GhaneaBassiri, an Iranian doctoral student at Harvard, read widely, sent out a questionnaire, and talked to American Muslims. The result is perhaps the most sophisticated study to date of Muslim attitudes in the United States. He reaches two main conclusions.
First, immigrant and convert Muslims alike share a deeply ambivalent attitude toward American culture. They find immorality rampant in the country ("culturally retarded" is one interviewee's colorful term) but see it as an exciting place of opportunity-not just for economic gain, but as a place "to live Islam." This ambivalence, GhaneaBassiri finds, has direct political implications: "a significant number of Muslims, particularly immigrant Muslims, do not have close ties or loyalty to the United States." Indeed, his questionnaire shows that twelve out of fifteen immigrants and even five out of fifteen converts feel more allegiance to a foreign country than to the United States.
Second, GhaneaBassiri finds that Muslims in the United States "are undecided about what Islam is and requires." Taking advantage of America's unique religious freedom, they insist on exploring their Islamic identity and are buoyantly self-confident about their potential to lead the Muslim world. This attitude, when coupled with the enormous ethnic and sectarian diversity of American Islam, translates into a disunity that has prevented American Muslims from influencing American politics.