Al-Mahdi Journal 2006                                                                                                                                     2

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Challenges and Opportunities of Integrating New MuslimImmigrants into American Society: A Multi-theoretical and Multi-methodological Analysis

Abdul Karim Bangura
School of International Service and the
Center for Global Peace
American University
Washington, DC 20016


Introduction

That the challenges and opportunities facing new Muslim immigrants in their efforts to be integrated into American society are multifaceted and complex is hardly a matter of dispute. Consequently, a systematic analysis of these challenges and opportunities behooves an analyst to employ multiple theories and methodologies to capture their essence. In examining available, albeit disjointed, works on the topic and drawing upon empirical observations, the following themes seem to be prominent: (a) relationships between Muslim and non-Muslim Americans in a predominantly Christian context, (b) traditional Muslim values and their effects on modern American Muslims and their status, (c) Islamic practice and non-practice, (d) traditional women’s roles and sexuality as related to the hijab, (e) reactions toward Muslim edifices, (f) reactions toward Islamic literature, (g) the impact of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and (h) the media’s portrayal of Islam and Muslims. In light of these themes, the following theoretical framework is delineated:

Muslim and Non-Muslim Relationships        

Traditional Muslim Values and Modern American Muslims     
 
Islamic Practice and Non-practice    
Challenges and Opportunities to New Muslim Immigrants' Attempts to Integrate into American Society

Islamic Edifices        

Sexuality and the Hijab

Islamic Literature        

September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks

Media Portrayal of Muslims     

The basic relationship in the preceding theoretical framework is quite straightforward: relationships between Muslim and non-Muslim Americans in a predominantly Christian context, traditional Muslim values and their effects on modern American Muslims and their status, Islamic practice and non-practice, traditional women’s roles and sexuality as related to the hijab, reactions toward Muslim edifices, reactions toward Islamic literature, the impact of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and the media’s portrayal of Islam and Muslims shape the challenges and opportunities for new Muslim immigrants in their attempts to integrate into American society. The following sections analyze the nature of these themes in light of their attendant theoretical and methodological approaches.


Muslim and Non-Muslim Relationships
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