Master of Arts (M.A.)
Degree Granting Department
Margarethe Kusenbach, Ph.D.
James Cavendish, Ph.D.
David Jacobson, Ph.D.
immigration, identity, Islam, religion, assimilation
Most existing research on Muslims and transnational Islam originates from Europe. However, the Muslim population in Europe differs from American Muslims in a number of important ways. In this research I aim to address the general paucity in sociological literature that originates from the U.S. and focus on the mosque as a space where American Muslim identity forms and evolves for both first- and second-generation American Muslims. I examine two American mosques in South Florida as the sites of the development of American Muslim identities based on ethnographic data and participant interviews. I find that the research sites perform functions that are consistent with the provision of refuge, resources, and respectability as classified by Hirschman (2004). The mosques I studied demonstrate the use of educational and cultural functions to transfer religious and cultural identity to younger generations of American Muslims. I also find the research sites to be spaces that are inclusive for women and children, which is different from mosques in Muslim- majority countries, but consistent with the findings of other scholars. I find that the two mosques I studied extend institutional services to facilitate linguistic and logistical assimilation of their members, encourage members’ political engagement through sermons, voter registration drives, and meetings with political candidates, and to engage in interfaith outreach efforts as means of assimilation. I find intergenerational differences in attitudes towards women’s spaces and resources at the two mosques. I also find evidence of a shift in norms that indicates greater flexibility and reflection upon the norms of mainstream American society. Finally, I find that second-generation American Muslims experience a move away from parental cultures towards textual “pure” Islam and prefer to adopt a “Muslim first” identity, as some other scholars have noted. While this study sheds light on several themes that weave to create American Muslim identities, there is a need for more in-depth research on the assimilation trajectories of members that belong to diverse or homogenous mosques. The findings from this study also highlight the need for more extensive quantitative analysis of women’s roles and responsibilities in American mosques, as well as intergenerational differences in assimilation in the American Muslim community.
Scholar Commons Citation
Mahmood, Azka Mahmood, "American Muslim Identities: A Qualitative Study of Two Mosques in South Florida" (2011). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.