This is more than a book; it is a manifesto. It advocates a project through which participants will launch an American renaissance movement inspired by a new, revitalized, and uniquely American expression of Islam. This book is the product of more than twenty years of extensive research and interaction with communities across America. That background preparation has given the author, Dr. Souheil Ghannouchi, a deep understanding of Islam, of history, and of the reality in which all Americans (including Muslim Americans) live. Additionally, the text benefits from Dr. Ghannouchi’s careful study and observation of world events, and from his comprehension of the universal rules that govern the rise and fall of both nations and movements.
This volume was originally meant to be the intellectual foundation for a renaissance movement for all Americans, and it was to be aimed at reviving the American Dream and restoring America’s fundamental values based on the founding fathers’ vision. The idea of recruiting all Americans to the task was inspired by serious concerns about America’s current situation and future risks, and by a firm belief that America can and should be the world’s foremost champion for compassion, peace, justice, and prosperity.
At the same time, the book was intended to spearhead the renaissance of the Muslim American community so that it would begin to play a meaningful role in making the needed change in America. However, even though both the entire country and, more specifically, the Muslim community are in dire need of fundamental change, it became clear to the author that the two objectives could not be adequately advocated with one publication. Thus, this book focuses mainly on Muslim Americans, and it constitutes a manifesto for a renaissance in the American Muslim community and a blueprint for our full integration into the greater American society.
Stemming from the author’s firm conviction that both our nation and our community are experiencing a severe crisis, this book is prompted by his grave concern for the future – as well as his unshakable resolve to significantly contribute towards the fundamental change that is needed right now within our society. His concerns and his resolve are shared by other Muslim Americans who will join in launching this project. We invite all Americans to participate.
Even though Islam and Muslims have been present in the U.S. in one form or another for a long time, the Muslim American community is still regarded as a newcomer. One reason is that the connections with the greater American society have been weak and complicated. The Nation of Islam, which is largely comprised of United States-born African American Muslims, is widely viewed as a Black nationalist movement rather than an Islamic phenomenon. And even though immigrant Muslims began to establish Islamic centers as early as the beginning of the 20th century – and also despite the establishment of the first chapter of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) in 1963 – the organized presence of orthodox Islam did not truly emerge in America until the 1970’s. The real proliferation of mosques, schools, and Islamic organizations took place as recently as the 80’s and 90’s.
Furthermore, the integration of the Muslim American community into the greater American society stalled because of some typical factors that were exacerbated by religious and political issues and by some domestic and global events. As a result, the Muslim community was plunged into a deep crisis and became, for other Americans, a puzzle and a source of major challenge, especially after the 9/11 catastrophe. A huge divide was established between the community and American society at large, and a vicious action-reaction cycle is only reinforcing the divide and widening the gap. Moreover, the attempts at healing undertaken by both sides are not really improving the situation because the efforts made are too few and too i