Islam on Campus

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Islam on Campus Identity Development of Muslim-American College Students
Dey, Farouk
Place of Publication:
[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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1 online resource (158 p.)

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Doctorate ( Ph.D.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Higher Education Administration
Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education
Committee Chair:
Mendoza, Maria Pilar
Committee Members:
Oliver, Bernard
Behar-Horenstein, Linda S
Arfi, Badredine
Graduation Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Academic communities ( jstor )
College students ( jstor )
Colleges ( jstor )
Cultural identity ( jstor )
Islam ( jstor )
Muslims ( jstor )
Parents ( jstor )
Religion ( jstor )
Women ( jstor )
Young adults ( jstor )
911 -- american -- career -- college -- development -- formation -- gender -- identity -- islam -- model -- msa -- muslim -- prejudice -- religion -- student -- university
Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
born-digital ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Higher Education Administration thesis, Ph.D.


Although the study of college student development has progressed during the last decades to address various aspects of identity development across a wide range of diverse populations, there is a noticeable gap in the literature about Muslim-American college students and how the university experience impacts their development as young adults. The lack of knowledge about this growing population juxtaposed with the increased visibility of the Muslim community in America due to the 9/11 events and their aftermath, as well as the increased hostility, stereotyping, and prejudice against Muslims in America and around the world has led to an unknown impact of how college impacts the development of Muslim-American college students, which may be hindering the ability of universities to meet their needs and contribute to their success. This study was conducted to develop a theoretical model that describes how Muslim-American college students construct their identity in the context of their lives in an American college. The study was conducted using qualitative methods from a constructivist perspective in consideration of Baxter-Magolda's self-authorship model and Jones and McEwen's multiple dimensions of identity. Data was collected and analyzed simultaneously using a constructivist grounded theory methodology. Findings revealed the salience of four identity dimensions for Muslim-American college students: religion, citizenship, culture, and gender. These dimensions were found to be influenced by various contextual factors unique to the Muslim population: family, 9/11 backlash, Muslim-on-Muslim prejudice, peer support via Muslim Student Associations (MSAs), and university support. A new theoretical model has emerged from interviews and a focus group to describe five stages of identity formation for Muslim-American college students: reluctance, identification, immersion, negotiation, and integration. ( en )
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In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
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Includes vita.
Includes bibliographical references.
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Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
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Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2012.
Adviser: Mendoza, Maria Pilar.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Farouk Dey.

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Copyright Dey, Farouk. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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LD1780 2012 ( lcc )


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2 2012 Farouk Dey


3 To my children, Ilyas and Yasmine Dey, who I hope will benefit from this dissertation one day when they enroll in college as Muslim American students


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I extend my sincere gratitude to my advisor, Dr. Pilar Mendoza, for offering the perfect balance of challenge, support, advice, mentoring, and advocacy Completing this dissertation would have been impossible without her encouragement and support. I also t hank my co mmittee members for the time that they have invested in this process I am indebted to my parents, Amor Dey and Zebida Gheziel, for their sacrifice and investment in me and my success. I will forever be grateful to my wife, Amel Rais, for her love, support understanding, and generosity She has carried the weight of our household to grant me the time to complete this dissertation. I thank my two children, Ilyas and Yasmine, for inspiring me every day to complete this research project, which I hope will benefit them one day when they enroll into college as Muslim American students. I thank my friends, especially those on Facebook who have lived through this journey with me and supported me through likes and comments on status updates. I am app reciative of the mentors who have opened critical doors along the way : Eric Dermond and Stephane Dermond for welcoming me to the United States and opening the first door that led to many other doors in what has been an incredible personal and professional journey Scott Peak for believing in my potential as an undergraduate student and providing me with opportunities that continue to produce results today Dr. Wayne Wallace for accelerating my professional success in higher education, which has led to an am azing leadership opportunity at Carnegie Mellon University and my current Dean, Gina Casalegno, for her encouragem ent, support, and flexibility, which allow ed me to complete this dissertation while working full time and attending to my familys needs. I h ope to one day have the opportunity to pay it forward and impact others lives the way these individuals have impacted mine.


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .................................................................................................. 4 LIST OF FIGURES .......................................................................................................... 7 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ............................................................................................. 8 ABSTRACT ................................................................................................................... 11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................... 13 Purpose and Research Questions .......................................................................... 15 Significance of Study .............................................................................................. 17 2 LITERATURE REVIEW .......................................................................................... 21 Identity Development of College Students .............................................................. 22 Identity Development of Muslim Americans ............................................................ 29 Religion ............................................................................................................ 30 Culture .............................................................................................................. 34 Class ................................................................................................................ 39 Gender ............................................................................................................. 41 Summary ................................................................................................................ 43 3 METHOD ................................................................................................................ 44 Methodology ........................................................................................................... 44 Grounded Theory ............................................................................................. 44 Theoretical Sampling ........................................................................................ 47 Da ta Collection ....................................................................................................... 48 Selection of Participants ................................................................................... 48 Procedures ....................................................................................................... 50 Data Analysis .......................................................................................................... 51 Rigor and Trustworthiness ...................................................................................... 53 Limitations ............................................................................................................... 59 Researc her Subjectivity .......................................................................................... 61 4 FINDINGS ............................................................................................................... 64 Identity Dimensions ................................................................................................ 65 Religio sity ......................................................................................................... 66 Citizenship ........................................................................................................ 70 Culture .............................................................................................................. 73 Gender ............................................................................................................. 76


6 Contextual Factors .................................................................................................. 85 Family ............................................................................................................... 85 9/11 Backlash Prejudice, Stereotyping, and Bullying ..................................... 89 Muslim onMuslim Prejudice ............................................................................ 94 Peer Support MSA ......................................................................................... 96 Univers ity Support and Accommodations ......................................................... 98 Five Stages of Identity Development .................................................................... 102 Reluctance ..................................................................................................... 103 Identification ................................................................................................... 108 Immersion ....................................................................................................... 111 Negotiation ..................................................................................................... 114 Integration ...................................................................................................... 120 Summary .............................................................................................................. 122 5 CONCLUSIONS ................................................................................................... 124 Summary of Findings ............................................................................................ 124 Discussion ............................................................................................................ 125 Implications ........................................................................................................... 127 Theory ............................................................................................................ 128 For Research .................................................................................................. 129 For Policy ....................................................................................................... 131 For Practice .................................................................................................... 134 Conclusions .......................................................................................................... 138 Reflections ............................................................................................................ 140 APPENDIX A RECRUITMENT EMAIL ........................................................................................ 142 B CONSENT FORM ................................................................................................. 143 C DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION PROTOCOL .................................................... 145 D INDIVIDUAL INTERVIEW PROTOCOL ................................................................ 146 E FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS .................................................................................. 148 LIST OF REFERENCES ............................................................................................. 149 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .......................................................................................... 158


7 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2 1 Model of multiple dimensions of identity. ............................................................ 27 2 2 Reconceptualized model of multiple dimensions of identity ................................ 28 3 1 Simultaneous data collection and analysis ......................................................... 53 4 1 Model of Inter gender dynamics among Muslim American college students ...... 84 4 2 Identity development stages for Muslim American college students ................ 102 4 3 Model of Identity negotiation for Muslim American college students ................ 120 4 4 Model of Identity development for Muslim American college students ............. 123


8 LIST OF ABBREVIATION S 9/11 September 11, 2001, representing the date of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, NY, the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and other areas in America Abaya Islamic dress attire for Muslim women that covers the entire body, considered more orthodox than the Hijab. ACA Arab Cultural Association Alhamdoulilah Praise to God, often used to express being grateful or responding to the question how are you? AllahouAllam God knows best, usual ly used to express humility and/or uncertainty. Assalamu Allaikum Peace upon you, usually used to greet other Muslims Brother Used by Muslims to address or refer to a fellow Muslim man. Deen Religion in Arabic. Diss Slang term for ignore. Duhr One of the five daily prayers in Islam usually performed at mid day. Eid ul Fitr Islamic holiday that marks the end of fasting during the month of Ramadan Eid ul Adha Islamic holiday that commemorates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Fajr One of the five daily prayers in Islam, usually performed at dawn. Hadith N arrations or statements of the Prophet Mohamed Halal Permissible, usually refers to types of food, financial transactions, and actions that are allowed in Islamic traditions Halaqa Religious study circle or study group. Hajj Pilgrimage to Mekka, one of the five pillars of Islam, performed once in a lifetime by able Muslims Haram Forbidden by Islamic rules. Hijab Traditional attire worn by some Muslim women, covers the majority of the body i ncluding the head


9 Iman Faith. Inshallah God willing, typically used when referring to intent do so something or wish something in the future. Isha One of the five daily prayers in Islam, usually performed at night. Islam Submission, in religion of Islam, which means submission to God. Jenna Heaven. Jumaa Friday, also refers to the weekly prayer performed in congregation by Muslims on Fridays K 12 Education system between elementary and high school in America Khoushou A sense of concentration and serenity when performing a spiritual act like prayer. Mahram A male close relative, usually a brother or father, who is allowed to be alone with a Muslim woman according to Islamic tradition. Masjid Mosque. Mosque Place of worship for Muslims MSA Muslim Student A ssociation. Muslim Someone who follows the teachings of Islam Muslim American American citizen who subscribes to the religion of Islam, some are naturalized, participants Non Muslim A person who does not believe in or follow Islam. PBUH Peace Be Upon Hi m, used by Muslims after mentioning the name of the Prophet Mohammed PBUH Practicing Muslim A Muslim person who performs all religious obligations. Prophet Mohamed Believed by Muslims to be the last messenger of God. Quran Holy scripture in Islam believed by Muslims to be the exact words of God Ramadan A month in the Islamic lunar calendar in which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, one of the five pillars of Islam


10 Salat Prayer, one of the five pillars of Islam, performed by Muslims at least five times a day Sawm Fasting, usually performed during the month of Ramadan. Sheikh Scholar, knowledgeable one, used to express respect towards an elder who is very knowledgeable about matters of faith. Sister Used by Muslims to address or refer to a fellow Muslim wom an. SWT Subhanahou Wa Taala, an expression in Arabic often used by Muslims to praise and elevate God. Sunnah Secondary source of knowledge in Islam after the Quran, records of actions and statements of the Prophet Mohamed PBUH US United States. Wack Slang for stupid or crazy. Wudhu Ablution, a series of body washing rituals using water in preparation for prayer Zakat Charity, one of the five pillars of Islam that mandates Muslims to donated 2.5% of their wealth to charity


11 Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy ISLAM ON CAMPUS: IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT OF MUSLIM AMERICAN COLLEGE STUDENTS By Farouk Dey May 2012 Chair: Pilar Mendoza Major: Higher Education Administration Although the study of college student development has progressed during the last decades to address various aspects of identity development across a wide range of diverse populations, there is a noticeable gap in the literature about Muslim American college students and how the university experience impacts their development as young adults The lack of knowledge about this growing population juxtaposed with the increased visibility of the Muslim community in America due to the 9/11 events and their aftermath, as well as the increased hostility, stereotyping, and prejudice against Muslims in America and around the world has led to an unknown impact of how college impacts the development of Muslim American college students which may be hindering the ability of universities to meet their needs and contribute to their success This study was conducted to develop a theoretical model that describes how Muslim American college students construct their identity in the context of their lives in an American college. The study was conducted using qualitative methods from a constructivist perspective in consideration of Baxter Magoldas self authorship model and Jones and McEwens multiple dimensions of identity Data was collected and analyzed simultaneously using a constructivist grounded theory methodology. Findings


12 reveal ed the salience of four identity dimensions for Muslim American college students: religion, citizenship, culture, and gender These dimensions were found to be influenced by various contextual factors unique to the Muslim population : family 9/11 backlash Muslim onMuslim prejudice, peer support via Muslim Student Associations (MSAs) and university support. A new theoretical model has em erged from interviews and a focus group to describe five stages of identity formation for Muslim American college students : reluctance, identification, immersion, negotiation, and integration


13 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION College student identity development has been of considerable interest to educators, researchers, and practitioners since the beginning of higher education as a field of study (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005) The need to examine college students human potential in the context of their lives in a college setting has progressed to an entire field of theories and scholarship to guide the practice of student affairs. The Student Personnel Point of View, developed by the American Council on Education in 1937, reminds the higher education community that the personal and professional development of students was (and remains) a worthy and noble goal (Evans, Forney, & Guido DiBrito, 1998) Triggered by this stat ement, identity models have been developed to address many dimensions of personal development, including cognition, ethical development, moral development, reflective judgment, epistemological development, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and sexuality (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005) In their synthesis of student affairs literature, research, and trends, Pascarella and Terenzini (2005) explain that the study of college students in America has evolved and ex panded during the last two decades from a strong focus on the traditional student: W hite, undergraduate, between the age 18 to 24, full time students with few if any family responsibilities (Pascarella & Tere nzini, 2005) to an appreciably greater emphasis on the increasingly more diverse student population, accounting for the many factors that impact their development These factors include gender, age, race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, a nd socioeconomic status (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005)


14 Consistent with the growing diversity of the college student body, American higher education has experienced a shift in recent decades in how colleges impact student development, transitioning from a state of general effect, which represents a similar impact of given experiences on all students, to a state of conditional effect, which represents a wider gap between how students benefit from the same ex periences. Due to the increasing diversity in todays demographics, especially on college campuses, the need to study the experiences and development of college students from diverse backgrounds has become more crucial than it has been in past decades (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005) Identity formation of college students, particularly those of underrepresented groups, has gained increased attention in student affairs and social psychology during the last two decades (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005) This premise has given the birth to identity models, developed to address many dimensions of identity, including racial (Cross, 1995; Helms, 1990, 1992, 1995), ethnic (Phinney, 1990, 1992), sexual (Cass, 1979; DAugelli, 1994; Evans & Wall, 1991; McCarn & Fassinger, 1996), and gender (Ossan, Helms, Leonard, 1992; Josselson 1973, 1987, 1996; ONeil, Egan, Owen, Murry, 1993). These models have not only helped frame the i dentity formation for marginalized college students, but also provided a guide to university administrators to deliver additional support and accommodations to insure that students of underrepresented groups are successful in their academic, personal, and professional growth in college (Jones & McEwen, 2000) Yet, there is noticeably very little research conducted about the identity formations of Muslim American college students, a misunderstood population that has been subject to increased scrutiny and prejudice


15 since 9/11 and its aftermath (Britto & Amer, 2007; Cole & Ahmadi, 2003; L. Peek, 2005; Sirin et al., 2008; Williams & Vashi, 2007) The lack of knowledge about this college student population juxtaposed with the increased visibility of the Muslim community in America due to the 9/11 events and their aftermath and increased hostility, stereotyping, and prejudice against Muslims around the world has led to an unknown impact of how college impacts the development of Muslim American college students which may have caused difficulties for university faculty and administrators to m eet the needs of Muslim American college students and provide appropriate accommodations to enhance their experiences and development (Britto & Amer, 2007; Cole & Ahmadi, 2003; L. Peek, 2005; Pew Research Center, 2007; Sirin et al., 2008; Williams & Vashi, 2007) Therefore, this study seeks to decrease the gap in knowledge about this student population, and provide a platform for future studies about the experience and identity formation of Muslim American college students. Purpose and Research Questions The purpose of this study was to develop a theoretical model that describes how Muslim Americ an college students construct their identity in the context of their life in college. A theory emerged from individual interviews and a focus group with Muslim American young adult college students The study was designed to describe how these students see themselves and identify the factors that influence the process of their identity formation. This study address ed one principle research question: h ow do Muslim American college students construct their identity in the context of their life on a college c ampus? Answering such a complex question required an exploration of how Muslim American


16 college students see themselves and their experiences in the context of their social integration, academic progress, and personal and professional development in colleg e. Defined as a process of increasing differentiation in the sense of self and the integration of that growing complexity into a coherent whole (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005; p. 23), identity formation is highly related to the process of self authorship and knowledge construction; concepts that have been introduced by Marcia Baxter Magolda (2007) and founded on three basic assumptions: 1) humans actively construct their own reality, 2) meaning making develops overtime and experience, and 3) the process o f learning and teaching is strongly influenced by ways participants make meaning. Self authorship is described in three dimensions: 1) epistemological, in which the individual attempts to answer the question how do I know?, 2) intrapersonal, in which the individual attempts to answer the question who am I?, and 3) interpersonal, in which the individual attempts to answer the question what relationships do I want with others? College students simply cannot achieve self authorship without having a strong sense of self and knowing how to relate to others (Baxter Magolda, 2007) Thus, this study mainly focused on how Muslim American college students see themselves and how they relate to others. Identity formation is also connected to the process of meaning making. Baxter Magoldas (1992) model of epistemological reflection describes how students construct meaning from their experiences and suggests four patterns of meaning making that college students as cribe to: 1) absolute knowing, in which knowledge is seen as absolute material to be acquired from figures of authority, 2) transitional knowing, in which the individual encounters thought provoking events and begins to realize that not


17 all knowledge is certain, 3) independent knowing, in which the individual accepts the idea that knowledge is uncertain, and 4) contextual knowing, in which the individual develops the ability to integrate others ideas in ones own ideas and develops self authorship (Baxter Magolda, 2001) Based on the three dimensions of self authorship ( Baxter Magolda, 2007), th e research question was addressed on three different levels: 1) epistemological ly by asking questions that expl ore how Muslim American college students acquire knowledge, 2) intrapersonal ly with questions that explore how they see themselves, and 3) interpersonal ly with questions that explore how they relate to others (Baxter Magolda, 2007) I approach ed this study from a constructivist perspective using the premise that our understanding of how college students learn has shifted from a paradigm that describes learners as sponges that absorb knowledge, to a m odel in which the learner is actively engaged in the construction of knowledge (Baxter Magolda, 1992) The approach informed the questions asked during the interviews and focus group as well as the analy sis of the data. The fivestage model that emerged from the data shows that indeed, students opinions and perceptions of themselves and the world evolve as they actively engage in the process of knowing and constructing knowledge. Significance of Study Th ere are several reasons that make the study of Muslim American college students of critical importance. First, college student development theories are typically formulated to address four key areas: 1) the interpersonal and intrapersonal changes that take place during the students life on campus, 2) the factors that contribute to the students development, 3) the impact of the college environment on the students


