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Islamic Education in the United States and the Evolution of Muslim Nonprofit Institutions

Sabith Khan and Shariq Siddiqui

This book is a novel and ambitious attempt to map the Muslim American nonprofit sector: its origins, growth and impact on American society. Using theories from the fields of philanthropy, public administration and data gathered from surveys and interviews, the authors make a compelling case for the Muslim American nonprofit sector’s key role in America. They argue that in a time when Islamic schools are grossly misunderstood, there is a need to examine them closely, for the landscape of these schools is far more complex than meets the eye.
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Chapter 4: Identification and Muslim American philanthropy

Sabith Khan and Shariq Siddiqui


The question “Who is an ‘Muslim American’?” is a rather complicated one. It does not yield a straightforward answer, as one would expect. From a legal perspective, one can argue that yes, indeed, it is fairly simple: anyone with an American citizenship is an American and if they happen to be Muslim, they become Muslim American or American Muslim. But beyond this clarity lies much confusion, especially when one gets into the realm of one’s “identity” as an Muslim American. We argue in this chapter that this identity is an evolution that has gained salience in a post-9/11 world. Several categories such as race, religion and ethnicity have been subsumed in this creation, and a closer examination shows that this identity is crucial for understanding how philanthropy occurs in the US. We build on Stuart Hall’s notion of identity as a “process” to argue that the Muslim American identity is a work in progress. Finally, we offer a framework to understand the six forces that are shaping the formation of an “Muslim American” identity.

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