The events of 9/11 came as a shock to the entire world; for Muslim communities, and particularly for those in the United States, there was no time available to privately absorb the impact of the attacks. Muslims were immediately cast into the public spotlight and asked to explain their faith in terms of its association with global terrorism, religious extremism, and militant ideologies—concepts as foreign to Muslim Americans as they were to non-Muslim Americans. 9/11 was the catalyst to an explosion of intra/interfaith Muslim activity, the extent and impact of which we have yet to fully understand.
Abbas Barzegar, a student at the University of Colorado, Boulder, undertook this research with the goal of surveying the various activities and engagements undertaken by Muslim groups in Colorado after 9/11 in terms of inter/intra faith religious activity and assess the dynamics of this increased activity in terms of religious praxis, that is, the interplay between religious conception and behavior. While the majority of Colorado Muslim groups adhere to nearly identical religious tenets, the organizational behavior of various communities differs greatly from group to group. The research accounted for this level of diversity by testing hypotheses regarding issues such as identity politics and religious sectarianism.
Five distinct groups were chosen for the research. Each group represents a large section of Colorado Muslims while at the same time they represent broad ideological patterns in the Colorado Muslim community, and also in the larger national and global contexts. The groups included communities of Arab and South Asian immigrants belonging to Sunni, Shiite, and Salafi orientations, in addition to the numerous converts. Community leaders and members are drawn upon for consultation and participation in the project. Informal interviews and participant observation are the primary methods of data collection.
As of 2019, Dr. Barzegar is visiting lecturer at Georgia State University and a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.
Dr. Cindy Brown is a photojournalist based in Atlanta, Georgia. She became a Pluralism Project affiliate in 2002 while teaching photojournalism in the journalism department at the University of Southern Mississippi. Dr. Brown's project documented religious diversity in several Southern Mississippi cities. In 2011, some these photos were displayed at Emory University's Center for Ethics.