18 growth, and 4) the developmental outcomes that the student affairs practice should seek to at tain (Evans Forney, & Guido DiBrito, 1998) The lack of studies that address these areas for Muslim American college students has created a void in the study and practice of college student development that may be hindering the way institutions of higher education are responding to the needs and issues facing this growing college student population. Second, although there is no evidence that indicates an attrition problem among Muslim American college students, the possibility that these students will leave college due to the stressors they endure does exist. The majority of Muslim American young adults (over 53 %) report that it has become difficult to be a Muslim in America (Pew Research Center, 2007) In a recent report published by the Pew Research Center (2011), 28% of Muslims Americans have reported being a target of suspicion by others, 22% have been called offensive names, 21% reported being singled out by airport secruity, 13% reported being singled out by law officers, and 6% reported being attacked based on their religious and ethnic background. The lack of accommodations that facilitate performing Islamic rituals in a western society may cause stress and dis comfort for Muslim Americans (Smith, 1999) Research shows that experiences of discrimination and prejudice are contributing factors to college attrition among minority college students (Swail, Perna, & Redd, 2003) Research also shows that prejudice based on religious practice and cultural differences has a negative impact on the educational experience of Muslim students (Cole & Ahm adi, 2003) Such difficulties represent a new challenge for Muslim s in general and Muslim college students specifically. The increased attention on the Muslim


19 community, largely due to recent and current sociopolitical developments triggered by 9/11 and i ts aftermath as well as the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have contributed to an increase in the number of incidents of prejudice, racism, hate crimes, and hate speech against Muslims on college campuses (Muedini, 2 009) Due to Islams association with terrorism within the current sociopolitical environment, it has become acceptable for the mainstream media and the general public to use derogatory terms to define the Muslim community (Abdo, 2005) Third, these difficulties also represent an opportunity for society and institutions of higher education to better understand this community and learn about its associated faith, culture, world views, traditions, values, beliefs, challenges, and opportunities to contribute to society. As the increased attention on Muslim s has created more incidents of prejudice, racism, and hate crimes on American college campuses, it has become crucial for higher education faculty and administrators to gain a better understanding of the religion of Islam and Muslims. This study and future research in this area will help increase the level of support and accommodations that college campuses, employers, and society can offer to Muslim American college s tudents. In fact, campuses and employers are still coming to grips with the types of accommodations that they need to offer to their students and employees (Adams, 2000) Campuses like the University of Michigan are building foot baths to accommodate the needs of Muslim students to perform their preprayer ablution ritual. More employers like the District of Columbia Government are allowing their Muslim employees to take prayer breaks during the day and take time off w ork for the Friday service. We are seeing more veiled women in the workplace than ever before (Adams,


20 2000) These signs of progress might be encouraging for Muslim American college students who are often anxious about the stressful task of balancing their cultural and religious values with the western culture they live in; yet they are met with sharp criticism and skepticism from several media outlets, law makers, and peers who may not have taken the time to understand Islam and the Muslim community (Sirin, 2007). Finally, scholarly work on identity issues for Muslim American college students and the Muslim community at large in America is scarce. Higher education faculty and administrators can no longer afford to treat Muslim American students as the invisible minority whose experiences can be embedded in the experience of international students (Cole & Ahmadi, 2003) It is essential to build a strong body of literature and resear ch that explores the various facets and dimensions of Muslims identity in America within the context of their personal attributes and traits as well as their family backgrounds, sociocultural conditions, current experiences, career decisions, and life pl anning (Jones & McEwen, 2000) Further investigation is needed to increase understanding of Muslim American college students and the factors that influence their identity formation, social and academic integration, and institutional commitment.


21 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Grounded theory, the research method that frames this investigation, suggests that the strategies involved in conducting the study should be flexible and that the literature review should be con ducted after the data analysis to allow fresh and new ideas to emerge and prevent the influence of already established frameworks (Charmaz, 2006; Glaser & Strauss, 1967) However, a descr iption of the issue and population being studied is provided in this literature review to insure credibility of the investigation (Lincoln and Guba, 1985, 2000; Shenton 2004). Thus, Chapter 2 provides a basic understanding of the Muslim American population as well as an overview of college student identity formation. Chapter 2 frame s this study, provides areas for further exploration, and facilitates rapport development with the population being studied without compromising the development of a new theory f rom the data. Chapter 2 first begins with an overview of identity formation as it relates to college students and underrepresented groups, followed by an introduction of Muslim American young adults. Keeping with the principles of grounded theory, a theoretical framework is not used in this study since its purpose is to generate a theory from the data without the influence of an existing theoretical model (Charmaz 2000, 2006, 2009; Emerson, 1983; Glaser et al., 1967) However, various theoretical models are considered to help define the concept of identity formation. For example, the concept of self authorship discussed in Chapter 1 helps define the concept of id entity and frame protocol questions used in the interviews and focus group based on three distinct dimensions: 1) epistemological, 2) intrapersonal and 3) interpersonal (Baxter Magolda, 1998, 2007) Al though self authorship is not the theoretical framework for this study, it helps structure our


22 understanding of identity formation and frame s the protocol interviews to answer the following questions relative to identity development of Muslim American coll ege students: 1) how do I know?, 2) who am I?, and how do I relate to others? Exploring these questions with participants was critical in the generation of an identity formation model for this population. Identity Development of College Students Studies of college student development in the 1990s and 2000s have generated four clusters of theories and models: 1) psychological and identity formation, which focused on the overall development of college students, 2) cognitive structural theories, which explored how the process of change occur s and how students make meaning of their experiences, 3) typology models, which emphasize differences between individuals based on distinctive personality characteristics, and 4) personenvironment interaction theories and m odels, which highlight the role of environment and its influence on behavior (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005) Although this study touches on aspects of all four categories of theories and models, its essence is largely described by elements of psychological development, and identity development in particular. Identity development describes the individuals movement through two distinct psychological stages: 1) exploration, which is typically motivated by a central crisis or disequilibrium, and 2) commitment, which is motivated by the gravitation towards stability and normalcy (Marcia, 1966, 1980). This premise has given birth to many identity models, developed to address several dimensions of identity : cogniti ve (Baxter Magolda, 1992 1998; Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, & Tarules, 1986; Kitchener & King, 1981, 1990; Perry, 1968; Piaget, 1952), racial (Cross, 1995; Helms, 1990, 1992, 1995), ethnic (Phinney, 1990, 1992), sexual (Cass, 1979; DAugelli, 1994; Evans &


23 Wall, 1991; McCarn & Fassinger, 1996), moral (Kohlberg, 1958, 1976; Rest, 1979, 1986), and gender (Ossan, Helms, Leonard, 1992; Josselson 1973, 1987, 1996; ONeil, Egan, Owen, Murry, 1993). Such models have been developed to link the individual sense o f self with the surrounding social structure. They all touch on two major aspects of identity formation: 1) sense of self and relations with others (Stryker, 1968, 1980; Turner, 1978), and 2) ongoing construction, selection, and negotiation between identi ty dimensions (Cahill, 1989; Nagel, 1994, 1995; Waters, 1990; West & Zimmerman, 1987). These models share a general theme of crisis, often associated with acts of prejudice that serve as catalysts for individuals to transform from 1) an identity diffused state, defined by total disinterest in occupational or ideological matters and acceptance of positions as equal, to 2) a state of foreclosed identity, defined by a commitment to values and positions under the influence of figures of authority without exami nation, and onto 3) a state of identity achieved, described by a personal, ideological, and occupational commitment (Marcia, 196 6 1980). For instance, racial identity models, mostly championed by Helms (1990, 1992, 19 9 5) and Cross (1995) provide a framew ork to understand the identity development of college students of color. Helms (1990) categorized racial identity into three categories: 1) personal identity, described by personal attitudes about self, 2) a reference group orientation, described by the in tentional act of ascribing ones values to a group, and 3) an ascribed identity, described by the firm commitment to a group (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005) Likewise, Cross (1971, 1991, 1995) describes in m ore specific terms the development of African American identity using five stages of development: 1) preencounter, defined by a lack of salienc e of black identity, 2) encounter, in which the


24 individual literally encounters a crisis event and goes throug h a transitional experience that causes dissonance in his or her belief system, 3) immersionemersion, characterized by the search and exploration for meaning, 4) internalization, in which the individual achieves resolution of dissonance and begins to reac h stability, and 5) internalizationcommitment, in which the individual commits to an identity and takes action to resolve issues (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005) Phinney ( 1989, 1990, 1992) also illustrated t he process of identity formation for ethnic minorities using three different states: 1) diffusionforeclosure, in which the individual justifies and accepts societys negative evaluation of minorities, 2) moratorium, described by a growing awareness of ones own ethnic identity, and 3) identity achievement, in which the individual resolves the experiences of dissonance caused by bicultural conflicts (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005) In a similar model, Helms (1990, 1992 1995) describes the identity development of Latinos, Asians, AfricanAmerican s, and NativeAmericans using six different statuses: 1) conformity, in which individuals derive their identity from whites and accept stereotypes and labels in effort to assimilate, 2) dissonance, in which individuals realize and recognize that they are not fully accepted among W hites, 3) immersion, in which individuals begin a reeducation process about identity and social structures, 4) emersion, in which individuals embrace their racial group, 5) internalization, described by ones commitment to his or her racial group, and 6) integrated awareness, defined by ones expression of positive racial identity (Pascarella & Tere nzini, 2005) Similar to these ethnic and racial groups, religious groups such as JewishAmericans, may have unique identification formation trends and characteristics due to


25 the possible experiences of discrimination, stereotyping, and bullying (Moore 1986, Williams and Vashi 2007). Likewise, in the aftermath of 9/11, Islam has become more visible and the Muslim community has become subject to more scrutiny and discrimination not only because of its visibly different rituals and practices, but also due its association with global terrorism and violence (Britto & Amer, 2007; Cole & Ahmadi, 2003; Peek, 2005; Sirin, Bikmen, Fine, Zaal, & Katsiaficas 2008; Williams & Vashi, 2007) Although the models discussed in Chapter 2 may provide a helpful framework to understand how these crisis events impact the identity development of Muslim American college students in an environment that constantly questions their standing in the community and loyalty to their country, they have limited applicability to minority populations, and Muslims in particular, because of the lack of focus on the various dimensions of identity. Most identity models that have been developed to illustrate how identity is constructed for individuals or groups have addressed one component of identity only, and did not address the various dimensions of identity formation (J ones & McEwen, 2000) Thus, this study was conducted in consideration to the various identity dimensions and contextual influences that may impact the identity formation of Muslim American young adults utilizing Jones and McEwens (2000) model of multipl e identity dimensions as a framework. Through a grounded theory study that explored the identity development of young female college students, Jones and McEwen (2000) developed a new model of multiple identity dimensions that depicts the various dimensions and contextual influences that surround ones core sense of self (Jones & McEwen, 2000) In this model, Jones and


26 McEwen differentiate between the concepts of inner identity and outside identity. Inner identity, a lso known as personal identity and represented by the core in Figure 2 1, is defined as more meaningful, complex, and closely guarded from external influences. On the other hand, the outside identity is less meaningful and often inaccurate due to others c haracterization and interpretations (Jones & McEwen, 2000) The intersecting circles that surround the core represent externally defined dimensions, which are defined as social identities that can potentially be very meaningful to a persons identity depending on their salienc e The closer a dimension is to the core, the more significant and relevant it is to the individuals identity. Jones and McEwen found that the salience level of these social identities has much to do with the privilege level of the individual (Jones & McEwen, 2000) For instance, women tend to show very high salience of their gender identities due to their experiences of women in a male dominated world (Jones & McEwen, 2000) The Jones and McEwen model explores the influence of the following externally defined dimensions on ones core identity: religion, culture, race, class, sexual orientation, and gender. These dimensions are intertwined and cannot be understood singularly (Jones & McEwen, 2000) These various identity dimensions are experienced simultaneously in different ways for people in general, and for minority groups specifically. The salience of thes e identities may vary depending on the contextual influences they interact with, which may include family backgrounds, sociocultural experiences, and career decisions and life planning (Jones & McEwen, 2000)


27 Fi gure 21. Model of multiple dimensions of identity [ Reprinted from Jones & McEwen (2000) as cited in (Jones & McEwen, 2000) ] As shown in Figure 22, t he model was later reconceptualized to incorporate the process of meaning making as a capacity that literally filters contextual influences that contribute to the construction of the individuals personal and social identity (Abes, Jones, & McEwen, 2007) Jones and McEwen (2007) argued that the salience of identity dimensions depends greatly on contextual influences, such as family, norms, environment, and sociopolitical conditions. Research shows that identity development of Muslim American college students is influenced by var ious contextual factors such as sociopolitical conditions, experiences of discrimination, hostility, stereotypes, and


28 influences of peers family, and community (Britto & Amer, 2007; Cole & Ahmadi, 2003; Peek, 2005; Sirin et al., 2008; Williams & Vashi, 2007) and should be explored further. Figure 22 Reconc eptualized model of multiple dimensions of i dentity [Reprinted from Abes, Jones, & McEwen (2007) as cited in (Abes et al., 2007) ] U nderstanding the identity formation of any group is best achieved within the context of its members personal attributes and traits, family backg rounds, sociocultural conditions, current experiences, career decisions, and life planning (Jones & McEwen, 2000) Given the intersecting identity dimensions, historical background, and current sociopolitical cont ext of Muslim Americans, contextual factors were taken into account when conducting this study.


29 Identity Development of Muslim Americans Muslim Americans can be categorized in three groups: 1) American converts into Islam, a group largely represented by Af rican Americans and remnants of the Nation of Islam movement (Smith, 1999) 2) naturalized immigrants who moved to the US seeking opportunity and benefiting from changes in immigration legislation initiated in 1965, and 3) children of immigrants, a group of young adults, mostly in highschool and college, and generally considered first generation Muslim Americans (Pew Research Center, 2007; Pipes & Duran, 2002; Smith, 1999) This study focuses on the identity development of the third group, Muslim American young adults who are currently in college Although it is difficult to account for all Muslims in America because religion is not a category in the census, experts estimate the Muslim population in America to be around seven million with an annual growth rate of 6% compared to 0.9% for the total US population. This fast growing population is as large as the Hispanic populati on was 20 years ago (Pew Research Center, 2007, 2011) There is a rich ethnic diversity within the Muslim American population in the US. The largest population of Muslims in the US comes from Bangladesh, Indi a, and Pakistan. The largest communities which are subgroups formed around common interests, faith, cultural traditions, and national origin, are mostly represented by south Asians, Iranians, and immigrants from Arabic speaking countries (Pipes & Duran, 2002) The global Muslim community is often referred to by Muslims as Umma, meaning community, a term that has sociopolitical implications for Muslims indicating a desire and purpose to unite for the greater good (S mith, 1999)


30 According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center ( 2007 ) two thirds of Muslims living in America were born in other countries. Nearly half of them (40%) have moved to the US since the 1990s. Among those, 24% are of Arab decent, 8% f rom Iran, 5% from Europe, 4% from Africa, 8% from Pakistan, and 10% from other Asian countries (Pew Research Center, 2007) Despite the lack of research on Muslim American, there have been a few studies that e xplored the influences that shape the identity formation of first generation Muslim American youth. Some focused on the role of gender (Bartkowski & Read 2003; Haddad, 2006, 2007; Hermansen, 2000; Read 2003; Read & Bartkowski, 2000), others on the role of politics (Khan, 2000; Marshall & Read 2003), and several on the role of religion (Abu Laba n 1989; Barazan gi, 1989; Haddad, 1996, 2000 2004; Peek, 2005). None of these studies have addressed the overall identity formation of Muslim Americans. As described by Jones and McEwens multiple dimensions of identity model the salience of these dimensions varies based on several contextual factors that can have a greater impact on the identity formation of the individual. Therefore, it is important to explore the dynamics and impact of these dimensions and contextual factors to explore the identity formation of Muslim American young adults Religion Although Islam has shared roots with Christianity and Judaism, its practice may be misunderstood by nonMuslim s (Smi th, 1999) Adhering to Islamic principles requires believing in one God, his messengers, most of which are shared with Christianity and Judaism, the prophet Mohammed PBUH as well as performing the daily five prayers (Salat), fasting the month of Ramadan ( Sawm), giving to charity (Zakat), and performing the oncein a lifetime pilgrimage (Hajj) (Smith, 1999) Today, Islam is the fastest


31 growing religion in the US, with approximately seven million Muslims living in America and over one billion Muslims around the world (Peek, 2003; Pew Research Center, 2007; Pipes & Duran, 2002; Smith, 1999) Religious identi ty of Muslim American youth has become a point of interest because of the emergence of what is known as identity Islam, and the increased assertion of religious sense of self, a phenomenon largely caused by family influences, organizational affiliations, the sense of alienation, especially in a post 9/11 era (Hermansen, 2003; Peek, 2005). Muslim immigrants tend to turn to religion in an attempt to resolve alienation issues and create a familiar environment in an unfamiliar society (Kurien, 1997; Kwon, 200 0; Rayaprol, 1997; Smith, 1999). As a result, religion has become more salient for many Muslim immigrants in America than it was in their own countries (Peek, 2005), launching a new generation of devout Muslim Americans who later became even more religious than their parents, displaying their faith through their attire, rituals and affiliations with organizations designed to enhance a sense of self and group cohesion (Abdo, 2005; Hermansen, 2003; Peek, 2005; Pipes & Duran, 2002; Sirin, 2007; Smith, 1999; Wi lliams, 1988). Religion may be the most salient dimension for many Muslim Americans who either moved to the US or are born to immigrant parents from Muslim countries. Young Muslims who are born and raised in the US are often more observant of conservativ e Islamic practice than their parents (Abdo, 2005) About half of the Muslims who live in the US restrict themselves to Halal food (Pipes & Duran, 2002) More women are wearing the veil and identifying with their religions conservative principles, some against their parents wishes (Abdo, 2005) About onethird of Muslim immigrants


32 became more religious after they immigrate to the US (Pipes & Duran, 2002) A third of women do not wear makeup in public for religious reasons (Pipes & Duran, 2002) Similarly, about one third of women refrain from shaking hands w ith men who are not related to them and about 25% of school girls cover their hair (Pipes & Duran, 2002) The 9/11 attacks may have accelerated the process of Muslim Americans moving away from a secular lifestyle tow ards a more orthodox one. Muslims who used to attend the Mosque only on Fridays for the weekly Jumaa congregation prayer are now becoming regulars at the daily prayers (Abdo, 2005) However, this rush towards spiritu ality and religion did not bring Muslim Americans to extremism. In fact, the majority of Muslims living in America unequivocally reject extremism and terrorism (Pew Research Center, 2007) According to the most recent survey published by the Pew Research C enter (2007), nearly 70% of Muslim Americans view al Qaeda either unfavorably or very unfavorably and roughly half of them report that they are concerned with the rise of Islamic extremism around the world (Pew Research Center, 2007) However, the fact that almost a third of Muslim Americans do not share this attitude may be of concern to many nonMuslims, and therefore requires further exploration. Muslim American youth have also been trying to craft a new identity for themselves, and they are doing it by returning to the original teachings of the Quran and the Sunna. One possible motiv ation may be to be part of the worldwide Islamic revival since accepting social norms in America may be in conflict with their intrinsic values and beliefs (Abdo, 2005) For instance, a study conducted by the University of Kentucky revealed a large increase in Mosque construction due to a large increase in attendance at prayer services during the last few years (Abdo, 2005) Over 85% of M osques in the


