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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Khari Brown

Abstract

Using data collected by Pew from the 2011 Muslim American Survey, this study examines the association between religious identity and American identity for Muslims within first and second-generations. The more self-reported religious influence, the more likely they are to identify as a Muslim first. In addition, the study finds that religious sect and nation of origin are predictors of primary identity. Muslim individuals belonging to the Sunni sect are more likely than Shia Muslims to identify themselves as Muslims first. This distinction may be due to the majority of Muslim followers worldwide identifying as Sunni. This positions Shia Muslims’ not only as a minority within the United States but also within their religious and often ethnic groups as well, creating a unique cultural identity. I argue it is through the United States’ ongoing war with Muslim majority nations combined with a hostile environment in the United States for Muslims and Muslim immigrants that the degree and ability to assimilate is met with great struggle. Finding themselves in the periphery of American society, bound by bright boundaries that prevent their complete inclusion into society, Muslim Americans use their religion to create a personal and community identity.

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