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African American Islam  

Herbert Berg

The first Muslims arrived in the American colonies and later in the United States as African slaves. Although a few and noteworthy Muslim American slaves left written records of their lives, Islam was largely extinguished by the white slave owners. Sectarian and racial forms of Islam were introduced into the United States, particularly within urban African American communities, by Ahmadiyya missionaries and the Moorish Science Temple. The rise of the Nation of Islam under Wali Fard Muhammad and Elijah Muhammad and its bifurcation under the latter’s son, Warith Deen Mohammed, and Louis Farrakhan deserve special attention, as do the initial appeal of the Nation of Islam’s racial formulation of Islam and, decades later, the willingness of most of its members to move to Sunni orthodoxy after Elijah Muhammad’s death. The second major, though not entirely separate, strand of Islam in the United States, though often interacting or competing with the first, comes from Muslim immigrants. This group brings unique issues, such as living in a largely Christian society, competing with the Nation of Islam, refuting stereotypes in the media and popular culture, finding a political voice, and coping with post-9/11 Islamophobia, all leading to the consideration of the prospects for a uniquely “American Islam” that reflects U.S. pluralism and (supposed) separation of “church and state.”


The Alawis  

Stephan Procházka

The ʿAlawis are adherents of an Islamic sect, the origin of which can be traced back to 9th-century Iraq. They are an offshoot of early Shiah Islam with ancient Iranian, Christian, and Gnostic influences. Outsiders often call them “Nusayri,” after the sect’s founder Ibn Nusayr. Practically all ʿAlawis are Arabs. Their total number is about four million, among which some 2.5 million reside in Syria, where they constitute roughly 12 percent of the population. Many ʿAlawi beliefs and rites are still kept secret by the community, being revealed only to initiate male members. One key element in their faith is the belief in a divine triad that has manifested itself to the ʿAlawi community in seven cycles. Other characteristics are an extraordinary veneration for Muhammad’s son-in-law ʿAli, the belief in the transmigration of the soul, and a very large number of holy shrines, which are frequent in all regions settled by ʿAlawis. Because of the esoteric nature of the ʿAlawi religion and the scarcity of authentic written sources, many details of their creed are subjects of vigorous public and scholarly discussion. For many centuries, the ʿAlawis were an economically weak, socially marginalized, and persecuted group whose heartland was western Syria. The public rise of the community began with the establishment of the French mandate over Syria after World War I and reached its zenith when the ʿAlawi Hafiz al-Assad became president of Syria in 1971. Since then, the disproportionate political and economic influence of the ʿAlawis in Syria has fueled confessional conflicts with the Sunni majority, which culminated in the civil war that began in 2011.


The Alevis  

Gisela Procházka-Eisl

The Alevis are a religious community on the periphery of Shia Islam. The name “Alevi” means “Adherents of ʿAli,” alluding to Muhammad’s son-in-law and cousin ʿAli ibn Abi Talib, who enjoys extraordinary veneration among Alevis. Alevism was developed in Central Anatolia during the 13th century by itinerant Muslim mystics. It includes elements of pre-Islamic Turkish shamanism and aspects of mainstream Shia Islam, which influenced it through cultural contacts with Safavid Iran. Alevism never was a unified and homogeneous community but has always had a variety of sub-groups. For centuries Alevis practiced their rites in secret, which created suspicion and rumor among Sunnite Muslims. Today’s Alevis still have to struggle with this distrust, and are often regarded as heretics by the Sunnites. The designation “Alevi” came into use in the early 20th century as a collective term for a number of religious groups such as Bektaşi, Tahtacı, and Abdal, and today is used instead of the former, pejorative term Kızılbaş (“Red-Heads”). The Alevis are the largest religious minority group in the Republic of Turkey, where their estimated number is around 15 million. Large Alevi groups also reside in the Balkan states as well as in Central and Western Europe, particularly Germany and Austria. Roughly two-thirds of the Alevis are Turkish speakers. The other third speak Kurdish and Zazaki. In the 1980s, the community underwent the so-called “Alevi revival,” a process of exposure and openness that can be partly explained as a reaction against the re-Islamization of Turkish society. Today Alevis perform their rites and express their beliefs openly. Although they share certain features with them, the Alevis should not be confused with the Alawis (Nusayris), who live in southern Turkey and Syria and who are all Arabic speakers.


