This paper will initially examine the origins and contemporary experience of the Shi‘i community in America. It will also discuss how Shi’is can better represent themselves in the media.
The twentieth century witnessed a dramatic increase in the migration of Muslims to the American shores. The increased presence and visibility of Muslims in America means that Islam can no longer be characterized as a Middle Eastern or South Asian phenomenon. Given the fact that it is the fastest growing religion in America, Islam is now a very American phenomenon.
Scholars and journalists who have studied or written about Islam in America have limited their research to the majority, Sunni Muslims. Even in academic discourses and classes, most discussions equate Islam in America with the Sunni experience or with that of the indigenous African American Muslims. Very little has been written about the origins and experience s of minority groups within the American Muslim community. This monolithic view has also obscured the proper recognition and understanding of the religious experience of a significant religious minority in America. This paper will initially examine the origins and contemporary experience of the Shi‘i community in America. It will also discuss how Shi’is can better represent themselves in the media.
Like other immigrants to America, Muslims have been defined as alien. This categorization has become more entrenched since the events of September 11, 2001 and is directed at Muslims who, more than any other immigrant group, are more vulnerable to stereotypes and attacks.