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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