Islam In America

As the Independence Day celebrations draw near, it’s time to talk (once again) about the role of women in American Islam.

Yes, this blog (despite digressions abroad) centers on Muslims in the United States. Women here are regarded differently than they are in Muslim-majority countries. In many ways, American Muslim women are forging a new identity within Islam.

This recent article reminds us of the differences between American Islam — where all strains of Islamic belief coexist in community — and the nation- or tribal-centric Islams of Qatar or Iran, for example.

Quran Recitation Apps That Don’t Include Female Voices. This headline was startling on two levels: first because “of course” only men could recite the Qu’ran, and second, because — wait a minute — why not include women’s voices reciting the key text of Islam?

Check out some opinions here, in an article by Miriam Krule: The Latest Battle for Religious Women: Quran Recitation Apps That Don’t Include Female Voices

Theme for the 52nd annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America is “Stories of Resilience: Strengthening the American Muslim Narrative”.

The confab takes place September 4 through 7, 2015, in the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 9291 Bryn Mawr Avenue, Rosemont, Illinois.

For registration and more information, go online.

“Four Muslim men who have accused FBI agents of putting them on a no-fly list because they refused to become informants want to pursue damages against the agents even though the travel ban has been lifted, the men’s lawyers told a federal judge [12 June 2015].

“Earlier this week the men received letters notifying them their names had been removed from the list of tens of thousands of people prohibited from flying to, from or within the United States. Three of the four – Jameel Albighah, Naveed Shinwari and Awais Sajjad – were in federal court in Manhattan to hear the arguments over a government motion to have their lawsuit against 25 FBI agents dismissed.”

Read more about this challenge here: “CAN THEY SUE: Judge to decide if Muslims put on, and then off, no fly list can seek damages

“Every time I walk into the room, the first thought is, ‘There’s a Muslim,’ ” said Ms. [Zahra] Cheema, 25, the American-born daughter of Pakistani immigrants, describing that moment when she meets with a potential employer or argues a case in court. “I worry that essentially the hijab will override all my other merits.”

That’s from a story in The New York Times about an American lawyer’s apparel dilemma.

“Some bosses prefer not to place a woman with a head scarf in the public eye.”

The question is troubling: why should Muslim women resign themselves to be hidden from view so their religion is not an issue? Most Muslim men wear nothing identifying them to the casual observer as Muslim.

A subject of heated debate for American Muslim women is the future of this relic of the medieval past (Christian women used to cover their hair; Old Order Amish Orthodox Jewish women still do).

In Muslim majority countries, hijab (in its various permutations) is routine. In the United States, it is not.

Is hijab truly a “sign of piety” or a blatant signifier of the subordinate place of women in Islam? If the scarf is intended to demonstrate “modesty”, how does calling attention to oneself fulfill this goal?