By Nidah Chatriwala
Dr. Muna Ali, a knowledgeable scholar as well as the co-founder of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona, recently shared her doctorate dissertation â€œIdentity Crisis and Younger Muslims Myth or Realityâ€ 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.
â€œTorn 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,â€ 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.
â€œThe young Muslims want to build a community, they want to get rid of ethnocentrism and racism in the community, and theyâ€™re very optimistic about their future,â€ 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 â€œrightâ€ way of practicing Islam.
â€œIf 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 â€œMuslimâ€ â€“ a particular kind of Muslim â€“ 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,â€ 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 generationâ€™s thoughts Dr. Ali mentions in her study.
â€œI believe Dr. Aliâ€™s research and presentation are valuable to todayâ€™s Muslims and her attention to detail and thoroughness are important for future discussions to take place regarding Muslim identity,â€ Odeh said.