Islamotopia: American Exceptionalism and Muslim Reform

September 15, 2017 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Hatcher Gallery
913 S University Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Michael Mohammad Knight

University of Central Florida

The notion of “American Islam,” signifying a uniquely American expression of Islam that either presently exists or awaits us as an attainable future, has been employed by diverse Muslim thinkers, including Salafi revivalists, progressive feminists, and even Muslim Republicans. Discourse of “American Islam” often represents this present/future as one in which American Muslims shed inauthentic cultural practices, achieve a pure and authentically textualist Islam, and then proceed to export “true Islam” to Muslims worldwide. The United States thus appears in these discourses as a sort of “umma laboratory” in which American Muslims will purify Islam on a global scale. This lecture examines the development of American Muslim exceptionalism, the exclusions and marginalizations that it performs, and calls attention to indicators of its decline.