American Muslim Comedy  

Samah Selina Choudhury

That Muslims are both consumers and practitioners of comedy may run counter to the otherwise ubiquitous notion that Islam, seemingly above all other religious traditions, is devoid of humor. Yet comedy, especially its staged performance version known as stand-up, is an occupation readily taken up by a number of Muslim comedians during the 21st century in North America. Muslim comedians are also South Asian comedians, Arab comedians, Iranian comedians, or Black comedians, among others, and the naming of their comedy explicitly as “Muslim” can be traced to how openly they speak of their common experiences of being subject to anti-Muslim hostility as a racialized act of violence. This racialization of Islam relies on “looking” Muslim: phenotypic features like dark hair, skin, and beards that simultaneously sweep up others that may share these attributes and make them targets of institutional and interpersonal violences. This common refrain can be seen especially in the material of comedians from the Allah Made Me Funny and Axis of Evil tours during the early 2000s, while later comedians like Hasan Minhaj, Aziz Ansari, and Kumail Nanjiani describe similar experiences in added terms of a racialized solidarity with other minoritized communities of color in the United States. These later comedians of the 2010s and their brand of politically oriented comedy have been upheld by dominant arts industries as examples of American multiculturalism and diversity, coinciding with the large-scale and cross-sectional social justice efforts to support undocumented immigrants, Black Lives Matter, and the #MeToo movement. Far from being a mark of their non-belonging in North American society, this racialized association with Islam is platformed as emblematic of North American societies: their exceptional openness and unparalleled freedoms. At the same time, however, women and Black Muslim comedians are rarely bestowed a similar entrée of visibility as “Muslim” comedians due to the hegemonic racialized image of Muslims as terrifying “terrorists”—a distorted privilege accessible usually only to male comedians of South Asian or Middle Eastern heritage.


‘Ashura and Azadari  

Vernon James Schubel

‘Ashura, the tenth day of the lunar month of Muharram, is among the most significant days in the Muslim devotional calendar, especially for Shi‘i Muslims. On this date, in 680 ce, the Prophet Muhammad’s sole surviving grandson, Imam Husayn, along with numerous members of family and close companions, was killed at Karbala by a military force loyal to the Caliph Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah. The martyrdom of Imam Husayn is commemorated annually, especially by Twelver Shi‘i Muslims, and has inspired the creation of diverse performative rituals and ceremonies (collectively known as azadari) that allow both for the discursive transmission of religious and ethical teachings and for affective displays of love, grief, and devotion that in many ways define the essence of the piety of Shi‘i Islam. Immigrant Shi‘i Muslims have carried these practices with them to North America from their countries of origins and adapted them to the new realities of life as minority communities within the United States and Canada. Like other North American Muslims, the Shi‘a exist as part of larger ethnic minority communities, largely from South Asia and the Arab world, surrounded by a majority population of primarily of European descent. They also exist as minority within a Muslim community that is mostly Sunni in terms of its religious identity. While North American Shi‘i Muslims share many ritual practices in common with their Sunni coreligionists, such as the daily prayers (salah), which are performed in Arabic and connect them with the larger ummah, they also maintain their own distinctive ritual practices of mourning for Imam Husayn, which are generally performed in vernacular languages and are specific to particular ethnic, geographic, or linguistic communities. These practices emphasize not only the distinctive qualities of Shi’i piety but also the vibrant ethnic and linguistic diversity of the immigrant Islamic community. While these rituals and narrative commemorating Karbala and Ashura set Shi’ism apart as a unique body of religious thought and practice, their emphasis on universal human values such as courage, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and compassion and a call for social justice provide them with an opportunity to reach out and find common ground with the larger American community.


