Muslims in Manhattan : those who built it up and those who brought it down




Grifka, Lauren Elizabeth

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Muslim immigration to the United States has not been studied in detail. The subject has received attention but has been conflated with the study of Arab Americans or Arabic-speaking peoples. The study of Muslim immigration is further obscured by the misconception that all Arabs are Muslim and all Muslims speak Arabic. Muslim immigrants are frequently grouped with other immigrants according to language, ethnicity or nationality. This constellation of factors makes it challenging to extract from the existing literature data which exclusively pertains to Muslim immigration. While conducting research, it became apparent that the immigration of Muslims to the United States needed to be addressed specifically. Presently, the two largest Muslim communities in the United States are located in Dearborn, Michigan and the New York-New Jersey area. The latter will be the focus of analysis since New York City, and later its surrounding boroughs and New Jersey, was the "mother colony" of the first Muslims to arrive in the United States. Additionally, the New York-New Jersey area has been a locus for radical Islamist activity and the site of numerous terrorist plots in the last fifty years. This analysis will trace the immigration of Muslims to the United States from the late 19th century until 2001. This span is appropriate for analysis because, prior to the 19th century, Muslim immigration was sparse and the period after September 11th has been examined extensively. It will be divided into six sections: pre-19th century and the early immigrants, 19th century through World War I, Post World War I, the 1930's, 1947 to 1965, and 1965 to 2001. Each section will contain two parts with the first covering the immigrants who arrived during that time. The second will focus on formation of the Muslim community in the New York-New Jersey area, both its mainstream and radical elements, and the important events which effected that community. The diversity of the Muslim community is frequently dismissed but will be highlighted here. The community includes various sects of Islam, including Sufi, Shia, Sunni and the Nation of Islam and its offshoots, and multiple ethnicities, including African American, Indian, Pakistani, Bengali, Afghan, Sri Lankan, African, Moroccan, Jordanian, Palestinian, Syrian, Lebanese, Egyptian, Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian, Philippino, Bosnian, Yugoslavian and Albanian. The development of each of these sub-communities and the relationships between them will be addressed. The task is to conduct a historical analysis of the Muslim community in the New York-New Jersey area from its inception until the September 11th attacks thereby presenting a comprehensive understanding of that community in this region of the United States.




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