The American Muslim Identity: Fundamentally Conflicted or Just Misrepresented?



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Popular media accounts of the experiences of American Muslims have characterized this population as fraught by conflicting allegiances to both country and religion (Woodruff 2006; Fisher 2011). Academics write about the distress particular to American Muslims as a result of their “identity crisis” (Peek 2005) and “hyphenated identities” (Sirin and Fine 2007). Much of the research on American Muslims has been predicated upon the taken for granted assumption that they are conflicted individuals; research methods and data gathered are therefore reflective of that assumption. This study questions the appropriateness of viewing American Muslims as holders of what I term fundamentally conflicted identities, as doing so engenders a gross mischaracterization that may produce erroneous theoretical assumptions and taint research validity. Through the use of in-depth interview data, I demonstrate a more authentic image of American Muslims, one that better reflects their lived experiences and personal identities.



American Muslims, Muslim Americans, Muslims, Identity