African American Twelver Shia Community of New York

In: Sociology of Islam

Few studies analyze minorities among the African American Muslims in the United States. The absence of ethnographic research shows that the current scholarship neglects the minority status of African American Twelver Shias. Based on fieldwork observations from March to December 2015 and several informal interviews, I try to understand how the African American Shia community of New York was formed and how it negotiated its identity when encountered with African American non-Shia Muslims and with Twelver Muslims of other ethnic backgrounds. I try to revisit the diasporic/immigrant religious culture that some Twelver Shias like to practice. This culture seems to have no resonance for the African American Twelver Muslims. Because some African American Twelvers joined Shia Islam after the end of the classic period of the Nation of Islam, it is argued that highlighting cultural practices by the immigrant community might force some African American Twelvers back to their practices of origin.

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