This month, Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Professor of, among other subjects, history of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations at Georgetown University, publishes Becoming American? The Forging of Arab and Muslim Identity in Pluralist America (Baylor). While Muslims face many unfortunate difficulties arriving in this nation—ugliness post 9/11 which I could elaborate on for hours—their arrival, in essence, forces those already here to examine who they are, to question what America—and being an American—means. The publisher’s description is below.
Countless generations of Arabs and Muslims have called the United States “home.” Yet while diversity and pluralism continue to define contemporary America, many Muslims are viewed by their neighbors as painful reminders of conflict and violence. In this concise volume, renowned historian Yvonne Haddad argues that American Muslim identity is as uniquely American it is for as any other race, nationality, or religion. Becoming American? first traces the history of Arab and Muslim immigration into Western society during the 19th and 20th centuries, revealing a two-fold disconnect between the cultures—America’s unwillingness to accept these new communities at home and the activities of radical Islam abroad. Urging America to reconsider its tenets of religious pluralism, Haddad reveals that the public square has more than enough room to accommodate those values and ideals inherent in the moderate Islam flourishing throughout the country. In all, in remarkable, succinct fashion, Haddad prods readers to ask what it means to be truly American and paves the way forward for not only increased understanding but for forming a Muslim message that is capable of uplifting American society.
—DRS, CLR Fellow