American Muslims : a new Islamic discourse on religious freedom
Thesis (M.A.L.S.)--Georgetown University, 2010.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. In 1998, the U.S. government made the promotion of religious freedom official policy. This policy has often been met with skepticism and hostility from foreign governments and publics. In the Muslim-majority world, it is commonly seen as an attempt to discredit traditional cultural norms and/or Islamic law, as covert support for American missionary activity, and/or as cultural imperialism. American Muslims could play a key role in changing this perception. To date, the American Muslim community has not become deeply invested in the movement for international religious freedom, but their notable absence has not been treated in any substantial length.; This thesis draws on the disciplines of public policy, political science, anthropology, and religious studies to explore this absence, in the process attempting to clarify how the immigrant Muslim American community understands religious freedom. It reviews the exegetical study of Islamic sources in relation to human rights and democracy by three leading American Muslim intellectuals--Abdulaziz Sachedina, M.A. Muqtedar Khan, and Khaled Abou El Fadl--and positions their ideas within the dual contexts of the movement for international religious freedom movement and the domestic political incorporation of the Muslim American community. After comparing and contrasting their ideas, the thesis analyzes how their theory aligns with recent social, political, and economic developments in the broader Muslim-majority world.; The history of the movement and subsequent policy encapsulates the challenges that Muslim Americans face such as interfaith relations, government scrutiny, and political empowerment. These challenges have to date constrained Muslim American support for U.S. religious freedom policy. Yet while slow and even hesitant to broadly support U.S. international religious freedom policy, Muslim Americans have embraced the cause of civil and religious liberty in their own domestic context, which in turn has generated new conceptual frameworks fusing Islamic principles and American values. These fusions, which orient toward theology, philosophy, and jurisprudence, respectively, combine an appeal to reason with sacred Islamic sources, providing a potential touchstone for future generations of Muslims both in the U.S. and abroad in which to anchor the promotion of religious freedom in the Muslim-majority world.
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