Aaron Cambel was an American kid who used to hang
out with friends cruising the local mall,picking up girls, checking out the latest
fashions and getting in trouble. I was realized if I took the same path, I would
have ended up the way they did, wasting my life away, says Cambel, who lives in
Washington. So he converted to Islam. It was the most simple and direct to
understand of the religions I looked into, says Cambel, who converted four years
ago. It taught about moral character, and ethics and the way people should be
Islam Liberates Black Americans Cambel, 23, has joined one of the fastest growing religions in the United States. Experts agree Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in America. As many as five million Muslims live in the United States and in the last five years, the number of mosques in this country has increased from 843 to about 1,300. Most of the growth has come from immigration, but muchof it is home-grown. For many black Americans,Islam has become the religion of choice and some one millionmostly menhave converted. It is an American phenomenon, which started in the ghettoes of the north, says Yvonne Haedad, a professor of history of Islam and ofChristian-Muslim Relations at Georgetown University. It is a response to racism it is seen as the religion of liberation. Louis Farrakhans Nation of Islam has become the most prominent black Islamic group in the United States. Black men in bow ties and dark suits emphasize the strict discipline of the order, which emphasizes empowerment, a key theme of the Million Man March on Washington in 1995. But Farrakhans anti-Semitic remarkscalling Jews bloodsuckers who took from the community to build their ownhave brought controversy and publicity to the group. Its very visible, because Farrakhan is very visible, says Fahhim Abdulhadi, spokesman for the American Muslim Council. Muslims in mainstream have lots of problems with Farrakhan.
Many mainstream Muslims also have a problem with the
tide of misunderstanding in the United States. We always need to explain so many
issues, says Hassan Qacwini, Imam of the Islamic Center of America in Detroit. The
most common misunderstanding, according to Qacwini, is that Islam fosters violence, a
perception reconfirmed whenever extremist groups set off suicide bombs or massacre
tourists in the Middle East. Islam is a peaceful religion, says Qacwini.
Some would try to connect terrorism to Islam, which is wrong.
Many Americans looked for a Muslim scapegoat when the Alfred P. Murrah building blew up in 1995. After the Oklahoma City bombing, people said it was Middle East terrorists, says Abdulhadi. Several Middle Eastern men were briefly detained, and there were reports of harassment against Muslims, including beatings and a mosque burning.
Some Muslims point out that when Timothy McVeigh was arrested, no one accused him of bombing the federal building for religious reasons. Nobody talks about McVeigh as a Christian terrorist, says Haedad.
The role of women is another area of misunderstanding. For example, while some non-Muslims see the veil as a tool of oppression, many Muslim women see it as a reinforcement of their identity in a culture that is hostile to Islam.
Its empowerment, says Haedad.
Women say Im going to wear it and youd better to put up with
While many Muslims assert their identity in a society they perceive as hostile, most have followed the pattern of practically every other ethnic and religious group in America: blending and assimilating. Most Muslims, you wouldnt pick them out, says Abdulhadi. Theyre just going to work and getting along.
Islam is a peaceful religion. Some would try to connect terrorism to Islam, which is wrong. Hassan Qacwini, Imam in Detroit,MI. USA.
The American Muslim birthrate is about 4.5 children per couple, versus the 1.9
child per couple national average.
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