Athletics and Sports in North America  

Steven Fink

Many North American Muslims love sports because they are enthralled by the chance to compete and by the pleasure that pervades play. From professional Muslim athletes to participants in Muslim basketball leagues or mosque athletic activities, Muslims throughout North America have enjoyed sports’ intrinsic delights and physical fitness rewards. Additionally, sports have promoted two other important functions for North American Muslims. First, especially in mosques and other local contexts, sports have promoted the strengthening of both personal piety and Islamic fellowship. A basketball game at a mosque might strengthen a Muslim’s desire to attend the Friday prayer service at the mosque; an annual Muslim Sports Day might strengthen bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood among a diverse gathering of athletically inclined Muslim participants. Second, in contexts such as Muslim basketball leagues in which non-Muslims play alongside Muslims and through the accomplishments of professional Muslim boxers, basketball players, football players, and Olympians, sports have possessed the potential to overturn non-Muslims’ negative perceptions of Islam and Muslims. Considering both of these functions, sports have played a role within North American Muslim dawah, a concept that connotes both drawing Muslims to deeper devotion and giving non-Muslims a favorable impression of Islam. In line with the word’s etymological basis in an Arabic root containing the meaning “to invite,” dawah in the athletic setting serves as an invitation for Muslims to pour themselves into pious practices alongside fellow Muslims as ardently as they might dive on the floor to grab a loose ball or push themselves in the training room in hopes of enjoying victory in an upcoming game. At the same time, sports-based dawah invites non-Muslims to recognize Muslims as full-fledged North American teammates, seeking to improve myriad aspects of North American society.


The Black Atlantic and the African Diaspora  

Walter C. Rucker

The Black Atlantic and the African Diaspora refer to overlapping geographic and historical concepts each representing a complex series of dispersals, connections and reconnections, interactions, engagements and disengagements, and conflicts. As a geographic, spatial, and historical subset of the African Diaspora, the Black Atlantic refers to the sustained contacts and connections among the peoples of Atlantic Africa, Europe, and the Americas beginning with the “Age of Reconnaissance” (1306–1484) and the “Age of Contact” (1482–1621) and extending into the present. One of the first acts in the creation of the Black Atlantic can be located within the story of Mansa Qu, Islamic emperor and explorer from the western Sudanic empire of Mali, who commissioned two oceanic voyages to discover the western extent of the Atlantic between 1307 and 1311. Reconnaissance expeditions of this sort, launched by both Atlantic Africans and later by Iberians in the 14th and 15th centuries, helped create knowledge networks and webs of interconnections that would become critical to the later formation of the Black Atlantic. At the core of many of these earlier efforts to explore the world around them were the religious pursuits and goals—both Christian and Islamic—on the part of Atlantic Africans and Iberians. Delegations of Christian monks and pilgrims from Ethiopia visited the Italian peninsula, Iberia, and other parts of Europe beginning in 1306 seeking pan-Christian alliances against common Muslim foes. These early delegations fueled later Iberian imaginations about the existence of Prester John—an eastern defender of Christendom believed by the early 15th century to preside over an East African kingdom. In part, the protracted search for the mythical Prester John in Africa by the Portuguese after 1415 set in motion sustained contacts between Iberia and Atlantic Africa highlighted by the creation of Iberian-African settlements along the Atlantic African coast and in the Atlantic Islands, the transfer of enslaved labor to the Americas via the Atlantic Slave Trade, and the beginnings of sugar plantations and slave societies in the Caribbean and Brazil by the mid-16th century. Centuries of sustained contact of this nature spawned a range of cultural formations, the processes of ethnogenesis, and the creation of new transnational identities in the littoral regions and beyond of the four continents that frame the Atlantic Ocean. Creolization, the unique confluence of Atlantic cultures, served as the foundation for reinvented peoples across the Western Hemisphere who remembered, activated, and re-created “Africa” while attending to New World realities of racial slavery and hierarchy. This process of creolization created a range of ethnocultural permutations, from Atlantic Creoles to a wide array of neo-African ethnic groups in the Americas (e.g., Eboes, Coromantees, Congos, Nâgos, and Lucumís). Within this diverse cultural matrix and the processes of cultural mixing, religious and spiritual worldviews were among the most significant articulations of Black Atlantic and creole cultures. Indeed, there is no other way to decode the intricacies of Cuban Santería, Brazilian Candomblé, Haitian Voudou, New Orleans Hoodoo, Jamaican Myalism, or Obeah without framing them in the context of the cultural negotiations among many Atlantic African peoples made necessary by the suffocating confines of racial slavery and more recent socio-racial hierarchies embedded within Western Hemisphere colonialism, Jim Crow in the United States, and other manifestations of white supremacy


