Ode to the Liberal Muslim

Rafia Zakaria in The Baffler:

ScreenHunter_2778 Aug. 03 19.53On the second grim Friday following President Donald Trump’s victory in the November elections, I attended a Friday service at the Women’s Mosque of America. Held at a community center in Los Angeles, the service was organized entirely by a group of women seeking to further women’s leadership within the American Muslim community. Unlike other mixed mosque congregations, women deliver the call to prayer, they give the sermon, they set up and they pick up, they talk and they pray. We did all of those things that day; we also worried and cried and listened to announcements about self-defense classes—very important, the speaker emphasized, given recent developments. I left both drained and heartened, feeling at once unsure of an America mired in Islamophobia and yet hopeful for an American Muslim community led by women. Could the two co-exist, I wondered? How long before the demands of survival as American Muslims wipe out the efforts of resisting patriarchy as American Muslim women?

The same amalgam of terror and hope I felt that day is reflected in the results of a Pew survey[*] on American Muslims released last Wednesday. According to its results, the American Muslim community has changed markedly since the last time Pew polled them ten years ago. From the viewpoint of an ever-suspicious America, unsure of the assimilative abilities of troublesome American Muslims, the news is mostly good. Muslims are now “more liberal,” a fact meant to be celebrated. To get the party started, CNN helpfully highlights a statistic telling us that the numbers of those American Muslims who believe society should be tolerant of homosexuality has nearly doubled (up from 27 percent to 52 percent), with millennial Muslims leading the charge of change. Nearly two-thirds of Muslims believe in the validity of varying interpretations of faith, and 6 percent more than in 2007 self-identify as politically liberal. To top it off, the vast majority—nearly eight out of ten of the roughly 1,000 polled—voted accordingly, casting their ballots for Hillary Clinton.

At the same time, while American Muslims are more liberal, they are also rather replete with dread, or, like me, just plain terrified.

More here.