Dr. Muna Ali Discusses Identity Crisis Amongst Muslim Community at Arizona State University

By Nidah Chatriwala

20140402_181813_LLSDr. Muna Ali, a knowledgeable scholar as well as the co-founder of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona, recently shared her doctorate dissertation “Identity Crisis and Younger Muslims Myth or Reality” presentation at Arizona State University.

The lecture hall welcomed a diverse audience who were there to find a solution to the evident crisis many Muslims are struggling with today – to find a balance between their Muslim and American identities.

“Torn between seeming irreconcilable binaries (home/society, country of origin/American, being in the secular West/belonging to the religious East), younger Muslim Americans are thought to be ensnared in poles pulling them in different directions in a presumably centuries old conflict of Islam and the West,” Dr. Ali shared.

In the interviews Dr. Ali conducted during her research she said she found a difference in the way the young generation admitted to practicing Islam in contrast to their immigrant parents.

Dr. Ali goes on to say that the young Muslims in America are more active in the community than their elders who are often found to be complaining about their children lacking religiosity.

“The young Muslims want to build a community, they want to get rid of ethnocentrism and racism in the community, and they’re very optimistic about their future,” Dr. Ali confirmed.

However, the identity crisis is magnified in social activities such as dating causing a tiff between the young and old generation of Muslims trying to find the “right” way of practicing Islam.

“If there are identity problems among younger generations of Muslims today, they might be problems resulting from the post-9/11 discourse that demands they be “Muslim” – a particular kind of Muslim – above all else. They are not given the space and the time to experiment, ponder and come to their own complex understanding of self, family, faith and society,” Dr. Ali explained.

In other words, the identity crisis can be eliminated if the gap between the young and older generation of Muslims is filled.

The lecture came to a close with a round of question and answer session.

Haneen Odeh agrees with the young generation’s thoughts Dr. Ali mentions in her study.

“I believe Dr. Ali’s research and presentation are valuable to today’s Muslims and her attention to detail and thoroughness are important for future discussions to take place regarding Muslim identity,” Odeh said.


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