The Presidential election campaigns in the U.S. have begun. Major candidates like former secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Ted Cruz from Texas have thrown their hats into the fray. Once again we confront the challenge, what role can American Muslims play in American politics?

The growth of Islam in America, driven by migration and conversions, has created a diverse and multicultural Muslim community. While it is difficult to state with great confidence how many Muslims there are in the United States, most estimates vary between 3-6 million. In democracies anyway it is not just numbers that matters, but the number of people who are politically engaged and willing to participate with their activism and their resources that counts.

Composed of people from all races, and from nearly every country on the planet, American Muslims have rapidly become a microcosm of the global Muslim community. The politics of identity and identity formation that are shaping the American Muslim community cannot be fully understood until the internal diversity within the community itself is fully appreciated.

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