33 Detroit area have experienced significant growth during the last five years (Abdo, 2005) Muslim Americans today consider Mosques as more than just places of worship. They are their link to other believers and hubs for religious education and social gathering (Abdo, 2005) Identity construction and negotiation translates into concepts of identity salience, which plac es various contributing factors to multiple identities into a hierarchy of importance and significance (Peek, 2005) As negative stereotyping of Muslims intensified in the US and around the world, Muslim American young adults went through a process of strengthening their religious identity, which helped them become advocates for their religion and community (Peek, 2005) Religion has become the most salient component of identity for these young individuals (Peek, 2005) A study that explored the religious identity of secondgeneration Muslim American college students found three distinct stages of identity formation: 1) religion as ascribed identity, 2) religion as chosen identity, and 3) religion as declared identity. Participants faith and religious practice intensified as they moved through the three stages (Peek, 2005) When individuals, typically children and adolescents, define their religion as ascribed by the fact that they were born into it, their level of engagement in the process of self reflection about being Muslims is very little (Peek, 2005) As children become older and more mature, they become more introspective and aware of their val ues and beliefs (Peek, 2005) Consequently, they begin to accept the idea of questioning their ascribed religion and eventually choose it as a significant part of their identity (Peek, 2005) Social environments in college, often facilitated and supported by Muslim


34 Student Associations (MSAs), may play a significant role in constructing, reinforcing, and affirming the strong emerging religious identity of young adults which helps them develop through the second stage of religious identity formation (Peek, 2005) Peek (2005) attributed the third stage, religion as declared identity, to the events and aftermath of 9/11. Muslim American college students were found to identif y more closely with being Muslims than ever before and find refuge in their religion from the increased hostility against their community as a result of these events Furthermore, the increased attention from the public and media on Islam and Muslim s may have Muslim Americans to seek knowledge and underst anding of their own religion in order to be able to respond to the constant questioning they received about it Overnight, Muslim Americans found themselves serving the role of representatives of Islam and Muslims (Peek, 2005) This has led Muslim American young adults in particular to study the Quran and Islamic literature, and eventually align themselves even more with their religion and display it through their behavior, speech, and physical appearance (Peek, 2005) Culture Cultural identity captures the intersection and interconnectedness of religion, culture, ethnicity, class, and national identities (Berry, Phinney, Sam, & Vedder, 2006; Li e bkind, 1992). Ting Toomey (1985) defines culture as the patterned ways of thinking, acting, feeling, and interpreting that a particular group or individual adopts. There are four elements to culture: norms, values, beliefs, and expressive symbols (Fine, 1995) Culture is combination of attitudes, behaviors, and customs that are learned from parents, friends, teachers, and the media. Because culture is embedded in everything that we do, we treat it like the water that we drink or the air that we breathe. We take it


35 for granted. There are three major characteristics of culture: 1) it is learned and not innate, 2) its various facets are interrelated, and 3) it is shared and defines group boundaries (Fine, 1995) The religion of Islam and its associated cultures have different rules and standards fro m the western culture (Sirin et al., 2008) Many Muslims in America are constantly faced with western customs and values that challenge their beliefs and way of life (Pipes & Duran, 2002) They worry about maintaining their family traditions and honor, and fear abandonment of their faith and culture (Pipes & Duran, 2002) Particularly, Muslim American youth may have to constantly negotiate and integrate these standards in their everyday lives while in college (Sirin et al., 2008) Muslim American young adults are often anxious about balancing their cultural and religious values within the world they live in, and constantly negotiate their dual identities (Sirin et al., 2008) The complex process of negotiating identities for Muslim American young adults has created a need for college administrators and faculty to understand this population and learn about the various facets and dimensions of Muslims identity in America. Muslim American young adults identify with both their Muslim and American identit ies a concept labeled hyphenated self by Sirin and Fine (2008) in their recent study about identity negotiation for Muslim American youth (Sirin et al., 2008) For the most part, Muslim American young adults were found to have the capacity to craft integrated and parallel identities, as well as overwhelmingly prefer being engaged and involved with their ethnic and religious communities as well as the mainstream US society (Sirin et al., 2008) Yet, their national identity is constantly questioned, especially


36 following the 9/11 events and their aftermath. Findings of Sirins (2008) study reveal that the three factors contribute to Muslim American young adults American identity: 1) stress caused by discrimination, 2) orientation to American culture, and 3) orientation to home country culture (Sirin et al., 2008) The definition of the label Muslim American is complex as there are many ways for an individual to be a Muslim American. This socially constructed identity emerged out of the tragic events of 9/11, which caused Islam as a religion to become a more salient dimension for Muslims, and their standing in their community became increasingly questioned (Sirin et al., 2008) As a result of these sociopolitical and historical factors, Americans who practice the Muslim faith have adopted the label Muslim American to assert their religious as well as their national identity, a coping mechanism often used by marginalized minority groups, such as African Americans, Jewish Americans, and AsianAmericans (Grewal, 2009; Sirin et al., 2008) Although Muslim Americans come from diverse c ultural, racial, ethnic, and geographic backgrounds, these events coupled with the US wa r s in predominately Muslim countries have helped create the Muslim American label, which transformed into a collective identity overtime, refer ring to a group of Americ ans, mostly of immigrant origin, who adhere to the religion of Islam and share similar experiences as citizens of the United States of America (Sirin et al., 2008) Culture, faith, and politics are intertwined as m any cultural customs in the Muslim community stem from religious practice. Marriage and family values are a major part of the Muslim culture. Over 69% of Muslims living in America are married and only 9% are divorced or separated. Approximately 47% have one or more children (Pew Research


37 Center, 2007) Muslims tend to make decisions based on pleasing God and strive to follow the model of the Prophet Mohammed PBUH (Smith, 1999) Muslim parents expect their children to be respectful to them and to others and to be honest and show humility and modesty in their behavior, speech, and appearance (Pipes & Duran, 2002) Although Muslim Americans identify with socially conservative values, many align their political orientation with moderates and liberals. Over a third of Muslim Americans (38%) consider themselves moderates while 24% consider themselves liberal (Pew Research Center, 2007) Nearly 70% of Muslim Americans are registered democrats and 11% are registered republicans (Pew Research Center, 2011). M any Muslims have distanced themselves from the Republican Party after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (Pew Research Center, 2007) Muslim Americans seem to be less involved and engaged in American politics than the general population, especially among the youth (Pew Research Center, 2007) T his may be caused by the built up frustration with the political system and disapproval of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over 75% of Muslim Americans believe that the US made the wrong decision to invade Iraq and 48% believe that the US made the wrong decision to invade Afghanistan. Approximately 55% of Muslim Americans doubt the sincerity of the war on terrorism and see it as a war against Islam (Pew Research Center, 2007) Cultural, moral, and societal factors may also be the reasons behind the noticeable recent increase in piety and religiosity among some Muslim Americans especially young adults Culturally, Many Muslim immigrants have taken refuge in the mosques and community events, which are typically of religious nature, as a response


38 to the strangeness of the new culture and rituals they are confronted with in the US (Pipes & Duran, 2002) Morally, they are responding to the noticeably liberal and open culture, especially compared to the conservative environment they were brought up in (Pipes & Duran, 2002) A survey conducted by Cornell University revealed that 44% of Americans feel that the U.S. government should restric t the civil liberties of Muslim Americans. Muslims may be seeking refuge from the increased hostility and negative attitude they experience from nonMuslim by reverting to their religious and cultural communities (Pip es & Duran, 2002) Thus, some Muslim American parents are now choosing to home school their children or enroll them in Islamic schools in hopes of influencing the moral tone of the classroom (Pipes & Duran, 2002) Consequently, some children of Muslim immigrants, including nonobservant Muslims seem to be more attracted to Islam and its morality, discipline, and old fashion ways. They seem to be rediscovering the heritage and principles of the religion, and consequently follow it with various degrees of strictness (Pipes & Duran, 2002) On the other hand, some Muslim Americans have assimilated to life in America quite easily compared to other minority groups. Although nearly hal f of Muslim Americans identify themselves as Muslims first, which is not too different from any other religious group, 63% do not see a conflict between being a devout Muslim and the modern way of life in America (Pew Research Center, 2007) Pia Rebello Britto and Mona Amer (2007) conducted a quantitative study to explore the cultural identity patterns of 150 US born or early immigrant Arab Muslim American young adults between the ages of 18 and 25, using various scales that


39 measure cultural identity, accultruation, and family functioning Findings revealed three distinc t cultural identity groups: 1) high bicultural, which emphasizes an extraodinary ability to navigate both Muslim and American cultures, 2) moder ate bicultural, which highlights moderate abilities to manage both cutlures, and 3) high Arab cultural, a group defined by participants intense desire to gravitate towards the Arab and Muslim culture and reject the American identity. The study shed light on strong accultruation stressors, relative to family and sociodemographic contexts, that impact to a greater extent those who fall in the intersection of the three cultures: Arab, Muslim, and American (Mona & Rebello Britto, 2007) This study was one of the first of its kind to explore identity formation issues of Muslim American young adutls, but it had some limitations which I attended to in my study This study did not account for the impact of religiosity and gender on the development of the sense of self for Arab Muslim American young adults. To avoid this pitfall, I consider ed identity formation issues of Muslim American young adult college students from all ethnic and racial backgrounds, rather than focus ing on one group in particular. Furthermore, several hypotheses and assumptions were made about Arabs and Muslim s in America in this study. Given the gap in literature and research about this population, I chose to use a qualitative methodology to allow theories and hypotheses to emerge from the dat a, rather than make assumptions that cannot be supported by the literature. Class The dimension of social class in the Muslim American community is intertwined with culture, especially when it is viewed from the context of family backgrounds, sociocultur al conditions, current experiences, career decisions, and life planning (Abes et al.,


40 2007) Muslim youth, especially in America, are expected by their parents to pursue prestigious degrees and career paths ( Smith, 1999) About half of Muslims living in America have attended college and 24% are college graduates compared to 18% of the gen eral US population (Census, 2010) Of those, 10% hold post graduate degrees compared to 7% of the general US population (Census, 201 0 ) Approximately 41% of Muslims living in America earn $50,000 or more (Pew Research Center, 2007) Unlike Muslim immigrants in Europe, who mostly live in economic ally depressed communities, Muslim immigrants in America represent a vibrant community in the middle and upper class, making higher salaries and obtaining exceptionally higher degrees than the national US average (Pew Research Center, 2007) While Europes proximity to many third world Muslim countries attracts less affluent immigrants, which contributes to increased stereotyping and discrimination towards Muslims, America has attracted more affluent and educat ed Muslim immigrants whose success was driven by high societal and family expectations of Muslim youth, and largely caused by Americans tolerance and acceptance towards Muslims, until September 11th, 2001 (Pipes & Duran, 2002). As a result of the intense pressure and expectations from families and the Muslim community Muslims American young adults tend to gravitate towards careers in Medicine and Engineering. Combined, the two fields account for one third of the Muslim American community (Pipes & Duran, 2002). However, recent sociopolitical conditions have changed the environment for Muslim Americans who have had to create a more pronounced identity due largely to the increased media and public attention on Islam and the Muslim community in America and aro und the world. Consequently, they have had to understand who they


41 are in the context of a culture different from theirs and a world that is becoming increasingly hostile towards them (Abdo, 2005) There is much to be explored in the area of life and career trajectory for Muslim American young adults as they begin to integrate their own identities and expectations into the expectations of their parents and society. Gender Depending on the salience of religious identit y, the restrictive nature of religion may impact, and at times even foreclose, young Muslim Americans exploration and formation of other identit y dimensions such as gender (Sirin et al., 2008) For instance, gender issues and mingling between Muslim men and women are a point of tension on college campuses as MSAs try to negotiate between their cultural values and the American way of life (Smith, 1999) These issues can be clearly observed when attending an event organized by the MSA on campus and seeing that men and women have different seating areas. The separation comes from the cultural and historical traditions in Muslim communities that men and women should refrain from mingling with one another to avoid falli ng in temptation and entering into inappropriate relations outside of marriage (Smith, 1999) However, some Muslims question the hypocrisy committed mostly by men who feel comfortable mingling with nonMuslim women, yet tend to shy away from befriending Muslim women (Smith, 1999) The gender dimension for Muslim Americans is very much intertwined with religion culture. About 46% of the Muslims living in America are women (Pew Research Center, 2007) compared to 50% of the general US population (Census, 2010) Gender roles in Islam and in most Muslim cultures are well defined and may be a source of misinterpretation and misunderstanding inside and outside the Muslim community. For


42 many Muslims, a certain separation or distance between men and women who are not related via family ties is expected under the assumption that if allowed together, they would be tempted to engage in what ar e considered sinful acts that will place them outside of the circle of Islam and ultimately have a negative impact on society (Pipes & Duran, 2002) Although women are allowed to work, they are not expected to provide for their household as this is considered to be the primary expectation for men (Smith, 1999) Following a religious decree, many Muslim American women choose to dress conservatively and often wear a veil, also known as the Hijab. Men also have to follow a conservative dress code, but because their attire is not identified as a religious symbol, their identity is not as recognized by others as it is for women (Smith, 1999) Muslim American women often have to deal with inquisitive looks, assumptions about their ability to speak English, stereotypes and discrimination. Muslim American women on college campuses have often experienced prejudice from their peers and faculty who have negative misconceptions about veiled women and view them as oppressed, submissive, or have limited ability to articulate their thoughts and opinions (Cole & Ahmadi, 2003) The reality is that many of these stereotypes are shared with Muslim men also, but Muslim women who choose to veil are more likely to experience them because they may be easily identified as Muslims (Cole & Ahmadi, 2003) However, many Muslim American women are taking the high road in trying t o experience college life as their counterparts without compromising their values or changing their appearance (Smith, 1999)


43 Summary Identity dimensions that typically bind groups together, such as race, traditions, religion, culture, gender, values, and language are usually more salient among minorities than the majority group because they represent the basis for their subordinate standing in the community (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005). Phinney (1990, 1992 1995) argues that minorities typically face two challenges: 1) maintaining their sense of self and self esteem while dealing with prejudice, and 2) achieving balance between the values of the minority and majority groups that they affiliate with As described i n Chapter 4, these challenges are prevalent among Muslim American college students and have a tremendous impact on their identity formation. The tragic 911 events and their aftermath have created a new sociopolitical environment for Muslim American young adults in which Islam has increased visibility in the media, Muslim Americans standing in the community is increasingly questioned, and their identity is more scrutinized (Britto & Amer, 2007; Cole & Ahmadi, 2003; Pew Research Center, 2007; Said, 2004; S irin et. A l, 2008; Williams & Vashi 2007) Increased incidents of stereotyping and prejudice against Muslims juxtaposed with the lack of knowledge about this fast growing population may have also contributed to the inability of university administrators and faculty to meet the needs and provide reasonable accommodations to ensure the academic, personal, and professional development of Muslim American college students This study helps bridge the gap in the literature and serves as a catalyst for future studies to help university officials understand Muslim American college students better.


44 CHAPTER 3 METHOD Chapter 3 begins with an overview of grounded theory, the research method that frames this investigation. It provides a thorough description of the qualitative research procedures that were undertaken to collect and analyze the data: selecting participants, conducting observations, individual interviews, and focus group, as well as coding, memo writing, and generating themes. Finally, it concludes with a discussion about the researchers subjectivity and trustworthiness of the study. Methodology Grounded Theory Having e merged from the work of Glaser and Strauss on the experience of dying in hospitals, grounded theory integrates the strengths of quantitat ive research, such as rigor, logic, and systematic analysis, with qualitative techniques to enable a theory to emerge from the data rather than following the typical deductive method of theorizing first followed by evidence building (Charmaz, 2000, 2006 2009 ; Glaser et al., 1967 ; Walker & Myrick, 2006). Glaser and Strauss revived and legitimized qualitative research during a time when it was losing ground in face of an increasingly more dominant quantitative research (Glaser et al., 1967) They argued that theory could be driven from systematic qualitative analysis, and defined seven critical guiding principles which were implemented in this study : 1) data collection and analysis are cond ucted simultaneously, 2) codes and themes are constructed from data rather than from hypotheses, 3) constant comparison is implemented in each phase of the analysis to ensure rigor and trustworthiness, 4) theory development is a continuous process that is


45 advanced through the data collection and analysis, 5) memowriting is used to maintain engagement of the researcher in the data and identify gaps in emerging categories, 6) the purpose of sampling is to construct a theory, not to guarantee appropriate group representation, 7) the literature review is conducted after the data analysis to allow fresh and new ideas to emerge and prevent the influence of already established frameworks, and 8) grounded theory strategies are used flexibly (Charmaz, 2006; Glaser et al., 1967) The data analysis process in grounded theory strikes an ideal balance between simplicity and complexity, rigor and flexibility, as well as structure and autonomy. This balance has enabled me as the researcher to constantly be entrenched in the data, allowing for theoretical ideas to develop (Charmaz, 2006; Glaser et al., 1967; Walker & Myrick, 2006). Ground ed theory has lent itself very well to the study of Muslim American college student s for several reasons. First, the definition of grounded theory as the discovery of theory from systematically generated data through the process of comparative analysis (Glaser et al., 1967) fits well with the purpose of this study: to describe how Muslim American college students construct their identity during their formative years as undergraduate students in college. The intent of this investigation was to generate a theory that explains the identity construction process of Muslim American college students using conceptual categories to be presented in the form of codified propositions (Glaser et al., 1967) As proposed by Glaser and Strauss (1967) the theory that emerged to explain the identity development process of Muslim American college students was merely momentary and will continue to develop long after it is presented in this p aper (Glaser et al., 1967)


46 Second, because of the lack of knowledge about Muslim American college students, the expectation of grounded theory to rely on data rather than literature early in the process allow ed for independent analysis of the data rather than a thorough literature review (Charmaz, 2000, 2006, 2009 ; Emerson, 1983; Emerson, 1983) The notion that grounded theorists are not expected to poor their data into someone elses theoretical framework has allow ed for innovation and creation of an original theory that emerged from the data to explain the process of identity formation of Mu slim American college students (Charmaz, 2006; Emerson, 1983) Third, the process of generating theory fits with the reality of social interaction and its structural context (Glaser et al., 1967) Much of what was explored in this study focus ed on the social environment of Muslim American college students in the context of their academic progress and personal and professional development in coll ege. Charmaz (2006) defines symbolic interactionism as a theoretical perspective that assumes society, reality, and self [which are] are constructed through interaction and thus rely on language and communication (p. 17). I reviewed several studies that have used symbolic interactionism as part of grounded theory to build my research design. One of these studies examined the role and functions that an email group among parents of children with autism played on how these parents received support, informat ion, and guidance (Huws, Jones, & Ingledew, 2001) In this study, the principle investigators concurrently collected and analyzed data using coding, theoretical memo writing, and theoretical comparisons to make sense of what was being said. This article provided a good model of how to collect and analyze data for this study


