Akbar Ahmed’s “Journey into America”

An upcoming Inside Islam radio show on November 2nd will focus on Akbar Ahmed’s book Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam, in which the author talks about his visits to over 100 mosques in over 75 U.S. cities. Ahmed points out that the mosque is the most representative symbol of Islam, yet most people do not know what goes on inside them.

Ahmed and his team asked the following questions in their study: How can a Muslim become accepted fully as an “American,” and what does that mean? How do American Muslims of Arab descent differ from those of other origins? Why are so many white woman converting to Islam? This study offers insight into these questions and others that some may have about mosques.

Among Ahmed’s findings is that only a third of American Muslims come from the Middle East; the remainder are primarily African-Americans and South Asians. There are, however, Muslims from all over the world: Bosnians, West Africans, Turks, and Latino converts. He also found diversity in sects of Islam and interpretations.

For Ahmed the source of stereotypes about Islam is a lack of understanding. So in this book he addresses this problem by going into mosques and sharing what he finds in order to narrow the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims in America.

In preparation for the show, we would like to hear from you. Have you been to a mosque? What was your experience? Do you think that mosques are breeding grounds for terrorism? Can mosques be a place for interfaith exchange? Why do you think  there was so much fear around mosques? Please share your thoughts and it may appear in the show.

2 thoughts on “Akbar Ahmed’s “Journey into America”

  1. The source of stereotypes about Islam is a lack of understanding on the part of:

    1.-Most people (whether Muslim, Arab, or others) who might not understand the Arabic Qur’an and therefore do not possess the best tools to counter misinterpretation or diffuse arising problems.

    2. -Governments in general who might not understand the relationship between disenfranchising youth (theirs, or their opponent’s), and Radicalism, and therefore cause most of the damage to themselves ane others.

    3.- The Media, who might not understand that it validates what it repeatedly disparages.

    4.- The layperson, who might not understand the difference between Truth and Perception (and cannot conduct research to find out the Truth).

    5.- Muslims living in countries with ‘Non-Muslim’ majorities who might not understand that ‘identity’ over-protectiveness seals them in a ‘time-capsule,’ blinding them to the continuous intellectual development of Muslims elsewhere.

  2. I’ve been attending the Women’s Friday meeting at the Islamic Center in Madison. I have felt welcomed and treated respectfully always by all. The meetings are thought-provoking and warm; my questions are always answered extensively and patiently. This environment invites me to keep attending because I am learning about Islam as well as getting in touch with the humane side of it.