and West Africa arrived in South America centuries before Columbus. Some Muslims are said to have accompanied Christopher Columbus to the Americas in 1492, as to have joined later explorations as well. With the end of Muslim rule in Spain around 1498 and the institution of the Inquisition in 1499, many Spanish Muslims fled to other countries, including America.