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Young Muslim America explores the perspectives and identities of the American descendants of immigrant Muslims and converts to Islam. Whether their parents were new Muslims or new Americans, the younger generations of Muslim Americans grow up bearing a dual heritage and are uniquely positioned to expound the meaning of both. In this ethnographic study, Muna Ali explores the role of young Muslim Americans within America and the ummah through four dominant narratives that emerge from discussions about and among Muslims. Cultural differences purportedly cause an identity crisis among young Muslims torn between seemingly irreconcilable Islamic and Western heritages. Additionally, culture presumably contaminates a "pure" Islam and underlies all that divides Muslim America's diverse subgroups. Some propose creating an American Muslim culture and identity to overcome these challenges. But in this historical moment when Muslims have become America's newest "problem people" and political wedge, some Americans are suspicious of this identity and fear a Muslim cultural takeover and the "Islamization of America." Situating these discussions in the fields of identity, immigration, American studies, and the anthropology of Islam, Ali examines how younger Muslims see themselves, their faith community, and their society, and how that informs their daily life and helps them envision an American future.
Muna Ali is a Faculty Associate at the School of Political and Global Studies of Arizona State University.