The Rise of American-Born Muslims, In An Era of Islamophobia, Post-9/11!

Roshan Varghese, Social Studies, Butler High

Curriculum Unit (PDF)


As a first-generation immigrant, I see the world considerably different than my children do. While my children are quite young (five and three respectively), my five-year old son, Theodore, often comments when we talk about visiting India or engaging in my Indian heritage, “Daddy, I am not Indian, I am American”. While this may be true, since I have more affinities to the country of my residency than the country of my birth, it speaks to the divide that may exist culturally and religiously throughout many immigrant homes. I know my parents see the world very differently from me because while being first-generation immigrants themselves, their perspectives are grounded in their experiences in their native land. As a result, when societal issues arise (i.e. discrimination, racial justice) that may be common ground, from an outsider’s perspective, we do not always align in our thought patterns and actions.

This curriculum unit will explore the growing divide that exists not only between the Muslim community inside the United States with the overall American populace, but also the increasing divide in beliefs that exist between native-born Muslims with their immigrant Muslim parents. The reality is that identities can be quite complex. Typical immigrant stories usually focus upon ethnicities and nationalities, and their common desire to build a spirit of assimilation to the new surroundings, built upon a shared cultural heritage, such as food, music, and attire. However, with religion being the common shared denominator, instead of ethnicity and nationality, what we are seeing is that young Muslim-Americans are forfeiting the nationalistic tendencies of their parents, to communicate and congregate with those outside their race and their ethnicity. Case in point, the common scenes of African Muslims hanging out with Southeast Muslims and African-American Muslims, along with those from the Middle East and Central Asia.