47 Theoretical Sampling The process of using grounded theory as the main methodology of this study was both exciting and challenging as it require d col lecting, coding, and analyzing data simultaneously (Glaser et al., 1967) In preparation for this process, I reviewed a study with a similar research design that addressed how cancer patients made meaning of thei r experiences and how their spirituality influenced their meaning making process (Walton & Sullivan, 2004) In this study, data collection and analysis occurred simultaneously as part of grounded theory. Coding, memo writing, categorizing, and reviewing literature all happened simultaneously for the purpose of generating more categories to build them up to a theoretical level and consequently generate a conceptual model (Walton & S ullivan, 2004) This sampling method was ideal for studying a population that is underrepresented in the research and literature. An element of freedom and flexibility in pursing the data was necessary for the process of discovery in this type of study because of the gap in research about Muslim American college students Moreover, formulating a theory as it emerged from the data required a great amount of theoretical sensitivity and insight, a skill necessary to build strong categories and hypotheses (Glaser et al., 1967) The main premise of theoretical sampling was to gather data and further explain categories, not to insure population representation or increase statistical generalizability of results (Charmaz, 2006). It allow ed for constant questioning of what groups or subgroups to approach in the next phase of data collection, a process that was facilitated by memo writing to identify gaps that need ed to be filled by the next set of data (Glaser et al., 1967) This process continued until saturation of categories was reached (Glaser et al., 1967) In addition, theoretical sampling allow ed for anecdotal


48 comparisons with my p ast experiences, previously acquired knowledge, readings, and stories of others as the principle investigator to be made in the data analysis process (Glaser et al., 1967) This was especially convenient for me c onsidering my Muslim and Arabic heritage as both a researcher and college student affairs professional, a factor that not only help ed me access the Muslim American college student population, but also build trust and rapport with them, as well as have the freedom to use my own experiences and knowledge to build comparison points. Data Collection Selection of Participants Although theoretical sampling allow ed for flexibility in selecting the next participant after the initial interviews, some minimum requirements were set for the purpose of this investigation. In order to be selected for this study, participants had to be Muslims, between the age of 18 and 23, American citizens having lived in the United States for a minimum of 15 years, and enrolled in an undergraduate college degree program at a four year university in the US Participants were reached through Muslim student associations in four year institution s of higher education in the United States. Based on the contextual influences described in the reconceptualized model of multiple dimensions of identity (Abes et al., 2007) special attention was paid to the campus climate, institutional support and accommodations to Muslim students, and the structure of the M uslim student organization on campus. Gift cards were offered as an incentive to motivate students to participate in this study. Following the recommendations of Glaser and Strauss (1967) and Charmaz ( 2000, 2006, 2009), the number of participants depend ed on when data saturation was


49 reached. As discussed in the literature review, because of the gender dynamics in the Muslim faith and its associated cultures, there was balanced representation of men and women among participants to ensure fair representation of voices from both genders. The study involved 14 Muslim American college students N ine of the participants were women and five were men. Most participants attended public elementary, middle, and high school. However, a few attended private educational programs affiliated with their local Mosques for at least a few years. The group of participants was representative of all four college classes: two freshmen, four sophomores, four juniors, and four seniors. Nine out of the 14 participants were majoring in sciences and on a pre health track and one participant was majoring in Engineering. The other four participants were majoring in political sciences hoping to apply to Law School after graduation. The majority of participants identified themselves as prac ticing Muslims, although their levels of religiosity differed based on various factors that are discussed in Chapter 4. Only three participants, two women and one man, shared that they do not consider themselves practicing Muslims, but still identify as Muslims. Six out of the nine women participants wore Hijab. Three out of the five men participants had beards, all at different length and shapes. The decision to wear the Hijab or grow a beard and its relationship with the various identity dimensions and co ntextual factors is explored further in Chapter 4. Most participants were born and raised in the US. Two participants were born abroad and moved to the US at a very young age. National origin for the participants included several Muslim countries, includi ng India, Pakistan, Turkey, and various


50 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Seven of the 14 participants attended a focus group that lasted 90 minutes in which they received an overview of the major themes that emerged from the individual inter views and had an opportunity to reflect and comment on the early findings of the study The focus group served as a group member checking procedure to ensure credibility but also provided additional data that was used to create and refine themes Procedur es Participants were asked to fill out a brief questionnaire to collect demographic information as illustrated in Appendix C. They participated in audiotaped interviews that lasted approximately 120 minutes and were asked many questions about how they see themselves, how they think others see them, how they related to others, and h ow they experience college ( Appendix D). Probing questions were asked to explore issues that the participants shared. Participants were given a brief break after the first 60 minutes period of the interview. All interviews were conducted in a private area on campus to respect the confidentiality of the information shared, and the names of interviewees are withheld by mutual agreement to protect their anonymity Therefore, participants are referred to by randomly assigned initials in Chapter 4. To ensure trustworthiness of the study, member checking was conducted through individual phone conversations with select participants and a final audiotaped focus group, in which preliminary data was shared with participants. The focus group also generate d new data that was transcribed and analyzed for final adjustments of the emerging theory. The focus group also involved participants taking part of Bead W ho Y ou Are, an exercise designed t o identify participants salient identities using beads of different colors.


51 Data Analysis The analysis method was inspired by an approach illustrated in a study that used grounded theory to explore parents participation in their childs care from the per spective of the child, parents, and nurses (Coyne & Cowley, 2006) The data analysis process was categorized in four different procedures which I implemented in this study : 1) listening to tapes and transcribing, 2) line by line coding in the margin of the transcript and writing theoretical notes on cards, 3) compiling a list of codes and grouping them into categories, and 4) constantly comparing the codes and generating memos ( Coyne & Cowley, 2006) The data analysis process beg an by open coding phrases, statements, and observations in the interviews and focus group in a broad manner. Then, transcripts were recoded looking for codes that kept repeating themselves. The third rev iew of the transcripts consist ed of re indexing the codes and fitting them into broader axial codes or categories and merging themes in a way that put similar codes together under the same broad categories (Emers on, 1983) Coding is a fundamental component of the data analysis phase, which required categorizing data, sorting it using labels representing general themes, and carefully scrutinizing the statements and behaviors of participants and noting inconsistencies and contradictions in order to identity patterns and consequences, whether intended and unintended (Emerson, 1983) The data may have seem ed massive, confusing, and without a clear pattern at first, but coding brought organization and order to allow for a theory to emerge (Charmaz, 2006; Emerson, 1983) In her explication and interpretation of grounded theory in Robert Emersons book (1983) and later in her own book (2006), Kathy Charmaz offers a series of tips and


52 recommendations for coding and data analysis in qualitative research, which I embraced and utilize d in my study. First, she recommended attending to the context, participants, t iming, and structure relative to what participants choose to share and emphasize throughout the study (Emerson, 1983) The idea here was to find the relationship between participants experiences and their inter pretations of those experiences (Emerson, 1983) Second, Charmaz (1983, 2006) point ed out that building codes should not be about what participants stress only, but also about what they ignore or pass over (Emerson, 1983) As described in Chapter 4, this was particularly helpful in this study as there were elements of identity that participants failed to mention, such as certain American traditions that most Americans would probably mention when discussing their cultural identity. Third, Charmaz (1983, 2006) provided examples for how to turn the data into in vivo codes, a process that raises the imagery used by participants when describing their experiences to new conc eptual levels (Emerson, 1983) And finally, she explained, the process of identifying the meaning behind the data by using codes and constantly comparing bits of data with other data for their similarities and differences (Charmaz, 2006; Emerson, 1983) The process of refining codes and generating broad categories continue d as I beg an selecting what appear ed to be the most salient themes. S elec tive coding helped categorize what appear ed to be the central influences on these unique dynamics in one broad category. Through rigorous coding and constant comparison of data, the meaning behind the data emerged into a theory that not only reflects but also describes how young adult Muslim American college students construct their identity while in college.


53 Although the simultaneous process of data collection and analysis was intense and time consuming, it provided the necessary freedom to follow the dat a and decide how to proceed and what data to collect next after the initial analysis (Glaser et al., 1967) Following grounded theory principles I did not plan further data collection in advance of the emerging theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Instead, I followed t he process of giving more control to the data collection, which is known by grounded theorist as theoretical sampling (Glaser et al., 1967) Figure 31 illust rates and integrates all steps of data collection and analysis which were conducted simultaneously in this study : interv iews focus group, member checking, and coding Figure 31. Simultaneous data collection and analysis Rigor and Trus t worthiness Quali tative research has gained prominence and acceptance as a legitimate method of inquiry (Charmaz, 2000, 2006, 2009 ) Unlike quantitative research, which seeks truth through measurable data, qualitative research foc uses on the meaning derived from ones experiences, a definition that places a greater emphasis on the


54 context of inquiry and the role of the researcher (Pitney, 2004). Because of the recent epistemological shift in qualitative inquiry, from positivism to constructivism, the role of validity, reliability, and generalizability as primary ways of validating knowledge has been discarded over a debate that lasted over two decades (Kvale, 1995; Lincoln & Guba 1985; Peck & Secker, 1999; Pitney, 2004; Rolfe, 2006; Tobin & Begley, 2003; Whi tt emore Chase, & Mandle, 2000). There has been significant debate during the last three decades over how to evaluate the quality and accuracy of qualitative research (Rolf, 2006). Constructivism and the surge of new qualitative studies have given birth to new concepts that I utilized to ensure that reality was represented fairly and accurately by my study s findings: 1) trustworthiness, 2) rigor, and 3) goodness (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, 2000; Tobin & Begley, 2003). Despite Glaser and Strauss (1967) best efforts to challenge positivistic quantitative methods, grounded theory gained notoriety for it s rigor and positivistic nature (Charmaz 2000, 2006, 2009) Charmaz (2006) is among a growing number of scholars who have moved grounded theory through various epistemological perspectives, from 1) positivism, which holds that true knowledge is based on positive verification only (Creswell, 2008), to 2) constructivism, which holds that knowledge and meaning are created from experience (C reswell, 2008), and to 3) interpretivisim, which holds that knowledge is a matter of interpretation (Creswell, 2008). This transformation in perspectives has further enabled grounded theorys guidelines to be applied with a broader range of studies and mod ern methodological assumptions (Charmaz, 2006). In fact, Charmaz (2006) challenged Glaser and Strauss assumption that theory is discovered as it emerges from data; r ather, she assumes that we are part of the world


55 we study and the data we collect (p. 1 0) and argues that theories are constructed through the continuous involvement with people, perspectives, and research practices (p. 10) concepts that helped generate authentic data from genuine interactions with the participants in this study Thus, the theory that emerged in this study was an interpretation and construction of reality, not a replica of it based on data. This process require d rigorous and intense involvement in the world participants live in, which has led to many new insights and ultim ately a theoretical model of identity formation of Muslim American college students To demonstrate trustworthiness, Lincoln and Guba (1985, 2000) suggest ed four categories of steps which I pursued in this study : 1) credibility, 2) transferability, 3) dependability, and 4) confirmability. Establishing credibility was one of the key criteria to ensure trustworthiness (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, 2000). Following Shentons (2004) recommendations, the following provisions were met to achieve credibility: 1) the re search design and methods were well defined and thoroughly reported, 2) familiarity with the internal culture of participants has been already achieved through my background as a Muslim and a university administrator, 3) random sampling and initial selecti on of participants was achieved through an email invitation sent to Muslim student associations, 4) theoretical sampling was achieved by analyzing data immediately after each interview and selecting the next participant based on the data analysis and initi al themes that emerged 5) participants were encouraged to be frank and honest throughout the study and were informed of their rights to refuse to participate and to withdraw at anytime during the study, 6) probes and other questioning tactics were used to elicit additional details and information and prevent lies or


56 miscommunication from contaminating data, 7) data was constantly revisited and scrutinized before findings and an emerging theory were confirmed, 8) debriefing sessions were conducted with supervising faculty and six peer colleagues with experience in conducting research, two of whom were current doctoral students in Education and four have successfully defended their dissertations within the prior five years 9) a sample of the data was analyzed and scrutinized by two peer colleagues to verify fair and accurate representation of participants voices, 10) a reflective statement commenting on my impressions of the process, participants, and setting was provided in Chapter 5 to ensure continuous pr ogressive subjectivity, 11) my personal and professional background as the principle investigator was shared in a comprehensive subjectivity statement and biographical sketch, 12) member checking was conducted in a focus group with seven participants and v ia follow up phone conversations with four select participants to ensure congruence between findings and data analysis of participants voices, 13) a description of the issue being studied has been provided in the literature review in C hapter 2 and 14) ot her similar studies were examined and compared with this study to check for congruence between findings (Lincoln and Guba, 1985, 2000; Shenton 2004). To ensure that the themes generated from the data accurately represented the participants voices member ship checking was conducted in a focus group with seven members in addition to individual meetings with four members who were selected based on their availability, maturity, and engagement in the study. Member checking is typically a single event conducted to ensure accuracy of transcripts and interpretations (Doyle, 2007). Methods of conducting member checking differ in the literature. It may be


57 conducted informally or may follow a structured plan and format It may be conducted in one single instance duri ng the research process (Doyle, 2007; Carlson, 2010), or as described by Lindolf (2011) with key persons at the end of the study (p. 168). My initial plan was to conduct member checking with all participants in a focus group. The opportunity to attend t he focus group was offered to all participants. However, only seven out of the 14 participants chose to attend because some had scheduling conflicts and others did not feel comfortable discussing personal issues in a group setting To followup on the member checking conducted in the focus group, individual member checking was conducted with four members to ensure trustworthiness. In addition, Lincoln (1995) recommended several strategies that I followed in this study to demonstrate trustworthiness: 1) prol onged engagement with participants, 2) persistent observations of activities that involved Muslim American college students and 3) audit trails to demonstrate the credibility of the study. Transferability which is concerned with the generalizability of the study findings, was rejected by early qualitative work, arguing that populations in qualitative investigations are too small to generate findings that can be applied to other settings and populations (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, 2000; Shenton 2004; Tobin & Begley, 2003). In their early work, Lincoln and Guba (1985) along with other scholars (B a ssey, 1981; Densco m be, 1989, Firestone, 1993; Starke 1994) offered an opposing view, arguing that transferability should be considered in qualitative research providing sufficient detail about the context of the investigation to allow for justifiable comparison and application to other settings and populations ( Shenton 2004)


58 Shenton (2004) suggest ed six specific contextua l details that are important to share for the reader or practitioner to be able to make a transferability inference: 1) details about the organization participating in the study, 2) restrictions in types of participants, 3) the number of participants, 4) t he method utilized for data collection, 5) the timeline of the data collection, and 6) specific details about each component of the data collection. These details were provided in Chapter 3 to ensure that the reader clearly understands the findings of this particular study within a very specific context: undergraduate students enrolled in an American four year university who identify as Muslim Americans. Thus, practitioners and readers are able to apply transferability carefully. However, they should not ge neralize findings of this study to other settings or populations ( Shenton 2004) such as Muslim American highschool students or Muslim international students. Detailed reporting of the research process helped demonstrate dependability and will enable future investigators to repeat the process in future studies ( Shenton 2004) Following Shentons (2004) recommendations, three specific elements of this study were shar ed to ensure dependability: 1) research design and implementation, 2) process for data collection, and 3) my reflective evaluation about the investigation process. As suggested by Shenton (2004) and Lincoln and Guba (1985), confirmability was achieved by demonstrating that findings were directly driven by and from the data and not from my personal assumptions or imagination. This was achieved by a process of peer debriefing that involve d advising faculty and colleagues, analysis, and comparison of a portion of the data set with findings (Tobin & Begley, 2004) In addition, the


59 researchers subjectivity statement play ed a key role in the studys confirmability (Miles & Huberman, 1994 ; Shenton 2004). Chapter 3 inclu des a comprehensive subjectivity statement that addresses my qualifications as a qualitative researcher, personal biases, as well as my personal and professional background and how it has impact ed the study. Confirmability was also addressed with an audit trail, illustrated by Figure 31, which depicts the steps undertaken in the data collection and analysis process to increase the readers confidence in the findings ( Shenton 2004) Limitations The study was con ducted using a qualitative methodology, which restrict ed the generalizability of findings. Recognizing that generalizability of findings is a decision or inference made by the reader and consumer s of the study, rather than the research itself ( Shenton 2004) Thorough details about Muslim American college students, participants and their background, and the context of the fieldwork was shared to ensure that practitioners will have sufficient confidence to decide whether findings can be applied to the setting and population of concern. I caution practitioners and researchers that the findings described in Chapter 4 should not be generalized to the general Muslim American college student population. This was a quali tative study focused on a small segment of the population. However, the depth of the research and details gathered through the long hours of interviews and focus group may help practitioners make the appropriate connections with the themes and the identity development model that emerged in this study. Another limitation was represented in the difficulties I experienced to access the Muslim American student populations in various universities My attempts were met with resistance and suspicion. R ecent and current sociopolitical developments, triggered


60 mostly by the 9/11 events, such as the Patriot Act, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the backlash from terrorism are some examples of factors that have created skepticism and mistrust among Muslim Americans, especially young adults, of any form of inquiry, fearing being trapped in national security investigations that may pin them for comments that may be perceived as unpatriotic (Abdo, 2005) M any MSA leaders refused to send my email request via their distribution list. One group in particular responded that in recent months, their members agreed to participate in a similar study, which turned out to be a fake study set up by local enforcement. I was forced to refocus on one institution only, which I am familiar with and have personal contacts with its MSA membership and Muslim community. I also suspected that the awkward gender dynamics between Muslim men and women would make it difficult for me to have access to female participants and conduct interviews with them in a confidential manner. I was prepared to seek the assistance of a female student to be present in the interviews to help create a comfortable space for female participants. My assumptions were incorrect. Alt hough I had some difficulties to have enough female volunteers at the beginning, nine out of the 14 participants in this study were women. I was surprised by their openness and comfort level with me in the interviews. I offered to keep the door open in eac h of the interviews. I was surprised by their openness to the process. Many emphasiz ed that they knew me and trusted me. Being part of the Muslim community may have helped create a comfort level with the participants but being known for many years prior t o conduct ing this study was critical to having access to this population. One of the students, AB said: I dont care that you


61 were a male because I know who you are, and you are Muslim. I trust you, and Ive seen your children at the Masjid. Researcher Subjectivity I recently conducted two pilot studies during the past few years that have provided me with the necessary skills, knowledge, and insight to conduct this qualitative research study. These pilot studies addressed issues facing Muslim American c ollege students. The first study focused on career development issues and interventions for Muslim American students. Findings showed that parental influences, prestige, and peer influences play a major in their Muslim American college students career dec isions, which tend to be around healthcare, mostly medicine, and engineering fields. The second study focused on the social dynamics between male and female Muslim American college students and revealed an invisible gender barrier created from cultural bac kgrounds, community expectations, and religious interpretations. In addition, my personal connection with the Muslim community was both a strength and a challenge. As a Muslim male, I approach ed this study with an inquisitive eye, but I also allow ed myself to use my insider knowledge to guide me in the process of developing questions, knowing what to observe, and most importantly building rapport with participants. However, my faith and cultural background as a Muslim may have present ed some challenges as i t was difficult not to draw conclusions too early in the process. Relying on a grounded theoretical framework helped me remain open to possibilities and wait for themes to emerge from the data. In fact, paying attention to my own subjectivity allow ed me to discover new dynamics that I had not anticipated in the


62 past such as the students reluctance of being involved with the Muslim community in their early stages of development as young adults Despite my religious and cultural association with the Muslim American population, I am still considered an outsider of this community. Although I am a Muslim, I do not identify as a Muslim American as I am not a US citizen and my time and experiences in America are limited to my time as a college student and a unive rsity Student Affairs professional. My association with the community and outsider status helped achieve a much needed balance between objectivity and insider knowledge and familiarity when conducting this study. Through memowriting, I continue d to remind myself of these two positions to achieve assumptioncontrol. By relying on a central premise of grounded theory and theoretical sampling I was able to also utilize anecdotal comparisons of my own experiences, knowledge, readings, and stories I have heard from others (Charmaz, 2006; Emerson, 1983; Glaser et al., 1967) to analyze the data and formulate a theory about Muslim American college students. Grounded theory g ave me not only the flexibility but also the validation of my own background as a useful part of the research process rather than an inconvenience. In addition, I approached this study as a university student a ffairs professional, a n element that has provided me with a rich body of knowledge about college students, issues that impact their development, and appropriate interventions for a wide range of student populations. My professional experience helped provide insight, breadth, and depth to my study. However, it may have also limit ed the impact of the data as sometimes being too close to the subject matter may cause important aspects of the population to be taken for granted and missed.


