Muslim Immigrants in the Early 20th Century America: Some Have Forsaken, While Others Preserved Their Identity

Haider A Bhuiyan

Abstract


This article explores the challenges that immigrant Muslims faced in pre-1965 America in their efforts to find acceptance within the American host society. To understand this phenomenon I have used the ethnographic methods of research and collecting data focusing on a Palestinian Muslim family (Abukhdeir) who came to America in 1910 and settled in Provo, Utah as Kader family and adopted Mormonism. As such, this article demonstrates that the identity crisis of early generation Muslim immigrants resulted in the following consequences: (1) Who assimilated to the prevailing American melting pot culture of mainstream society, including converting to American religions; (2) Who did not assimilate, rather escaped the pressure of assimilation by returning to their home countries and resettled there without coming back to live in America; and (3) Who both assimilated and preserved their Islamic identities, as they were the children of returnees, which coincided with the wake of multiculturalism in America in the late 1960s. These grown-up children of the returnees then shared the new process of assimilation into the multicultural America, replacing melting pot culture, and affiliated with the fastest growing Muslim communities.

Artikel ini membahas tantangan yang dihadapi imigran Muslim di Amerika pra-1965 untuk diterima oleh masyarakat Amerika. Untuk memahami fenomena ini, penelitian ini menggunakan metode etnografi dan mengumpulkan data yang berfokus pada keluarga Muslim Palestina, Abukhdeir, yang datang ke Amerika pada tahun 1910 dan menetap di Provo, Utah sebagai keluarga Kader lalu mengadopsi Mormonisme. Artikel ini menunjukkan bahwa krisis identitas imigran Muslim generasi awal menghasilkan konsekuensi berikut: (1) Berasimilasi dengan budaya Amerika, yang berlaku di masyarakat mayoritas, termasuk beralih ke agama-agama Amerika; (2) Tidak berasimilasi, keluar dari tekanan asimilasi dengan kembali ke negara asal mereka dan bermukim di sana tanpa harus tinggal di Amerika; dan (3) Berasimilasi dan mempertahankan identitas Islam, sebagai keturunan dari para imigran yang kembali, bersamaan dengan menguatnya multikulturalisme di Amerika pada akhir 1960an. Keturunan dari para imigran yang kembali ini kemudian membentuk proses asimilasi baru dalam budaya multikultural Amerika, menggantikan budaya peleburan “melting pot”, dan berafiliasi dengan komunitas Muslim yang berkembang dengan cepat.


Keywords


American culture; assimilation; Islamic identity; multiculturalism; Muslim immigrant; uniculturalism

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21580/ws.25.1.1882

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