Two Muslim Teens On Navigating Girlhood And Islamophobia In Their America

5994935f1400001f002c31b7Welcome to ”The Story We Share,” a series of Q&As that profile two people with similar identities ― but who live in very different places. As part of HuffPost’s Listen To Americatour, we’re exploring how people’s lived experiences overlap and diverge depending on their zip codes. What is the “American Experience?” It depends where you look. 

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Along with the growing pains that typically mark the transition from girlhood to adulthood, American Muslim teen girls also face the challenge of dealing with discrimination because of their religion.

This added layer of vulnerability became apparent during Ramadan this June, when a 17-year-old teen girl named Nabra Hassanen was abducted and killed while walking near her Virginia mosque. The tragedy hit close to home for many young Muslim girls. Like their peers around the country, Hassanen and her friends had left their mosque to eat suhoor, a pre-dawn Ramadan meal, at a fast food restaurant. The joyful nature of that treasured Ramadan ritual was shattered that Sunday morning in Virginia ― and the effects were felt across the country.

Hundreds of miles away, in Florissant, Missouri, 17-year-old Salsabel Fares learned about Hassanen’s death through her friends and from her parents ― and not through social media, where she typically gets her news.

The murder stunned her. She told HuffPost she nearly broke out in tears when she heard about it.

“I was so incredibly upset,” she said. “It just scared me reading it. Because of my religion, I fear for my safety and I fear for my life.”

MOHAMMAD FARES
Salsabel Fares is a 17-year-old from Florissant, Missouri.

In Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, Arshia Hussain, another 17-year-old Muslim girl, echoed Fares’ words.

“That could have happened to any of us, to any Muslim girl,” Arshia told HuffPost. “There are so many Muslim girls thinking that it could have happened to them.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST 

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How Muslim Americans are fighting Islamophobia and securing their civil rights

58cc424b2c00003b00fef053The past year has been a difficult one for American Muslims.

According to a July 2017 Pew survey, 48 percent of Muslims report experiencing at least one incident of discrimination in the past 12 months. The Council on American-Islamic Relations and other Muslim advocacy organizations found these trends were particularly intense during the 2016 campaigns and the early months of the Trump presidency.

And while the survey shows that Americans report warmer feelings toward Muslims today than they did in 2014, Muslims continue to be the most negatively rated religious group – followed closely by atheists. In fact, about half of Americans (49 percent) believe that at least “some” Muslim Americans are anti-American.

As a scholar of religion and politics, I’ve studied how U.S. Muslim advocacy organizations have advanced their community’s integration in America. Their work reminds us that minorities in the U.S. are still struggling for civil rights.

Spikes in anti-Muslim sentiments and hate crimes appear to correlate with elections cycles. This is not a coincidence. In recent years, politicians have increasingly relied on anti-Muslim rhetoric to mobilize voters. What was once considered unacceptable discourse by members of both parties has gradually been normalized, particularly among Republican candidates.

During the 2016 presidential primaries, for example, Sen. Ted Cruz called for law enforcement to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods.” Ben Carson claimed that Islam was incompatible with the Constitution. And former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal warned that some immigrants were trying to “change our fundamental culture and values and set up their own.”

Muslim Americans are responding through organizations that represent their interests, and are increasingly visible, engaged and assertive. At the grassroots level, their presence is seen through the work of activists like Linda Sarsour, a co-sponsor of the 2017 Women’s March. At the policy level, Muslim advocacy organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations also work to advance the community’s legislative agenda.

There are an estimated 3.35 million Muslims in the U.S. A majority of them, 58 percent, are first-generation Americans who arrived in the U.S. after the passage of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965. As these immigrants began to settle in the U.S., they established institutions. In fact, most Muslim advocacy groups were founded in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but gained prominence in the post-9/11 era.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE 

U.S. Muslims are religiously observant, but open to multiple interpretations of Islam

FT_17.08.23_islam_interpret_ledeFor American Muslims, being highly religious does not necessarily translate into acceptance of traditional notions of Islam. While many U.S. Muslims say they attend mosque and pray regularly, sizable shares also say that there is more than one way to interpret their religion and that traditional understandings of Islam need to be reinterpreted to address the issues of today.

By some conventional measures, U.S. Muslims are as religious as – or more religious than – many Americans who belong to other faith groups. Four-in-ten (43%) Muslim Americans say they attend mosque at least once a week, including 18% who say they attend more than once a week, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey. An additional 32% say they attend once or twice a month, or a few times a year. These attendance levels are comparable to those of U.S. Christians, 47% of whom say they attend services weekly or more, and greater than the 14% of American Jews who say the same.

A majority also say that they pray at least some or all of the salah, or ritual prayers required of Muslims five times per day. Among all U.S. Muslims, fully 42% say they pray all five salah daily, while 17% pray at least some of the salah every day. A quarter say they pray less often, and just 15% say they never pray.

