Muslim American Activism in the Age of Trump

Muslim American Activism in the Age of Trump Abstract The presidency of Donald Trump has roused progressive Americans, including religious progressives, to become more involved in politics. While Muslim Americans are not uniformly progressive, many have serious concerns about Trump’s presidency, partly rooted in his anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies. This article asks: how are Muslim Americans responding to the Trump era, and what can this teach us about religious activism in the United States today? Using key websites, social media, and newspaper sources, I identify eight ways Muslims are reacting to the Trump presidency. This article demonstrates the diversity of Muslim American activism and challenges the assumption that all Muslims are opposed to Trump. It also shows how common conservative/progressive categorizations are often inadequate for understanding the activism of religio-racial minorities. In doing so, this article both sketches a picture of Muslim American activism in this era and creates an agenda for research on Muslim American activism in the coming years. In the wake of the 2016 election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, much attention has been paid to the role white evangelical Christians played in Trump’s victory. In part, this was due to surprise: surprise that Trump had won at all, and surprise that white evangelicals (unlike Latinx and black evangelicals) had supported a candidate like Trump in such high numbers, given the very public examples of his behavior that stood in stark contrast to commonly held evangelical moral standards. Many commentators were puzzled by the continued power of the religious right, which some had regarded as on the decline. Those narratives of decline were not entirely wrong. White evangelical Protestantism is shrinking as a proportion of the United States; it simply has not disappeared as a political force quite as quickly as some observers expected (Jones 2016). If current demographic trends continue, white evangelical Christians will indeed lose much of the political power they once had, particularly if other forces rise to take their place (Yukich 2017a). Indeed, other religious actors have been seeking to fill that space, though with far less attention paid to their efforts. Much of this activism might be deemed “progressive,” with the religious people involved seeking to directly counter the policies and messages of the religious right. While progressive religious activism is not new—indeed, some of the most important social movements in U.S. history were led in part by religious groups and leaders typically considered progressive (e.g., the Civil Rights Movement)—the waning influence of the religious right warrants more focus on religious activism that is not associated with the religious right. The campaign, election, and presidency of Donald Trump have roused progressive Americans of all stripes to become more involved in politics. Many are religious, though not all fit the typical definition of “progressive.” Some agree with most of the key issues often emphasized by the Democratic Party and the Working Families Party: government programs to alleviate poverty and decrease economic inequality, immigrant-friendly policies, ecological sustainability, civil rights for LGBT people, and access to abortion services. Others, though, support the first three while leaning more conservative on the last two issues, particularly the issue of abortion rights. Perhaps these complexities—the ways in which they challenge both standard notions of who counts as progressive or conservative and conservative/progressive categories themselves—have contributed, in part, to the relative lack of attention to progressive religion in the last few decades. But when we neglect religious activists who are not affiliated with the religious right, we miss a lot. For instance, while half of Muslim Americans agree with the white evangelicals who elected Trump about the dangers of homosexuality (Pew Research Center 2017), many have serious concerns about Trump’s presidency, partly rooted in his anti-Muslim rhetoric, his so-called “Muslim ban,” and his proposal to create a Muslim registry. Substantial majorities of Muslim Americans disapprove of Trump’s job performance (65%), say he makes them feel worried (68%), and see him as unfriendly toward Muslims (74%) (Pew Research Center 2017). Given the focus on Muslims in so much of Trump’s campaign and early presidency, surely Muslim responses to Trump warrant some of the attention that white evangelicals have received during the last year. Much of the media coverage around Trump’s anti-Muslim positions has focused on resistance to these policies from progressives in general. Instead, this article asks: how are Muslim Americans themselves responding to the Trump presidency, and what can this teach us about religious activism more generally? Using key Muslim websites, social media, and newspaper sources, I identify eight ways Muslims are reacting to the Trump presidency: (1) educating non-Muslims about Islam; (2) resisting the role of “defender of Islam”; (3) advocating for progressive Islam within Muslim circles; (4) building solidarity between immigrant and African American Muslims; (5) strengthening interfaith bonds; (6) advocating for Muslim rights; (7) advocating for other forms of social change; and (8) embracing Trump’s presidency. The diversity of their responses demonstrates the inadequacies of the typical conservative/progressive dichotomy in many studies of religious activism, showing the need for a fuller conception of how religious activists operate in the United States today. RELIGIOUS ACTIVISM IN THE UNITED STATES Throughout the course of 2017, newspaper articles appeared with headlines like: “Religious liberals sat out of politics for 40 years. Now they want in” (Goodstein 2017) and “‘Religious left’ emerging as U.S. political force in Trump era” (Malone 2017). As is often the case, these headlines, and the stories in the articles themselves, sought to make a rather old phenomenon seem new and exciting. As religion and politics scholars know well, religious liberals (or the term many prefer—“religious progressives”) most certainly have not sat out of politics for 40 years. Religious progressives have been involved in countless social movements during the last 40 years, from the anti-war movement to the movement against nuclear proliferation to the 1980s Sanctuary Movement and New Sanctuary Movement and many, many more (Braunstein et al. 2017; Nepstad 2008; Smith 1996; Wuthnow and Evans 2002; Yukich 2013). Some of this involvement has been “quiet” (Wuthnow and Evans 2002), such as responsible investing efforts or environmental advocacy, but the power of religious progressives demonstrated in the Civil Rights Movement never fully disappeared. However, both the media and scholars have often ignored religious progressives. They challenge the dominant media narrative that the major political division in the United States exists between the religious right and the secular left. Religious progressives muddy the waters, demonstrating that the narrative is not as simple as many would wish it to be. They challenge dominant definitions of “religion,” as well as reigning notions of what it means to be politically progressive; as such, their existence forces scholars to rethink categories that often seem well-established. “Progressive religion” could mean many things: it could refer to the types of religious beliefs people hold, their identities, the types of practices in which they engage, the denominations and congregations with which they are affiliated, or just the fact that a group is not part of the religious right (Braunstein et al. 2017; Yukich 2017b). Even using a broad definition that potentially encompasses all of these, progressive religious activism has received only limited scholarly attention in recent years, and most of the studies that do exist have focused on activism among Christian and Jewish groups. Indeed, sociology of religion more generally has been critiqued in this regard, since “for most scholars in the field, the default category reflects a broadly shared conception of American religion directly linked to Protestant American theological conceptions” (Bender et al. 2012:5). However, though renewed attention to progressive religious activism is a welcome change, a very broad definition of progressive religion may not be the most useful way forward. While it is important to distinguish the types of activism associated with the religious right from other types of religious activism, the activism often deemed “religiously conservative” is relatively limited; among the plethora of other types of religious activism, some might be usefully categorized as progressive, while other types of activism may not easily fit into either a “conservative” or “progressive” category. The current religious conservative/progressive polarity is also, in many ways, rooted in the cultural dominance of white evangelical Protestantism, with the definitions of these categories depending on issues like economics, gender, and sexuality being bundled in ways that are relevant to the concerns of white evangelical conservatives (and their detractors), but may be less pertinent to the concerns of religious others. In the past, the tendency has often been to ignore groups that do not easily fit these categorizations—immigrants, African American Christians, religious minorities—such that scholars do not have a good sense for whether the varieties of religious activism in the United States today really do primarily fall into “conservative” and “progressive” camps, or whether much of the empirical reality is too complex to be categorized in this way. Religious activism occurring outside of the religious right has received more attention in the last few years due to an increase in research on faith-based community organizing (Lichterman 2005; Swarts 2008; Wood 2002; Wood and Fulton 2015; Wood et al. 2012). Faith-based community organizing offers one example of activism that does not easily fit into conservative and progressive labels (though it is sometimes characterized as more progressive), but its focus on congregations (as opposed to individuals) and on political action (as opposed to other types of actions) means that the types of activism being observed will necessarily be limited. Furthermore, most of the groups involved in these organizations are Christian or Jewish (Wood et al. 2012), so it reveals little about whether current understandings of religious activism are adequate for explaining the religious activism of other religious groups. Though there are several exceptions to this general focus on Christian and Jewish activism, such as a limited number of studies examining Hindu activism in the United States (Kurien 2007; Lal 1999; Rajagopal 2000), studies of “socially engaged Buddhism” (Keown et al. 2003; King 2009; Queen 2000), and research on Muslim political engagement (cf. Dana et al. 2011; Jamal 2005; Pew Research Center 2017), much of this research focuses on contexts outside of the Unied states and was conducted long enough ago that it is difficult to know whether the studies’ findings are still relevant in the current context. For instance, some studies have examined Muslim activism in the United States (Ahmed 2011; Hammer 2012; Hondagneu-Sotelo 2008; Leonard 2007; Love 2017), but most were conducted or published before Trump became a serious presidential candidate—a development that may have shifted the activism of Muslims and other religious minorities in significant ways. Much of the research on religious activism has adopted a “resource mobilization” approach by examining how existing organizations (e.g., congregations) and their resources make mobilization more possible and therefore more likely (cf. McAdam 1982; McCarthy and Zald 1977; Morris 1984; Smith 1996; Swarts 2008; Wood 2002; Wuthnow and Evans 2002). While some research indicates that non-Judeo-Christian groups adopt more congregational forms in the American context (Ebaugh and Chafetz 2000; Kurien 2007; Warner and Wittner 1998), many remain less rooted in congregationalism, such that congregations may not serve the same mobilizing functions that they do for Christian and Jewish activists (Bender et al. 2012; Hondagneu-Sotelo 2008; Kurien 2007; Levitt 2007; Min 2010). Thus, focusing on non-Judeo-Christian traditions provides a way to move beyond the focus on conservative/progressive religion, on congregations, and on resource mobilization in religious activism, raising different sorts of questions. For instance, how does being a member of a religious minority, particularly one that faces high levels of discrimination, affect the types of activism in which a person engages? How does it influence their political positions? How does it impact the strategies and tactics they choose? Similarly, much social movement research has treated changing government policy as the primary goal of any serious movement, but more recent scholarship emphasizes that power and authority do not reside solely in the state, instead pointing attention toward other institutional contexts like religious organizations or the military (Armstrong and Bernstein 2008; Yukich 2013). How might being a member of a marginalized religious group shape the extent to which religious activism targets the state versus other sources of power and authority? Members of marginalized religious communities may find it necessary to engage in activism that, elsewhere, I have called “multi-target social movement” activism (Yukich 2013): activism that both challenges government policy (for a variety of reasons, including potential discrimination against one’s own religious group) and, simultaneously, other targets such as their own religious institutions, as they battle over what the public face of those institutions should look like. Because of the explicit discrimination directed toward Muslims during the 2016 presidential campaign, for example, Muslims may feel pressure to ensure that the public image of American Islam, as well as local mosques, is one with which non-Muslim Americans feel comfortable. By examining activism among people who are on the religious margins, scholars may find that traditional notions of what counts as “activism” need to be expanded to more fully account for the varieties of religious activism occurring in the United States today. Scholars are largely missing accounts of the ways that members of religious groups other than Christianity and Judaism—such as Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims—are engaging in religious activism both generally and in this particular time and place. Because Trump’s victory is at least partly due to his fear of and disdain for racial and religious minorities, feelings many of his supporters share, it is particularly important in this specific time period to understand how religio-racial minorities are working to challenge Trump’s rhetoric and the right-wing policies of his administration. Furthermore, greater attention to non-Judeo-Christian religious activism will help scholars to develop a fuller understanding of what these phenomena look like in an increasingly diverse American religious landscape. Muslim Activism in the United States The last couple of years have been especially difficult ones for many American Muslims. While Muslims in American society have faced higher levels of discrimination since the attack on September 11, 2001 (Cainkar 2002; Cimino 2005; Peek 2010), anti-Muslim sentiment intensified following the rise of ISIS as a global force in 2014, arguably reaching its zenith (at least up to this point) during the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump. Not only did Trump refuse to correct supporters at rallies who voiced anti-Muslim bigotry, but also the candidate himself proposed a ban on Muslims entering the United States, as well as a national registry for Muslims. Now-president Trump has followed through on one of those proposals, first seeking to create a ban on refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations, a ban that later underwent revisions (some argue the purpose of these revisions was to make the ban appear less anti-Muslim) and has now received support from the U.S. Supreme Court. Muslims make up a small but growing part of the overall U.S. population; 3.3 million Muslims reside in the United States, or 1% of the total U.S. population, an almost 50% increase since 2007 (Mohamed 2016). This means that they are currently the second largest religious minority in the United States (Jews make up the largest minority), but that is projected to change by 2050, by which time Muslims are expected to comprise the largest religious minority group due to factors like migration and fertility patterns (Pew Research Center 2015). Many American Muslims are recent immigrants: 76% are first or second generation immigrants, meaning they are likely to have ethnic and cultural ties to other countries (Pew Research Center 2017). Still, 82% of American Muslims are U.S. citizens, suggesting that many immigrant Muslims seek to assimilate quickly, perhaps in part to avoid negative stereotypes (Peek 2010; Pew Research Center 2017). In addition, despite laws ostensibly protecting Muslims from religious discrimination, many Muslims report experiencing discrimination in their daily lives (Greenhouse 2010; Peek 2010; Pew Research Center 2017). Most Muslim Americans say they are proud to be American (92%), demonstrating their commitment to being a part of American society, but about half say they have experienced religious discrimination during the past year (Pew Research Center 2017). About half say it has become more difficult to be Muslim in the United States in recent years, with 60% saying U.S. media coverage of Islam and Muslims is generally unfair (Pew Research Center 2017). And between 2015 and 2016, hate crimes against Muslims in the United States rose significantly, surpassing