Lee S. Snider
Chamberlain College of Nursing
Islam, Arab and Middle Eastern Americans: A view from the outside
A. Jamal & N. Naber (2008) wrote not all Arabs are Muslims and not all Muslims are Arabs, when in fact, the United States often conflates the categories of Arab and Muslims. The top six countries with the largest Muslim populations are Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Turkey and Iran. None of these countries are Arab. Arab countries include a diversity of linguistic, ethnic and religious groups (Jamal et al, 2008).
In this paper we will discuss what is it to be Muslim in America both pre/post Gulf Wars and post September 11, 2001. First, this paper will explain the basic understanding of Islam and those who practice it and how it differs and relates to three other religious beliefs Christianity, Judaism and the often confused with, Sikhism. Second, this paper will review the differing points of view of Islam and Arabs from both the United Kingdom and United States. How are they the same? How are they different? Why have these nations just started to recognize this group not as citizens, but both as domestic and foreign terrorists? Continuing, we will review the history of Arabs, Arab Americans, Muslims and people of Middle Eastern decent living in the United States. We will discuss some the prejudices and discriminations Arab-Americans, Arabs, Muslims and people of Middle Eastern decent have endured since the two Gulf Wars and the September 11 terroristic attack. Finally, we will discuss what we can do to help alleviate the current prejudicial and discriminatory attitude of race and religious relations among the United States, Arab Americans, Arabs, Middle Eastern and Islam.
Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Sikhism
Islam is the second largest religion in the world with over 1 billion followers (British Broadcasting Company (BBC), 2009). Islam was revealed over 1400 years ago in Mecca, Arabia and those who practice it are called Muslims. Muslims believe there is only one God – Allah. Muslims believe that God sent a number of prophets to mankind to teach them how to live according to Prophet Muhammad. Muslims base their laws on their holy book the Quran and the practice of Sunnah (BBC, 2009). To Muslims, the scripture of the Quran is the word of Allah as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel (Housley, 2007). Approximately one third of the Quran’s text is made up of narratives of earlier prophets, most of them biblical and the Quran rewrites the story of Jesus Christ more radically than that of any other prophet and in doing so reinvents him (Khalidi, 2009). The Sunnah is the practical example of the Prophet Muhammad and the five basic Pillars of Islam. These pillars are (1) the declaration of faith, (2) praying five times a day in a mosque, (3), giving money to charity, (4) fasting and (5) a pilgrimage to Mecca – at least once in a Muslims’ life (BBC, 2009).
Christianity on the other hand is the world’s most popular religion with over 2 billion followers. Unlike Muslims, Christians believe in one God and that this God sent his only son, Jesus to earth to save humanity from the consequences of sins (BBC, 2011). Christianity in relation to Islam is viewed both as a precursor in the line of historical monotheism and also as a deficient form that have deviated from its purity (Thomas, 2005). Christians believe in the holy trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Christians base their beliefs on their holy book, the Bible. One of the most important concepts in Christianity is when Jesus gave his life on the cross-called, the crucifixion, and then his rising from the dead, the resurrection. However, there are many people who identify as Christian without believing in, observing any Christian traditions or holy concepts which would be heresy for Muslims. Negative stereotypes of Muslims and Arabs have