Gender Dynamics in American Mosques

1 Jun

According to the Pew Research Study: Muslim Americans, Middle Class & Mostly Mainstream, 74% of Muslim Americans say that they are satisfied with the quality of Mosques available near where they live while only 15% say that they are not.

*On average Muslim American men spend more time in the Mosque then Muslim American women. 48% of Muslim American men go to the Mosque once weekly or more vs. 30% of Muslim women.

In my experience at local Mosques the female voice can defiantly be overshadowed by the leadership of the Mosque who are almost always men. This imbalance in leadership positions may explain why 23% of Muslims say that the Islamic pundits regard men over women. However the vast majority (71%) of Muslims believe that Islamic institutions are fair to both men and women.

One big issue facing all Mosques today, American or otherwise, is the issue of the partition of the sexes during prayer. This has recently become a hot button issue in the Muslim community, as more Mosques are being built with prayer rooms separating the men from the women. This practice WAS NOT used during the time of THE Prophet Muhammad (Salalahu Alehi Wassalam). During the Prophet’s time, women prayed behind men but there was no partition separating the two. therefore women were able to participate more actively in sermons. However, the argument for the partitions is that the women and men in the time of the Prophet were more modest and religious than those of our modern time. Thus the men and women of today are more likely to be tempted by one another and this should not occur in a holy sanctuary like the mosque.

If a Mosque supports a particular political agenda, it is likely based on the consciences of the clergy of the Mosque. In most cases the leadership of the Mosque is composed of mostly men. This makes it less likely for Muslim women to have a direct voice in determining a Mosque’s political ideology.

Mores of the Mosque

1 Jun

In an earlier post, I expressed my feelings towards politics & the Mosque. Muslim Americans are no less conflicted about the role of politics in religious institutions, and vice versa, then the average Christian American. 40% of American Muslims polled say that they attend religious services in the Mosque at least once a week , while 45% of Christians say they attend Church at least once a week.

*Less than a majority of American Muslims (45%) believe that the Mosque should express views on political and social issues, while 54% of American Christians believe that the Church should do the same.

The matter of the place of a Mosque in society has been complicated for Muslim Americans. The place of the Mosque on matters of politics has always varied depending on the issues essential to a particular Muslim society. For example, in areas where there are divided factions in society, based wither on race or class, most likely the main issues a Mosque would be advocating (if it was intent on social change) would be uniting divided groups through their shared heritage in Islam. Since divided groups likely have opposing political stances, politics would likely be an avoided subject matter in such a Mosque. Conversely, in theocratic societies the Mosque is highly politicised and many leaders in the Mosque are also leaders in the political community. Additionally  in societies where political dogma is common, a secular government may use the Mosque as an extension of its propaganda machine. In a previous post I talked about  the demographics of Muslim Americans and how many Muslim Americans are immigrants or the children of immigrants. Depending on the political and social landscape in a Muslim American’s country of origin, they may or may not support the concept of a Mosque taking a particular political stance.

The Issues That Matter to Muslim Americans

24 May

Source: Pew Research Study: Muslim Americans, Middle Class & Mostly Mainstream

Moral Issues

24 May

63% of American Muslims polled say they lean democratic, 11% lean republican & 26% are independent/no preference. Although Muslim Americans are mostly Democrats, when it comes to particular social issues they express even more conservative views then the majority of Americans. For example, 61% of Muslim Americans polled say that homosexuality is a way of life that should not be accepted by society. 27% of Muslim Americans believe that homosexuality should be accepted (more than I thought!) while 51% of the American public believe that homosexuality should be accepted.

-59% of Muslim Americans believe that the government should do more to protect morality

-29% of Muslim Americans worry that government is getting too involved in promoting morality.

The All-American Muslim

17 May

65% of American Muslims are foreign-born, this statistic has led many to infer that the majority of Muslim Americans are un-assimilated & carry a set of mores distinct from that of the larger American society. However this is simply untrue, the Pew Research Center’s study  Muslims Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream finds that “A comprehensive nationwide survey of Muslim Americans finds them to be largely assimilated, happy with their lives, and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and Westerners around the world.”

The Colors of Islam

17 May

In the Eurocentric Western World, there is a clear preference for those with features associated with being white. Just as the Italian and Irish immigrants who were presented with the privileged title of being white in exchange for their ethnic identity, Muslim American immigrants must consider whether they want to adhere to the Melting Pot or the Salad Bowl. In the face of increasing Islamaphobia, some Muslim immigrants have traded in a part of their ethnic identity in order to become accepted by and assimilated into American society. 65% of American Muslims are foreign-born and this statistic has led many to infer that the majority of Muslim Americans are un-assimilated & carry a set of mores distinct from that of the larger American society. However this is simply untrue, the Pew Research Center’s study  Muslims Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream finds that “A comprehensive nationwide survey of Muslim Americans finds them to be largely assimilated, happy with their lives, and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and Westerners around the world.” This same study also finds that 44% of foreig- born Muslims describe their race and ethnicity as white, 28% Asian, 18% mixed and 10% black. These stats report self-described race and ethnicities, rather than the previous stats on demographics which was based on region of birth and not on the preferred self-identification of an individual. This explains why only 5% of foreign-born Muslims are Europeans (less than 5% are white Europeans) yet a majority, 44%, of foreign born Muslims are “white”.

This is significant, because it shows that within the Muslim immigrant community there is a certain level of code switching because some ethnically non-white Muslims are able to pass as white. One must assume that there is a logical cost benefit analyses being done when someone decides to disown a part of their identity. Put simply, being seen as ‘white’ in America comes with its benefits. My theory is that Muslim Americans who self-identify as white and are preceded by the world as being such, encounter different challenges and thus may have certain distinct mores and interests from other members of the Muslim community.

Demographics of Muslim Americans

17 May

The majority of American Muslims are foreign born immigrants, coming from Arab nations and South Asian nations

-Of foreign born American Muslims 5% immigrated from Europe, 4% from Africa, and 6% from Europe

-A majority of foreign born Muslims immigrated to the U.S. between 1990-1999 & 2000-2007

Native born Muslims comprise 35% of the overall Muslim American population

-21% of Native born Muslims are converts while 14% were born into Islam

African Americans represent 20% of the Native born American Muslim population

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