even 2001 levels following the 9/11 attacks (Kishi 2017). In this context, one that was somewhat hostile for Muslim Americans even before the Trump campaign and presidency but has arguably grown even more challenging, it is especially important to understand how Muslim Americans are engaging with their surrounding communities. Doing so not only tells us more about Muslims themselves but also reveals something about the diversity of religious activism more generally. The terms “progressive” and “conservative” are not necessarily common descriptors for different forms of Islam in much of the world, but some Muslim American scholars nonetheless argue that there is “a nascent community of Muslim activists and intellectuals” who identify as “progressive Muslims” (Safi 2003:3), with the “progressive Islam” label signifying a focus on issues like social justice, gender justice, and pluralism (Yukich 2017b). Though many Muslims are not progressive in many of their political positions, in this time period, simply being Muslim and not criticizing Islam might earn someone the label of “liberal” or “progressive,” as being critical of Muslims has become a marker of conservatism in the United States (Telhami 2015). Thus, while not all Muslims are progressive, in the Trump era, Muslim American activism—particularly activism defending Muslims from discrimination—might be deemed progressive. However, for some forms of Muslim activism, the terms “conservative” and “progressive” may be inadequate and even misleading descriptors of the types of actions taking place and the meanings associated with them. In seeking to understand the variety of religious responses to the Trump presidency, focusing on Muslim American activism is key. Because we still know relatively little about the types of religious activism in which Muslims engage, this article seeks to identify the plethora of ways Muslim Americans are responding to the Trump presidency, some more progressive, some conservative; some focused on government policy, others focused on changing the beliefs and practices of individual Muslims and non-Muslims. To identify various forms of activism and responses to Trump, I gathered information from key websites, social media, and news sources. I examined the websites of several key Muslim organizations: the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA). Examining these websites led me to multiple other sites of interest, such as LaunchGood and the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council. I also examined social media, particularly Twitter, for examples of Muslim activism occurring there. Finally, I examined news coverage of Muslim activism, including but not limited to stories in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Washington Post. The findings presented below demonstrate the diversity of Muslim Americans, of their responses to Trump, and of religious activism more generally, showing the importance of a research agenda on religious activism that incorporates more studies of non-Judeo-Christian activists. FINDINGS Though there are almost certainly additional ways in which Muslims are responding to Trump, I identify eight main ways Muslims are reacting to the Trump presidency: (1) educating non-Muslims about Islam; (2) resisting the role of “defender of Islam”; (3) advocating for progressive Islam within Muslim circles; (4) building solidarity between immigrant and African American Muslims; (5) strengthening interfaith bonds; (6) advocating for Muslim rights; (7) advocating for other forms of social change; and (8) embracing Trump’s presidency. Educating Non-Muslims about Islam The first two of these responses fall into the category of “Education.” Some Muslims are working to educate non-Muslims about Islam, while others are resisting the role of “defender of Islam.” Perhaps the most common way that Muslim Americans are responding to the Trump presidency is to fight back against the negative stereotypes and anti-Muslim sentiments expressed in public discourse by seeking to educate non-Muslims about Islam. In many ways, this is an uphill battle. Research has revealed the extensive networks of fringe anti-Muslim groups and their growth in public influence (Bail 2012), which likely impacted the mindsets of many Trump supporters and even Steve Bannon and Trump himself. While organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) try to combat the images of Muslims produced by these fringe anti-Muslim groups, Trump’s win, as well as the opinions about Muslims expressed in national polls of Americans, suggest that the fringe groups may be winning the public battle over the image of Islam in America—but only for Republicans. Perhaps surprisingly, those polls show that, since 2015 when Trump announced his candidacy, Americans’ views of Muslims and Islam have become more positive, not less, though the changes have almost all been due to increasingly positive views of Muslims among Democrats and independents, with Republican views remaining unchanged and largely negative (Telhami 2017). In November 2015, Americans were split about evenly, with only 53% reporting favorable views of Muslims and less than 40% reporting favorable views of Islam. However, by October 2016, the percent of Americans reporting favorable views of Muslims had jumped to 70%, and about 50% reported favorable views of Islam. Thus, while Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric may have stoked anti-Muslim views among Republicans, or even just reflected views that were already there, they may have backfired by increasing positive views of Muslims among non-Republicans, with shifts so large that they changed the breakdown of overall American views as well (Telhami 2017). However, the polls reveal less about Americans views during Trump’s presidency. The heat of the presidential campaign and its associated partisanship, and dislike for Trump’s policies and rhetoric regarding Muslims, may have produced a temporary shift in attitudes toward Muslims that did not last once the issue became less prevalent. Polls show that knowing a Muslim personally might create more positive attitudes toward Muslims and Islam (Telhami 2015), perhaps with the potential to change views in the long term, but most Americans do not know any Muslims (Lipka 2014). As such, many Muslims feel that the best way to combat Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and agenda, and anti-Muslim public sentiment, more broadly, is to create more opportunities for non-Muslims to get to know them. These “getting to know you” campaigns often take the form of Islam 101 classes or lectures by Muslim speakers that are geared toward non-Muslims who want to be better informed about Islam. Some are sponsored by and held at local mosques; others are held at churches, synagogues, community centers, or other locations where groups of interested people typically gather. Some have been running for several years, while others started explicitly in response to Trump’s campaign and presidency. For instance, Muslim couple Jenny Yanez and Anwer Bashi started an Islam 101 course at their New Orleans-area mosque, a free, 6-week primer on the Muslim faith. While the course began as a way to teach new Muslims about Islam, the couple has seen more non-Muslims take the course recently. “People come because they have co-workers or family who have accepted Islam and they want to understand them better…. And some people come because they’re afraid of Islam … I think those are very brave, brave people who come to the mosque,” Ms. Yanez told a reporter (Feldman 2017). The class provides students with the chance to read primary sources like the Quran for themselves, as well as the opportunity to hang out with Muslims. Ms. Yanez’s husband added, “If every representation that they’ve seen is negative, it’s not anybody’s fault that when they think of Islam, immediately it starts from a negative place…. It [the course] really humanizes Muslims … I mean it’s almost sad that we have to say that, but Muslims have been pretty dehumanized” (Feldman 2017). Another example is the practice of Muslim speakers giving talks about their faith to non-Muslims in non-Muslim spaces. For instance, Haroon Moghul, Muslim author of How To Be a Muslim: An American Story (2017, Beacon Press), has given talks to non-Muslim groups about his book and his experiences as a Muslim, such as speaking at book club meetings, synagogues, and on National Public Radio. While much of this work happens locally, there have been more national efforts to educate non-Muslims about Islam as well. Many Muslims write op-eds about Islam for newspapers and websites that are read widely by non-Muslims. For instance, Mansura Bashir Minhas, a Pakistani-American Muslim, wrote an op-ed in the Miami Herald titled “Get to know the ‘True Islam’,” arguing that Muslim extremists “defy the norms of logic and distort its [Islam’s] core message to pursue their depraved agendas” (Minhas 2016). She describes “True Islam,” a campaign “to educate Americans on Islam’s true teachings” (Minhas 2016). The website of “True Islam,” hosted by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, “answers eleven misunderstood questions on Islam,” offers chances to chat online with a Muslim, and hosts “Coffee, Cake, & True Islam” meetups around the country (www.trueislam.com). While Ahmadi Muslims are considered heterodox by many other Muslims (BBC 2010), this op-ed and “True Islam’s” efforts to educate non-Muslims about Islam are similar in many ways to education efforts by members of other sects of Islam, which attempt to demonstrate that Islam is not inherently violent by introducing non-Muslims to the main tenets of Islam and to the Quran itself. More specifically, many national efforts at educating non-Muslims about Islam are focused on combatting stereotypes of Muslims as terrorists or of Islam as an inherently violent religion. This has typically taken three forms: (1) public statements by imams condemning terrorist attacks perpetrated by Muslims; (2) marches or vigils held by Muslims to condemn terrorist attacks; and (3) the #NotInMyName campaign, which involves Muslims condemning terrorist attacks committed by Muslims. Whenever a terrorist attack is perpetrated by a Muslim, whether in the United States or elsewhere, someone inevitably tweets something asking why Muslims are not condemning terrorism. Referencing this tendency and resisting it at the same time, twitter user and best-selling author Rabi Chaudry recently tweeted, “‘Why don’t Muslims condemn terrorism’ Sorry, too busy dying from it,” linking to a CNN story about 26 people being killed in a suicide bombing in Baghdad (https://twitter.com/rabiasquared, January 15, 2018). As Chaudry’s tweet suggests, while some use the supposed silence of Muslims as evidence that Muslims approve of violence, even if they claim to believe in peace, in reality, Muslims frequently speak out against terrorist attacks committed by Muslims, making public statements condemning such actions as evil and contrary to Islam. In November 2016, 19-year old University of Colorado student Heraa Hashmi tweeted “classmate: why don’t muslims condemn things/ me:*goes home makes 712 page long list of Muslims Condemning Things with sources*/ me: fight me” (https://twitter.com/caveheraa, November 11, 2016). Indeed, she did make such a list, which went viral (Mahdawi 2017). It also inspired the creation of the website Muslims Condemn, “a collection of all the cases where Muslims have condemned wrongdoings done falsely in the name of Islam” (https://muslimscondemn.com). Similarly, marches and protests sponsored by Muslim organizations, held specifically to denounce terrorist attacks committed by Muslims, have been common in other countries, but have occurred in the United States as well. For instance, in the United Kingdom, thousands of Muslims marched against terrorism in the wake of terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom, with similar protests held by Muslims in Germany, Spain, the United States, and many other countries in recent years (Independent 2017; Laitner 2015; Osborne 2017; Smith 2017). While this could also be seen as an example of what I call “working for religious change” or “activism for social change,” these protests also provide a way for Muslims to educate non-Muslims about Islam, by demonstrating that most Muslims are law-abiding and peaceful, not terrorists or terrorist sympathizers. Finally, the #NotInMyName twitter campaign began several years ago as a way for Muslims to speak out again terrorist attacks perpetrated by Muslims (Franceschi-Bicchierai 2014). As with all social media, twitter and facebook posts are both ways to communicate content and ways to signal identity: in this case, Muslims are showing non-Muslims that Islam is diverse, and that while Muslim terrorists may get a lot of press, most Muslims do not support violence in the name of Islam. Indeed, they believe Islam condemns, rather than calls for, violence. Twitter users all over the world adopted the hashtag, sharing photos of themselves holding signs reading “#NotInMyName” or just using the hashtag and sharing tweets like, “Another disgusting threat from the un-Islamic State #NotInMyName” (Franceschi-Bicchierai 2014). Since Trump’s election, this type of activism has continued as a way for Muslims to educate non-Muslims about Islam’s teachings on violence. By teaching Islam 101 courses to non-Muslims, giving lectures on Islam in non-Muslim spaces, publicly condemning terrorist attacks as antithetical to Islam, and speaking out against terrorism on social media, Muslims are seeking to educate non-Muslims about Islam. In doing so, they hope to change the stereotypes that have led to the anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies that have dominated Trump’s campaign and presidency thus far. Resistance to the educator role. While many Muslims have responded to Trump by trying to educate non-Muslims about Islam, others have resisted that role for reasons of principle and pragmatism, and as a form of resistance to what the general culture demands of them—in other words, that in order to be accepted, they must constantly apologize for other people who happen to have the same religious identity or ethnicity as them. Like people of color who argue that it is oppressive to have to educate white people about racism, some Muslims are tired of being told they must do the work of convincing bigoted Americans that they are not terrorists just because they are Muslim. Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, an imam at a DC-area mosque and leader in several national Muslim organizations, has said about Muslims issuing apologies for terrorism in an effort to educate non-Muslims that, “It sounded like they were apologizing for something they haven’t done, like they were running for cover” (Kaleem 2014). Sana Saeed, a producer at Al Jazeera channel AJ+, wrote in a blog post that she was “tired of people in my communities constantly partaking in and creating public campaigns to put up a good face of our religion…. When you ask Muslims to condemn or denounce heinous actions, ideologies or groups what you’re saying is that you don’t trust any Muslim” (Kaleem 2014). So, one response to Trump is to push back against the expectation that Muslims should be apologetic, docile, and uncritical of the United States in any way if they want to be truly accepted in American society. While many Muslims have decided that resisting the “defender” role is the appropriate response to the level of anti-Muslim sentiment that is now publicly and powerfully present in American society, different Muslims give different reasons for their resistance. For some, the resistance is related to the idea of oppression: that oppressed groups should not be responsible for convincing those in power that they should not be oppressed. Instead, bigoted people should take responsibility for their bigotry and educate themselves about groups they do not understand. Of course, those in the pro-education camp would point out that powerful people rarely do this, as the incentives to do so are not high. As Amanda Quraishi, a Muslim interfaith activist in Austin, Texas, told a reporter: “We are at a point in time where we have to bear the burden of wide-scale fear and misinformation about our faith and the cultures of many of the people who practice it … I quite literally view it as our jihad” (Kaleem 2014). In other words, while it may indeed be unjust to ask marginalized people to do the work of educating those in power, that may be the only way to challenge prevailing stereotypes, as those who are marginalized may have the greater potential to benefit from changed stereotypes, and therefore the greater incentive to do the work of education. Another reason some Muslims resist the educator role is that it runs the danger of affirming “violent Muslims” as the default, and of lending legitimacy to ridiculous arguments about Muslims by engaging with those arguments at all. Steve Bannon’s role as Trump’s campaign manager and, later, as a major player in his presidential administration, signaled that someone with a view of Islam as inherently dangerous and evil was shaping the policies of the U.S. government. When that is the starting point of the conversation—your interlocutor believes you are evil simply because you are Muslim—it may seem not only pointless to engage but also damaging, as it suggests you consider the person and their views worthy of your time and your rebuttals. For instance, in explaining why it did not endorse a Muslim march against terrorism in Germany, a statement by the German Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (Ditib) said, “Calls for ‘Muslim’ anti-terror demos fall short, stigmatise Muslims, and confine international terrorism to being just among them and within their communities and mosques” (Da Silva 2017). Indeed, some argue that not only is it unfair to ask this of Muslims, but also it is not the most effective way for Muslims to change negative views