However, I’m confused about the term “Muslim-American.”
Muslim is the term for a person who practices the religion of Islam just as Christian is the term for a person who practices the religion of Christianity.
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Furthermore, nearly 40 percent of Muslims in America were born right here in the USA, according to statistics published in The New York Times. The first mosque in the U.S. was built in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1934; there are now more than 600 mosques in the nation.
Labeling any American something in addition to American sets that individual apart from all other citizens. That practice is rarely helpful to building up communities or to peace-making efforts. Will you now label others as Christian-Americans, Atheist-Americans or Sikh-Americans? By the way, pioneers from the Punjab who were practicing Sikhs settled and farmed in the Imperial Valley as early as 1901 and now have one of the oldest Gurdwaras (places of worship) in El Centro founded in the U.S.
It is important to recognize and celebrate our diversity in America. As we do, let’s open up and ask questions of each other rather than stand back and assign labels. In her book, “Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Benaras,” Diana Eck recounts an experience in India:
“Why do you pour yogurt on the gods?” I would ask astonished. “Is it true that Christians in the West wear their shoes right into churches?” they would ask equally astonished. (Beacon Press, Boston. 1993)
Talking to each other does not mean that we will agree but that we’ll learn and come to understand each other more clearly so that those who were once people with labels may become to each other trusted associates, teachers and friends. Keep your brain alive; learn something new about the people in our Valley.