Editorial: �Muslims Next Door: Brace for Change�

December 11, 2005

Source: The Seattle Times


On December 11, 2005 The Seattle Times reported, "After being ignored, excluded or blissfully anonymous, American Muslims and Islam can expect a cultural embrace both liberating and alarming.

Following the shocks of 9/11 and the Iraq war, the larger, myopic Christian culture in the United States is discovering its Muslim neighbors. A nation is introduced to the talents, achievement and economic presence it overlooked.

For Islam, the opportunity for its faithful to examine and explore their beliefs will be unsettling. It has been for others. Every group that comes to the United States has to deal with two realities, explains Patricia O'Connell Killen, professor of religion at Pacific Lutheran University: Religion is voluntary and there is a pluralism of religious options.

Back home, the call to prayer from the minaret spoke to communities of like-minded believers without challenge or distraction, Killen said. Here, they have to figure out how to be religious in a voluntary, pluralistic context colored by a Christian ethos... A quote from The Pluralism Project at Harvard University is especially revealing: 'Enabling Muslims to explore the roots of their faith more freely is, in my mind, America's gift to Muslims'... Religious expression changes where freedom inspires the faithful to explore... America will make room for Islam. Religious freedom will shape its practice and expression. The pattern is as old as the nation."