Balancing Tradition and Pluralism

Daisy Khan spent 25 years as an interior architect for Fortune 500 companies before turning her prodigious talents to working on behalf of Muslim empowerment and interfaith understanding. After the Sept. 11 attacks, Khan and her husband, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, became engaged in countering the suspicions raised against Muslims in America, which led to the founding of the American Society for Muslim Advancement. Since then Khan has launched the Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equity in response to the marginalization of women in Muslim communities and Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow to cultivate an international network for young Muslims working to improve their communities. Daisy Khan visited Sojourners in September 2008 and talked about the struggle to make Islam an American religion.

The struggle of Muslims in the United States is the same as that of all religious groups: a desire for acceptance. Take, for example, American Cath­olics and Jews, long considered outsiders, but now generally existing within the mainstream of American society. This process is already underway with American Muslims, and it will only continue. I have learned from these other faith groups—from their courage, wisdom, and perseverance, as well as their love for both their faith and their country.

Just as our nation has transformed from a “Christian” nation to a “Judeo-Christian” nation, we must now recognize our commonly shared Abrahamic ethics and embrace Islam as an equal member of this Abrahamic ethical tradition.

Islam is becoming an American religion, and this represents a victory for all Americans who cherish our nation as a beacon of tolerance and acceptance of all traditions.

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Sojourners Magazine February 2009
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