63 My challenge in this study was to find the ideal balance between using my own experiences and previously acquired knowledge as a Muslim and a university student affairs professional as well as remain aware of the risks and limitations of these experiences and knowledge. Maintaining objectivity but also validating my subjectivity when appropriate was a challenging balance to strike, but I was able to rely on my self awareness and utilize grounded theory principles and strategies to overcome this challenge.


64 CHAPTER 4 FINDINGS Chapter 4 provides a synthesis of the th emes that emerged from the data analysis of the interviews and focus group. F ollowing the principles of grounded theory, it proposes a new identity development model that involves five stages of identity formation for Muslim American college students as i llustrated in Figure 42 These identity formation stages are: reluctance, identification, immersion, negotiation, and integration. Although these stages may seem similar to the stages described in the ethnic and racial identity development models discusse d in Chapter 3 (Cross, 1971, 1991, 1995 ; Helms, 1990, 199 2 1995; & Phinney, 1989, 1990, 1992), this new theoretical model integrates new identity dimensions that are unique to Muslim American young adults, such as religiosity, gender dynamics, and sociopolitical issues. As discussed in Chapter 3, these themes and the emerging model shown in Figure 44, cannot be generalized to the general Muslim Amer ican college student population. However, they can provide an important framework to help understand the is sues Muslim American college students face in comparable university settings. Chapter 4 also describes the identity dimensions and contextual factors that impact the identity formation of Muslim American college students, which are appropriately framed by the model of multiple dimensions of identity described in Chapter 2 (Abes, Jones, & McEwen, 2007) The identity development model that emerged from the data, illustrated in F igure 44, is an integration of the salie nt identity dimensions, contextual factors, and stages of identity formation for Muslim American college students


65 Quotes and excerpts from the focus group and 11 of the 14 interviews conducted are shared to illustrate the themes discussed in order to bes t represent the participants voices rather than paraphrasing their thoughts feelings, and opinions According to Cordin and Sainsbury (2006), it is important to use quotes when reporting findings of qualitative research in order to 1) present the discour se as a matter of inquiry, 2) present participants ow n spoken words as evidence to explain themes, 3) illustrate major theme and findings using the participants voice, 4) enable participants to tell their own story using their verbatim quotations, 5) dee pen understanding of the participants and the issues they are presenting and 6) enhance readability of the findings. Participants who were more articulate in their depictions of their experiences were used more often than others to best represent the them es that emerged and the overall story of Muslim American college students. As discussed in Chapter 3, my interpretations, past experiences, and existing knowledge as the principle investigator are also used as a valid perspective in the generation of quot es, themes and emerging theory (Charmaz, 2000, 2006, 200 9 ). Following the participants preferences, their identities are protected using randomly assigned initials. For consistency purposes, the researcher was assigned the initials FD. Identity Dimensions Four identity dimensions have emerged as influential aspects of the identity development process and construction of personal and social identity for Muslim American college students : religiosity, citizenship, culture, and gender Based on participants anecdotes these dimensions appear to be the most salient in the way students view themselves within the context of their college experience.


66 Religiosity The salience of religiosity and centrality of Islam in the participants lives was evident by the many counts of how it affects their decision making and choices of activities that they partake in as well as the friends they cho o se to associate with. Whether participants described the importance of their spiritual growth as Muslims in the context of their past experiences, current situation, or wishes for the way they want to live their lives in the future, being a good Muslim is the ultimate goal for them This was described by SB, a female Muslim American sophomore, who said: I always see myself Muslim first and try to be better every day. AB, a nother female junior also said: I am trying to get closer to Allah SWT If you ask me what my career goal is, it would be to get into Jenna. Thats my sincere goal. Religion for these students is more than a spiritual practice, it is a way of life that ultimately impacts all other aspects of their lives including their values, daily activities, relationships with others life and career goals, and academic success. FZ a female Muslim American sophomore, cred its the structured prayer schedule and states : b eing Muslim, its required for you to wakeup for Fajr, so you go to class on time. Islam teaches you discipline. It became evident early in the research process that Islam was considered the lens that thes e students used to make sense and meaning of their experiences, goals and aspirations, i n everyday actions. Similar sentiments were expressed by other Muslim American student s. SB Being a Muslim provides a way of life for you, the way you practice Islam, it provides a guide for you in every aspect of life. F or me being a Muslim is a way of life, not just a religion, in everyday dealings. Y ou al ways connect it to the religion. Y ou see it through Islam.


67 MH I slam is in the center and everything else revolves around it. Everything I do, my education, my family life, my personal life, everything revolves around Islam. Based on the participants statements, r eligion is a source of comfort for many Muslim American young adults They believe that it helps them c ope with challenging situations, knowing that God has the ultimate influence over their trajectory and trusting in his wisdom and the outcome, regardless of how unpleasant it may be, as his ultimate decision for what is best for them. SB illustrated this p oint best by explaining : b eing a Muslim helps my academics in a way because Islam teaches putting everything you have into something and leave the rest for God. SB continued to explain her contentment with t he outcome of exams whether positive or negati ve. She said: if I dont do well, I am not too upset because I know I gave it my all and it was up to God. Religion also provides a guide for moral and ethical behavior for Muslim American young adults Many of the participants are very intentional about observing the rules, guidelines, and etiquette of Islam. Performing the five daily prayers seemed to be on the mind s of most participants as the ultimate expectation for being a good Muslim which seemed to be a common goal among many of them. However, they were all aware of the importance of practicing beyond the ritual and seemed to understand the need for experiencing a strong connection with God. FZ explained: I feel like if youre mindlessly praying or fasting or dressing a certain way, youre doi ng it just to show off to people that youre practicing, but youre not really doing it for God. Although some of the participants struggle to live up to these expectations, the theme of persisting and finding a support system to stay on the right path and practice their faith was evident in many of their statements. E G, a female Muslim American senior described that even though she does not consider herself too religious, she prays


68 five times a day, but sometimes forgets to pray. She said: I try to ge t into the habit I usually have class, but a friend told me about the prayer room here on campus, so we went there and prayed a few times A code of ethics or behavior was also mentioned as a central part of ones religiosity for most of these students; even the ones who felt that they did not fully adhere to the rules. Many of the participants described abstaining from alcohol, pork, and romantic and sexual relations as the ultimate test for them in college. E G described how Islam helps her refrain from certain activities when she said: I am not religious at all. I am religious to the point that I have a connection with God. She also explained the continuous challenge that she experiences with others tempting and at times pressuring her to engage in acti vities that may not meet Islamic standards. She said: I had friends w ho tried to have me break rules, and I said no, I am not going to do that. They tried to get me to drink, theyd say how come you dont have a boyfriend, you should just try it and I w ouldnt do that. As described in Chapter 2, Muslim Americans worry about maintaining their family traditions and honor, and fear abandonment of their faith and culture (Pipes & Duran, 2002) The anecdotes shared by EG and other participants support the notion that Muslim American youth have to constantly negotiate and integrate these standards in their everyday lives while in college (Sirin et al., 2008) As described by Peek (2005) in Chapter 2 r eligion is the most salient identity dimension for the majority of Muslims in America, and it appeared to be the most salient dimension for the majority participants in this study Peek (2005) shared three stages of religious identit y formation for Muslim American college students that seemed to apply to the participants of this study : 1) religion as ascribed identity, 2) religion as chosen


69 identity, and 3) religion as declared identity. The majority of participants seemed to fall in one of these stages based on their maturity level and their year in college. Seniors seemed to be in the declared identity stage. Sophomores and juniors seemed to be in the chosen identity stage. Freshmen seemed to be in the ascribed identity stage. RZ sai d: r eligion defines me a lot. A lot of things that molded me in the person I am have to do with the religious values I had instilled in me since I was young. I know whats wrong, what I should do and shouldnt do, what I should talk about and shouldnt talk about. RZ is clearly in the chosen identity stage, and seems to anticipate that one day he will reach the declared stage, but feels that for now, he wants to focus on fitting into the campus culture. He said: at this point, I am trying to fit it, but inside I am a different person from the people I am trying to fit in with. MH another male student who has been immersed in the culture and religion of Islam from a young age, is clearly in the declared stage. He said: I am just Muslim. That encompasse s everything, everything else revolves around that, school life, everything, who I am is a result of that I dont identify as American or Pakistani I just characterize myself as a Muslim. MHs assertion about his religious identity and description of its centrality in his overall identity is clear in his next statement: b eing Muslim means to be the best in all aspects, school, family life, continuously striving and struggling for the sake of Allah. As described in Chapter 2, p articipants level of religiosity intensifie s as they move through the three stages of religious identity formation (Peek, 2005) but regardless of which level they are in, the centrality of their religiosity in their overall identity is


70 undeniable Being a Muslim, and being a good Muslim, is the most important aspect of identity for Muslim American college students. Citizenship The contrast between how quickly participants described their level of religiosity versus the long pauses they took when describing their affiliation with their citizenship and culture was very strong. One of the participants, MH was speechless, took long pauses, and used the expression I guess several times when attempting to describ e what being an American meant to him. Finally, he said wow, I honest ly never thought about that before. He later added: I am an American just because I was born here, raised here, and have citizenship. When asked to define themselves, many participants shared that they are Muslims firs t, followed by their nationality of origin, such as Pakistan i or Egyptian, and if they mentioned being an American as part of their identity, it wa s usually at the bottom of the list. Most of them described their American identity as purely accidental, a r esult of their parents immigrating to the US T he experience of being aware and appreciative of the privilege of being an American was a reoccurring theme. Many cited their first visit to their country of origin as the first time they realized that they are American s and are blessed of being so. For instance, FZ, one of the female participants said: w hen I visited Pakistan a couple of years ago, I realized the American part of me i t made me appreciate what we have here in America a lot more. More grateful of what I have as an American. To these students, being an American is first connected to the freedom and opportunities they have for a better quality of life, especially compared to many of the countries their parents came from.


71 Most participants took the opportunity to also emphasize that they are Muslim s first, or that they dont feel patriotic. A B explained that she is g rateful for being an American. She later added: I know that I wouldnt have had the advantages and opportunities I have if it wer ent for being an American or living in America. I am more grateful for being an American than being overly passionate about it though. BN, another female senior, also expressed her appreciation for being an American by stating : I like that quote life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I like that, it means I can do what I want and not be persecuted for it freedom. Similarly, FM, said: I definitely love my country, I feel patriotic as an American. We go out and watch the fireworks on July 4th, it s a beautiful thing to see, I am definitely proud to be an American The awareness and appreciation of the privilege of being a n American was a prevalent theme, which is a possible indicator of Muslim American s global competency and knowledge of the wor ld outside of the US and the challenges that face societies in other countries, particularly their countries of origin or Muslim countries in general. In contrast with their described lack of passionate nationalism, some participants were defensive about the ir American identity being questioned by others. Although they understand and can articulate the possible reasons behind these perceptions, which include the 9/11 events and their aftermath, they do point out that they wish they did not have to prove or defend their American identity SB explained: nonMuslims probably think I am Muslim, I guess foreign, from somewhere else. I guess they dont think I am born here. Its not upsetting, but its not totally ok either. SB was able to articulate the connec tion between Muslim and American values, emphasizing that being Muslim isnt


72 in direct opposition of being an American. She said: for nonMuslim friends, its a surprise for them that I am an American and was born here.. t hey are surprised that I speak E nglish fluently I am American too, born in America, all the values in America, I have that in me as well. As described in Chapter 2, 63% of Muslims in America do not see a conflict between being a devout Muslim and the modern way of life in America (Pew Research Center, 2007) Yet, the dissonance that Muslim American college students experience from their interractions with others makes them feel that they are not fully accepted in American society. This experience is similar to the experience explained in the dissonance stage in Helms (1990, 1994, 1995) identity development model for Asian, Latino, and AfricanAmericans, or the encounter stage in Cross (1971, 1991, 1995) identity development model for Afric anAmericans. The common theme among these stages is the encouter of a crisis event that causes dissonance in the individuals belief system and sense of belonging in society. The discussion about American identity was also an opportunity for some particip ants to share their political views and disagreement with the US international policies and involvement in Muslim countries. Some w ere able to reconcile their American identity with Americas international policies For example SB said p atriotic wise, I wouldnt support everything America does or that goes on in America. B eing an American, you have the right to criticize and to have a voice, and to standup against something that you think is wrong I consider myself patriotic. However, a few distanced themselves from their American identity citing American foreign policy as the main reason. One comment stood out from RZ, a male


73 junior who was unapologetic about his views He said: I dont really consider myself American. The way America is handling things right now, I am not really proud of that. I dont like being called Muslim American. I am a Muslim. I am not an American. Its not something I would wanna be. These comments were common among participants who seemed to be going through a phase of i mmersion, in which they embraced their cultural and religious identity and beg a n to disassociate themselves from the identity characteristics of the majority group. This trend parallels the stages of immersion/emersion described by Helms (1990, 1994, 1995) identity development for Asians, Latinos, and AfricanAmericans and Cross (1971, 1991, 1995) identity development for AfricanAmericans. As described in the proposed identity development model in Figure 4 2 in Chapter 4, the expectation for Muslim Amer ican college students is to move passed the immersion stage into negotiation and integration, in which they begin to resolve the experiences of dissonance caused by bicultural conflicts and reconcile being an American with being a Muslim and reach what Phi nney (1990, 1992) referred to as achieved identity. Culture Most participants seemed to identify more with their cultures of origin and the countries that their parents are from than the ir American culture. For instance, EG explained her strong identifi cation with her faith and culture of origin rather than American culture. She said: American would be at the bottom of identities. Egy ptian and Muslim are at the top. E ven though I never lived in Egypt, I love the culture and people more. There are sever al reasons behind this strong association that was common among other participants. Some participants recalled tangible items such as


74 food. Others mentioned cultural elements such as the food and music. With these comments, EG and others were clearly showi ng signs of internalization and strong commitment to t hei r heritage, as described by Helms (1990, 1994, 1995) and Cross ( 1971, 1991, 1995) Later during the interview, EG took the conversation beyond food and music and commented about sociopolitical event s and how they have strengthened her connection with her national heritage. She said: a fter the Egyptian revolution, I was like yey! I am really proud of it. This sense of pride in ones national heritage and culture was common among many participants, especially those whose parents emphasized the culture at home through traditional food, music, language, and for some through frequent visits to the country of origin. On the other hand, participants who had parents who emphasized Islam more than culture di d not have a strong identification with their culture of origin. AB explained: I like the food, the music is good once in a whilebut, I dont feel that I have to identify with it M y parents didnt emphasiz e it. Their focus was we are Muslim first. I feel that I am a Muslim American. Most participants were proud of their culture and heritage, but some expressed sadness that they were not very connected with their cultural background. It was also obvious that most of the participants used culture and faith interchangeably at times, further emphasizing how intertwined the two are for Muslim Americans. Some participants were able to articulate the benefits and drawbacks of each culture and how it impact ed them as college students. For example, EG said: Am erican culture is competitive, so that drives me to study harder. In Arab culture, you are always taken care of, so thats why I dont ask questions a lot. EG and other


75 participants discussed what they felt were some of the negative aspects of their culture of origin including the part of being sheltered and less independent, which in their opinion has set them behind compared to other Americans who are much more used to making their own decisions and communicating with others about their needs. EG illust rated this point best when she described the advantage others have by not having to deal with language issues in school EG S ometimes I feel that my American friends have an advantage because of languaget hey understand the testing way better I always fe el that they know the system better in college. T hey are very independent, so I always felt that because I was always overprotected when I was younger, I am not really ready to be that independent, the way my American friends are. T he only people who under stood are my Arab friends, they knew what we could and could not do. I guess because we can run back to our parents, when we go home over the summer. W ere like a child again. B ut my American friends when they go back home, they can talk back at their pare nts or be very independent with their opinions. Thats not something we can really do. So its kinda interesting that my American friends can take more initiative and lead more, and thats something I dont really have, leadership skills, and thats something that has to do with my upbringing. Although students like EG have shown signs of commitment, motivated by the gravitation towards stability and normalcy (Marcia, 1966, 1980) EGs comments are an example of students continued journey through explorati on, which at times is motivated by a central crisis or disequilibrium or by a process of identification with elements of a culture that is familiar, as described by the proposed model of identity development for Muslim American college students in Chapter 4. Phinney (1990, 1992) described this stage as moratorium, which is defined by a growing awareness of ones own ethnic identity