The Caliphate  

Carool Kersten

The caliphate as an institution for governing the Muslim community can be traced back to the time immediately after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632 ce. With its humble origins in the parochial settings of an Arabian desert oasis, the caliphate provided the structure for the shepherding of a community of believers organized around prophetic teachings calling for return to the true religion of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets, a religion that came to be known as Islam. Despite internal dissent and even civil war, the caliphate not only survived but even expanded far beyond the Arabian Peninsula. Between the 8th and 10th centuries the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates ruled an empire stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indus River. After that, the challenges of sustained political control proved too formidable to be exercised from a single center, leading to political fragmentation. Although it functioned only for a few centuries as an effective form of Islamic governance, for many Sunni Muslims the caliphate’s political and symbolic significance has outlasted its administrative and institutional fragmentation. Its appeal even continued after its formal abolition in 1924 by the founding president of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881–1938). Since then the caliphate has not just remained a nostalgic memory. Throughout the 20th century and into the new millennium, some proponents of political Islam continue to advocate the restoration of a caliphate as a rallying point for Muslims worldwide, in some instances making concrete efforts toward re-establishing the institution or even proclaiming a new caliph.


Constitutions and Islamic Law  

Christie S. Warren

The Constitution of Madinah, written by the Prophet after his flight from Mecca and arrival in Madinah (622 ce/1 ah), is considered by many to be the first written constitution. Nevertheless, and although Islamic law has developed in rich detail since then in a number of other areas, constitutionalism remains a comparatively underdeveloped area of Islamic law. Only recently has this started to change. Since 2011 and in part due to events of the so-called Arab Spring, the topic of Islam and constitutions has been the subject of heightened interest. In recent years, a number of Muslim-majority countries, including Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and Palestine, have embarked upon constitutional processes, and the relationship between Islam and the state has been debated in each of them. A variety of models has emerged over time; whereas in Saudi Arabia the Qur’an serves as the constitution itself, in Egypt Shari’ah is the principal source of legislation. Similarly, while the 2012 draft constitution of Libya states that Islam shall be the state religion and Islamic Shari’ah the main source of legislation, the constitution of Iraq provides that no law contradicting established provisions of Islam may be enacted. Language in the Afghan constitution is even more precise and states that Afghanistan is an Islamic republic, that no law shall contravene the tenets and provisions of Islam, and that in the absence of specific constitutional or legislative language governing the disposition of a case, courts shall implement principles of Hanafi jurisprudence. In similar fashion, academic scholarship analyzing the relationship between Islam and constitutionalism has increased in scope and vibrancy in recent years. Historically, scholarship in this field tended to focus on issues relating to governance and administrative structures in Muslim-majority countries—not on normative constitutional principles. More recently, Islamic perspectives on constitutional norms have become the focus of significant scholarship. Some constitutional issues of recent academic interest include state sponsorship of a particular religion to the exclusion of others, freedom to practice Islam and other religions, and options for articulating the role of Shari’ah within constitutional frameworks, including the use of supremacy and repugnancy clauses, the role of Shari’ah as a source of legislation, “Shari’ah checks” to ensure that legislation does not contravene Islamic law, review by Shura Councils, and the role of the judicial branch in interpreting Islamic law. Additional constitutional issues impacted by defined relationships between Shari’ah and the state include human and women’s rights, protection of religious minorities; criminal law and hudud punishments; finance law and restrictions on charging interest; rights of freedom of association, expression, and expression; and provisions governing marriage, divorce and inheritance.


