Loving America and longing for home: Isma'il al-Faruqi and the emergence of the Muslim diaspora in North America

Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this paper, I weave the experience of an emerging community of Muslim diaspora around a biographical narrative of the Muslim activist and scholar Isma'il al-Faruqi. Through this narrative, I illustrate that the diasporic experience begins in the place of origin and it does not inevitably lead toward a perpetual hybridization. The latter point is particularly significant because notions of diaspora and hybridity are conceptually linked and are often understood as a unidirectional cutting and mixing between the West and the East, or between the modern and the traditional. At-Faruqi's experience shows that, in a Fanonian sense of colonialism, diasporic experience conveys living as a "stranger", at and away from home. The postcolonial condition has made it possible for ethnically diverse communities of Muslims to reside in the West, but maintain strong connections with their place of origin. Adopting the allegory of the Prophet's migration or hijra, al-Faruqi constructed a fantastic notion of the ummah and a normative homo islamicus subject. Although he was profoundly influenced by the diversity of the Muslim Student Associations' constituency, al-Faruqi encouraged Muslims to transcend their differences and sought to conceive a discursively homogenous ummah. Ultimately, however, his project failed because it did not correspond to real life experiences of Muslims of the West. Historically, Muslim communities have negotiated the boundaries of Muslimhood and the social responsibilities it entails, both in their homelands and in their new home in the West - a new home that increasingly becomes hostile to their presence, and thereby further complicates their triangular diaspora/host society/homeland relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-86
JournalInternational Migration
Volume42
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography

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