about Islam. In a similar example, Dalia Mogahed, director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a research organization focused on Muslim empowerment, recently penned an op-ed titled “Don’t ask Muslims to condemn terror: Our outrage at atrocities ought to be a given” (Mogahed 2017). She argues that it is the “definition of biogtry” to suspect someone of supporting terrorism merely because of their ethnicity or religion, and that by condemning terrorism publicly, Muslims may inadvertently be reinforcing that bigotry rather than challenging it. She describes a research study that found that “people could reconsider Muslim collective guilt—not by Muslims condemning terrorism, but when they challenged the exclusive expectation to do so” (Mogahed 2017). In another example of this type of reaction, some Muslims, annoyed in part by the #NotInMyName campaign mentioned earlier, began using a different hashtag: #MuslimApologies (Blumberg 2014). The idea behind the use of this hashtag is to highlight the absurdity of asking all Muslims to constantly apologize for the actions of a few, something rarely asked of members of more powerful religious or ethnic groups in the West. Sometimes the hashtag is used to push back on expectations that Muslims should apologize for terrorism, like a tweet that shows an image of a t-shirt that reads “I’m Muslim and I’m sorry for everything” and then includes a tongue-in-cheek tweet that says, “I’m just going to wear this shirt every day from now on #MuslimApologies” (Blumberg 2014). In many other examples, though, twitter users take it a step further, subverting expectations that Muslims apologize for terrorism by instead issuing sarcastic apologies for positive contributions Muslims have made to the world, making the campaign about educating non-Muslims to a certain extent. For instance, one user wrote, “I am sorry that Muslims invented algorithms and as a result you are able to view this tweet via your handheld device #Muslimapologies” (Blumberg 2014). Finally, some Muslims hesitate to participate in “educating non-Muslims about Islam” because these forms of education often involve simplifying a complex and diverse tradition to challenge prevailing negative stereotypes. For instance, public statements condemning terrorist attacks by Muslims, both from Muslims and non-Muslims such as past presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, often make arguments like “Islam is a religion of peace,” and “these terrorists were not true Muslims.” In seeking to defend Muslims and Islam from people who would paint all Muslims as violent because of the actions of a few, those “defenders” are painting with an equally broad brushstroke, by insisting that (1) there is only one valid way of practicing Islam and being Muslim, and (2) they know what the “true Islam” looks like. While many Muslims might appreciate the good intentions of those seeking to challenge negative stereotypes about Muslims as violent by emphasizing Islam’s teachings about peace, they also want to be careful not to assert that there is only one valid version of Islam—and want to be sure not to lend credence to the idea that non-Muslims, such as the U.S. government, are the legitimate arbiters of what “true Islam” really is. Working for Religious Change The next three responses fall into the category of “Working for Religious Change.” Some Muslims are discouraging the development of radicalism in their mosques through supporting progressive interpretations of Islam. Others are responding to anti-Muslim sentiment by strengthening bonds between immigrant and African American Muslims, who have often been divided in the past. Still, other Muslims are building ties with people of other faiths, hoping these bonds will increase goodwill and understanding. Promoting progressive Islam. For some Muslims, one of the ways to combat anti-Muslim sentiment during the Trump era is to promote more progressive forms of Islam in their own mosques and communities. Part of this effort may be to discourage radicalism, which can help ensure that broader stereotypes of Muslims as violent are not, in fact, true in American Muslim communities. More deeply, however, the injustices faced by many Muslims in contemporary American society serve as a reminder of the importance of pursuing justice in their own communities, leading many Muslims to challenge racism, sexism, and other problems that at times have plagued Muslim communities (and religious communities in the United States more generally). For instance, Omid Safi, a professor at Duke University and columnist for On Being, the NPR show on religion and spirituality, has spent much of his career encouraging fellow Muslims to ask hard questions about racism and sexism in Muslim communities. His edited volume, Progressive Muslims (2003), brings together a diverse set of Muslim scholars and community leaders to discuss and debate questions about race, gender, family, sexuality, and other topics with deep connections to Muslim faith and practice. Strengthening bonds between immigrant and African American Muslims. Both scholars of American Muslims and Muslim American communities themselves have highlighted the reality of divisions between immigrant Muslim and African American Muslim communities in the United States (Bagby 2012). Sociologically, this division is perfectly understandable given institutional histories: African American Muslim communities have existed in sizeable numbers for decades due to the existence of the Nation of Islam (Gibson 2012), while immigrant Muslim communities have been more in flux, as the national origins of immigrant Muslims changed over time. However, the divisions run deeper than this. Many of the divisions are cultural, racial, and theological; in particular, African American Muslims often report feeling treated by immigrant Muslims as “not really Muslim” (Khan 2015). In an op-ed called “Islamophobia and Black American Muslims,” activist Margari Hill discusses the challenges of combatting Islamophobia, writing, “The erasure of Black American Muslims undermines efforts towards developing a unified front in the face of our greatest threat” (Hill 2015). Though conversations about racial divides in American Muslim communities are not new, during a time when anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies have the public endorsement of the U.S. president, many Muslims are feeling an even greater urgency to bridge the divide between immigrant and African American Muslims, to build solidarity based on their common religious identity. In November 2017, the Muslim Public Affairs Council held its 17th annual convention “Bridging the Divide: Religion, Race, and Politics,” which focused in part on issues of race. The Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, an organization started in 2014 to combat all types of racism, including “intra-Muslim racism,” released a video in 2017 that said, in part: “American Muslims are one of the most diverse faith groups in the United States. By successfully educating about racial inequities within the [Muslim] community, we can demonstrate a model for American society at a time when there is an even greater need for the work” (http://www.muslimarc.org/about/, accessed January 23, 2018). When the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative launched during Black History Month in 2014, it used the twitter hashtag #BeingBlackAndMuslim to raise awareness about the marginalization of black Muslims within American Muslim circles as well as African American circles. It went viral, and since that time, many black Muslims have used the hashtag to assert both their Muslim-ness and blackness, in part as an attempt to create dialogue, greater acceptance, and cooperation with other Muslims during the Trump era. In April 2017, black Muslim artist Bobby Rogers used the hashtag to launch a photo series, which juxtaposed images of black Muslims with statements about what it means to be black and Muslim in the United States. For instance, in one post, an image of a young, black woman wearing hijab is set beside the words “#BeingBlackAndMuslim means you are the largest group of American-Muslims, but you are the last to be asked to speak on Islam” (Blumberg 2017). In another example, a group called “Townhall Dialogue,” located in the Washington, DC area, has been working for several years to bring together Muslims from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds to discuss issues of pertinence to young Muslim Americans. The group holds dialogues on a variety of topics, with one recent dialogue called “Race in a Muslim Space.” The webpage describing the event said the discussion was guided by questions like: “How has race played a role in your life as you navigate a [sic] Muslim spaces? Have you witnessed racial hierarchies in Muslim communities? Do you feel your religious community promotes a message of “color blindness”? Is a message of “color blindness” helpful (or harmful) in addressing the issue of racism in our religious communities?” (http://www.townhalldialogue.com/race-in-a-muslim-space.html, accessed January 22, 2018). Of course, even explicit efforts like this to bridge the divide often have limited success: the photos on the event’s website suggest that few to none of the attendees were black Muslims. The organization seems to recognize this in text on the webpage that reads, “As a group, we discussed the inevitable self selection of attending even this event,” perhaps referring to the fact that few of the organization’s leaders appear to be black Muslims. Still, dialogues like this one demonstrate that many Muslims recognize the need to come together with their fellow Muslims across racial divides, both because of the “religious message of equality” (see Townhall Dialogue website) but also to build stronger communities. Building interfaith relationships. Muslim Americans have been deeply involved in interfaith work for years, partnering with Christians, Jews, and other people of faith to learn about each other’s religions (interfaith dialogue—see McCarthy 2007) and to work on shared concerns in their communities (interfaith organizing—see Wood and Fulton 2015; Yukich and Braunstein 2014). Since Trump’s election, many Muslims have sought to strengthen those relationships, calling on fellow people of faith to help defend Muslims’ civil liberties, particularly their constitutional right to religious liberty. For instance, in the aftermath of the election, some mosques held interfaith events, where Christians, Jews, and Muslims came together to express grave concern about the results of the election and to commit to defending the rights of Muslims. In an event I attended at a New England mosque in the days following the election, which was packed full of people from multiple faith backgrounds (including none), some Christian and Jewish attendees, recalling the registering of Jewish people by the Nazi regime during the Holocaust, announced their intention to register as “Muslims” if Trump instituted a national Muslim registry. In the days following Trump’s election, this was a frequent yet also criticized example of attempts to build interfaith solidarity in the Trump era (Stevens 2016). On a national level, some Muslims and Jews have strengthened their partnerships, recognizing their common position in the United States as religious minorities that have often faced marginalization, discrimination, and oppression, and seeking to support and defend each other from attempts to take away their rights. Just a few days after the presidential election in November 2016, the American Jewish Council (AJC) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) partnered to create the “Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council.” Though some Muslims voiced concerns about the partnership, worried that different positions on the Israel/Palestine conflict might make the partnership difficult (ISNA 2016), the goal of the group is to strengthen interfaith bonds to enable better and quicker responses to growth in both anti-Muslim sentiment and anti-Semitism during Trump’s campaign and the early days of his presidency. Specifically, the council’s website says it has two policy objectives: “to combat the rise in hate crimes, and to promote the positive image of Muslim and Jewish citizens of the United States” (http://www.muslimjewishadvocacy.org/about-us/, accessed January 22, 2018). Activism for Social Change The following two responses fall into the category of “Activism for Social Change.” Many Muslims fought the refugee ban passed by President Trump, which most saw as a rebranding of the “Muslim ban” he threatened on the campaign trail, attending rallies or calling their congressional representatives. Additionally, many Muslims are concerned about not only their own rights but also the well-being of immigrants and others endangered by Trump’s election, such as a Texas imam who has called for mosques to offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants. Defending the civil rights of Muslims. One of the major ways that Muslim Americans are responding to the Trump administration is to defend their own civil rights, a practice that was common prior to the Trump era as well (Love 2017). Because Muslims are a religious minority in the United States and have faced discrimination in the workplace and other realms for years, many organizations already existed that were engaged in this work: CAIR and the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee have been two of the main organizations doing this work. Perhaps one of the most prominent examples was the mobilization of Muslim communities against Trump’s Muslim ban. As is well-known, during his campaign, Trump proposed a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on” (DelReal 2016). To the horror of many Muslims and their allies, the proposed ban actually garnered a good deal of support from the American public (40% of Americans supported the proposal), particularly among Republicans, 73% of whom said immigration from Muslim-majority countries was either too high or should be stopped altogether (Jones et al. 2016). Still, many were shocked when the newly installed Trump administration moved forward with this proposal, couching it in different language in an attempt to curtail challenges asserting that it was unconstitutional. In the early days of his presidency, Trump signed Executive Order 13769, which banned refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen), explicitly prioritizing the acceptance of religious minorities (e.g., Christians) from those countries (Presidential Documents 2017). Detractors asserted that it was unconstitutional because it showed a religious preference for Christians and religious discrimination toward Muslims. In response, protests erupted around the United States, with Muslim Americans planning or involved in many of them. Some Muslims spoke at or attended protests at airports around the country, where even legal permanent residents from those countries were being detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents in the days following the executive order (Ballew 2017; Gambino et al. 2017). CAIR filed a federal suit challenging the constitutionality of the Muslim ban, as well as creating a Civil Rights app “to share critical ‘know your rights’ information and simplify the process to report hate crimes and bias incidents” (http://cair.com/press-center/press-releases/14647-cair-says-trump-s-new-muslim-ban-order-is-part-of-ugly-white-supremacist-agenda.html, accessed January 22, 2018). Though the executive order has faced challenges in courts and has changed its content multiple times, as of this writing, the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed the Trump administration to implement the current version of the ban while it faces challenges in lower courts, a signal that it may be ruled as constitutional after the Supreme Court hears arguments on the ban in April 2018. In light of this and other concerns about the rights of Muslim Americans in this era, it is likely that Muslim American activism around these issues will continue in the coming months and possibly years. Working for a more just society. The Five Pillars are the center of Muslim practice. Several arguably focus primarily on one’s relationship to Allah, but at least one, Zakah (religious tax), is also largely about one’s relationship with other people—the collected money is partly used to feed those who are poor. Many also argue that Sawm (fasting during Ramadan), is partly about justice, as fasting reminds a person not only of their need for God but also of those among them who are always hungry and in need. At the end of Ramadan, Eid al Fitr, families often give the poor a sum of money equal to the amount of money they would have spent on the meals they skipped during Ramadan (Nasr 2003). In addition to the Five Pillars, there are several other well-known teachings in Islam that highlight its emphasis on issues of social justice (Davis and Robinson 2012), such as the prohibition on “riba,” or usury, since it often has the effect of exploiting the poor. Inspired and motivated by these and other religious teachings, Muslims have long been involved in various forms of social justice work, from organizations like the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut, which engages in various forms of community service and outreach, to more political organizations like Inner City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) in Chicago and Atlanta, which both provides community services and organizes for social change in issues like criminal justice, housing, immigration, and food access. An organization called LaunchGood describes itself as “a global crowdfunding platform to support Muslims Launching good all across the world by helping them raise funds for their campaigns” (https://www.launchgood.com/about-us#!