Revival, Reform, and American Exceptionalism
This chapter explores the idea of American Islam, a unique expression of Islam articulated by a range of American Muslim thinkers. Special attention is given to the ways in which constructions of American Islam intersect with notions of U.S. exceptionalism to imagine the U.S. as a setting in which Muslims can recover and revive the “true” and “original” Islam. The claim that American Islam would thus be the most authentic and universal Islam, informed by the racial history of the U.S. and white privilege, has been employed to diverse ends by a variety of actors that includes conservative neo-traditionalists, progressive and feminist Muslims, and Muslim supporters of George W. Bush. This chapter investigates the development of these discourses to argue that notions of American Islam ultimately privilege white convert men as the ideal embodiments of universal Islam.
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