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Special Issue "Islam in America: Zeroing in on the Park51 Controversy"

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A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2011)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Ruqayya Yasmine Khan

Department of Religion, Trinity University, One Trinity Place, San Antonio, TX 78212, USA
Website | E-Mail
Phone: 210-999-8428
Fax: 210 999-7843
Interests: islamic studies; muslims in Europe; Qur\'anic studies; women in islam; Arabic literature

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The controversy concerning the Cultural/Islamic Center near Ground Zero in New York City throws into sharp relief some key issues germane to the study of religion in general and of Islam in particular. This Religions special issue draws upon the expertise of a diverse group of Religion and Islam scholars to explore different dimensions of the controversy. The issue pays attention to contestations over worship and memorial sites in the context of American religious history as well as to how cultural melancholia and mourning inform the current controversy especially given the approach of the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Moreover, contributors will illuminate the many interconnections between race, immigration, religion and politics embedded in the controversy. This special issue also addresses challenges, in light of the controversy, as regards Muslim American outreach and inter-faith work since 9/11. For those engaged with “Islam pedagogies” a salient issue the guest issue takes up is how, if at all, this controversy shapes the current teaching of Islam at the college and/or university level in the U.S.

Dr. Ruqayya Yasmine Khan
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • park51
  • islam
  • muslims
  • ground zero
  • islamic center
  • mosque
  • new york city