/, accessed January 22, 2018), and has raised more than 33 million dollars for over 3,000 campaigns, from building water wells in Rwanda to aid for refugees around the world to relief for homeless populations in Atlanta. While many Muslim Americans have long been involved in social justice work in the United States, the Trump campaign’s conservative positions on various issues, from immigration to health care, have provided new motivations to act for Muslims concerned about economic inequality and human rights. For instance, CAIR has provided alerts and calls to action for Muslims regarding the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA, calling on fellow Muslims to support DREAMERs and the passage of legislation that would enable them to stay in the United States legally (https://www.cair.com/press-center/action-alerts/14561-cair-action-alert-call-white-house-today-protect-daca-support-dreamers.html, accessed January 22, 2018). Although this may in part seem tied to Muslim self-interest, since many Muslims are immigrants, the vast majority of undocumented immigrants are from Mexico or other Latin American countries, so few are Muslim. Similarly, some Muslims have joined the New Sanctuary Movement (Yukich 2013), seeking to provide refuge to undocumented immigrants in danger of deportation and advocating on their behalf. In the days following Trump’s inauguration, Imam Omar Suleiman of Dallas, Texas, called on mosques around the country to follow the example of a Cincinnati mosque by offering sanctuary to undocumented immigrants (Ballew 2017). In an interview for a recent article, Suleiman said, “‘Sanctuary’ is as Islamic a concept as it is Judeo-Christian…. Four of the top five prophets in Islam … were refugees, and were welcomed by another community…. Every human being is honored and dignified in the sight of God” (Ballew 2017). Suleiman and many other Muslims see helping undocumented immigrants, regardless of their religious or ethnic identity, as an example of enacting their belief in Allah’s mercy. Embracing Trump Finally, some Muslims are “Embracing Trump”: some estimates suggest approximately 13% of Muslims voted for him (CAIR 2016). Some Muslims are conservative and support Trump because he is a Republican, while others like Trump because they see him as “tough on terrorism,” and they fear Islamic terrorism more than anti-Muslim sentiment. Still others argue that despite his vulgar rhetoric, Trump’s policies toward Muslim-majority nations are no more damaging to Muslims than those of Obama, Bush, and Clinton. During the 2016 presidential election, a Muslim man named Sajid Tarar led a prayer at the Republican National Convention (Hauslohner 2016). The founder and head of a group called “Muslims for Trump,” Tarar began his prayer by saying: “Let’s pray for a strong America, a safe America. And let’s ask God to make us strong to fight terrorism all over the world.” In prior conversations with reporters, Tarar, a Pakistani immigrant living in the Baltimore area, had insisted that Trump is not anti-Muslim: “When Donald Trump has said something about Muslims and Islam, he doesn’t mean American Muslims, he’s talking about terrorists” (Tolan 2016). Of course, many of Trump’s comments have been directly about American Muslims (calling for surveillance in American mosques, to give just one example), so it is likely that people like Tarar have other reasons for supporting Trump. Indeed, according to one reporter, Tarar “calls Obama a socialist, thinks building a border wall is ‘crucial,’ and bemoans political correctness and the Black Lives Matter movement” (Tolan 2016). In other words: he is conservative, and his conservatism leads him to support Donald Trump despite the negative statements Trump has made about Muslims. Similarly, during Trump’s campaign, Saba Ahmed, the founder and leader of the Republican Muslim Coalition, overlooked his negative statements about Muslims and policy proposals designed to restrict their rights. She supported him in spite of his anti-Muslim statements because of his conservatism, particularly his economic policies (Pashman 2016). Together, these examples serve as useful reminders that for at least some Muslims, Muslim identity politics were not the driving force in their vote; instead, other ideological positions and concerns, such as fiscal conservatism, led to their support of the Republican candidate over a more progressive candidate, even if that candidate was far more positive about Muslims. While there may not have been much in the way of organized, vocal support of Trump from Muslims during his campaign, CAIR’s estimate that 13% of Muslims voted for Trump demonstrates that his support among Muslims was not insignificant. Indeed, if that number is accurate, then up to 400,000 Muslims may have voted for Trump rather than Hillary Clinton. In Michigan, where the Muslim population is relatively high compared with most other states (2.75% of Michigan’s 9.9 million people [Karam 2017], or about 272,000 Muslims), 13% of Michigan’s Muslims would be 35,000 people—though some of these are children and nonvoters, the number far exceeds the margin of Trump’s win in that state, which was less than 12,000 votes. In other words, Muslim support for Trump was more than just one or two people and was large enough that, if those Muslims had instead supported Clinton in key battleground states, she may have won the presidential election. Having established that Muslim support for Trump is something to take seriously rather than to laugh off as unimportant or, indeed, impossible, the question remains as to why some Muslims supported Trump, both during the election and since Trump has taken office, despite his stoking of anti-Muslim sentiment. First, as the examples above suggest, many Muslims are conservative. More are social conservatives than fiscal conservatives. About half of Muslims believe homosexuality is morally wrong (Pew Research Center 2017), a position that aligns those Muslims more with the Republican party platform than the Democratic one. Muslims are less likely to agree with the Republican party’s “small government” approach to fiscal policy (for instance, 67% of Muslims say they prefer bigger government that offers more services compared with 48% of the general American public), but 25% do prefer more conservative approaches to economics and government programs that align them more with Republicans (Pew Research Center 2017). Indeed, 13% of American Muslims identify as Republican, and 21% identify as conservative; while these numbers are low compared with the general American public, they nonetheless demonstrate that a minority of Muslims identify with being Republican and conservative (Pew Research Center 2017). Given the political polarization in the United States today (Westfall et al. 2015), it makes sense to expect that, like many non-Muslim Republicans who voted for Trump despite some concerns about him, many Muslim Republicans likely voted for Trump merely because he had an “R” beside his name—in other words, because the importance of their Republican identities and/or their support for Republican policies outweighed any concerns they had about Trump’s attitudes and behaviors toward Muslims. Furthermore, some Muslims voted for Trump not in spite of his pronouncements about Muslims and his emphasis on what he calls “radical Islamic terrorism,” but, seemingly paradoxically, because of his views of Muslims as particularly dangerous and in need of greater regulation. In particular, some Muslims from countries where terrorist attacks are much more common than in the West—such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria—may be especially likely to feel that, while not all Muslims are terrorists, Muslim terrorists are a danger to the United States and to ordinary people in many countries, and that a heavier hand is needed in dealing with them. For example, Asra Nomani, an Indian American journalist who has traveled in the Middle East as part of her work, wrote an op-ed arguing that as a Muslim woman, she voted for Trump in part because she “has experienced, first-hand, Islamic extremism in this world … I have been opposed to the decision by President Obama and the Democratic Party to tap dance around the ‘Islam’ in Islamic State” (Nomani 2016). Though this characterization of the Obama administration is arguably incorrect, for people in this category, Trump’s tough talk during the campaign about “bombing the shit out of ISIS” (Moore 2017) and creating a Muslim registry was welcome rather than a cause for fear, since they hoped this would help to protect everyone, including law-abiding Muslims, from terrorist acts committed by groups like ISIS. Finally, still other Muslims may not have voted for Trump, but have nonetheless embraced him as president rather than resisting his authority. Part of this response may be due to general respect for authority or respect for the office of president, regardless of who holds it. But also, while some Muslims may not have been outright supporters of Trump, they did not fall into the anti-Trump camp either. Instead, during the election and after, they argued that despite Trump’s pandering to anti-Muslim sentiment during his campaign, his proposed policies toward Muslim-majority nations were no less friendly to Muslims than the attacks perpetrated by the United States during Hillary Clinton’s time as U.S. Secretary of State. Of course, depending on how much emphasis these same Muslims place on Israel/Palestine issues, their support of him may have waned in the wake of his more recent, highly criticized decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital in American foreign policy moving forward, a move interpreted by many as a show of support for Zionists and a slap in the face to Palestinians. DISCUSSION Muslim Americans are on the front line battling anti-Muslim rhetoric and policy in the contemporary United States. While their engagement is not necessarily new—many activists have been engaged in this work for years—this article finds that many Muslims do indeed feel a new urgency to become active in opposing the anti-Muslim sentiments voiced by many Americans and given tacit (and sometimes explicit) approval by Trump and his administration. Muslim Americans are engaging in religious activism in many different forms, from seeking cultural change by educating non-Muslims about Islam, to working for change in their own religious institutions by making them more racially diverse or more progressive, to attempting to change government policy through protests, lawsuits, and other strategies and tactics. The contemporary forms of Muslim American activism described in this article demonstrate the need for broader conceptions of what counts as “progressive religious activism.” While raising awareness about one’s religious tradition with outsiders has typically been considered proselytization, in the case of Muslims educating non-Muslims about Islam, an action that is not usually characterized as “activism” or as “progressive” might be fairly described as both. An expanded definition of “progressive religious activism” might include any public action from a marginalized group choosing to challenge its marginalization (such as attempts by Muslims to defend their civil rights during early days of the Trump administration), or could encompass efforts to build inter-ethnic and interfaith ties within religious communities themselves, since these attempts have the potential to further the cause of inclusion despite being aimed toward religious targets rather than political ones. On the other hand, this article also challenges the dominant focus on conservative/progressive categorizations of religious activism, as well as the assumption that all Muslims are opposed to Trump, since some Muslims have responded to Trump not by engaging in resistance to Trump but instead, by embracing his presidency. It is hard to imagine categorizing Muslim activism supporting Trump as “progressive,” though it is not easily defined as an example of “conservative religious activism” either—if only because Muslims are involved, and the religious right has rarely included Muslims and, indeed, many of the religious right’s leaders (such as Franklin Graham) are explicitly anti-Islam. In supporting Trump, some Muslims are challenging the conservative notion that all Muslims must believe or act the same way, troubling the waters of conservative/progressive categorizations; what Trump-supporting Muslims are doing is something in between conservative and progressive, or perhaps something best characterized as outside of the conservative-progressive continuum altogether. The degree to which this type of action does not easily fit typical conservative/progressive definitions is clearly related to Muslim marginalization, highlighting the ways that the actions of members of marginalized groups—immigrants, people of color, religious minorities—might be less likely to fit dominant categories of religious activism. Thus, while expanding definitions of and attention to progressive religious activism is important, this article also demonstrates the need to attend to and theorize a greater variety of types of religious activism, including (and perhaps especially) those types that do not easily adhere to conservative and progressive categorizations. By providing examples of organizations and individuals engaged in a variety of responses to Trump, this article both sketches a picture of Muslim American activism in this era and creates an agenda for research on Muslim American activism in the coming years. In particular, some of the types of activism described here involve more risk than others. Because Muslims are already marginalized in U.S. society, we might expect them to engage in less risky forms of activism. Indeed, the preferred form of activism does seem to be educating non-Muslims about Islam in relatively uncontentious ways. However, as this article has shown, some Muslims are engaging in forms of activism that carry greater risk. Specifically, the two activities that seem most likely to disrupt the societal status quo are (1) activism for social change and (2) resisting the role of defender of Islam. In the first case, the type of activism in which a person engages is related to the degree to which it is risky—more disruptive styles of protest often carry the highest risk (Gamson 1975; McAdam 1986). Thus, Muslims who sign a petition in support of the DREAM Act are facing lower levels of risk compared with Muslims who commit acts of civil disobedience in support of the DREAM Act, or who “come out” as undocumented immigrants as part of efforts to demonstrate the necessity of the DREAM Act’s passage. American Muslims who are not U.S. citizens, whether they are legal permanent residents or undocumented immigrants, face especially high levels of risk when engaging in activities that might involve their arrest. Thus, while it is possible that first generation Muslim immigrants might engage in high-risk activism, it is reasonable to expect that many might restrict their responses to the Trump presidency to ones that avoid breaking the law. Regarding the second, the decision to reject the “defender of Islam” role—to refuse to allow non-Muslims’ desires and comforts to dictate how one depicts Muslims and Islam—likely involves some degree of privilege as well. Because of negative stereotypes about Muslims among the general U.S. population and among the administration currently in power, Muslims seeking greater acceptance and social mobility may feel compelled to try to prove to people in positions of power that negative stereotypes about Muslims and Islam are not true. When a person does not feel compelled to do this—indeed, when they actively resist such a role—this likely signifies that the person has less need for the approval or acceptance of people in power; in other words, they may already have higher levels of education, decent paying work, and other economic and social resources that enable them to opt out of challenging negative stereotypes of Muslims. Future research could examine these and other patterns to create greater understanding of whether different groups of Muslims—African American Muslims, immigrant Muslims, highly educated Muslims, etc.—are more or less likely to engage in certain kinds of activism due to their social locations. Because Muslim Americans are one of the most diverse religious groups in the United States, theologically and ethnically, studying that diversity can provide a way to understand the degree to which the choice of strategies and tactics by religious activists is shaped by theology and identity versus social location and its associated privileges. The insights gleaned from studying Muslim activism in the United States—the varieties of religious activism, the multiple targets and tactics of religious activists, the need for a broader conception of “progressive” and “activism,” the inadequacy of conservative/progressive categorizations—demonstrate the value in studying religious groups on the margins of U.S. society. While religious and religio-racial minorities may make up smaller portions of the U.S. population compared with white evangelicals, for instance, they often operate in ways that are different from dominant groups, yet nonetheless are relevant for understanding widespread patterns of religious action. For these and other reasons, future research on religious activism should prioritize studying groups on the religious margins. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The author thanks three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on this article. REFERENCES Ahmed , Leila . 2011 . A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence, from the Middle East to America . New Haven, CT : Yale University Press . Armstrong , Elizabeth A. , and Mary Bernstein . 2008 . “ Culture, Power, and Institutions: A Multi-Institutional Politics Approach to Social Movements .” Sociological Theory 26 : 74 . 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Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Association for the Sociology of Religion. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sociology of Religion Oxford University Press

