Acculturation of North American Arab Muslims: Minority Relations or Worldview Variations

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The main objective of this study is to explore the concept of minority/majority relations as the underlying assumption in studying empowering and adjustment strategies of North American Arab Muslims (NAAM). That Muslims are viewed as Arabs, Turks, Pakistanis, etc. is a hindrance to the understanding of the metaphysical and epistemological variations between the Islamic and the Western secular worldviews, on one hand, and the Islamic and the Arabic acculturation processes, on the other. Attempts to develop an integrative Islamic education program for Arab Muslims, therefore, have failed mainly because NAAM view themselves, and are being studied, as an ethnic minority rather than a "mainstream" majority. Based on this view, "Islamic" education programs have emphasized the ideals of the Ummah (the Islamic State) and the teaching of Arabic as the empowering strategies for the Arab Muslim minority. Acculturation practices among Arab Muslims, however, have emphasized ethnic preservation strategies that do not empower these groups either with the privileges of recognized minorities (i.e., classified racial and socioeconomic groups such as Afro-Americans and Hispanics) or with the acceptance by the prevailing "color prejudice" majority. Results from the author's doctoral research project indicate that the majority of immigrant Arab Muslim adults have resolved this conflict between ideal and practice by separating their religious, ethnic, and secular societal lives. These adults also view the transmission of the Islamic/Arabic identity only as a transmission of religious teachings and ethnic traditions. The youth, on the other hand, remain unclear of their group identity and of its association with the larger society . The findings and the implications of this study are applicable to any group of people, Muslims or non-Muslims, who share a different worldview from that of the larger host society.

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Copyright 1990, Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs. This is a pre-copyedited version of an article accepted for publication in the edited Journal of the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available through Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs: See also:


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Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs


Acculturation in North America; Arab Muslim worldviews; Minority-majority relations; Epistemology of worldviews; Islamic vs. secular western


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Journal of the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs. London, (1990: 373-390)

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