Council on American-Islamic Relations  

Vincent F. Biondo III

The Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR) is the premier civil rights organization for Muslims in the United States. Founded in Washington, DC, in 1994 with an emphasis on public relations and media communications, over two decades it has expanded to about two hundred employees at thirty-two offices in major US cities in nineteen states, according to its official website. The organization emphasizes that it is structured so that these offices operate independently. In addition to tracking hate crimes, these offices provide or arrange for legal services in areas such as civil rights, immigration, and homeland security. The story of the organization’s growth and success reveals key issues for American Muslim involvement in politics, including those surrounding the First Amendment and the intersection of religion and race. In 2016, the National Board named its first female Chair, Roula Allouch, a lawyer from Cincinnati, who in the University of Kentucky’s Law School alumni magazine was described as “the only Muslim in her class,” and a person who “knows how to put people at ease . . . to break down misconceptions [and] seek peace.” The CAIR Board has become more diverse and representative since its founding and has ventured into defending non-Muslims from civil rights violations. Today CAIR describes its mission on its national website and in many state office annual reports as follows: “To enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.” While it is primarily a civil rights organization, since its founding the organization’s leaders have found it necessary to counter misinformation by introducing educational information about Islam. Key civil rights efforts it has engaged in include support for thousands of immigration and religious discrimination cases every year, documenting hate crimes in annual reports, and challenging anti-shari’ah legislation. CAIR further leads educational efforts by coordinating diversity training sessions, a public library project, and media appearances.


Creole and Indigenous Muslims in Venezuela  

Philipp Bruckmayr

The number of Creole and Indigenous Muslims in Venezuela has been steadily growing in the 21st century, and the number of converts is by now undoubtedly in the thousands. Until the 2000s, this process of conversion concerned almost exclusively Creoles (i.e., the white and mestizo Venezuelan majority population) in urban settings with a strong presence of Arab(-descended) Muslims. Islam in Venezuela had long been strongly associated with Arab ethnicity, and its representatives had shown comparably little interest in proselytization among the local population. This changed in the early 1990s, however, with the greater influx of funds from transnational Islamic organizations. Nevertheless, the process only gained traction once also individual Creole converts themselves became active in proselytization. Among Venezuela’s Indigenous peoples, Islam only began to have a limited appeal in the 2000s. The most prominent case in this regard, are the Wayúu people of the Guajira peninsula, which is shared by Colombia and Venezuela. Due to political factors, however, the conversion process among Wayúu has been greatly exaggerated by observers. Despite pervasive reports of mass conversions, the pattern among Wayúu falls in squarely with that among Creoles, in being one of individual and not mass conversions to Islam. This said, the available evidence suggests that Creole and Indigenous Muslims in Venezuela have so far remained primarily urban phenomena. Nevertheless, the Wayúu represent a remarkable case of how Islam has been preached and adopted among Indigenous peoples in Latin America in the 21st century.


Ecology in Islam  

Rosemary Hancock

Starting in the late 1960s, a small number of Muslim scholars turned their attention to how the Islamic scriptures and intellectual tradition might help Muslims understand and respond to climate change and environmental crisis. In building this Islamic approach to ecology, these scholars undertook close analysis of the Qur’an, the Sunnah (the collected traditions of the Prophet Muhammad), centuries of Islamic law, and the writings of Sufi mystics and scholars in order to construct Islamic environmental theologies and law. This Islamic ecology remained on the margins of mainstream Islamic discourse for decades, but the participation of Muslims in environmental movements is growing and with it, the need for an Islamic ecology. In developing environmental theologies, Muslim scholars focus upon the relationship of God to the natural world, positing that as God’s creation, the natural world is a sign through which humanity can experience God. Although the natural world is “made useful” to humanity, humans do not have absolute dominion over creation. Rather, humanity is Khalifah—God’s representative or steward on earth. The development of Islamic environmental law from within the shari’ah tradition is arguably just as—if not more—important as articulating an Islamic environmental theology. Some Muslim environmentalists argue for the revival of Islamic land management institutions and look to the many regulations regarding agriculture and water management found in shari’ah as avenues for implementing Islamic environmental law.


