Friday, February 5, 2016

Shabana Mir

Shabana Mir is the author of Muslim American Women on Campus: Undergraduate Social Life and Identity. From her Q & A at the University of North Carolina Press website:

Q: Did the women in your book have a hard time combining their "Muslim" and "American" identities? Did they have to resolve conflicts between the two?

A: My participants knew that observers and others thought that their "Muslim" and "American" identities were in perpetual conflict. None of them said that they experienced this conflict. Where they saw conflict was in the way others saw what it means to be "American" and "Muslim." In other words, if you think an "American" young person is a White, Christian person who drinks at college then, yes, there is conflict between being "American" and an observant Muslim. There are certainly plenty of Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and Christians who do not participate in hedonistic youth culture, and plenty who do. When we assume that an "American" and/or a "Muslim" has an "essence" that is religious or irreligious, liberal or conservative, etc., that is when we engage with the problem of conflict between these incommensurable identities. Intisar (a Somali-American student), for instance, is personally comfortable with praying in the prayer-room as well as attending a dance show; Teresa, a White convert, is comfortable with being an observant Muslim as well as smoking; but neither of them is comfortable being seen doing these "conflicting" things. The problem is not in being this complicated person. The problem is...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue