CSM opinion piece on american muslims

I came across this interesting opinion piece in the Christian Science Monitor in which Ahmed Nassef argues that Muslim practices should be tailored to fit life in America. I found myself agreeing with him that there is “a gulf between the highly conservative nature of most Muslim American institutions and the liberal views of many [American Muslims.]” It didn’t surprise me to learn that most American Muslims don’t attend mosque or participate in major religious celebrations, or that many mosques are run by Wahhabi clerics–it’s hard for supporters of more liberal rites to compete with Saudi money.
But I didn’t buy Nassef’s claim that the conservatism is more of a characteristic of Muslim immigrants as opposed to native-born American Muslims (perhaps because I’ve seen far too many conservatives in the latter camp, and far too many liberals in the former.) I also disagreed with his claim that “progressive Muslims in America are taking their inspiration from Islamic scholars trained in Western universities who tend to be critical of authoritarian interpretations of Islam and who treat the real diversity of Muslim societies more inclusively.” I think it’s a bit too simplistic to claim that liberal interpretations are the apanages of Western training (for example, mosques run by clerics who follow the Malekite rites are pretty liberal.) The proposition also tends to bring up that whole East-West dichotomy, which I don’t find particularly illuminating. But the article makes quite a good read. Read it in full here.


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