American Muslims are increasingly influencing their fellow believers in other parts of the world, reports the Los Angeles Times (Dec. 29).
Although American Muslims are a small fraction of the one billion Muslims worldwide, they are wielding significant influence in business practices and economic development in their homelands “through a mushrooming number of non-profit organizations,” writes Teresa Watanabe. Aslam Abdullah of the Los Angeles-based Minaret magazine says that more than 300 such groups now raise about $50 million a year for such causes as education and health care.
Though Muslims in the U.S. see their situation as divided and lacking political clout, they are viewed with high expectationS by Muslims in other countries due to their education and high professional standing. Until now, the model for Muslims for modernization has been Turkey, which has excised Islam from the public square. With its pluralism that can permit a high level of observance, the U.S. is becoming the new model, says Sulayman Nyang of Howard University.
Through such ventures as the Iqra International Educational Foundation in Chicago, American Muslims are exporting books on Islam to other countries. Professors like Khaled Abou el Fadl of UCLA are producing scholarship that blends an Islamic critique of social issues with an appreciation for academic freedom. He has published critiques of Islamic divorce laws, abuses such as wife-beating, and even anti-apostasy teachings that are being noticed, if also criticized, abroad.