Ertegun, Ahmet  

Shalom Goldman

Ahmet Ertegun (b. 1923–d. 2006) was among the most influential music producers and recording industry moguls of the 20th century. Born in Istanbul, he spent his childhood and youth with parents who served in the Turkish diplomatic service. As his father moved from one post to another, Ahmet attended school throughout Europe before settling in the United States. Deeply attracted to and influenced by American popular music, he became an avid collector of jazz and blues recordings and a frequent attendee of jazz concerts. Sympathy for the emerging civil rights movement was an additional factor in Ertegun’s support of African American musicians. In his mid-20s, determined to found his own record company but without much experience in financial matters, Ertegun and a partner launched a record company that would bridge the cultural gaps between white and black audiences. Atlantic Records, under the guidance of Ahmet Ertegun, his brother Nesuhi, and their partner Jerry Wexler, would shape the musical taste of a worldwide audience. Among the artists they recorded and promoted were Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones. With the fortune he accumulated through the sale of Atlantic Records to Warner Brothers in the early 1970s, Ahmet Ertegun and his brother Nesuhi founded the New York Cosmos soccer team. Ertegun was also among the primary founders of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which opened in Cleveland in 1995.


The Evolution of Modern Jihadism  

Nelly Lahoud

Political Islam has generated two ideological strands that use religious ideology to advance their goals, namely, Islamism and jihadism. On the one hand, Islamists have formulated a political paradigm premised on Islamic teachings that are adaptable to the secular framework of the modern state and have, therefore, endured both as domestic and global political actors. On the other hand, jihadis have rejected positive law outright and advanced a global revolutionary paradigm against today’s secular world order. Key to jihadism’s appropriation of Islamic teachings is a quest for a legal code that provides jihadis with both an anti-establishment justification for their violence and a claim to legitimacy in the minds of Muslims whom they wish to enlist as their followers.


Fazlur Rahman Khan: Structural Engineer  

Mahjoub Elnimeiri

Dr. Fazlur Khan was one of the world’s top structural engineers of the 20th century. Fazlur was a preeminent, innovative, award-winning structural engineer who, among his many achievements, was noted for elevating the role of the engineer to a partnership with the architect. He was responsible for the structural design of many landmark buildings such as the John Hancock Center and the Sears (Willis), both in Chicago, and the Hajj Terminal in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Born and raised in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), his Muslim upbringing had a lasting impact in shaping his gracious, humble, and generous personality. Fazlur died in 1982 at the age of 53.


Fiqh Council of North America  

Zainab Alwani

The Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) serves as the main body of juristic counsel for Muslims in North America, providing guidance to Muslim Americans on critical issues related to their social lives and ritual practices, responding to their questions and issuing religious edicts on a wide range of issues, such as medicine, economics, marriage, divorce, alimony (nafaqa), inheritance, and fostering. FCNA is a voluntary and fully independent nonprofit organization, consisting of diverse, recognized, and qualified Muslim scholars who accept the Qur’an and the authentic Sunnah as primary sources of Islam. In the early 1970s, national organizations like the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), and the ministry of Warith Deen Mohammed saw the need to form committees of scholars to advise the Muslim community on matters related to fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). During the 1970s, Muslim Students Association (MSA) members formed the Religious Affairs Committee primarily to determine the corresponding dates of Islam’s lunar months with the Gregorian solar calendar so that Muslims could accurately determine the exact dates of Ramadan, and the religious festivals of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Later, as the Muslim community’s needs grew and issues became more complex, the Fiqh Committee evolved into the FCNA (hereinafter “the Council”) as an independent entity in 1986. Although the Council was historically affiliated with ISNA, the Council has been completely self-governing as an independent scholarly organization. This intellectual freedom enables the Council to monitor and analyze outside Islamic legal opinions of other Muslim juristic bodies to benefit from the scholarly works of renowned international and national jurists. The Council strives to consider the main legal schools (madhhabs) of Islamic law, in consideration of the Muslim American community’s diversity and the inherent pluralism of Islamic law. For over three decades, the Council has advised and educated Muslim Americans on the application of Islamic legal principles in their individual and collective lives within their respective American societies. From the beginning, the Council’s intellectual and juristic methodology has reflected the founders’ deep understanding of two elements that are required as necessary for the issuance of legal edicts (fatawā, plural of fatwa): knowledge of context (i.e., American history, culture, law, etc.) and mastery of the Islamic sources of knowledge. The new environment presented many challenges, ranging from traditional family law to basic aspects of North American life (e.g., mortgages, voting, marriage, and divorce). The founders of the Council strove to develop a comprehensive methodology of fiqh al-aqalliyyāt (jurisprudence for minorities) to guide and answer Muslim American concerns. Fiqh al-aqalliyyāt is not merely a theoretical debate among jurists on mechanisms and methodologies, but a practical approach to empirical questions and challenges facing Muslim minorities. The Council’s ultimate goal is to help Muslim Americans maintain their identity and values as Muslims, values that encourage their positive contributions to society’s virtues and promote their engagement as active American citizens and role models for those who work for the public good.