76 Gender As described in Chapter 2, the salience of social identities such as gender and religion, depends on the privilege le vel that the individual enjoys (Jones & McEwen, 2000) W omen tend to show very high salience of their gender identities compared to men, due to their experiences of women in a male dominated world (Jones & McEwen, 2000) This is especially relevant in the context of the Muslim community. As such, the gender dimension was much more salient for women than men in this study especially given the juxtaposing of their Muslim ide ntity, which is somet imes visible through their choic e of attire, over their gender identity SB shared: being a female in general gives you a stronger voice, I think peopl e want to hear the female voiceb eing a Muslim and wearing Hijab, people really want to hear what you have to say and respect your opinion and care about what you think. Whether they wear the Hijab or not, the female participants discussed the issue of attire as an important part of their identity. As described in Chapter 2, Muslim Ame rican women on college campuses especially those who chose to wear the Hijab, have often experienced prejudice from peers and faculty who have negative misconceptions about veiled women and view them as oppressed, submissive, or have limited ability to ar ticulate their thoughts and feelings in English (Cole & Ahmadi, 2003) Although some Muslim men may experience similar challenges, Muslim women who choose to veil are more likely to experience them because they can b e easily identified as Muslims. This has caused many of the female participants to be reluctant of wearing the Hijab when they first enter college. For instance, SB shared that she did not wear the Hijab when she first entered college, but later decided to wear it as she gathered more courage and


77 realized that it can strengthen her identity and spirituality, as well as give her a platform to impact others and the Muslim community. SB D eciding to finally wear the Hijab made me happy because you can show that you are Muslim you are female, and you are able to wear it and still have a life and go to college and be an active member of the community I can still do all this and wear the Hijab and I dont have to sell myself to get anything. I can still attain everything without having to show my hair or anything. Because women a lot of times are hired for their beauty, they are looked at for their beauty instead of their knowledge or how they speak, I guess H ijab makes your voice stronger. This was a reoccurri ng theme as most of the female participants described the process of moving from reluctance of wearing the Hijab or being around women who wear the Hijab for either fear of discrimination by nonMuslims or judgment by Muslims to wards a stage of integrated or achieved identity, in which they take action to commit to their chosen identity and begin to express it openly and in positive ways. This process mirrors the three stages of identity development models, which are described in Chapter 2: 1) internalizat ion commitment stage proposed by Cross (1971, 1991, 1995) 2) identity achievement proposed by Phinney (1990, 1992) and 3) integrated awareness proposed by Helms (1990, 1994, 1995) The discussions with female participants seemed to focus on issues of att ire, societys expectations, dealing with discrimination and injustice, life and career goals, and inter gender dynamics with their male counterparts. Some of these discussions involved the issue of male privilege, which seems to be especially prevalent wi thin the Muslim community. Many Muslim female college students seem to be subject to stricter rules by their parents than their male peers. SB explained this issue when she shared: s ometimes my friends and I wish we were guys because we feel they can do m ore than


78 us and have more opportunities because of the freedom their parents give them or because Muslim society in general allows males to do more or be out more. The discussion about the perceived inequality between Muslim men and women was a reoccurri ng theme in this study, which is usually caused by parents who seem to continue to apply the same cultural guidelines and rules they were raised with. SB continued to explain: girls are always more conscious of their parents p arents are always more concer ned about their daughters, so they would want a supervisor or som eone older to go with them. T here are more limitations for girls to do things. These limitations are often the result of parents fears for their daughters safety or of their daughters being involved in romantic relationships, which may be unacceptable for many Muslims. Parental expectations coupled with religious interpretations and various cultural norms may have resulted in awkward inter gender dynamics between M uslim American men and wom en Furthermore, all participants were eager to discuss t he unique dynamics, challenges, and influences that impact the relationship and interaction between Muslim American men and women Participants described the relationship between men and women within the Muslim circles on campus as awkward, uncomfortable, and a source of anxiety for most of them. Many of them referred to an invisible barrier that exists between Muslim men and women and complicates the relationship between them. I was able to witness this invisible barrier first hand when I conducted an observation of an MSA general body meeting to prepare for this study One of the first observations I made was of the physical separation between the genders that seemed to take place naturally as st udents entered the room Men sat in the left section of the room and


79 women sat in the right section of the room. Later during the meeting, the barrier became more evident when the group of students decided to play a jeopardy game and divided the attendees into two groups by gender. The moderator introduced a new speaker who would lead the Jeopardy game. He happened to be a man, and he began the game by referring to the two groups as brothers and sisters. When asked about this separation in meetings, bot h male and female participants described it as normal, natural, and comfortable. UR said it's more comfortable to sit there and not have to be conscious of that, whenwell when you're sitting with a guy you're like, uh, is he too close? Although this separation is comfortable, and perhaps desirable for most Muslim American young adults, the barrier between Muslim men and women is considered to be source of anxiety discomfort, and at times tension that make s the interaction between them awkward. The invi sible barrier between men and women creates an added complexity that prevents them from sharing their concerns and discussing these issues freely. Thus, Muslim American college students seem to be stuck in a vicious cycle in regards to their relationships with the opposite gender, which may lead to a prolonged state of foreclosed gender identity for both men and women. SB shared her thoughts about this issue and said: w ere not as open or free with each other as nonMuslims would be with the opposite gender, there is definitely a gender gapb ecause of Islamic principles, they dont want to get close to the other gender just to prevent themselves from doing anything wrong. The invisible barrier seems to even impact how Muslim men and women greet one anot her. Many participants discussed the simple act of greeting one another and


80 whether they s hould say AssalamuAllaikum, the traditional Islamic greeting, to each other when they run into one another on campus These awkward dynamics are typically related to the persons religiosity and his or her personal interpretations of religious expectations. Cultural norms, which may be intertwined with religious interpretations and family expectations also have an impact on these dynamics. Some Muslims believe that in teractions between men and women should be limited. Some believe that shaking hands with the opposite gender is not permissible. Some Muslims believe that a Muslim woman cannot be alone with a Muslim man without the presence of another male family member, referred to as Mahram. Applying these seemingly strict guidelines in American society can be challenging for Muslim American young adults, but some have been able to negotiate the different standards in the two cultures they live in. For example, MH said: if a girl put her hand out, I would still shake her hand, even though my personal belief is that I shouldnt shake hands with women. I do it for the greater good, not to be rude, and not to have to explain my religion. However, these strategies can be s een as a double standard by other Muslims of the opposite gender, who at times may not receive a greeting from their peers. UR shared her thoughts on these dynamics and the double standard she has observed in relation to the interaction between Muslim men and women on campus. She said: a lot of Muslim females complain that when Muslim guys walk passed them they dont say anything UR explained that this behavior is offensive to Muslim women and said: when you know a male and he knows you're a Muslim and doesn't say Salam to you and doesn't even acknowledge your presence whatsoever, and then you


81 turn around and he's talking to a nonMuslim girl URs comment refers to a double standard that many of the participants expressed concerns about. Although many of them may be guilty of this double standard, they reported feeling aggravated by the fact that the same Muslim who did not greet them is seen interacting with comfort with nonMuslims of the opposite gender. UR said: he didnt say Salam to me when he saw me, and I see him talking to nonMuslim girls on campus all the time. Relative to the inter gender dynamics issue, the study revealed that the central reason behind the self described anxiety that Muslim men experience when being around Muslim women is related to whether or not the man is considering marriage, a major value for Muslims, and whether the woman he is talking to is a potential prospect for marriage. The main reason many Muslim men can easily talk to and hang out with nonMuslim wome n is that they dont see them as potential prospects for a romantic relationship or marriage. This was a major revelation of this study, even to me as Muslim male. What Muslim women interpret as a sign of being ignored is really a sign of 1) respect, a nd 2) nervousness because Muslim men see them as potential prospects for marriage. Marriage, or the desire to be married in the near future, was another common theme in the discussions with participants. Marriage is seen by Muslim American young adults as an obligation, a way to protect ones self from sin, and the ultimate goal for many of them. Some participants referred to marriage as half of the deen, referring to a popular Hadith that encourages Muslims to complete half of their religion by getting married. MH responded to my question about marriage by saying: d o I think of marriage? All the time. Ive been thinking of marriage since middle


82 school [ laughter ] Im not even kidding. He later described the reasons marriage was so important to him He said: t he companionship, the sexual factor, especially here. The complex relationship and interaction between Muslim males and females seems to also be influenced by other factors that relate to cultural and family backgrounds, levels of religiosity, l evel of engagement with the Muslim student association on campus, and the perceptions of other Muslims. Social skills also emerged as major influential factors on the inter gender relations between Muslim American men and women in college. Many of the part icipants disclosed that they felt a deficiency in their skills to connect, relate, and communicate with other Muslims of the opposite gender due to the 1) limited interactions they have had with people of the opposite gender throughout their lifetime and possibly 2) their foreclosed gender identities. AH shared: Muslim men and women dont usually have for example dates so they wouldnt have the experience getting into a relationship or trying to get into a relationshipwhen the time comes when theyre thinking of getting married, they dont know what to do they dont know what to do and how to act. He continued to explain that Muslim men seem to lack this skill with Muslim women only and appear to do just fine with nonMuslim women. T he issue of Muslim w omen being seen as potential prospects is central to this finding. The discussions around the lack of social skills with members of the opposite gender among Muslim American young adults brought up an interesting question that was discussed at length during the focus group: if communication is strictly limited between Muslim men and women, and marriage is highly desired by Muslim American young adults, how do marriage prospects meet in a Muslim American community? MH


83 said: marriage, is on every guys mindHelping people find ways to meet with prospects is something we need to work on and find a way. The question seemed to stump most participants during the focus group. Most participants shared that family interventions or introductions by friends can help. They also said that being an active member of MSA and holding an elected position can help create an environment in which they can meet people who may become marriage prospects. They all agreed that this was an area of growth for their community and that a solution needs to be reached within the boundaries of Islam. A theoretical model illustrated in F igure 4 1 emerged from the data to describe the complexities in the relationship and dynamics between Muslim American men and women. The model show s the presence of a dynamic barrier that separates Muslim men and women that is directly influenced by identity filters: religiosity, culture, family background, gender identity, social skills, and desire to get married. The intensity and magnitude of the barrier between men and women depends on the salience of these identity filters. The model suggests that perceptions of others and concern for ones reputation, which also can be interpreted as fear of judgment by other Muslims, may be a principle reason for the invisible barrier that exists between Muslim American men and women in college. The model also highlights the perceived double standard that exists in relation to the ease in interaction without barriers between Muslim American young adults and nonMuslims of the opposite gender.


84 Figure 41 Model of Inter g ender d ynamics a mong M uslim A merican c ollege students While conducting member checking, I shared these observations and the inter gender model depicted in Figure 4 1 with the participants who attended the focus group. Interestingly, men and women sat in separate sections of the room. Many of them giggled when I pointed out some of the observations about the barrier between men and women and the awkwardness that they experience d when they interact ed wi th one another. The questions and comments I received during the discussion confirmed the findings of the study and exposed a genuine interest among Muslim American students to decrease the intensity of the barrier. All participants agreed that the barrier has gotten out of control, but they all expressed a desire to maintain a certain level of


85 separation as they believe in its spiritual and cultural benefits. One of the unintended consequences of this study is that it may provide a platform for Muslim Am erican young adults to continue discussion about these inter gender dynamics. Contextual Factors As discussed in Chapter 2, t he salience of identity dimensions depends on contextual factors that have the potential to greatly influence ones identity (Abes, Jones, & McEwen, 2007) In this study, several contextual factors have emerged as influential forces in the identity formation of Muslim American college students. These contextual factors are: family 9/11 impact Muslim on Muslim prejudice, inter gender dynamics, peer support through MSA, and university support. Family Family has emerged as a major influential factor in the identity formation of Muslim American young adults. All of the participants referenced their families influence on their upbringing and impact on their values and decisions. As discussed in Chapter 2, Muslim parents face the challenge of raising their children within western customs and values that challenge their beliefs and way of life (Pipes & Duran, 2002) They worry about maintaining their family traditions and honor, and fear abandonment of their faith and culture (Pipes & Duran, 2002) Therefore, many families tend to emphasize religiosity and Islamic values when raising their children, and at times may be overly strict in doing so. AB recalled her experience and said: I grew up in a very strict family, we didnt have music, we didnt have pictures on walls. I grew up listening to the Back Street Boys without my parents finding out but all in all, I know they were strict for my own benefit.


86 Many of the participants spoke about their families influence on their identity in terms of their own level of religious conservatism. Those who were raised in somewhat conservative and stric t environments seemed to be conservative themselves, and those who were raised in less religious or more secular environments seemed to reflect those values as well. For example, FZ shared that her conservative family has made her become conservative. She said: My family is conservative and religious, so that has impacted me and made me conservative. On the other hand, SB shared that she was raised in a more secular environment, and that has impacted the person she is today as well She said: m y parents were not very extremely conservative Muslims ..that kinda contributed to who I am. Because of them, I am able to not judge people. so that really con tributed to me being who I am. Sh e also discussed how she consulted her mother when she decided to wear the Hijab. She said: I talked to my mom about wearing the Hijab she wear s the H ijab too, but she never told me to wear it. She was kinda reluctant at first. Some Muslim parents are generally pleasantly surprised to see their children begin to grow religiously and spiritually, and even attempt to support this process with additional resources. For example, EG shared her fathers reaction when he learned about her involvement in religious activities on campus She said: w e had a Muslim study on Friday, a H alaqam y father found out about it and he was really proud and happy, he started giving me books to read after that However, SBs mothers reaction to her decision to wear the Hijab w as very common. Muslim parents are sometimes reluctant to see their daughters wear the Hijab or their sons grow beards as they fear for their safety and being subject to discrimination and harassment


87 The intersection between religiosity, family background, and culture was apparent in the stories of students who did not have any religious upbringing. Some participants shared that because their parents did not really emphasize religion in their youth, they were not being religious also, and wished their parents had instilled religious values at an earlier age. BN shared her regret of not being raised in a more religious household She said: w hen my parents were together, we practiced it [ Islam ] but when they got a divorce, I stayed with my mom She didnt r eally practice. Now I dont feel comfortable with practicing any religionI feel like Ive lost all of it I dont practice it now, which makes me feel bad. RZ also shared his experience of growing up in a nonreligious household: w hat made me leave the I slamic lifestyle was my old friends and my parents they didnt care what I di d, if I became religious or not. In addition to having an impact on the students values and morals, families, especially parents, also provided a source of motivation for success for their children, even when they are not present. EG described how she could hear her fathers voice in her head when she did not want to study She said : sometimes I just sit there and dont want to study, then I hear d my dads voice in m y head sayi ng you should study so that motivates me In addition, t he expectation and pressure to succeed academically translate d into very limited career paths for Muslim American young adults. This was discussed at length with the participants who shared that t heir families and the Muslim American community in general expected them to pursue careers in Medicine or Engineering. As discussed in Chapter 2, the fields of Medicine and Engineering combined account for one third of the Muslim American community (Pipes & Duran, 2002). This trend is widely known among Muslims Americans. AB explained her


88 experience with this expectation when she said: if youre Muslim and youre studying social sciences, oh man, people would beyoure brown and youre doing social sciences? What are you doing? You should be doing medicine. Typical of our community Most of the parents of Muslim American young adults are first generation immigrants from developing countries that have a few lucrative and prestigious careers, which explai ns the intense focus on Medicine and Engineering. EG and RZ explained how their academic majors and career paths were determined by their parents perceptions of what is lucrative and prestigious in American. EG Y ou want the stability and the money, they dont really see other jobs being prestigious, they just see those tow, medicine and Engineering, and also Lawyer. If I had my choice, I would be a psychologist and do therapy, but the whole doctor part, thats more my parents. If Im a psychiatrist, I won t just subscribe medication, I would still do therapy. RZ Ive always wanted to do Pharmacy. I wanted to go into something in science, and the financial thing is a big thing too. My parents alway s wanted me to do something premed and prehealth track, som ething like D octor, Engineering, something prestigious, I guess. I guess they realize what kind of opportunity they gave us by coming here, so they want us to take advantage of it. Many participants discussed how their parents continue to be a guiding forc e in their lives, even if they no longer live with them Based on the participants anecdotes, it seems that Muslim American young adults rely heavily on their parents advice and guidance for major life decisions, such as choosing to wear the Hijab, choos ing a career, and even marriage. Although participants at times struggle with the high expectations and interference with their parents in their life decisions, they seem to understand it, rationalize it as being for their own good, and submit to the fact that their parents are to be respected and obeyed, which are central values in Islam and its associated cultures.


89 9/11 Backlash Prejudice, Stereotyping, and Bullying Muslim Americans have been subject to increased scrutiny stereotyping, and prejudice si nce 9/11 and its aftermath (Britto & Amer, 2007; Cole & Ahmadi, 2003; L. Peek, 2005; Sirin et al., 2008; Williams & Vashi 2007) Due to Islams association with terrorism within the current post 9/11 sociopolitical environment, as well as the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of incidents of prejudice, racism, hate crimes, and hate speech against Islam and Muslim s has increased (Muedini, 2009) For many of the participants in this study, who happened to be between the ages of nine and 13 when 9/11 happened, they have experienced forms of bullying and stereotyping at a very y oung and vulnerable age, which may have caused some of them to question their identity and even disassociate themselves with Islam. BN shared her experience as a victim of post 9/11 bull ying BN It was gre at when I was kid, I was really happy, I us ed to c elebrate Ramadan. Then ten years ago, that thing happened [ referring to 9/11] and everyone just decided to hate Muslims, so I started shying away from that a bit. I had a Muslim friend in middle school, both of us got a lot of heat from that. That was the last close thing I had with Muslims I ju st started shying away from it in my senior year, some guy said you cant even read oh I guess you can read because terrorists have to read instructions on a bomb. At least the Nazis did something right, they shouldve burnt the Quran too. That was terrible; it knocked me back into my shell. Similar experiences of harassment and bullying were shared by several other participants, and most said that the incidents were either not reported or not dealt with appropr iately by the school teachers and administrators. Clearly, these experiences had a great impact on the participants self confidence and identity development, and may have caused them to be anxious about entering a new environment in college. Victims of bu llying may suffer from difficulties with family relationships and peer relationships


90 They tend to have low self esteem and lack self confidence and assertiveness (Connell & Farrington, 2000) They usually question their identity and how they fit in their environment and society. Bullied children also often tend to suffer from some disturbed personality and have a difficult time trusting others. They are always cautious and careful with what they say and what they do (Connell & Farrington, 2000). Bullying occurs when a less powerful person is oppressed by a more powerful person. It may take the form of physical, verbal, or psychological attack. When bullying occurs, there usually is an imbalance of power between the bully and the victim (Connell & Farrington, 2000) Bullying incidents typically happen during a prolonged period of time between the same people, such as physical violence, threatening and teasing, intimidation, extortion, stealing or destruction of possessions, ridiculing, namecalling, and soci al exclusion ( Connell & Farrington, 2000). Being a victim of bullying correlates with depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. Bullied children and adolescents suffer from these mental health problems because of chronic adversities and failure to receive social support from their social environment (Connell & Farrington, 2000). Thus, further research on the impact of post 9/11 bullying on school age Muslim American children is of critical importance. As anti Islam rhetoric increased in recent years, especially since the 2008 election of Bara ck Obama, a son of a Muslim man from Kenya, as President of the United States, participants reported experiences of more hate and prejudice on campus. Although these acts were not in the form of individuall y bullying, they still have a n impact on the psychological well being of Muslim American young adults, as illustrated by the participants anecdotes.


