The Public Interest

America in Islam

Hillel Fradkin

Spring 2004

FOR all practical purposes, the question of Islam in America is little more than a generation old. Yet it is already extraordinarily complicated and burdensome, both for Muslims and non-Muslims alike, with no signs of becoming any less so. This is true for a number of reasons, the most important of which is that there are not one but two questions: that of Islam in America and America in Islam. The latter question had been growing in importance within the general Muslim world over the last two to three decades. It became the defining issue, however, with the September 11 terrorist attacks, undertaken as they were as an act of war against America in the name of Islam. American Muslims, then, are forced to answer this question not only as U.S. citizens seeking to define their place in that society, but also as members of a worldwide Muslim community for whom this debate is charged and divisive.

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