Governance in Classical Islamic Thought  

Ovamir Anjum

Governance in Islamic history has taken many different forms. The formative period saw most innovative deployment of the Arab tribal norms under the guidance of Islamic norms and the pressure of the rapid expansion. After the conquests, the ruling elite augmented their Arab tribal form of governance with numerous institutions and practices from the surrounding empires, particularly the Persian empire. The Umayyads ruled as Arab chiefs, whereas the Abbasids ruled as Persian emperors. Local influences further asserted themselves in governance after the Abbasids weakened and as Islamization took root. After the fragmentation of the Abbasid empire by the ah 4th century/10th century ce, a distinctively Islamic society emerged whose regional rulers upheld its law and institutions such as land-grants (iqṭāʿ), taxation (kharāj and jizya), education (legal madhhab, jāmiʿ and madrasah), and judiciary (qaḍāh). A triangle of governmental authority was established, with the caliph as the source of legitimacy, symbol of community unity, and leader of religious rites; the sultan as the territorial king who maintained the army and monopoly over violence; and the scholars (ulama’) as socioreligious leaders of their respective communities. The caliph or the sultan appointed the local qāḍīs from among the ulama’, who served not only as judges and mediators but also as moral guides and administers of endowments and jurisconsults and counselors, and thus played a key role in the self-governance of classical Islamic societies.


Hanson, Hamza Yusuf  

Walaa Quisay

Hamza Yusuf Hanson, better known as Hamza Yusuf, is a prominent American shaykh, public intellectual, and educator. He regularly features in the Muslim 500 as among the most influential Muslims in the world. First emerging as a Muslim public figure in the mid-1990s, his impact on Muslims in the East and West has been far and wide. Yusuf cofounded the United States’ first accredited Muslim college, Zaytuna College, and set up pedagogical institutions that promote classical Islamic education, such as the Rihla program. In 2019, Yusuf was selected as a member of the Commission on Unalienable Rights convened by the Trump administration’s Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. Yusuf was also appointed as the vice president of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies and the Global Center for Guidance and Renewal, both of which were founded by his shaykh, Abdallah bin Bayyah, and under the auspices of the United Arab Emirates. There, Yusuf also serves as a member of the Fatwa Council.


