The younger generation of American Muslims, feel alienation from their mosques even as they feel a strong connection to Islamic teachings and the Muslim community, according to the San Jose Mercury News (Nov. 15).
The newspaper reports that Muslims in their 20s and 30s “are at the forefront of an emerging conversation about American Muslim identity. Many are trying to articulate a new vision of the faith . . . Some say they are alienated from the daily discourse of local mosques, which they describe as doctrinally rigid or politically overheated, pitting Muslims against the United States and the West.”
One Muslim says that the emphasis at the mosque is not to fall into the evils of the outside society. “But for us as the second generation, we’re part of that society. It would’ve been great to hear what we should do instead of what we shouldn’t do.”
Some maintain their faith through private devotions and conversation with friends, but “other Muslims in their 20s and 30s are turning to organizations that complement what goes on in the mosque.” One such group is the Bay Area-based American Muslims Intent On Learning And Activism (AMILA), which involves young Muslims in soup kitchens and visiting Muslims in prison.
Another new group led by young Muslims is Muslims Against Terrorism. AMILA leader Hina Azam says “We’re sick of hearing how bad the Jews are. But a lot of us feel they have to accept it because that’s what you get when you go to the mosque. You put up with stuff you don’t really like.” These young Muslims may hold political grievances about U.S. foreign policy, but they also tend to press for more internal soul searching within the Muslim community. Hatem Bazian, a 37-year-old Islamic scholar, says the American Islamic community must “develop Muslim scholars in this country — born and raised here — who want to be part of this society.
We have to see that which is good and that which is bad, and if something is bad–then fix it, don’t just condemn it. It’s a major psychological shift.”