Muslim American Activism in the Age of Trump

Sociology of Religion , Volume Advance Article (2) – Apr 3, 2018

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Abstract

Abstract The presidency of Donald Trump has roused progressive Americans, including religious progressives, to become more involved in politics. While Muslim Americans are not uniformly progressive, many have serious concerns about Trump’s presidency, partly rooted in his anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies. This article asks: how are Muslim Americans responding to the Trump era, and what can this teach us about religious activism in the United States today? Using key websites, social media, and newspaper sources, I identify eight ways Muslims are reacting to the Trump presidency. This article demonstrates the diversity of Muslim American activism and challenges the assumption that all Muslims are opposed to Trump. It also shows how common conservative/progressive categorizations are often inadequate for understanding the activism of religio-racial minorities. In doing so, this article both sketches a picture of Muslim American activism in this era and creates an agenda for research on Muslim American activism in the coming years. In the wake of the 2016 election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, much attention has been paid to the role white evangelical Christians played in Trump’s victory. In part, this was due to surprise: surprise that Trump had won at all, and surprise that white evangelicals (unlike Latinx and black evangelicals) had supported a candidate like Trump in such high numbers, given the very public examples of his behavior that stood in stark contrast to commonly held evangelical moral standards. Many commentators were puzzled by the continued power of the religious right, which some had regarded as on the decline. Those narratives of decline were not entirely wrong. White evangelical Protestantism is shrinking as a proportion of the United States; it simply has not disappeared as a political force quite as quickly as some observers expected (Jones 2016). If current demographic trends continue, white evangelical Christians will indeed lose much of the political power they once had, particularly if other forces rise to take their place (Yukich 2017a). Indeed, other religious actors have been seeking to fill that space, though with far less attention paid to their efforts. Much of this activism might be deemed “progressive,” with the religious people involved seeking to directly counter the policies and messages of the religious right. While progressive religious activism is not new—indeed, some of the most important social movements in U.S. history were led in part by religious groups and leaders typically considered progressive (e.g., the Civil Rights Movement)—the waning influence of the religious right warrants more focus on religious activism that is not associated with the religious right. The campaign, election, and presidency of Donald Trump have roused progressive Americans of all stripes to become more involved in politics. Many are religious, though not all fit the typical definition of “progressive.” Some agree with most of the key issues often emphasized by the Democratic Party and the Working Families Party: government programs to alleviate poverty and decrease economic inequality, immigrant-friendly policies, ecological sustainability, civil rights for LGBT people, and access to abortion services. Others, though, support the first three while leaning more conservative on the last two issues, particularly the issue of abortion rights. Perhaps these complexities—the ways in which they challenge both standard notions of who counts as progressive or conservative and conservative/progressive categories themselves—have contributed, in part, to the relative lack of attention to progressive religion in the last few decades. But when we neglect religious activists who are not affiliated with the religious right, we miss a lot. For instance, while half of Muslim Americans agree with the white evangelicals who elected Trump about the dangers of homosexuality (Pew Research Center 2017), many have serious concerns about Trump’s presidency, partly rooted in his anti-Muslim rhetoric, his so-called “Muslim ban,” and his proposal to create a Muslim registry. Substantial majorities of Muslim Americans disapprove of Trump’s job performance (65%), say he makes them feel worried (68%), and see him as unfriendly toward Muslims (74%) (Pew Research Center 2017). Given the focus on Muslims in so much of Trump’s campaign and early presidency, surely Muslim responses to Trump warrant some of the attention that white evangelicals have received during the last year. Much of the media coverage around Trump’s anti-Muslim positions has focused on resistance to these policies from progressives in general. Instead, this article asks: how are Muslim Americans themselves responding to the Trump presidency, and what can this teach us about religious activism more generally? Using key Muslim websites, social media, and newspaper sources, I identify eight ways Muslims are reacting to the Trump presidency: (1) educating non-Muslims about Islam; (2) resisting the role of “defender of Islam”; (3) advocating for progressive Islam within Muslim circles; (4) building solidarity between immigrant and African American Muslims; (5) strengthening interfaith bonds; (6) advocating for Muslim rights; (7) advocating for other forms of social change; and (8) embracing Trump’s presidency. The diversity of their responses demonstrates the inadequacies of the typical conservative/progressive dichotomy in many studies of religious activism, showing the need for a fuller conception of how religious activists operate in the United States today. RELIGIOUS ACTIVISM IN THE UNITED STATES Throughout the course of 2017, newspaper articles appeared with headlines like: “Religious liberals sat out of politics for 40 years. Now they want in” (Goodstein 2017) and “‘Religious left’ emerging as U.S. political force in Trump era” (Malone 2017). As is often the case, these headlines, and the stories in the articles themselves, sought to make a rather old phenomenon seem new and exciting. As religion and politics scholars know well, religious liberals (or the term many prefer—“religious progressives”) most certainly have not sat out of politics for 40 years. Religious progressives have been involved in countless social movements during the last 40 years, from the anti-war movement to the movement against nuclear proliferation to the 1980s Sanctuary Movement and New Sanctuary Movement and many, many more (Braunstein et al. 2017; Nepstad 2008; Smith 1996; Wuthnow and Evans 2002; Yukich 2013). Some of this involvement has been “quiet” (Wuthnow and Evans 2002), such as responsible investing efforts or environmental advocacy, but the power of religious progressives demonstrated in the Civil Rights Movement never fully disappeared. However, both the media and scholars have often ignored religious progressives. They challenge the dominant media narrative that the major political division in the United States exists between the religious right and the secular left. Religious progressives muddy the waters, demonstrating that the narrative is not as simple as many would wish it to be. They challenge dominant definitions of “religion,” as well as reigning notions of what it means to be politically progressive; as such, their existence forces scholars to rethink categories that often seem well-established. “Progressive religion” could mean many things: it could refer to the types of religious beliefs people hold, their identities, the types of practices in which they engage, the denominations and congregations with which they are affiliated, or just the fact that a group is not part of the religious right (Braunstein et al. 2017; Yukich 2017b). Even using a broad definition that potentially encompasses all of these, progressive religious activism has received only limited scholarly attention in recent years, and most of the studies that do exist have focused on activism among Christian and Jewish groups. Indeed, sociology of religion more generally has been critiqued in this regard, since “for most scholars in the field, the default category reflects a broadly shared conception of American religion directly linked to Protestant American theological conceptions” (Bender et al. 2012:5). However, though renewed attention to progressive religious activism is a welcome change, a very broad definition of progressive religion may not be the most useful way forward. While it is important to distinguish the types of activism associated with the religious right from other types of religious activism, the activism often deemed “religiously conservative” is relatively limited; among the plethora of other types of religious activism, some might be usefully categorized as progressive, while other types of activism may not easily fit into either a “conservative” or “progressive” category. The current religious conservative/progressive polarity is also, in many ways, rooted in the cultural dominance of white evangelical Protestantism, with the definitions of these categories depending on issues like economics, gender, and sexuality being bundled in ways that are relevant to the concerns of white evangelical conservatives (and their detractors), but may be less pertinent to the concerns of religious others. In the past, the tendency has often been to ignore groups that do not easily fit these categorizations—immigrants, African American Christians, religious minorities—such that scholars do not have a good sense for whether the varieties of religious activism in the United States today really do primarily fall into “conservative” and “progressive” camps, or whether much of the empirical reality is too complex to be categorized in this way. Religious activism occurring outside of the religious right has received more attention in the last few years due to an increase in research on faith-based community organizing (Lichterman 2005; Swarts 2008; Wood 2002; Wood and Fulton 2015; Wood et al. 2012). Faith-based community organizing offers one example of activism that does not easily fit into conservative and progressive labels (though it is sometimes characterized as more progressive), but its focus on congregations (as opposed to individuals) and on political action (as opposed to other types of actions) means that the types of activism being observed will necessarily be limited. Furthermore, most of the groups involved in these organizations are Christian or Jewish (Wood et al. 2012), so it reveals little about whether current understandings of religious activism are adequate for explaining the religious activism of other religious groups. Though there are several exceptions to this general focus on Christian and Jewish activism, such as a limited number of studies examining Hindu activism in the United States (Kurien 2007; Lal 1999; Rajagopal 2000), studies of “socially engaged Buddhism” (Keown et al. 2003; King 2009; Queen 2000), and research on Muslim political engagement (cf. Dana et al. 2011; Jamal 2005; Pew Research Center 2017), much of this research focuses on contexts outside of the Unied states and was conducted long enough ago that it is difficult to know whether the studies’ findings are still relevant in the current context. For instance, some studies have examined Muslim activism in the United States (Ahmed 2011; Hammer 2012; Hondagneu-Sotelo 2008; Leonard 2007; Love 2017), but most were conducted or published before Trump became a serious presidential candidate—a development that may have shifted the activism of Muslims and other religious minorities in significant ways. Much of the research on religious activism has adopted a “resource mobilization” approach by examining how existing organizations (e.g., congregations) and their resources make mobilization more possible and therefore more likely (cf. McAdam 1982; McCarthy and Zald 1977; Morris 1984; Smith 1996; Swarts 2008; Wood 2002; Wuthnow and Evans 2002). While some research indicates that non-Judeo-Christian groups adopt more congregational forms in the American context (Ebaugh and Chafetz 2000; Kurien 2007; Warner and Wittner 1998), many remain less rooted in congregationalism, such that congregations may not serve the same mobilizing functions that they do for Christian and Jewish activists (Bender et al. 2012; Hondagneu-Sotelo 2008; Kurien 2007; Levitt 2007; Min 2010). Thus, focusing on non-Judeo-Christian traditions provides a way to move beyond the focus on conservative/progressive religion, on congregations, and on resource mobilization in religious activism, raising different sorts of questions. For instance, how does being a member of a religious minority, particularly one that faces high levels of discrimination, affect the types of activism in which a person engages? How does it influence their political positions? How does it impact the strategies and tactics they choose? Similarly, much social movement research has treated changing government policy as the primary goal of any serious movement, but more recent scholarship emphasizes that power and authority do not reside solely in the state, instead pointing attention toward other institutional contexts like religious organizations or the military (Armstrong and Bernstein 2008; Yukich 2013). How might being a member of a marginalized religious group shape the extent to which religious activism targets the state versus other sources of power and authority? Members of marginalized religious communities may find it necessary to engage in activism that, elsewhere, I have called “multi-target social movement” activism (Yukich 2013): activism that both challenges government policy (for a variety of reasons, including potential discrimination against one’s own religious group) and, simultaneously, other targets such as their own religious institutions, as they battle over what the public face of those institutions should look like. Because of the explicit discrimination directed toward Muslims during the 2016 presidential campaign, for example, Muslims may feel pressure to ensure that the public image of American Islam, as well as local mosques, is one with which non-Muslim Americans feel comfortable. By examining activism among people who are on the religious margins, scholars may find that traditional notions of what counts as “activism” need to be expanded to more fully account for the varieties of religious activism occurring in the United States today. Scholars are largely missing accounts of the ways that members of religious groups other than Christianity and Judaism—such as Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims—are engaging in religious activism both generally and in this particular time and place. Because Trump’s victory is at least partly due to his fear of and disdain for racial and religious minorities, feelings many of his supporters share, it is particularly important in this specific time period to understand how religio-racial minorities are working to challenge Trump’s rhetoric and the right-wing policies of his administration. Furthermore, greater attention to non-Judeo-Christian religious activism will help scholars to develop a fuller understanding of what these phenomena look like in an increasingly diverse American religious landscape. Muslim Activism in the United States The last couple of years have been especially difficult ones for many American Muslims. While Muslims in American society have faced higher levels of discrimination since the attack on September 11, 2001 (Cainkar 2002; Cimino 2005; Peek 2010), anti-Muslim sentiment intensified following the rise of ISIS as a global force in 2014, arguably reaching its zenith (at least up to this point) during the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump. Not only did Trump refuse to correct supporters at rallies who voiced anti-Muslim bigotry, but also the candidate himself proposed a ban on Muslims entering the United States, as well as a national registry for Muslims. Now-president Trump has followed through on one of those proposals, first seeking to create a ban on refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations, a ban that later underwent revisions (some argue the purpose of these revisions was to make the ban appear less anti-Muslim) and has now received support from the U.S. Supreme Court. Muslims make up a small but growing part of the overall U.S. population; 3.3 million Muslims reside in the United States, or 1% of the total U.S. population, an almost 50% increase since 2007 (Mohamed 2016). This means that they are currently the second largest religious minority in the United States (Jews make up the largest minority), but that is projected to change by 2050, by which time Muslims are expected to comprise the largest religious minority group due to factors like migration and fertility patterns (Pew Research Center 2015). Many American Muslims are recent immigrants: 76% are first or second generation immigrants, meaning they are likely to have ethnic and cultural ties to other countries (Pew Research Center 2017). Still, 82% of American Muslims are U.S. citizens, suggesting that many immigrant Muslims seek to assimilate quickly, perhaps in part to avoid negative stereotypes (Peek 2010; Pew Research Center 2017). In addition, despite laws ostensibly protecting Muslims from religious discrimination, many Muslims report experiencing discrimination in their daily lives (Greenhouse 2010; Peek 2010; Pew Research Center 2017). Most Muslim Americans say they are proud to be American (92%), demonstrating their commitment to being a part of American society, but about half say they have experienced religious discrimination during the past year (Pew Research Center 2017). About half say it has become more difficult to be Muslim in the United States in recent years, with 60% saying U.S. media coverage of Islam and Muslims is