91 This study coincided with the controversy surrounding a church near campus that displayed signs that read Islam is of the Devil and had its members wear shirts that displayed the same message. The pastor of this church declared a day of Quran Burning, which attracted national attention and placed some of the participants of the study in the center of the controversy. SB shared the difficulties she experienced as a result of the actions of this pastor. She said: t his last year was hard because of the Terry Jo nes [ the pastor of the church] and Dove Church [ the name of the church ] controversy. T hat made me angr y. But the response of the community was great and made us feel safer It made me stronger because when you have to deal with people who attack who you are, it makes you wiser and stronger. AB shared similar sentiments about these incidents actually making her stronger and expressed her gratitude for the nonMuslims who support and defended the Muslim community. She said: w ere going through a time now where Islam is the new black. It feels like were being pounded on now. It really hurts my feelings as a Muslim American because they are dehumanizing what I believe in. It makes you stronger though, and prouder of being a Muslim. The support from the non Muslim community made you feel that youre not just a Muslim, youre a Muslim American. EG shared a si milar story about her friends support She said: my friends and even my roommates were very supportive, they even had shirts that said Islam is of the Heart ; they couldnt believe that someone would do that. The students ability to make meaning out of tragic situations was quite remarkable. Often, they discussed how these inci dents taught them about the diversity of their community, or that there are other good people in this community ready to


92 support, or made them realize that they are responsible for their communitys public perception. For example, MH explained : a ll the hostility weve experienced against Islam, I like it because its a reminder that I am not doing my job to let people know what Islam really is. I dont care what they do, burn the Quran or whatever, I cant control that. But I can control what I do. Its my responsibility to let people know what Islam is about. The effects of hate crimes, prejudice, discrimination, and bullying against Muslim Americans as a result of the 9/11 bac klash deserve further research and exploration. This study revealed that Muslim American youth feel a lack of belonging as Americans, are always on the defensive about their faith and culture, and at times even fearful for their safety and the safety of th eir families and friends. AB discussed the stress that hate speech and acts have caused her and her family She said : t he Dove [ referring to the name of the church ] thing was difficult to deal withIt was actually fine, but just hard because my family was stressed and afraid that this church was going to try to kill us. My parents called the police station and gave them my phone number and address in case something happens. They were really afraid. The participant s comments show that fear for ones safe ty and the safety of ones family continues to exist even a decade after 9/11 among Muslim Americans as a result of the 9/11 backlash. In addition to the concern for safety, participants discussed the impact of these incidents on their morale and well being. Some may have felt sad when reading disparaging remarks about their faith or culture, as described by FM. others may have felt marginalized because of how they are portrayed in the media, as described by EG. Even nonintentional jokes that are based on stereotypes may cause


93 psychological harm among Muslim American young adults, as described by EGs second comment. EG It does make me angry that some people are so ignorant about Islam, just to see it in the media like that ; every movie you watch, they have a Muslim guy whos a terrorist, with a bi g beard. FM T here are several from the college newspaper and outside, they came to interview me and others ; when I actually went to see the article online, the comments were so hostile and horrible. It made me feel very bad that people dont understand the religion very much. EG Sometimes my friends would make the stereotypical jokeoh whats your uncle doing? S ometimes its f unny, and other times its like ok, just stop, because thats the only joke you hear. It was like that in high school too it was ju st when they try to be funny. They would bet he gas prices went up, oh tell your uncle to lower prices. It wasnt too bad, they werent believing in the stereotype really but it still made me feel bad Whet her they are victim s of bullying, hate crime, hate speech, harassment, or an intentional stereotypebased joke, Muslim American youth have one common experience and feeling: I dont belong. As described by EG, people insist to ask them where they are fro m, assuming that they must be from somewhere else. EG said: with other Americans, they still think youre foreign er I was actually born American. When people ask me where you are from, I say Tampa, and they say no really, and I say uhh Egypt! Then t hey ask, you are a citizen? When they are not asserting their American identity, Muslim American young adults find themselves having to defend and represent their faith and culture of origin. SB explained this point when she said: t here is pressure bec ause everything that you do you have to keep in the back of your mind that you are carrying the weight of your religion and your people; when people see what you do, they kinda connect it to Islam, so you have to be conscious of how you carry yourself or behave, so there is pressure.


94 FM explained how she had to defend her religion numerous times on and off campus. She said: I often have to defend my religion and its teachings. Ive had a number of people come to me at the bus stop or school and question m e about what I believe. One of the critical findings of this study is that t he backlash from 9/11 and its aftermath has created a hostile environment for Muslim American young adults in which they feel 1) traumatized from past experiences of post 9/11 bul lying as school children, 2) afraid for their personal safety on and off campus 3 ) unwelcomed and unwanted in their own country, 4 ) forced to defend their faith and culture of origin 5 ) forced to persuade others and assert their American citizenship and identity, and 6) humiliated and marginalized by the constant microaggressions directed towards Islam and Muslims through jokes and misrepresentation in media. Clearly, 9/11 and its aftermath have had a significant impact on the experience and identity for mation of Muslim American college students. Muslim onMuslim Prejudice In addition to dealing with prejudice and discrimination from nonMuslims, participants discussed dealing with prejudice from their own also Typically occurring in high school, this Muslim onMuslim phenomenon is usually based on judgment or criticism that is usually committed by those who are more religious and practicing towards those who are less religious. None of the participants shared their experiences as the perpetrators of t hese acts. Rather, they discussed how being victims of their Muslim peers judgment may have intimidated them and kept them from exploring their Muslim identity further. For example, EG shared her experience of being judged by other Muslims for not wearing the Hijab. She said: in high school there were other


95 Muslims who were very judgmental and would say oh she doesnt wear Hijab and make up rumors about it, oh shes dating someone. Similar feelings were shared by BN who experienced this type of judgment from her relatives. She said: I visited my uncles and cousins in Colorado I would put a good amount of money that I was judged, they probably said she doesnt practice religion, she doesnt pray, she shows so much skin, shes loud I was so miserabl e. This contextual factor is highly related to the dimension of religiosity as most of the judgment that Muslim American young adults tend to experience from their peers is about their level of knowledge and practice of Islam. Those who do not outwardly appear Muslim or do not seem to know the proper Islamic etiquette, tend to feel marginalized by the Muslim community on campus. The majority of comments related to this issue came from female participants, possibly due to the Hijab and the outward express ion of religiosity among Muslim women, which may mak e it easier for them to be the target of judgment and prejudice by other Muslims. SB said: women tend to be more cliquish and gossipy, so sometimes its hard to connect if youre a Muslim at a different level, religious wise. We have more work to do at MSA in this area. Several participants shared similar concerns about MSA being perceived as exclusive and agreed that more efforts need to be invested in order to make it more inclusive of all members of t he campus community. EG explained how she felt about MSA during her freshman year and how intimidated she felt about joining the organization and connecting with other Muslims who seemed much more religious and knowledgeable about Islam than she was. EG S ome of the Muslims who were in private school [ Islamic school ] all the way through high s chool, they kinda run their own cliques ; they usually start gossiping


96 about other people; they say who pr actices more and who prays more. I t almost becomes a religion about rules vs. a religion about praying to God. T hey look at girls and say oh look at how she dresses, or oh she didnt come to prayer on this day so were going to talk about her. So they kinda view me as someone who doesnt practice a lot and doesnt w ear the Hijab. MSA was totally closed. I didnt feel like I could join at firstI had to prove that I am a practicing Muslim. Muslim onMuslim prejudice was a surprising revelation of this study, indicating another complexity that Muslim American young adults have to navigate while in college in addition to the other stressors already discussed: family dynamics and the 9/11 backlash again Muslims in America. Further research about the psychological impact of this phenomenon is needed in order to determine the appropriate interventions and research to assist Muslim American college students successfully address this issue. Peer Support MSA S tudent organizations on college campuses are known by higher ed ucation researchers and practi tioners to play a critic al role in the development of minority students by providing them with a network of support, lifetime friendships, and mentoring relationships that impact their social adjustment, academic success, and persistence in college (Swail et al., 2003) As such, this study reveals the tremendous impact MSA has on the lives and experiences of Muslim American college students. MH shared MSAs impact on his experience when he said: It gives me a sense of belonging. Without MSA, my experience here would have been poor. Thats my social outlet. MSA has fulfilled a need in the community that the mosques should have. MSA was found to help students social skills. FZ expressed her gratitude for MSA helping her be more social and more open with others. She said: At first, I was shy and quiet. Now, I am more friendly, open, and involvedI am not very social, but being involved with MSA has helped me be more social.


97 MSA was also found to provide Muslim students with a n environm ent that helps them stay on the right track, referring to staying on the religious path and refraining from behaviors that contradict Islamic values. RZ explained how lacking the support of an organization like MSA has led him o f f the right track H e s aid: I became religious for a while, then I fell out of it and began doing what Americans do. It was hard to keepup with it with no support group. FZ explained that MSA can play the role of support system during the critical transition to adulthood in c ollege. FZ W hen youre on your own, you have a lot of freedom, and your parents arent there to watch over you. So its kinda like a transition to adulthood. So you have to control yourself. Some of my friends took the wrong turn. So, your environment af fect s who you become. Alh amdulillah here we have MSA, so that gives me the environment that help me stay on the right track and not do something wrong. If youre in an area where there arent a lot of Muslims, you are more likely to get lost. The majority of participants shared similar sentiments and affirmed the role that MSA has played in providing a sense of comfort and serving as a support system and home away from home. SB said: b eing involved in MSA gives you life lessons and also makes you wiser. T he most growth I have done is through MSA MSA brings Muslims to gether I t gives you an environment with people like you. It helps you grow together spiritually, gives you a support system FM shared similar sentiments about MSA helping her build relations hips with other Muslims. She said: I got involved with MSA since my first semester here. Being involved definitely opened me up to the Muslims on campus. This study revealed that Muslim American young adults look at t he strength of the MSA a s a factor in the ir decision making process when considering the university they want to attend. SB said: w hen I was thinking of coming h ere, I was impressed, just to


98 see MSA be such a big and successful organization; its one of the top 5 organizations at the univers ity. T o see that we [ referring to Muslims ] have such a big budget that in this country a Muslim organization could be so prosperous, teach about Islam, so that was one of the most positive things that helped my decision to come here The MSA is clearly an agent of change in the experience of many Muslim American college students and should be supported by the university as a critical intervention and resource that helps facilitate the identity formation of Muslim American college students and address the various complexities and difficulties they experience while in college. Further research on the psychological impact that MSAs have on Muslim American young adults is necessary to determine the appropriate interventions from university faculty and adminis trators. University Support and Accommodations P articipants in this study were very complimentary of the resources and support they receive from their university. They specifically mentioned tangible examples such as the large budget the MSA receives from the university, the prayer room theyve been provided in the library, and the ability to reserve room s at the union building for prayer meetings. They have also given examples of top administrators visiting MSA meetings to listen to their concerns and offer support. FM said: t he university has done a great job ; included Muslims in the UF populations ; there are prayer rooms in the library, I use that every single day. We have prayer rooms in the union. There is a prayer room in Broward Hall. They actually acknowle dge us. Several participants shared similar statements about their appreciation for the prayer space they have and the support for MSA by the university. FZ said: t here is so much accommodation and flexibility on campus. Were given rooms for our prayers and


99 flexibility around classes. Similarly, EG said: the u niversity already has MSA and ACA, I think that helps a lot. They offer prayer rooms I didnt even know that MSA was so big on campus. More information about the groups during orientation w ould help. As mentioned in the subjectivity statement in Chapter 3, my Muslim background may have created potential challenges in the research process, but also possible benefits in that my knowledge of the faith and associated cultures allow ed for deeper questioning and probing and not accepting answers at surface level. I was aware that being grateful for what one has is a treasured value for Muslims, which is often manifested in the Arabic statement Alhamdoulilah, which means Praise to God. Many participants used this expression when describing their appreciation for what the university has provided to them However when I probed further, additional requests and potential concerns became evident I was aware that the university had granted Muslim students a permanent prayer space in the library, but I also knew that it was the size of a closet without proper washroom access, which Muslims need to perform Wudhu before prayer. As I probed further, participants began to share that they would appreciat e a more appropriate and larger prayer space. Because religiosity is the most salient dimension for these students, the need for a permanent prayer room thats bigger than a closet size room outfitted with special washrooms that allow for the appropriate Wudhu ritual to be performed was consistently mentioned in most interviews and discussed at length during the focus group. AB said: w hat would be really cool is if they can provide us with those things that you can make Wudhu in, because that would help keep the bathrooms cleaner and it would make it easier for the M uslim students. SB said: I know that in

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100 other universities there are permanent prayer rooms, they even have bathrooms set up where you can do Wudhua lso an Islamic Studies program would be really helpful as well I t would provide a center on campus, kinda like the Hillel, a Muslim academic type of center. AB and other participants shared their wish for more Halal options on campus. AB said: one thing they can do is not to make it so hard t o have Halal food on campus or at event s. Participants also discussed the need for more faculty and staff who are familiar with their faith and heritage. Hiring more Muslim faculty and staff would send a message to Muslim American students about the universitys commitment to diversity, and to their needs specifically. AB said: t he university could find more professors who can b e advisors to Muslim Americans. Some additional accommodations with class schedules and exams during the month of Ramadan were also discussed, as was described by AB who said: t he hardest thing, whenever is Ramadan, its really hard to get through school. Thats one thing that the University can do is to make exceptions for exams during Ramadan. Overall, participants seemed very pleased with the support they received from the university. Many discussed the controversy surrounding the Dove Church and its pastor Terry Jones. They expressed their gratitude for the way the university handled the situation. SB said: support from the university has been getting better as time progresses. T hey were always supportive of MSA and during the do ve church controversy t hey set up a press release for us T hey respect us as an organization. T hey care about how Muslim students are treated on their campus T hey want to make sure that no one is insulting us. T hey are always trying to reach out to us.

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101 On the other hand, some participants shared their concern about the universitys inconsistencies when responding to hate speech or hate crimes on cam pus. MH explained his dissatisfaction in this area when he said: I have this notion that the university administration is fearful that if they support MSA or the Muslim s, theyre going to get some backlash I asked someone in the administration in the past why wouldnt you send a campus email about the Islam is of the Devil thing because you sent something about the Nazi thing. S he was blatant and said honestly, there is a thing that happened in the past when we sent something in support o f MSA, and we had to retract it t here is definitely a double standard there. Its my right to be defended just as everyone else I just wish they were stronger. I feel like w hen it has something to do with us they are walking on egg shells. MHs statement describes a real dilemma that universities have had to grapple with in recent years. As described in Chapter 2, I slams as sociation with terrorism since 9/11 and the current sociopolitical environment, especially after the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, has made it acceptable for the mainstream media and the general public to use derogatory terms to define the Muslim community (Abdo, 2005) The participants felt that it has also become risky or politi cally dangerous for nonMuslims with authority, power, and privilege, such as university administrators, to defend Islam and Muslims publically. The contribution of this study is that these revelations will help university administrators understand how they are perceived when dealing with hate crimes and speech that involves Islam and Muslims on their campuses and ensure consistent practices when responding to these issues

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102 Five Stages of Identity Development As illustrated in Figure 4 2 five stages of ide ntity formation have emerged from the data collected from the interviews and focus group to describe the identity development of Muslim American college students in the context of their lives on campus These five stages are: reluctance, identification, im mersion, negotiation, and integration. Each one of stage s describes the way that Muslim American college students see themselves and how they relate to the various aspects of their identity, the Muslim community on campus, and the university as a whole. Th e stages do not represent a linear progression of identity formation. While most Muslim American college students tend to enter college at the reluctance stage, some may have gone through that stage in earlier years in high school or prior depending on the contextual factors in their environment, and therefore arrive to college at a more advanced stage such as immersion or negotiation, and therefore have no difficulty getting involved with the campus MSA or building relationships with Muslim American peers It is also possible for students to stay in one stage only for a long period of time or move back to reluctance after experiencing other stages. Figure 42 Identity d evelopment s tages for Muslim American college students

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103 Reluctance The study revealed that during their first year in college, most Muslim American college students are typically reluctant from engaging in discussions about Islam, Muslim students or groups, the Muslim community in general, and especially the Muslim Student Association (MSA ) on campus. Some may choose to associate with cultural or ethnic groups, such as the Pakistani Student Association or Arab Cultural Association, but most purposefully a void events, activities, MSA informational booths, and conversations associated with Is lam. A B shared her experience in her freshman year by saying: I decided that I will never get involved with MSA. They are all wack. This sentiment was common among the majority of participants. Although a few of the participants reported actually seeking out the MSA when they first arrived to college, they also reported having experienced a similar phase of r eluctance earlier in their lifetime, usually in high school. There are several reasons that may explain the motivation behind this r eluctance phenom enon. Some Muslim American students entering college are not very religious or do not strongly identify with the religious aspect of the Muslim community, and therefore are fearful of being judged by their peers for their lack of practice or knowledge about Islam. This level of reasoning was apparent in many of the interviews conducted in this study For example, EG said: Muslim people are very judgmental. Just because I dont wear the Hijab, they assume things about me, so I just dont want to deal with i t and keep to myself. These sentiments were common among women who did not wear the Hijab and feared not being accepted by Muslims who do observe religious practices.

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104 The fear of being judged by fellow Muslims is a running theme that transcends the r elu ctance stage. It is a factor in the identity formation process, particularly in the inter gender dynamics, which is discussed in a in Chapter 4. This phenomenon is even more prevalent among female Muslim American college students, especially those who do n ot wear the Hijab or do not adhere to more conservative practices of Islam. UR, a female student who doesnt wear Hijab said: other Muslims see us sometimes as loose women and make assumptions about our character. This type of perception among many Musli m American college students drives their reluctance tendencies and their decision to avoid Muslim groups on campus Furthermore, many Muslim American college students may choose to avoid their association with Islam and the Muslim community during their fi rst year in college due to the fear of harassment and discrimination from non Muslims Many of the students interviewed in this study cited incidents of bullying and teasing in high school, middle school, and even elementary school. Although they feel more able to handle such situations as young adults, they may have a desire to have a more positive experience in college, free of discrimination and prejudice. Therefore, they are reluctant of being associated with Islam or Muslim groups to avoid being the target of more harassment in college These sentiments were expressed by several participants, including SB who shared her reluctance experience within the context of her decision to not wear the Hijab during her first year in college. She said: i t was just a feeling of embarrassment of being who you are, especially after 911wearing the Hijab was such a big deal youre telling people youre Muslim, youre a target, you are a symbol of Islam. Some people dont want to see that symbol.

