The Sept. 11 attacks started an intense debate among American Muslims. Five years later, it isn’t over.

In Chicago, that most American of cities, tens of thousands of Muslim-Americans gathered for a conference in early September. They simultaneously debated questions about Western-style dating, the application of Islamic law, Muslim-Americans’ role in the war on terror, and even perspectives on torture.

The debate took place in a city where Muslim immigrants have thrived for decades. An estimated 400,000 Muslims live in the Chicago area, home to about 90 mosques, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The city’s greatest icon — the Sears Tower — was designed by a Muslim-American structural engineer.

This vast meeting of Muslims came just days before the nation marked the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Some Muslims speak of the difficulties facing those who practice their faith in America.

“I think one of our biggest challenges is Muslim fatigue, or Islam fatigue on the part of the general American public,” says Ingrid Mattson. Mattson is a Westerner who converted to Islam, and feels she has insight into both worlds. She says some Americans have trouble staying tolerant of Muslims as terrorist incidents pile up around the world.


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