generally unfair (Pew Research Center 2017). And between 2015 and 2016, hate crimes against Muslims in the United States rose significantly, surpassing even 2001 levels following the 9/11 attacks (Kishi 2017). In this context, one that was somewhat hostile for Muslim Americans even before the Trump campaign and presidency but has arguably grown even more challenging, it is especially important to understand how Muslim Americans are engaging with their surrounding communities. Doing so not only tells us more about Muslims themselves but also reveals something about the diversity of religious activism more generally. The terms “progressive” and “conservative” are not necessarily common descriptors for different forms of Islam in much of the world, but some Muslim American scholars nonetheless argue that there is “a nascent community of Muslim activists and intellectuals” who identify as “progressive Muslims” (Safi 2003:3), with the “progressive Islam” label signifying a focus on issues like social justice, gender justice, and pluralism (Yukich 2017b). Though many Muslims are not progressive in many of their political positions, in this time period, simply being Muslim and not criticizing Islam might earn someone the label of “liberal” or “progressive,” as being critical of Muslims has become a marker of conservatism in the United States (Telhami 2015). Thus, while not all Muslims are progressive, in the Trump era, Muslim American activism—particularly activism defending Muslims from discrimination—might be deemed progressive. However, for some forms of Muslim activism, the terms “conservative” and “progressive” may be inadequate and even misleading descriptors of the types of actions taking place and the meanings associated with them. In seeking to understand the variety of religious responses to the Trump presidency, focusing on Muslim American activism is key. Because we still know relatively little about the types of religious activism in which Muslims engage, this article seeks to identify the plethora of ways Muslim Americans are responding to the Trump presidency, some more progressive, some conservative; some focused on government policy, others focused on changing the beliefs and practices of individual Muslims and non-Muslims. To identify various forms of activism and responses to Trump, I gathered information from key websites, social media, and news sources. I examined the websites of several key Muslim organizations: the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA). Examining these websites led me to multiple other sites of interest, such as LaunchGood and the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council. I also examined social media, particularly Twitter, for examples of Muslim activism occurring there. Finally, I examined news coverage of Muslim activism, including but not limited to stories in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Washington Post. The findings presented below demonstrate the diversity of Muslim Americans, of their responses to Trump, and of religious activism more generally, showing the importance of a research agenda on religious activism that incorporates more studies of non-Judeo-Christian activists. FINDINGS Though there are almost certainly additional ways in which Muslims are responding to Trump, I identify eight main ways Muslims are reacting to the Trump presidency: (1) educating non-Muslims about Islam; (2) resisting the role of “defender of Islam”; (3) advocating for progressive Islam within Muslim circles; (4) building solidarity between immigrant and African American Muslims; (5) strengthening interfaith bonds; (6) advocating for Muslim rights; (7) advocating for other forms of social change; and (8) embracing Trump’s presidency. Educating Non-Muslims about Islam The first two of these responses fall into the category of “Education.” Some Muslims are working to educate non-Muslims about Islam, while others are resisting the role of “defender of Islam.” Perhaps the most common way that Muslim Americans are responding to the Trump presidency is to fight back against the negative stereotypes and anti-Muslim sentiments expressed in public discourse by seeking to educate non-Muslims about Islam. In many ways, this is an uphill battle. Research has revealed the extensive networks of fringe anti-Muslim groups and their growth in public influence (Bail 2012), which likely impacted the mindsets of many Trump supporters and even Steve Bannon and Trump himself. While organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) try to combat the images of Muslims produced by these fringe anti-Muslim groups, Trump’s win, as well as the opinions about Muslims expressed in national polls of Americans, suggest that the fringe groups may be winning the public battle over the image of Islam in America—but only for Republicans. Perhaps surprisingly, those polls show that, since 2015 when Trump announced his candidacy, Americans’ views of Muslims and Islam have become more positive, not less, though the changes have almost all been due to increasingly positive views of Muslims among Democrats and independents, with Republican views remaining unchanged and largely negative (Telhami 2017). In November 2015, Americans were split about evenly, with only 53% reporting favorable views of Muslims and less than 40% reporting favorable views of Islam. However, by October 2016, the percent of Americans reporting favorable views of Muslims had jumped to 70%, and about 50% reported favorable views of Islam. Thus, while Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric may have stoked anti-Muslim views among Republicans, or even just reflected views that were already there, they may have backfired by increasing positive views of Muslims among non-Republicans, with shifts so large that they changed the breakdown of overall American views as well (Telhami 2017). However, the polls reveal less about Americans views during Trump’s presidency. The heat of the presidential campaign and its associated partisanship, and dislike for Trump’s policies and rhetoric regarding Muslims, may have produced a temporary shift in attitudes toward Muslims that did not last once the issue became less prevalent. Polls show that knowing a Muslim personally might create more positive attitudes toward Muslims and Islam (Telhami 2015), perhaps with the potential to change views in the long term, but most Americans do not know any Muslims (Lipka 2014). As such, many Muslims feel that the best way to combat Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and agenda, and anti-Muslim public sentiment, more broadly, is to create more opportunities for non-Muslims to get to know them. These “getting to know you” campaigns often take the form of Islam 101 classes or lectures by Muslim speakers that are geared toward non-Muslims who want to be better informed about Islam. Some are sponsored by and held at local mosques; others are held at churches, synagogues, community centers, or other locations where groups of interested people typically gather. Some have been running for several years, while others started explicitly in response to Trump’s campaign and presidency. For instance, Muslim couple Jenny Yanez and Anwer Bashi started an Islam 101 course at their New Orleans-area mosque, a free, 6-week primer on the Muslim faith. While the course began as a way to teach new Muslims about Islam, the couple has seen more non-Muslims take the course recently. “People come because they have co-workers or family who have accepted Islam and they want to understand them better…. And some people come because they’re afraid of Islam … I think those are very brave, brave people who come to the mosque,” Ms. Yanez told a reporter (Feldman 2017). The class provides students with the chance to read primary sources like the Quran for themselves, as well as the opportunity to hang out with Muslims. Ms. Yanez’s husband added, “If every representation that they’ve seen is negative, it’s not anybody’s fault that when they think of Islam, immediately it starts from a negative place…. It [the course] really humanizes Muslims … I mean it’s almost sad that we have to say that, but Muslims have been pretty dehumanized” (Feldman 2017). Another example is the practice of Muslim speakers giving talks about their faith to non-Muslims in non-Muslim spaces. For instance, Haroon Moghul, Muslim author of How To Be a Muslim: An American Story (2017, Beacon Press), has given talks to non-Muslim groups about his book and his experiences as a Muslim, such as speaking at book club meetings, synagogues, and on National Public Radio. While much of this work happens locally, there have been more national efforts to educate non-Muslims about Islam as well. Many Muslims write op-eds about Islam for newspapers and websites that are read widely by non-Muslims. For instance, Mansura Bashir Minhas, a Pakistani-American Muslim, wrote an op-ed in the Miami Herald titled “Get to know the ‘True Islam’,” arguing that Muslim extremists “defy the norms of logic and distort its [Islam’s] core message to pursue their depraved agendas” (Minhas 2016). She describes “True Islam,” a campaign “to educate Americans on Islam’s true teachings” (Minhas 2016). The website of “True Islam,” hosted by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, “answers eleven misunderstood questions on Islam,” offers chances to chat online with a Muslim, and hosts “Coffee, Cake, & True Islam” meetups around the country (www.trueislam.com). While Ahmadi Muslims are considered heterodox by many other Muslims (BBC 2010), this op-ed and “True Islam’s” efforts to educate non-Muslims about Islam are similar in many ways to education efforts by members of other sects of Islam, which attempt to demonstrate that Islam is not inherently violent by introducing non-Muslims to the main tenets of Islam and to the Quran itself. More specifically, many national efforts at educating non-Muslims about Islam are focused on combatting stereotypes of Muslims as terrorists or of Islam as an inherently violent religion. This has typically taken three forms: (1) public statements by imams condemning terrorist attacks perpetrated by Muslims; (2) marches or vigils held by Muslims to condemn terrorist attacks; and (3) the #NotInMyName campaign, which involves Muslims condemning terrorist attacks committed by Muslims. Whenever a terrorist attack is perpetrated by a Muslim, whether in the United States or elsewhere, someone inevitably tweets something asking why Muslims are not condemning terrorism. Referencing this tendency and resisting it at the same time, twitter user and best-selling author Rabi Chaudry recently tweeted, “‘Why don’t Muslims condemn terrorism’ Sorry, too busy dying from it,” linking to a CNN story about 26 people being killed in a suicide bombing in Baghdad (https://twitter.com/rabiasquared, January 15, 2018). As Chaudry’s tweet suggests, while some use the supposed silence of Muslims as evidence that Muslims approve of violence, even if they claim to believe in peace, in reality, Muslims frequently speak out against terrorist attacks committed by Muslims, making public statements condemning such actions as evil and contrary to Islam. In November 2016, 19-year old University of Colorado student Heraa Hashmi tweeted “classmate: why don’t muslims condemn things/ me:*goes home makes 712 page long list of Muslims Condemning Things with sources*/ me: fight me” (https://twitter.com/caveheraa, November 11, 2016). Indeed, she did make such a list, which went viral (Mahdawi 2017). It also inspired the creation of the website Muslims Condemn, “a collection of all the cases where Muslims have condemned wrongdoings done falsely in the name of Islam” (https://muslimscondemn.com). Similarly, marches and protests sponsored by Muslim organizations, held specifically to denounce terrorist attacks committed by Muslims, have been common in other countries, but have occurred in the United States as well. For instance, in the United Kingdom, thousands of Muslims marched against terrorism in the wake of terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom, with similar protests held by Muslims in Germany, Spain, the United States, and many other countries in recent years (Independent 2017; Laitner 2015; Osborne 2017; Smith 2017). While this could also be seen as an example of what I call “working for religious change” or “activism for social change,” these protests also provide a way for Muslims to educate non-Muslims about Islam, by demonstrating that most Muslims are law-abiding and peaceful, not terrorists or terrorist sympathizers. Finally, the #NotInMyName twitter campaign began several years ago as a way for Muslims to speak out again terrorist attacks perpetrated by Muslims (Franceschi-Bicchierai 2014). As with all social media, twitter and facebook posts are both ways to communicate content and ways to signal identity: in this case, Muslims are showing non-Muslims that Islam is diverse, and that while Muslim terrorists may get a lot of press, most Muslims do not support violence in the name of Islam. Indeed, they believe Islam condemns, rather than calls for, violence. Twitter users all over the world adopted the hashtag, sharing photos of themselves holding signs reading “#NotInMyName” or just using the hashtag and sharing tweets like, “Another disgusting threat from the un-Islamic State #NotInMyName” (Franceschi-Bicchierai 2014). Since Trump’s election, this type of activism has continued as a way for Muslims to educate non-Muslims about Islam’s teachings on violence. By teaching Islam 101 courses to non-Muslims, giving lectures on Islam in non-Muslim spaces, publicly condemning terrorist attacks as antithetical to Islam, and speaking out against terrorism on social media, Muslims are seeking to educate non-Muslims about Islam. In doing so, they hope to change the stereotypes that have led to the anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies that have dominated Trump’s campaign and presidency thus far. Resistance to the educator role. While many Muslims have responded to Trump by trying to educate non-Muslims about Islam, others have resisted that role for reasons of principle and pragmatism, and as a form of resistance to what the general culture demands of them—in other words, that in order to be accepted, they must constantly apologize for other people who happen to have the same religious identity or ethnicity as them. Like people of color who argue that it is oppressive to have to educate white people about racism, some Muslims are tired of being told they must do the work of convincing bigoted Americans that they are not terrorists just because they are Muslim. Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, an imam at a DC-area mosque and leader in several national Muslim organizations, has said about Muslims issuing apologies for terrorism in an effort to educate non-Muslims that, “It sounded like they were apologizing for something they haven’t done, like they were running for cover” (Kaleem 2014). Sana Saeed, a producer at Al Jazeera channel AJ+, wrote in a blog post that she was “tired of people in my communities constantly partaking in and creating public campaigns to put up a good face of our religion…. When you ask Muslims to condemn or denounce heinous actions, ideologies or groups what you’re saying is that you don’t trust any Muslim” (Kaleem 2014). So, one response to Trump is to push back against the expectation that Muslims should be apologetic, docile, and uncritical of the United States in any way if they want to be truly accepted in American society. While many Muslims have decided that resisting the “defender” role is the appropriate response to the level of anti-Muslim sentiment that is now publicly and powerfully present in American society, different Muslims give different reasons for their resistance. For some, the resistance is related to the idea of oppression: that oppressed groups should not be responsible for convincing those in power that they should not be oppressed. Instead, bigoted people should take responsibility for their bigotry and educate themselves about groups they do not understand. Of course, those in the pro-education camp would point out that powerful people rarely do this, as the incentives to do so are not high. As Amanda Quraishi, a Muslim interfaith activist in Austin, Texas, told a reporter: “We are at a point in time where we have to bear the burden of wide-scale fear and misinformation about our faith and the cultures of many of the people who practice it … I quite literally view it as our jihad” (Kaleem 2014). In other words, while it may indeed be unjust to ask marginalized people to do the work of educating those in power, that may be the only way to challenge prevailing stereotypes, as those who are marginalized may have the greater potential to benefit from changed stereotypes, and therefore the greater incentive to do the work of education. Another reason some Muslims resist the educator role is that it runs the danger of affirming “violent Muslims” as the default, and of lending legitimacy to ridiculous arguments about Muslims by engaging with those arguments at all. Steve Bannon’s role as Trump’s campaign manager and, later, as a major player in his presidential administration, signaled that someone with a view of Islam as inherently dangerous and evil was shaping the policies of the U.S. government. When that is the starting point of the conversation—your interlocutor believes you are evil simply because you are Muslim—it may seem not only pointless to engage but also damaging, as it suggests you consider the person and their views worthy of your time and your rebuttals. For instance, in explaining why it did not endorse a Muslim march against terrorism in Germany, a statement by the German Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (Ditib) said, “Calls for ‘Muslim’ anti-terror demos fall short, stigmatise Muslims, and confine international terrorism to being just among them and within their communities and mosques” (Da Silva 2017). Indeed, some