Format of Original
Royal Institute of Inter-Faith Studies
Bulletin of the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies
This article examines the chain of events that facilitated an Islamic revival among second-generation Arab-American Muslims. Based upon research in metropolitan Chicago, it argues against trends in the literature that described Western-born Muslims as foreigners, immigrants or, worse, anti-Western. Similarly, it argues against setting their religious experiences solely in a domestic context. The article begins by documenting the lack of religious institutions and practices among immigrant Arab Muslims before the 1990s and the limited religious socialization of their American-born children. These conditions emerged in part from secular trends in the immigrants' homelands. By the 1990s, a period of global Islamic revival, both immigrant and second-generation Arab Muslims found practiced Islam attractive, particularly its capacity to provide meaning and resilience for their own experiences in America. Individual decisions to embrace Islam as more than a fact of birth were facilitated by developments resulting from globalization and the creation of American Islamic institution, yet were, at the same time, intensely personal choices rooted in local experiences. Although Islamic revival is global, its conduits should not be viewed as causal. The article engages findings by Yang and Ebaugh (2001) and Hirschman (2003), arguing that analyses of religiosity in the United States must take into account historical contexts. Religiosity is an intensely personal experience that must be explained at the intersection of the individual, the local and the global.