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Mosques as American Institutions: Mosque Attendance, Religiosity and Integration into the Political System among American Muslims
Religions 2011, 2(4), 504-524; doi:10.3390/rel2040504
Received: 26 June 2011 / Revised: 9 September 2011 / Accepted: 16 September 2011 / Published: 27 September 2011
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (262 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Religious institutions and places of worship have played a pivotal role in American Politics. What about the role of the mosque? Does the mosque, as an institution, in any sense play a different role than that of churches or synagogues in political participation?
[...] Read more.
Religious institutions and places of worship have played a pivotal role in American Politics. What about the role of the mosque? Does the mosque, as an institution, in any sense play a different role than that of churches or synagogues in political participation? Some scholars have argued that Islam as a religion and a culture is incompatible with liberal, democratic American values; not only is Islam inconsistent with the West, but it poses a direct conflict.  This viewpoint has likewise been popularized in American and European media and by some government officials who have labeled Muslims as enemies of freedom and democracy. Through the examination of the Muslim American Public Opinion Survey (MAPOS), which has a large sample size of American Muslim respondents (N = 1410), we argue that the mosque emerges as an important indicator for Muslim social and political integration into American society. We demonstrate that not only are those Muslims who attend the mosque regularly more likely to identify as American Muslims rather than by national origin, they are also more likely to believe mosques encourage Muslims to integrate into U.S. society. Our analysis further exemplifies that mosque attendance and involvement, beyond creating a common identity among American Muslims, leads to more political participation in the U.S. In contrast to prevailing wisdom, we also find that more religiously devout Muslims are significantly more likely to support political participation. Based on our findings, we conclude that there is nothing inconsistent with the mosque and American democracy, and in fact, religiosity fosters support for American democratic values. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Islam in America: Zeroing in on the Park51 Controversy)
Open AccessArticle The Park 51/Ground Zero Controversy and Sacred Sites as Contested Space
Religions 2011, 2(3), 297-311; doi:10.3390/rel2030297
Received: 9 June 2011 / Revised: 14 July 2011 / Accepted: 19 July 2011 / Published: 25 July 2011
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (300 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Park 51 controversy swept like wildfire through the media in late August of 2010, fueled by Islamophobes who oppose all advance of Islam in America. Yet the controversy also resonated with many who were clearly not caught up in the fear of
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The Park 51 controversy swept like wildfire through the media in late August of 2010, fueled by Islamophobes who oppose all advance of Islam in America. Yet the controversy also resonated with many who were clearly not caught up in the fear of Islam. This article attempts to understand the broader concern that the Park 51 project would somehow violate the Ground Zero site, and, thus, as a sign of "respect" should be moved to a different location, an argument that was invariably articulated in “spatial language” as groups debated the physical and spatial presence of the buildings in question, their relative proximity, and even the shadows they cast. This article focuses on three sets of spatial meanings that undergirded these arguments: the site as sacred ground created through trauma, rebuilding as retaliation for the attack, and the assertion of American civil religion. The article locates these meanings within a broader civic discussion of liberty and concludes that the spatialization of the controversy opened up discursive space for repressive, anti-democratic views to sway even those who believe in religious liberty, thus evidencing a deep ambivalence regarding the legitimate civic membership of Muslim Americans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Islam in America: Zeroing in on the Park51 Controversy)
Open AccessArticle The Ground Zero Mosque Controversy: Implications for American Islam
Religions 2011, 2(2), 132-144; doi:10.3390/rel2020132
Received: 29 March 2011 / Revised: 22 May 2011 / Accepted: 31 May 2011 / Published: 7 June 2011
PDF Full-text (231 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The controversy surrounding the “ground zero mosque” is part of a larger debate about the place of Islam in U.S. public space. The controversy also reveals the ways in which the boundaries of American identity continue to be debated, often through struggles over
[...] Read more.
The controversy surrounding the “ground zero mosque” is part of a larger debate about the place of Islam in U.S. public space. The controversy also reveals the ways in which the boundaries of American identity continue to be debated, often through struggles over who counts as a “real” American. It further demonstrates the extent to which Islam is figured as un-American and militant, and also the extent to which all Muslims are required to account for the actions of those who commit violence under the rubric of Islam. This paper will discuss how, due to the events of September 11, 2001, Muslims have engaged in a process of indigenizing American Islam. It will argue that the Park51 Islamic Community Center (or Ground Zero mosque) is a reflection of this indigenization process. It will go on to argue that projects such as the Ground Zero mosque which try to establish Islam as an important part of the American religious landscape and insist on the freedom of worship as stated in the U.S. constitution, illustrate the ideological battlefield over the place of Islam in the U.S. The paper will also examine the possible ramifications of building the Park51 Islamic Community Center including how this will shape the role that Islam plays in the socio-political lives America Muslims. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Islam in America: Zeroing in on the Park51 Controversy)
Open AccessArticle Mourning, Memorials, and Religion: A Psychoanalytic Perspective on the Park51 Controversy
Religions 2011, 2(2), 114-131; doi:10.3390/rel2020114
Received: 1 April 2011 / Revised: 30 May 2011 / Accepted: 31 May 2011 / Published: 1 June 2011
PDF Full-text (227 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article summarizes a version of the “mourning religion” thesis—derived from the work of Peter Homans and further developed and advanced by William Parsons, Diane Jonte-Pace, and Susan Henking—and then demonstrates how this thesis can shed light on the Park51 controversy. We argue
[...] Read more.
This article summarizes a version of the “mourning religion” thesis—derived from the work of Peter Homans and further developed and advanced by William Parsons, Diane Jonte-Pace, and Susan Henking—and then demonstrates how this thesis can shed light on the Park51 controversy. We argue that the Park51 controversy represents a case of incomplete cultural mourning of an aspect of American civil religion that manifests itself in melancholic rage by means of protests, threats to burn the Qur’an (as well as actual burnings of the Qur’an), and vandalism of mosques around the United States. We explore various losses—military, economic, and symbolic—and note that these losses remain ambiguous, therefore preventing closure and productive mourning. The fact that a permanent memorial still has not been built at Ground Zero reflects, and perhaps exacerbates, this incomplete cultural mourning. Also, the fact that Freedom Tower, the building to replace the Twin Towers, is to be 1776 feet tall reflects that the losses related to 9/11 are connected to American civil religion, as 1776 is a sacred year in American history. Setting aside the ethics and the politics related to this controversy, we attempt here to understand this controversy from a psychoanalytic perspective. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Islam in America: Zeroing in on the Park51 Controversy)

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