Painting a portrait of the American Muslim community, an incredibly diverse lot, is difficult, with population estimates ranging from 2.75 million to 6 million. According to the Pew Research Center, some 63 percent of US Muslims were born outside the country, of which 70 percent are now naturalized US citizens. Some 69 percent of US Muslims claim that religion is an important part of their lives, according to Pew, while one-fifth say they seldom or never attend worship services.
Pew has also found that of Muslims surveyed, 60 percent feared the rise of Islamic extremism in America, and 21 percent believed there is support for extremism among Muslims in the United States.
In the wake of the Boston bombing, US Muslims have taken to the airwaves, the blogosphere, and the Twitterverse, reiterating their faith’s teachings.
“Islamic law does not permit the random, indiscriminate killing of civilians. It is categorically forbidden,” says Omid Safi, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in a Religion News Service blog post. “[W]e should not conflate their deranged motivations and the teachings of the Islamic tradition.”
In the same breath, some Muslims have expressed frustration with the perceived need to explain and apologize for the alleged actions of the suspects.
“The Tsarnaev brothers’ ... actions do not speak for me or the overwhelming majority of Muslims. I am not compelled to apologize for them or explain their actions,” says Wajahat Ali, a Muslim-American writer and cultural commentator, in an article for Salon. “This is like asking Republican Christians to apologize for Timothy McVeigh or expecting young white males to explain why individuals like Adam Lanza ... used assault rifles to unleash terror on innocent civilians.”