argue that not only is it unfair to ask this of Muslims, but also it is not the most effective way for Muslims to change negative views about Islam. In a similar example, Dalia Mogahed, director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a research organization focused on Muslim empowerment, recently penned an op-ed titled “Don’t ask Muslims to condemn terror: Our outrage at atrocities ought to be a given” (Mogahed 2017). She argues that it is the “definition of biogtry” to suspect someone of supporting terrorism merely because of their ethnicity or religion, and that by condemning terrorism publicly, Muslims may inadvertently be reinforcing that bigotry rather than challenging it. She describes a research study that found that “people could reconsider Muslim collective guilt—not by Muslims condemning terrorism, but when they challenged the exclusive expectation to do so” (Mogahed 2017). In another example of this type of reaction, some Muslims, annoyed in part by the #NotInMyName campaign mentioned earlier, began using a different hashtag: #MuslimApologies (Blumberg 2014). The idea behind the use of this hashtag is to highlight the absurdity of asking all Muslims to constantly apologize for the actions of a few, something rarely asked of members of more powerful religious or ethnic groups in the West. Sometimes the hashtag is used to push back on expectations that Muslims should apologize for terrorism, like a tweet that shows an image of a t-shirt that reads “I’m Muslim and I’m sorry for everything” and then includes a tongue-in-cheek tweet that says, “I’m just going to wear this shirt every day from now on #MuslimApologies” (Blumberg 2014). In many other examples, though, twitter users take it a step further, subverting expectations that Muslims apologize for terrorism by instead issuing sarcastic apologies for positive contributions Muslims have made to the world, making the campaign about educating non-Muslims to a certain extent. For instance, one user wrote, “I am sorry that Muslims invented algorithms and as a result you are able to view this tweet via your handheld device #Muslimapologies” (Blumberg 2014). Finally, some Muslims hesitate to participate in “educating non-Muslims about Islam” because these forms of education often involve simplifying a complex and diverse tradition to challenge prevailing negative stereotypes. For instance, public statements condemning terrorist attacks by Muslims, both from Muslims and non-Muslims such as past presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, often make arguments like “Islam is a religion of peace,” and “these terrorists were not true Muslims.” In seeking to defend Muslims and Islam from people who would paint all Muslims as violent because of the actions of a few, those “defenders” are painting with an equally broad brushstroke, by insisting that (1) there is only one valid way of practicing Islam and being Muslim, and (2) they know what the “true Islam” looks like. While many Muslims might appreciate the good intentions of those seeking to challenge negative stereotypes about Muslims as violent by emphasizing Islam’s teachings about peace, they also want to be careful not to assert that there is only one valid version of Islam—and want to be sure not to lend credence to the idea that non-Muslims, such as the U.S. government, are the legitimate arbiters of what “true Islam” really is. Working for Religious Change The next three responses fall into the category of “Working for Religious Change.” Some Muslims are discouraging the development of radicalism in their mosques through supporting progressive interpretations of Islam. Others are responding to anti-Muslim sentiment by strengthening bonds between immigrant and African American Muslims, who have often been divided in the past. Still, other Muslims are building ties with people of other faiths, hoping these bonds will increase goodwill and understanding. Promoting progressive Islam. For some Muslims, one of the ways to combat anti-Muslim sentiment during the Trump era is to promote more progressive forms of Islam in their own mosques and communities. Part of this effort may be to discourage radicalism, which can help ensure that broader stereotypes of Muslims as violent are not, in fact, true in American Muslim communities. More deeply, however, the injustices faced by many Muslims in contemporary American society serve as a reminder of the importance of pursuing justice in their own communities, leading many Muslims to challenge racism, sexism, and other problems that at times have plagued Muslim communities (and religious communities in the United States more generally). For instance, Omid Safi, a professor at Duke University and columnist for On Being, the NPR show on religion and spirituality, has spent much of his career encouraging fellow Muslims to ask hard questions about racism and sexism in Muslim communities. His edited volume, Progressive Muslims (2003), brings together a diverse set of Muslim scholars and community leaders to discuss and debate questions about race, gender, family, sexuality, and other topics with deep connections to Muslim faith and practice. Strengthening bonds between immigrant and African American Muslims. Both scholars of American Muslims and Muslim American communities themselves have highlighted the reality of divisions between immigrant Muslim and African American Muslim communities in the United States (Bagby 2012). Sociologically, this division is perfectly understandable given institutional histories: African American Muslim communities have existed in sizeable numbers for decades due to the existence of the Nation of Islam (Gibson 2012), while immigrant Muslim communities have been more in flux, as the national origins of immigrant Muslims changed over time. However, the divisions run deeper than this. Many of the divisions are cultural, racial, and theological; in particular, African American Muslims often report feeling treated by immigrant Muslims as “not really Muslim” (Khan 2015). In an op-ed called “Islamophobia and Black American Muslims,” activist Margari Hill discusses the challenges of combatting Islamophobia, writing, “The erasure of Black American Muslims undermines efforts towards developing a unified front in the face of our greatest threat” (Hill 2015). Though conversations about racial divides in American Muslim communities are not new, during a time when anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies have the public endorsement of the U.S. president, many Muslims are feeling an even greater urgency to bridge the divide between immigrant and African American Muslims, to build solidarity based on their common religious identity. In November 2017, the Muslim Public Affairs Council held its 17th annual convention “Bridging the Divide: Religion, Race, and Politics,” which focused in part on issues of race. The Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, an organization started in 2014 to combat all types of racism, including “intra-Muslim racism,” released a video in 2017 that said, in part: “American Muslims are one of the most diverse faith groups in the United States. By successfully educating about racial inequities within the [Muslim] community, we can demonstrate a model for American society at a time when there is an even greater need for the work” (http://www.muslimarc.org/about/, accessed January 23, 2018). When the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative launched during Black History Month in 2014, it used the twitter hashtag #BeingBlackAndMuslim to raise awareness about the marginalization of black Muslims within American Muslim circles as well as African American circles. It went viral, and since that time, many black Muslims have used the hashtag to assert both their Muslim-ness and blackness, in part as an attempt to create dialogue, greater acceptance, and cooperation with other Muslims during the Trump era. In April 2017, black Muslim artist Bobby Rogers used the hashtag to launch a photo series, which juxtaposed images of black Muslims with statements about what it means to be black and Muslim in the United States. For instance, in one post, an image of a young, black woman wearing hijab is set beside the words “#BeingBlackAndMuslim means you are the largest group of American-Muslims, but you are the last to be asked to speak on Islam” (Blumberg 2017). In another example, a group called “Townhall Dialogue,” located in the Washington, DC area, has been working for several years to bring together Muslims from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds to discuss issues of pertinence to young Muslim Americans. The group holds dialogues on a variety of topics, with one recent dialogue called “Race in a Muslim Space.” The webpage describing the event said the discussion was guided by questions like: “How has race played a role in your life as you navigate a [sic] Muslim spaces? Have you witnessed racial hierarchies in Muslim communities? Do you feel your religious community promotes a message of “color blindness”? Is a message of “color blindness” helpful (or harmful) in addressing the issue of racism in our religious communities?” (http://www.townhalldialogue.com/race-in-a-muslim-space.html, accessed January 22, 2018). Of course, even explicit efforts like this to bridge the divide often have limited success: the photos on the event’s website suggest that few to none of the attendees were black Muslims. The organization seems to recognize this in text on the webpage that reads, “As a group, we discussed the inevitable self selection of attending even this event,” perhaps referring to the fact that few of the organization’s leaders appear to be black Muslims. Still, dialogues like this one demonstrate that many Muslims recognize the need to come together with their fellow Muslims across racial divides, both because of the “religious message of equality” (see Townhall Dialogue website) but also to build stronger communities. Building interfaith relationships. Muslim Americans have been deeply involved in interfaith work for years, partnering with Christians, Jews, and other people of faith to learn about each other’s religions (interfaith dialogue—see McCarthy 2007) and to work on shared concerns in their communities (interfaith organizing—see Wood and Fulton 2015; Yukich and Braunstein 2014). Since Trump’s election, many Muslims have sought to strengthen those relationships, calling on fellow people of faith to help defend Muslims’ civil liberties, particularly their constitutional right to religious liberty. For instance, in the aftermath of the election, some mosques held interfaith events, where Christians, Jews, and Muslims came together to express grave concern about the results of the election and to commit to defending the rights of Muslims. In an event I attended at a New England mosque in the days following the election, which was packed full of people from multiple faith backgrounds (including none), some Christian and Jewish attendees, recalling the registering of Jewish people by the Nazi regime during the Holocaust, announced their intention to register as “Muslims” if Trump instituted a national Muslim registry. In the days following Trump’s election, this was a frequent yet also criticized example of attempts to build interfaith solidarity in the Trump era (Stevens 2016). On a national level, some Muslims and Jews have strengthened their partnerships, recognizing their common position in the United States as religious minorities that have often faced marginalization, discrimination, and oppression, and seeking to support and defend each other from attempts to take away their rights. Just a few days after the presidential election in November 2016, the American Jewish Council (AJC) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) partnered to create the “Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council.” Though some Muslims voiced concerns about the partnership, worried that different positions on the Israel/Palestine conflict might make the partnership difficult (ISNA 2016), the goal of the group is to strengthen interfaith bonds to enable better and quicker responses to growth in both anti-Muslim sentiment and anti-Semitism during Trump’s campaign and the early days of his presidency. Specifically, the council’s website says it has two policy objectives: “to combat the rise in hate crimes, and to promote the positive image of Muslim and Jewish citizens of the United States” (http://www.muslimjewishadvocacy.org/about-us/, accessed January 22, 2018). Activism for Social Change The following two responses fall into the category of “Activism for Social Change.” Many Muslims fought the refugee ban passed by President Trump, which most saw as a rebranding of the “Muslim ban” he threatened on the campaign trail, attending rallies or calling their congressional representatives. Additionally, many Muslims are concerned about not only their own rights but also the well-being of immigrants and others endangered by Trump’s election, such as a Texas imam who has called for mosques to offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants. Defending the civil rights of Muslims. One of the major ways that Muslim Americans are responding to the Trump administration is to defend their own civil rights, a practice that was common prior to the Trump era as well (Love 2017). Because Muslims are a religious minority in the United States and have faced discrimination in the workplace and other realms for years, many organizations already existed that were engaged in this work: CAIR and the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee have been two of the main organizations doing this work. Perhaps one of the most prominent examples was the mobilization of Muslim communities against Trump’s Muslim ban. As is well-known, during his campaign, Trump proposed a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on” (DelReal 2016). To the horror of many Muslims and their allies, the proposed ban actually garnered a good deal of support from the American public (40% of Americans supported the proposal), particularly among Republicans, 73% of whom said immigration from Muslim-majority countries was either too high or should be stopped altogether (Jones et al. 2016). Still, many were shocked when the newly installed Trump administration moved forward with this proposal, couching it in different language in an attempt to curtail challenges asserting that it was unconstitutional. In the early days of his presidency, Trump signed Executive Order 13769, which banned refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen), explicitly prioritizing the acceptance of religious minorities (e.g., Christians) from those countries (Presidential Documents 2017). Detractors asserted that it was unconstitutional because it showed a religious preference for Christians and religious discrimination toward Muslims. In response, protests erupted around the United States, with Muslim Americans planning or involved in many of them. Some Muslims spoke at or attended protests at airports around the country, where even legal permanent residents from those countries were being detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents in the days following the executive order (Ballew 2017; Gambino et al. 2017). CAIR filed a federal suit challenging the constitutionality of the Muslim ban, as well as creating a Civil Rights app “to share critical ‘know your rights’ information and simplify the process to report hate crimes and bias incidents” (http://cair.com/press-center/press-releases/14647-cair-says-trump-s-new-muslim-ban-order-is-part-of-ugly-white-supremacist-agenda.html, accessed January 22, 2018). Though the executive order has faced challenges in courts and has changed its content multiple times, as of this writing, the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed the Trump administration to implement the current version of the ban while it faces challenges in lower courts, a signal that it may be ruled as constitutional after the Supreme Court hears arguments on the ban in April 2018. In light of this and other concerns about the rights of Muslim Americans in this era, it is likely that Muslim American activism around these issues will continue in the coming months and possibly years. Working for a more just society. The Five Pillars are the center of Muslim practice. Several arguably focus primarily on one’s relationship to Allah, but at least one, Zakah (religious tax), is also largely about one’s relationship with other people—the collected money is partly used to feed those who are poor. Many also argue that Sawm (fasting during Ramadan), is partly about justice, as fasting reminds a person not only of their need for God but also of those among them who are always hungry and in need. At the end of Ramadan, Eid al Fitr, families often give the poor a sum of money equal to the amount of money they would have spent on the meals they skipped during Ramadan (Nasr 2003). In addition to the Five Pillars, there are several other well-known teachings in Islam that highlight its emphasis on issues of social justice (Davis and Robinson 2012), such as the prohibition on “riba,” or usury, since it often has the effect of exploiting the poor. Inspired and motivated by these and other religious teachings, Muslims have long been involved in various forms of social justice work, from organizations like the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut, which engages in various forms of community service and outreach, to more political organizations like Inner City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) in Chicago and Atlanta, which both provides community services and organizes for social change in issues like criminal justice, housing, immigration, and food access. An organization called LaunchGood describes itself as “a global crowdfunding platform to support Muslims Launching good all across the world by helping them raise funds for their campaigns” (https://www.launchgood.com/about-us#!