Mecca and Main Street: Muslim Life in America after 9/11
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Islam is Americas fastest growing religion, with more than six million Muslims in the United States, all living in the shadow of 9/11. Who are our Muslim neighbors? What are their beliefs and desires? How are they coping with life under the War on Terror?
In Mecca and Main Street, noted author and journalist Geneive Abdo offers illuminating answers to these questions. Gaining unprecedented access to Muslim communities in America, she traveled across the country, visiting schools, mosques, Islamic centers, radio stations, and homes. She reveals a community tired of being judged by American perceptions of Muslims overseas and eager to tell their own stories. Abdo brings these stories vividly to life, allowing us to hear their own voices and inviting us to understand their hopes and their fears.
Inspiring, insightful, tough-minded, and even-handed, this book will appeal to those curious (or fearful) about the Muslim presence in America. It will also be warmly welcomed by the Muslim community.
wasn’t always this way. Most of the first Arab immigrants were Christians, a fact that greatly eased their assimilation into mainstream America, and those immigrants who were born Muslims generally came from elite secular families in their home countries. But during the last twenty years of the twentieth century, more and more Muslim immigrants to the Dearborn area hailed from the “peasant class.” Those who settled in the Detroit area from Iraq and Yemen sought jobs in the auto and shipping
again in 2004. A large chandelier with sparkling crystals and gold trim hangs in one of the entrances. The walls of a spacious office, where Imam Aly Leila, the head sheikh, and Abdul Wahab sit each day to counsel worshippers, are decorated with large photographs of the grand mosque in Mecca. Green and beige wall-to-wall carpet woven with designs of minarets covers the floor. Dix worshippers had complained for years that time had stood still at their mosque. Before the expansions, the sheikhs
his classical Muslim education and religious outlook served him during his hard life in a strange and hostile land. Christian missionaries translated his work during his lifetime, and they were eager to see signs that Omar ibn Said—commonly known in white society as Moro, a corruption of his first name—had renounced Islam for Christianity. Omar may well have intended to give that impression, for his well-being was in the hands of his Christian masters. And there was always the possibility that
education and self-improvement, and Nation members were expected to give alms and support the movement with a portion of their income. These guidelines were all in keeping with established Muslim practice. Elijah Muhammad, however, also established some decidedly un-Islamic notions, ideas that ultimately proved fatal for his vision of the Nation of Islam. He declared that white people were descendents of the Devil; W. D. Fard was a divine figure sent to usher in the Day of Judgment; he was a
neon signs plastered on Mexican restaurants mix with the street lamps to distort what light there is. The IMAN office on Sixty-third, known in the neighborhood simply as the markez, the Arabic word for “center,” has a homey feel. On any given day, Rami might shuffle in, his backpack slung over his black T-shirt, and end up wrestling on the floor with young kids who are hanging out at the center. More studious young boys sit at the computers lined against a wall near the glass door. Some attend