Muslim-Americans fear there may be a public backlash following the recent attempted car bombing in New York's Times Square by Pakistani-American suspect Faisal Shahzad. They faced one following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. A timely new book examines the "identity crisis" in America's greater Muslim community.
"My findings are of urgent relevance to America, today," says author Akbar Ahmed of his book, Journey into Islam. “Communication is needed between the two segments [Muslim and non-Muslim] of society.”
Ahmed recommends the Muslim leadership be asked "hard questions" to explain their positions. He also believes the Obama administration should reach out and welcome the immigrant community so they feel "much more part of America."
Akbar Ahmed is Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, DC, and is a former Pakistani ambassador to the United Kingdom.
He says "there is a sense of marginalization - a sense of being under a cloud - and a sense of uncertainty" in the Muslim community. He also writes perceptions are not mutual between Muslims and non-Muslims.
Ahmed's research took him to 100 mosques and other locations in 75 cities over the span of about a year. He and a group of young American University researchers questioned a wide range of Americans, from officials to average citizens, to find out what tensions exist between Muslims and non-Muslims and what can be done to build bridges between the two groups.
The book, Journey into Islam – The Crisis of Globalization, is being published by Brookings Institution Press.