/, accessed January 22, 2018), and has raised more than 33 million dollars for over 3,000 campaigns, from building water wells in Rwanda to aid for refugees around the world to relief for homeless populations in Atlanta. While many Muslim Americans have long been involved in social justice work in the United States, the Trump campaign’s conservative positions on various issues, from immigration to health care, have provided new motivations to act for Muslims concerned about economic inequality and human rights. For instance, CAIR has provided alerts and calls to action for Muslims regarding the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA, calling on fellow Muslims to support DREAMERs and the passage of legislation that would enable them to stay in the United States legally (https://www.cair.com/press-center/action-alerts/14561-cair-action-alert-call-white-house-today-protect-daca-support-dreamers.html, accessed January 22, 2018). Although this may in part seem tied to Muslim self-interest, since many Muslims are immigrants, the vast majority of undocumented immigrants are from Mexico or other Latin American countries, so few are Muslim. Similarly, some Muslims have joined the New Sanctuary Movement (Yukich 2013), seeking to provide refuge to undocumented immigrants in danger of deportation and advocating on their behalf. In the days following Trump’s inauguration, Imam Omar Suleiman of Dallas, Texas, called on mosques around the country to follow the example of a Cincinnati mosque by offering sanctuary to undocumented immigrants (Ballew 2017). In an interview for a recent article, Suleiman said, “‘Sanctuary’ is as Islamic a concept as it is Judeo-Christian…. Four of the top five prophets in Islam … were refugees, and were welcomed by another community…. Every human being is honored and dignified in the sight of God” (Ballew 2017). Suleiman and many other Muslims see helping undocumented immigrants, regardless of their religious or ethnic identity, as an example of enacting their belief in Allah’s mercy. Embracing Trump Finally, some Muslims are “Embracing Trump”: some estimates suggest approximately 13% of Muslims voted for him (CAIR 2016). Some Muslims are conservative and support Trump because he is a Republican, while others like Trump because they see him as “tough on terrorism,” and they fear Islamic terrorism more than anti-Muslim sentiment. Still others argue that despite his vulgar rhetoric, Trump’s policies toward Muslim-majority nations are no more damaging to Muslims than those of Obama, Bush, and Clinton. During the 2016 presidential election, a Muslim man named Sajid Tarar led a prayer at the Republican National Convention (Hauslohner 2016). The founder and head of a group called “Muslims for Trump,” Tarar began his prayer by saying: “Let’s pray for a strong America, a safe America. And let’s ask God to make us strong to fight terrorism all over the world.” In prior conversations with reporters, Tarar, a Pakistani immigrant living in the Baltimore area, had insisted that Trump is not anti-Muslim: “When Donald Trump has said something about Muslims and Islam, he doesn’t mean American Muslims, he’s talking about terrorists” (Tolan 2016). Of course, many of Trump’s comments have been directly about American Muslims (calling for surveillance in American mosques, to give just one example), so it is likely that people like Tarar have other reasons for supporting Trump. Indeed, according to one reporter, Tarar “calls Obama a socialist, thinks building a border wall is ‘crucial,’ and bemoans political correctness and the Black Lives Matter movement” (Tolan 2016). In other words: he is conservative, and his conservatism leads him to support Donald Trump despite the negative statements Trump has made about Muslims. Similarly, during Trump’s campaign, Saba Ahmed, the founder and leader of the Republican Muslim Coalition, overlooked his negative statements about Muslims and policy proposals designed to restrict their rights. She supported him in spite of his anti-Muslim statements because of his conservatism, particularly his economic policies (Pashman 2016). Together, these examples serve as useful reminders that for at least some Muslims, Muslim identity politics were not the driving force in their vote; instead, other ideological positions and concerns, such as fiscal conservatism, led to their support of the Republican candidate over a more progressive candidate, even if that candidate was far more positive about Muslims. While there may not have been much in the way of organized, vocal support of Trump from Muslims during his campaign, CAIR’s estimate that 13% of Muslims voted for Trump demonstrates that his support among Muslims was not insignificant. Indeed, if that number is accurate, then up to 400,000 Muslims may have voted for Trump rather than Hillary Clinton. In Michigan, where the Muslim population is relatively high compared with most other states (2.75% of Michigan’s 9.9 million people [Karam 2017], or about 272,000 Muslims), 13% of Michigan’s Muslims would be 35,000 people—though some of these are children and nonvoters, the number far exceeds the margin of Trump’s win in that state, which was less than 12,000 votes. In other words, Muslim support for Trump was more than just one or two people and was large enough that, if those Muslims had instead supported Clinton in key battleground states, she may have won the presidential election. Having established that Muslim support for Trump is something to take seriously rather than to laugh off as unimportant or, indeed, impossible, the question remains as to why some Muslims supported Trump, both during the election and since Trump has taken office, despite his stoking of anti-Muslim sentiment. First, as the examples above suggest, many Muslims are conservative. More are social conservatives than fiscal conservatives. About half of Muslims believe homosexuality is morally wrong (Pew Research Center 2017), a position that aligns those Muslims more with the Republican party platform than the Democratic one. Muslims are less likely to agree with the Republican party’s “small government” approach to fiscal policy (for instance, 67% of Muslims say they prefer bigger government that offers more services compared with 48% of the general American public), but 25% do prefer more conservative approaches to economics and government programs that align them more with Republicans (Pew Research Center 2017). Indeed, 13% of American Muslims identify as Republican, and 21% identify as conservative; while these numbers are low compared with the general American public, they nonetheless demonstrate that a minority of Muslims identify with being Republican and conservative (Pew Research Center 2017). Given the political polarization in the United States today (Westfall et al. 2015), it makes sense to expect that, like many non-Muslim Republicans who voted for Trump despite some concerns about him, many Muslim Republicans likely voted for Trump merely because he had an “R” beside his name—in other words, because the importance of their Republican identities and/or their support for Republican policies outweighed any concerns they had about Trump’s attitudes and behaviors toward Muslims. Furthermore, some Muslims voted for Trump not in spite of his pronouncements about Muslims and his emphasis on what he calls “radical Islamic terrorism,” but, seemingly paradoxically, because of his views of Muslims as particularly dangerous and in need of greater regulation. In particular, some Muslims from countries where terrorist attacks are much more common than in the West—such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria—may be especially likely to feel that, while not all Muslims are terrorists, Muslim terrorists are a danger to the United States and to ordinary people in many countries, and that a heavier hand is needed in dealing with them. For example, Asra Nomani, an Indian American journalist who has traveled in the Middle East as part of her work, wrote an op-ed arguing that as a Muslim woman, she voted for Trump in part because she “has experienced, first-hand, Islamic extremism in this world … I have been opposed to the decision by President Obama and the Democratic Party to tap dance around the ‘Islam’ in Islamic State” (Nomani 2016). Though this characterization of the Obama administration is arguably incorrect, for people in this category, Trump’s tough talk during the campaign about “bombing the shit out of ISIS” (Moore 2017) and creating a Muslim registry was welcome rather than a cause for fear, since they hoped this would help to protect everyone, including law-abiding Muslims, from terrorist acts committed by groups like ISIS. Finally, still other Muslims may not have voted for Trump, but have nonetheless embraced him as president rather than resisting his authority. Part of this response may be due to general respect for authority or respect for the office of president, regardless of who holds it. But also, while some Muslims may not have been outright supporters of Trump, they did not fall into the anti-Trump camp either. Instead, during the election and after, they argued that despite Trump’s pandering to anti-Muslim sentiment during his campaign, his proposed policies toward Muslim-majority nations were no less friendly to Muslims than the attacks perpetrated by the United States during Hillary Clinton’s time as U.S. Secretary of State. Of course, depending on how much emphasis these same Muslims place on Israel/Palestine issues, their support of him may have waned in the wake of his more recent, highly criticized decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital in American foreign policy moving forward, a move interpreted by many as a show of support for Zionists and a slap in the face to Palestinians. DISCUSSION Muslim Americans are on the front line battling anti-Muslim rhetoric and policy in the contemporary United States. While their engagement is not necessarily new—many activists have been engaged in this work for years—this article finds that many Muslims do indeed feel a new urgency to become active in opposing the anti-Muslim sentiments voiced by many Americans and given tacit (and sometimes explicit) approval by Trump and his administration. Muslim Americans are engaging in religious activism in many different forms, from seeking cultural change by educating non-Muslims about Islam, to working for change in their own religious institutions by making them more racially diverse or more progressive, to attempting to change government policy through protests, lawsuits, and other strategies and tactics. The contemporary forms of Muslim American activism described in this article demonstrate the need for broader conceptions of what counts as “progressive religious activism.” While raising awareness about one’s religious tradition with outsiders has typically been considered proselytization, in the case of Muslims educating non-Muslims about Islam, an action that is not usually characterized as “activism” or as “progressive” might be fairly described as both. An expanded definition of “progressive religious activism” might include any public action from a marginalized group choosing to challenge its marginalization (such as attempts by Muslims to defend their civil rights during early days of the Trump administration), or could encompass efforts to build inter-ethnic and interfaith ties within religious communities themselves, since these attempts have the potential to further the cause of inclusion despite being aimed toward religious targets rather than political ones. On the other hand, this article also challenges the dominant focus on conservative/progressive categorizations of religious activism, as well as the assumption that all Muslims are opposed to Trump, since some Muslims have responded to Trump not by engaging in resistance to Trump but instead, by embracing his presidency. It is hard to imagine categorizing Muslim activism supporting Trump as “progressive,” though it is not easily defined as an example of “conservative religious activism” either—if only because Muslims are involved, and the religious right has rarely included Muslims and, indeed, many of the religious right’s leaders (such as Franklin Graham) are explicitly anti-Islam. In supporting Trump, some Muslims are challenging the conservative notion that all Muslims must believe or act the same way, troubling the waters of conservative/progressive categorizations; what Trump-supporting Muslims are doing is something in between conservative and progressive, or perhaps something best characterized as outside of the conservative-progressive continuum altogether. The degree to which this type of action does not easily fit typical conservative/progressive definitions is clearly related to Muslim marginalization, highlighting the ways that the actions of members of marginalized groups—immigrants, people of color, religious minorities—might be less likely to fit dominant categories of religious activism. Thus, while expanding definitions of and attention to progressive religious activism is important, this article also demonstrates the need to attend to and theorize a greater variety of types of religious activism, including (and perhaps especially) those types that do not easily adhere to conservative and progressive categorizations. By providing examples of organizations and individuals engaged in a variety of responses to Trump, this article both sketches a picture of Muslim American activism in this era and creates an agenda for research on Muslim American activism in the coming years. In particular, some of the types of activism described here involve more risk than others. Because Muslims are already marginalized in U.S. society, we might expect them to engage in less risky forms of activism. Indeed, the preferred form of activism does seem to be educating non-Muslims about Islam in relatively uncontentious ways. However, as this article has shown, some Muslims are engaging in forms of activism that carry greater risk. Specifically, the two activities that seem most likely to disrupt the societal status quo are (1) activism for social change and (2) resisting the role of defender of Islam. In the first case, the type of activism in which a person engages is related to the degree to which it is risky—more disruptive styles of protest often carry the highest risk (Gamson 1975; McAdam 1986). Thus, Muslims who sign a petition in support of the DREAM Act are facing lower levels of risk compared with Muslims who commit acts of civil disobedience in support of the DREAM Act, or who “come out” as undocumented immigrants as part of efforts to demonstrate the necessity of the DREAM Act’s passage. American Muslims who are not U.S. citizens, whether they are legal permanent residents or undocumented immigrants, face especially high levels of risk when engaging in activities that might involve their arrest. Thus, while it is possible that first generation Muslim immigrants might engage in high-risk activism, it is reasonable to expect that many might restrict their responses to the Trump presidency to ones that avoid breaking the law. Regarding the second, the decision to reject the “defender of Islam” role—to refuse to allow non-Muslims’ desires and comforts to dictate how one depicts Muslims and Islam—likely involves some degree of privilege as well. Because of negative stereotypes about Muslims among the general U.S. population and among the administration currently in power, Muslims seeking greater acceptance and social mobility may feel compelled to try to prove to people in positions of power that negative stereotypes about Muslims and Islam are not true. When a person does not feel compelled to do this—indeed, when they actively resist such a role—this likely signifies that the person has less need for the approval or acceptance of people in power; in other words, they may already have higher levels of education, decent paying work, and other economic and social resources that enable them to opt out of challenging negative stereotypes of Muslims. Future research could examine these and other patterns to create greater understanding of whether different groups of Muslims—African American Muslims, immigrant Muslims, highly educated Muslims, etc.—are more or less likely to engage in certain kinds of activism due to their social locations. Because Muslim Americans are one of the most diverse religious groups in the United States, theologically and ethnically, studying that diversity can provide a way to understand the degree to which the choice of strategies and tactics by religious activists is shaped by theology and identity versus social location and its associated privileges. The insights gleaned from studying Muslim activism in the United States—the varieties of religious activism, the multiple targets and tactics of religious activists, the need for a broader conception of “progressive” and “activism,” the inadequacy of conservative/progressive categorizations—demonstrate the value in studying religious groups on the margins of U.S. society. While religious and religio-racial minorities may make up smaller portions of the U.S. population compared with white evangelicals, for instance, they often operate in ways that are different from dominant groups, yet nonetheless are relevant for understanding widespread patterns of religious action. For these and other reasons, future research on religious activism should prioritize studying groups on the religious margins. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The author thanks three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on this article. REFERENCES Ahmed , Leila . 2011 . A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence, from the Middle East to America . New Haven, CT : Yale University Press . Armstrong , Elizabeth A. , and Mary Bernstein . 2008 . “ Culture, Power, and Institutions: A Multi-Institutional Politics Approach to Social Movements .” Sociological Theory 26 : 74 . 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