History of Muslims in Canada  

Jennifer A. Selby

Diverse Sunni, Shia, Ahmadiyya, Sufi, and other Muslims have lived in Canada since before its Confederation in 1867. The first were likely slaves being moved along the country's Atlantic coast, but there is little historical record to date. Settlers to Alberta have been examined to a greater extent, in part because there are more records of their presence. The first Canadian census in 1871 documented eight Muslims in Northern Alberta who likely worked as merchants and fur traders. There were, however, surely more than eight; Canadian Muslim minorities have long had reason to not be counted. The first officially recognized mosque followed, also in Alberta, in 1938. Immigration policies have long shaped Canadian Muslim life. War Measures Acts in 1914 and 1939 and policies that overtly preferred British Protestant subjects (until 1952) sharply limited Canadian religious diversity, including for Muslims. Initially, most of the early Muslim community were of Middle Eastern origin, but post–World War II immigration policy shifts meant that, beginning in 1968, Muslim Canadians became the country’s most ethnically, racially, linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse religious group. The largest Muslim population growth to date in Canada came in the 1990s, with a 130-percent increase, the same period in which there was greater institutionalization of Muslim organizations across the country. In 2021, Canadian Muslims made up approximately 4.8 percent of the national population. Most Muslim Canadians have settled in Canada’s largest and most cosmopolitan urban regions in and surrounding Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. While statistical data show a growth in population, data on the different sectarian branches among the traditions of Islam have been largely inferred based on individual Muslims’ countries of origin. The largest group are Sunnis. Notable Islamophobia and anti-Muslim racism have been charted since 2001; the number of reported Islamophobic incidents escalated sharply beginning in 2015, when federal-level anti-niqab policies were introduced. In 2019, anti-niqab laws were established in the province of Quebec.


History of Muslims in the United States  

Yasmine Flodin-Ali

During the transatlantic slave trade, enslaved Muslims were brought from North and West Africa to what would become the United States. Many of these African Muslims were literate in Arabic. Even in the face of formative obstacles, enslaved people and their descendants continued to observe their faith and to adapt Islamic and Islamically influenced practices in the United States. In the mid-1800s to early 1900s, Muslims began to immigrate to the United States from the Middle East and South Asia. Muslim immigrants used a variety of tactics to establish communities in the United States while navigating segregation, miscegenation, and restrictive citizenship laws. A few small-scale Muslim institutions were established, including mosques and cultural centers. Prominent Muslim and Islamically influenced movements flourished in the early 20th century, such as the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA) and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community movement. The MSTA was an African American–majority movement born of the Great Migration. The Thesophist movement was largely white. Both movements were similar in terms of their exploration of the occult and emphasis on bodily control as a means of spiritual purification. The Ahmadiyya produced and translated much of the religious literature that circulated in the United States across Muslim sects in the first half of the 20th century, including the most popular translation of the Qur’an, often without attribution. Sunni and Shi’i communities were also present in this time period. The Nation of Islam (NOI, 1930–1975) surpassed the MSTA and Ahmadiyya to become the largest and most influential Muslim American movement in the secondhalf of the 20th century. The NOI emphasized communal economic empowerment and self-reliance for Black Americans in order to achieve the goal of separation from Whites as a means of achieving racial justice. Prominent figures from the NOI, such as Malcolm X, are frequently invoked by different Muslim American groups in the 21st century. When Elijah Muhammad died in 1975, NOI members went in different directions. Elijah Muhammad’s son, Warith Deen Muhammad, led a large portion of the community to Sunni Islam. Other members joined Louis Farrakhan’s NOI. The Harter-Celler Act of 1965 opened up non-European immigration, leading to a large increase in Muslim immigrants from the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. Due to the law’s stipulations, these immigrants were largely upper-class and well-educated. In the 1960s and 1970s, there was also a push by many different Muslim American groups toward Sunnism. The 1979 Iranian Revolution and hostage crisis increased anti-Muslim hostility in the United States and created the stereotype that all Muslim Americans were immigrants from the Middle East. The 9/11 attacks amplified this backlash, but also led to the creation and strengthening of nationwide Muslim civil rights and advocacy organizations. Advocacy campaigns and heated debates have also taken place within the Muslim American community in the 21st century. Professor of Islamic Studies Amina Wadud has been particularly influential in shaping conversations around gender and Islam, both in the United States and globally. Wadud is also well-known for leading a mixed-gender congregational prayer in New York City in 2005, which sparked a global debate over the permissibility of women leading prayer. In the early 21st century, so-called third spaces proliferated, including art spaces and gatherings facilitated through online groups such as Meetup, where Muslims who felt left out of more traditional mosque spaces found community. This entry ends in 2010, almost a decade after 9/11 and before the rising presidential candidacy of Donald J. Trump.