Lively Lecture on American Muslims


New Delhi, March 29: The tragic events of September 11 have accelerated the learning process of American Muslims, an American scholar associated with the Georgetown University (Washington), Dr Zahid Bukhari, said here today. 

Dr Bukhari, who was speaking here at the Institute of Objective Studies (IOS), said that immigrant communities in the US had to pass through five stages of acculturation to be really effective in the American society and to have a voice in the affairs of the country. 

Barring black Muslims and some other categories, most of the American Muslims are first or second-generation Americans who came in with the waves of immigration beginning in the 60s. Had the unfortunate events of September 11 not happened American Muslims would have taken another couple of decades to really come to terms with the facts of life in America and reconcile them to the values they carry as Muslims. 

He said the 9/11 events had destroyed the “myth of return”, the self-delusion that they would someday return to the countries of their origin. He said rarely did anybody return, but everyone lived with the delusion all his/her life nonetheless. “The 9/11 events forced them to accept the reality that they would not be going back to the countries of their origin.” This realisation led them to work harder towards greater participation in political processes and improving social relations with non-Muslims.

Dr Bukhari said that building coalitions with local communities would empower them greatly as was evident from the earlier cases of Catholics, Jews, Japanese, Germans and Italians. He dwelt upon the elaborate networks that Muslims had built in America hoping that they would be finally able to live fuller, more meaningful lives as American citizens.

Prof. Ishtiaque Danish of Jamia Hamdard conducted the proceedings and IOS Secretary General Prof. Z.M. Khan introduced the speaker to the distinguished audience.

IOS Chairman Dr Manzoor Alam lauded the American democracy at home while pointing out that the problem did not lay in American domestic affairs, but its foreign policy. The warped foreign policy had made mincemeat of Iraq without much rhyme or reason, and Iran seemed to be in the Pentagon crosshairs for similar treatment. The source of Muslim annoyance, he said, was not American democracy, but the American lust for dominance.

He observed that the acceleration in American Muslims’ social and political activities was welcome. However, if it was driven by fear, it was not worth the trouble.

A lively question-answer session followed. Dr Bukhari tried to assuage the concerns of questioners in his measured responses.

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