That there needs to be a conduit between America and the Muslim world for better communication is an understatement given the tensions between the two cultures. The American Muslim community is composed of two distinct groups – indigenous Americans and their children, and immigrants and their children.
There is a feeling among the indigenous Muslims that they have been mostly overlooked, omitted and ignored in the role of building such a bridge. On one side, immigrant Muslims and their children refuse to recognise the existence of American Muslims as representatives of American Islam, just as Americans refuse to recognise their presence as Muslims. However, as the largest single ethnic group of indigenous Muslims, African American Muslims seem the best-equipped and well-placed to bridge the widening gap between America and the Muslim world.
African American Muslims have roots in America that are centuries old, and more importantly, a history of social and political participation in the 20th and 21st centuries through their families and the general black community. They have participated and sometimes even led organisations and movements during the Civil Rights Era, such as voter registration drives, Feed the Children campaigns and inner city programmes for the poor. Some of the current elected and appointed officials across the nation come from African American Muslim families.