And nearly two-thirds of U.S. Muslims (65%) say that religion is very important in their lives, similar to the share of U.S. Christians who say the same (68%), and higher than the share of U.S. Jews who say this (31%). An additional 22% of Muslims say that religion is somewhat important in their lives, while fewer say that religion is not too or not at all important to them.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PEW RESEARCH 

Between Swimming And S’mores, Young Muslim Campers Learn To Cope With Rising Hate

muslim_youth_camp-5-edit_custom-02167a057dc0a68b8b09c83219d503a28c2d9a48-s1300-c85The sun has set, the hiking, swimming and prayers are over and a group of kids are goofing off, taking turns telling corny jokes in the woods.

“Why did the cow cross the road?” a kindergartner yells into a megaphone in front of his fellow campers. “Because the chicken was on vacation!”

It’s a typical summer camp in Northern California, except at this camp all the kids are Muslim.

Every summer for 55 years, Muslim kids, teens, young adults and parents gather in these woods to learn about faith and have fun. It is the oldest camp of its kind for young Muslims in America. But today the camp has a different meaning for this new generation. It’s a momentary respite for the campers in a country where anti-Muslim sentiment is rising sharply.

The late Marghoob Quraishi and his wife, Renae “Iffat” Quraishi, founded it, to help new American Muslims find a sense of community.

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Originally Indo-Pakistani, Marghoob ended up at Stanford University in California. His daughters say he looked around and realized that new American Muslims, like himself, needed a place to teach their kids about being American Muslims. His wife is an American Caucasian woman who converted to Islam from Methodism and grew up going to Methodist summer camp. So the couple modeled it on that.

Like most Americans, U.S. Muslims concerned about extremism in the name of Islam

ct-muslims-islam-trump-religion-culture-perspe-001Most Americans are worried about Islamic extremism, and most Muslim Americans share these concerns.

About eight-in-ten U.S. Muslims (82%) say they are either very (66%) or somewhat concerned (16%) about FT_17.08.14_extremism_plotextremism committed in the name of Islam around the world, about the same as the share of the general public that feels this way (83%), according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Only about one-in-six U.S. Muslims (17%) and Americans overall (15%) say they are “not too” or “not at all” concerned about extremism carried out in the name of Islam worldwide. Among both groups, concern about extremism is up 10 percentage points since the Center’s last survey of U.S. Muslims in 2011.

Muslim American women are particularly worried about global extremism in the name of Islam. Nearly nine-in-ten U.S. Muslim women (89%) say they are at least somewhat concerned about it, up 16 points since 2011. A smaller share of U.S. Muslim men (75%) say they feel this way.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PEW RESEARCH.ORG

American Muslims Are A Diverse Group With Changing Views

US-Muslims

Only days after the end of Ramadan and just before the July Fourth holiday, thousands of people gathered at a Chicago convention center for the 54th annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America. Activists, scholars, religious leaders, booksellers, food vendors, and families of many backgrounds speaking many languages attended panels about topics as varied as religion, relationships, politics, cybersecurity and climate change. Despite their diverse backgrounds, many in attendance had two things in common: They were American, and they were Muslim.

Speaking at a panel on political views after the 2016 election, Besheer Mohamed, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center, suggested that an upcoming report would put numbers to the diversity that could be observed at the conference. That survey, released Wednesday morning, is the third in a series of Pew surveys of Muslims in the U.S. taken over the past 10 years.1 It is also a window into the changing attitudes of American Muslims — who make up about 1 percent of the U.S. population2 — on issues such as politics and homosexuality.3

“The key theme that we see regarding U.S. Muslims is diversity,” Mohamed told reporters on Tuesday, ahead of the report’s release. “Among immigrants, no single ethnic group has a majority. … Among U.S.-born Muslims, no racial group has a majority.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM FIVETHIRTYEIGHT.COM

Most White Evangelicals Don’t Believe Muslims Belong in America

77985As much of American society undergoes a secular shift, most Muslims and Christians continue to attend worship, adhere to tenets of their traditions, and proudly identify with their faiths.

 But despite this shared sense of religious devotion, as detailed in a new Pew Research Center report on what US Muslims believe and practice, survey data also show a huge gap in their perceptions of each other.

While Americans overall have warmed up to Muslims in recent years, white evangelicals express more concerns about US Muslims than any other religious group. Two-thirds of white evangelicals believe Islam is not part of mainstream American society and contend that it encourages violence more than other faiths, according to Pew.

Meanwhile, 72 percent of white evangelicals—compared to 44 percent of Americans overall—see a natural conflict between Islam and democracy. And 30 percent of Muslims themselves agree that the two are in conflict.

A small minority of Americans (6%) and Muslims (5%) attribute the tension to the belief that America is a Christian nation.

As CT reported in March, missions experts worry that evangelicals’ views of Muslims are sabotaging a long-dreamed-of moment. Previous research by Pew found that only 35 percent of white evangelicals say they have a personal connection to a Muslim, compared to about 40 percent of mainline Protestants and Catholics, 50 percent of unaffiliated Americans, and 73 percent of Jews.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANITY TODAY