Islam in America — an interview with Jane Smith

Jane SmithRecently, Jane Smith, the author of the second edition of Islam in America sat down with Paul Harvey of Religion in American History to discuss the book.

The second edition explores some of the changes that have occurred since 9/11, including shifting views of Islam in America and “the many ways in which Muslims have moved from the private to the public arena in America as they have tried to show that Islam is not a religion of violence.” She also discusses how Muslims have adapted their religion to American life. Despite the majority of Muslims living peacefully as Americans, Smith does worry that “that America itself has become a breeding ground for certain kinds of violent expressions of Islam” and that is “a development that should not be ignored.”

One of the final questions, Paul Harvey asks is about the future of Islam in America. Smith responds:

Most indicators are that Islam will continue to grow in American soil, though not at the rate sometimes projected. Factors such as immigration, revitalization of urban communities, and conversion will certainly play a role. Demonization of Islam most probably will continue as a result of many different factors, including the politics of fear. But I don’t see that fear-mongering will threaten the continued existence, and growth, of the religion here. Efforts currently being put forth by many American Muslims to demonstrate their commitment to being full members of American society, with pride in their country, are paying off in terms of greater understanding and acceptance of the faith despite isolated threats. Americans in general struggle with what it means to be a multi-faith society, and Muslims struggle to define what a distinctive American Islam might really look like. But it seems clear that Islam is here to stay, and that “Blessed Ramadan” will probably come to sound as familiar as “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Hanukkah.”

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