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105 While most participant s who were not very religious emphasized that they did not violate core Islamic values and guidelines, some reported living what they referred to as the American lifestyle. RZ for example, explained his reluctance experience and lifestyle choice Other participants shared similar sentiments and recognized that Islamic values were still within them during this reluctance phase. Although they were not religious during this phase, some elements of faith, such as the awareness of the presence of God, have had an impact on their moral and ethical conduct RZ When I got to college, I was living the normal life like an Am erican, in first and second year drinking and partying and all of that. I was going out every weekend and even every day, going out with friends drinking and smoking. I didnt make a lot of Muslim friends during the first two years. The only thing that kinda held me back from doing more was knowing that God was judging me. I ts not li ke I completely forgot about it. I t was instilled in me in hig h school. I t was still in the back of my head, but not enough to influence me not to do anything about it. The experience of fearing judgment from both sides, Muslims and nonMuslims, can be felt quite intensely by some Muslim American young adults and may cause the reluctance phase to last for a very long time, possibly the entire four years of college and beyond. The combination of feeling inadequate around Muslims and discriminated against by nonMuslims due to ones association with Islam, which sometim es can be the result of something as simple as ones first name, can be damaging to a persons self esteem, growth, and identity formation. In the following dialogue, BN present s a strong case of how these factors can cause a severe c ase of reluctance that may prevent a student from ever moving forward in his or her identity formation process. BN I didnt interact with Muslim students on campus. It was on purpose. I feel bad, I feel like they are all proud of being Muslims and they know so much about Isl am and I know nothing about it. I fear being judged, so I stay in my bubble. I like my bubble. Its where I feel comfortable

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106 FD The fear of being judged must be intense to want to stay in your bubble. Tell me more about this. BN I feel bad because I know nothing about Islam and I cant get involved, so I stay in my bubble. I feel guilty because I am sure it would make my dad happy. M ay be if I knew it more, I would be able to connect with them [ parents ] FD Have you tried to go to any MSA activities? BN I wouldnt even go to an MSA meeting because I dont want to be judged, by both Muslims and non Muslims. I dont know how to connect with Pakistanis, Indians, Middle Eastern. Its hard to feel being judged by both sides, so I hide in my bubble. FD I see. What else made you stay in your bubble? BN I didnt want it to be known that I am a Muslim because of 9/11. I started using the name BN because I hated all the questions about my name. I stopped doing prayers I started distancing myself from it. I thought t hat if I would hide it, no one would see it. Sometimes I would get curious, then something happens and I would go back into my shell againI would come to school and I would see Burn the Quran Day T hat made me really uncomfortable. In physics class, the guy would show the story of burning Quran on CNN, and I felt really uncomfortable... One time I tried to go to MSA, two guys explained it me, and for a split second, I like it and remembered what it was like when I was a kid. Then I went to lunch with my f riend and saw a sign about Stop the Quran Day, then I said Nooo, and went back to my bubble. The bubble referred to in BNs statements represents the safe space that the reluctance phase provides to Muslim American college students during their early y ears in college from what they perceive as negative experiences of judgment and discrimination that are the result of their association with Islam and Muslim groups. S imilar to other ethnic and racial identity development models (Cross, 1971, 1991, 1995; H elms, 1990, 1994, 1995; & Phinney, 1990, 1992), Muslim American college students eventually move beyond this first foreclosed identity stage into other stages, in which they experience more conflict and tension, and eventually reach an achieved identity st ate Chapter 5 provides recommendations for university administrator s and

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107 student affairs professionals to assist students like BN who may suffer psychological damage from being trapped in a foreclosed identity phase for so long due to issues of bullying, discrimination, or harassment The timing of this study in 2010 and 2011 coincided with the increase in anti Islam rhetoric in the news media at the national and local level, such as the Quran burning controversy that took place near one of the campuses where this study was conducted, and the national conversation about the New York City mosque project near the 9 / 11 Ground Zero. These conversations may have heightened the reported feelings of uneasiness, fear for ones safety, and ultimately avoidance of anything associated with Islam, especially among first year Muslim American college students. Some of the students interviewed in this study even reported considering the surrounding communitys attitudes towards diverse backgrounds, especially Muslims, when making their college decision. Although this reluctance phase is usually precipitated by previous negative experiences with both Muslims and nonMuslims, they are based on what may be considered stereotypes against both groups. These stereotypes are usually challenged through an experience of cognitive dissonance that occurs when the reluctant Muslim American student meets with a peer who is engaged and possibly immersed in the campus Muslim community. Through this newly found relationship, the reluctant student begins to enter the identification stage, in which he or she identifies elements of the Muslim culture and traditions that are quite comfortable and bring back pleasant memories.

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108 Identification Similar to some of the identity development models described in Chapter 2 (Cross, 1971, 1991, 1995 ; Helms, 1990, 1994, 1995 ; & Phinney, 1990, 1992), which suggest that the early forec losed stage is interrupted by a crisis event or an encounter with a person or situation that causes dissonance, the reluctanc e stage for Muslim American college students is typically interrupted by a new relationship or friendship developed with a peer who is involved and immersed in the Muslim community on campus, usually through MSA and who displays behaviors or statements that are incongruent with the reluctant students stereotypes and fears In this new phase, reluctant students identify a new community on campus and aspects of their identity that may have bee n su p p ressed in the past During this phase, cognitive dissonanc e occurs and causes students to realize that some of their fears were based on unfounded assumptions. As they begin to build more trust in the new relationships they develop with other Muslims, reluctant students begin to feel a certain level of comfort that they have not experienced before. For instance, AB shared her dissonance experience by saying: I met two sisters [ Muslim women] and they had the most influence on me. They were really nice, it was the first time I felt not judged for asking questions, or if I make a mistake. W e became really close. They really br ought me into the organization [ MSA ] In this stage, Muslim American students begin to gain a deeper and better understanding of Islam as a religion and culture, and develop an appreciation for the diversity within the Muslim community. Sometimes they bond with the Muslim person they meet with over similar experiences of prejudice or discrimination, as described by BN who said: o ne time, they had that wall of hatred [ a campus program to allow

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109 students to express their thoughts about hatred] and I was looking at it and someone else was looking at it, and it had t errorist written on it. She asked if I am Muslim I said Yeah, and asked her if she is Muslim, and she said yeah. She asked so you got the terrorist comment? I said yeah. She said me too. I said I got told Osama Bin Laden is my uncle. S he said oh, I got told hes my cousin [ laughter ]s o we bonded over that, and that was good. Other times, the relationship develops natural ly into a friendship that results in making Muslim gatherings on and off campus ones new social circles, as described by EG who said: f irst year was kinda difficult because it was the first time on my own.. .I didnt know a lot of Muslims I knew about on e other Muslim girl, but I never got really close to her, I just kne w who she was and met her once. In sophomore year, I got closer to her, we met and hang out a little more. She was involved in MSA. She introduced me to other Muslims, and thats how I got involved. I also had some Muslim people from back home transfer to the university and I started hanging out with them Thats how I got involved and started going this year to events. Through these newly found friendships, Muslim American college student s begin to discover a new type of relationship with Muslim peers through what is described as brotherhood and sisterhood within MSA circles. They begin to invest in new relationships with peers who have similar experiences and who can relate to the challenges they face every day. As described in Chapter 2, Baxter Magolda (2001) referred to this process as transitional knowing, in which the individual encounters thought provoking events and begins to realize that not all knowledge is certain. Through the new ly developed relationships with other Muslim students, Muslim -

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110 American college students begin to construct new meaning about the true experience of other Muslims on campus ( Baxter Magolda, 2007) SB illustrated this experience by saying: b ecoming more active and seeing other girls who wear H ijab and are able to still have a voice and be a part of the community ... f or me, I thought that the Hijab would stop me from being who I wanted to be, but when I saw other girls are still doing everything with the Hijab, I thought I could do that too. I t made me strong. The experience of identification can be quite powerful for some of these students As some of their assumptions are challenged, they begin to realiz e that the world that they have avoided so intensely during their first year in college can actually provide comfort and safety. As described by MH, t he feelings of fear are slowly replaced with a sentiment of pride in being Muslim and confidence in ones identity : I started researching things about religion and Islam and found a lot of comfort in Islam. AB also illustrated this point when she said: f or some reason, the Muslims here are awesome T hey are just different. Before, you meet with Muslims, and guys would shake your hand, give you a hug. Here people have stronger values. While the safety of this newly found environment provides comfort for Muslim American college students, it may collide with the safety and security that the reluctance stage e nsures. BN, who often referred to this safety as the bubble, described the conflict she was experiencing by saying: I wanna know more about Islam. If I had kids, I want to be able to say here is the religion I came from. But in order to do that, I hav e to get out of my bubble but I like my bubble I ts a nice and safe bubble N o one makes c omments at me anymore. She finished her statement with uncomfortable giggles, which illustrates the tension between her desire to connect with the Muslim

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111 community and fear of letting go of the safe environment she has created for herself for so long by being reluctant of the world she is so curious about This process of identification tends to occur over a short period of time, usually at the end of the freshmen y ear or beginning of sophomore year. Most participants seemed to have transitioned fairly quickly through this stage into the next stage by beginning to completely immerse themselves into MSA events and activities, prayer groups, H alaqas, and eventually com mittee and board positions within MSA. The next phase in their identity formation process is immersion. Immersion The immersion phase can last from one to three years and usually ends around the students junior year During this period of time, Muslim A merican college students experience their identity and affiliation with Islam and the Muslim community more intensely than they have previously Their involvement with MSA becomes central to their experience in college, impacting their friendship circles, extra curricular activities, and eventually values, beliefs, behaviors, and even external appearance. SB shared her immersion experience and said: in my spring semester of f reshman year I started wearing the H ijab and became more religious I joined MSA board the next year, so it helped me be more active in a way, do something for my religion as well, t o be a student at the university and do something for my studies and career, but also my spiritual and active engagement as well. Based on the participants accounts of how they evolved through the immersion stage, they start by completely committing to learning about the history of Islam, its guidelines, and the way to practice it. As described by RZ and MH, students use a

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112 variety of resources to gain this k nowledge, including books and online lec tures by popular scholars RZ said: I started praying five times a day, started listening to lectures online, reading Quran, reading books. I became more religious, restricted myself to only things that the Prophet PBH did, his S unna and stuff MH shared similar sentiments when he said: I started listening to lectures online, I learned the meaning of prayer, I learned how to do Khoushou, I used to do supplication after Isha every day I liked that, it helped me a l ot. The intense learning process, which often occurs without the guidance or support of qualified mentors who are experienced and knowledgeable about Islam, tends to cause rapid change in the students values, beliefs, behavior, attire, and decision makin g process. AB shared the effects of her change when she said: I really changed from my freshman year to my sophomore year ; I am a very outgoing person and would talk to anyone, but going out as much with the opposite gender stopped, unless its an MSA thi ng to do I just would rather hang out at the Masjid. The change in the participants demeanor, behavior, and attire was not met by the same level of enthusiasm by some participants nonMuslim friends at times AB described th is tension as a rift that dev eloped between her and her friends and said: some people started asking why I was trying to be someone I am not. They say you dont talk to us anym ore, you dont do this anymore y ou feel like a rift, but they dont understand that rift. RZ also shared the same experience with a rift that grew wider between him and his nonMuslim friends RZ A t some point in my sophomore or junior year, I grew a beard, I became more religious, and stopped talking to my American friends. I started praying five times a day, going to mosque more often, becoming more friends with Muslim people. But I couldnt find Muslim people at my level, so that was difficult. My friends were mad

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113 at me because I dissed them. I grew a long beard, and stopped going to parties and hanging ou t with them. I had to defend why I was growing my beard out, and why I was praying and stuff. M any of the students interviewed reported difficulties in maintaining friendships in both worlds at the same time, and eventually had to choose their relations hips within the Muslim community over their friendships with nonMuslims To some, friendships with nonMuslims represented a threat to the growth of their faith and therefore, they began distancing themselves from nonMuslims. AB shared her experience and the difficulties she experienced when she began distancing herself from her former friends. AB E ver since I started knowing my religion more, between my freshman and sophomore year, I kinda cut back on how much I hang out with nonMuslim guys I used to have a couple of guy friends, but I told them religiously, I should not be interact ing with you as much as I do They were like ahhh, youre kinda weird, and I said ok, youre weird too. Some of the guys, I dont talk to anymore, but those who under stand what I am trying to do, they still respect me the same. Whats hard for them is not to give someone hugs and high fives its so natural for them. Th ese changes were not only noticed by the participants and their friends, but also by their parents. A B explained how happy her parents were to see the change in her and shared: g oing home after a year, my parents were really happy to see the change. I told my dad that I wanted to start wearing the A baya, and he was very happy and supportive. Similarly, EG was surprised by her fathers reaction to see the change in her. She shared : I started asking about different stories of prophets and refresh my memory, and would go on Y ouTube and hear S heikhs talks. My dad caught me and he was like WOW, he was so proud. This process of immersion mirrors the proc ess that occurs in the religionas declared identity phase, which is the third stage in the religious identity development

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114 model for Muslim Americans proposed by Peek (2005) and described in Chapter 2. Pee k (2005) considers this stage the achieved identity stage, in which the individual takes action to commit to his or her chosen religious identity. H owever, my study proposes that individuals in this stage of intense immersion are far from reaching achieved identity Although they may be able to ignore elements of their American identity while they explore their newly found Muslim identity, reconciling the two soon emerges as a major concern for them as they begin to pose questions about how to manage expec tations from both environments without appearing rigid or violating ones values, how to manage inter gender dynamics with Muslims and nonMuslims, and how to integrate parts of both identities for maximum benefits. The next stage in the identity developme nt process for Muslim American college students is negotiation. Negotiation Balancing two worlds with distinct cultures and expectations is a difficult task for many Muslim American college students because of the clash between some of the activities that most college students partake in and Islamic values and principles. SB explained this point when she said: i n college, its hard because as a Muslim I dont drink or party in college, thats what people do. I ts part of college life. A lot of American kid s do that, so its hard to get closer to them, to be friends with them when it comes to hanging with friends, I would go back to my Muslim friends because we have more in common, and we all cant do what American kids do, so it makes us have something in c ommon. EG expressed similar sentiments when she said: EG n on Muslims view me as more conservative than other Muslims do because they know I wont go clubbing or go drinking or go out t hey would say oh loos enup, its ok

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115 Some participants explained the process of negotiating both identities as toning down one of them to allow for the other to emerge for the sake of fitting in and making others comfortable. This was a remarkable transition from the immersion stage, in which the need to make nonMuslim s comfortable was not a priority and thus many relationships with them were severed. In the negotiation stage, however, Muslim American young adults make considerable efforts to maintaining their relationships with nonMuslims, even if it means toning dow n some of their own identity traits. This was expressed clearly by AB who said: f or the sake of not coming off as a crazy Muslim, you tone down your level of being a M uslim a little bit. RZ also expressed this point when he said: With non Muslims, I tr y to act American. I try to get a rid of all of that and just focus on religion. Based on the participants anecdotes, this process of negotiation requires that Muslim American young adults choose the elements of their identity that best fit the environment they are interacting with. As they advance in this stage, they begin to create a hyphenated identity (Sirin et al., 2008) that allows them to carry two distinct identities, Muslim and American, without necessari ly integrating them into their daily life. They become skilled at silencing one of their two identities when they are interacting with the opposite environment. The following dialogue with EG helps provide an illustration of how Muslim American young adult s negotiate their identity dimensions as they attempt to balance the two worlds they live in: the Muslim world and the American world. EG T he way we joke is different f rom the way you joke with a White person. When I am with American friends, I cant use t he same Muslim jokes, I wont talk too much about the Muslim way and how we do things, we would joke about very American things, like the Jersey Shore. When I am with Muslim friends, we talk with subjects

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116 that are stupid, typical Arab stuff. I t isnt so mu ch about TV shows or fashion, its just more about joking around, Arabic music, having an all girls party at someones house. With Americans, we would talk about whats in the news. Its just different. FD How are you different when youre with American fr iends? EG When I am with my American friends, I wont talk about Arabic music or listen to Arabic music with them, I dont talk about the food. Everything is American, we just go to school, eat American food. I guess you wont see the Arab side of me reall y when Im with my American friends. I guess, they dont really see that side of me. The only time when they notice is during Ramadan when I am fasting. Even with praying, I pray in my room. I dont pray in the living room. When I decide to play Arabic mus ic in my room, my roommate would say oh, thats cute. FD And how are you different when youre with Muslim friends? EG With my Muslim friends, we would watch old Arabic classic moving, eat Arabic food, and at the same time we can be a little American to o W e still talk about American food and movies, so we can talk about more. Muslim Americans, they know our way of life and they know the American life. W e c an criticize both ways of life. I feel more comfortable with them. Th is process of managing a hyphenated identity and balancing two worlds may seem impossible at times as students tend to see situations in a dualistic manner. RZ illustrated t his challenging dilemma when he said: I dont think its possible to be in the middle of these two worlds. If you become religious, you have to throw away the other world completely Its ok to be friendly to nonMuslim s, but I dont think its ok to have close friends who are nonMuslims. For many of the participants who were in this stage of identity development, they saw themselves living between two separate worlds that cannot be meshed, and therefore, had to find a way to negotiate the way they interact with each world without giving up the other side completely. This was also explained by EG who described becoming skilled at balancing her two identities. EG Y ou cant really mesh the two sometimes. There is a divide between the two. I never really noticed it until college, and Ive become good at balancing the two.

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117 When youre with a bunch of Muslims and ther e is one American there, it becomes about trying to include that person in the inside jokes and teaching them about the Muslim way. Most participants discussed the challenge of maintaining relationships with friends in both worlds and shared how they endur ed criticism for not spending enough time with them. EG discussed the challenge she experienced in maintaining a positive relationship with her roommate during this period of negotiation and said: since Ive gotten a lot closer to my Muslim friends t here was a little tension between my roommate and me because she felt I was changing, she felt like I was ignoring her S o now I have to balance the two. The main reason that seems to cause this rift between Muslim American college students and their nonMusli m peers is the difference in values. Since Muslims are prohibited from partaking in activities that involve alcohol, sexual relations outside of marriage, and other activities that could be considered normal among college students, Muslim American young ad ults who are in the immersion stage tend to associate these activities with their nonMuslim peers, and therefore trade off their friendships with nonMuslims for new relationships with Muslims. Once they enter the negotiation stage, they begin to look for ways to still have relationships with friends in both cultures without compromising their values. EG, SB, FM, IM, and UR all commented about their experience to avoid social settings where H aram is present without severing their relationships with their nonMuslim friends or connection to the Americ a n culture. EG On campus, the way to socialize with people is to drink and party a lot, and I dont really go to these events, but I try to hang out with my friends outside of the settings and try to explain t o them that there are things I just dont do. They understand for the most part, but sometimes they say oh, come on. You can have a boyfriend, you can drink a little.

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118 SB Sometimes, dealing with interests [ usury ] and taxes are engraved in the system [ in A merica ] and thats kind of a conflict. But, f or me, just to be able to practice my religion here without anyone telling me that its wrong, thats more important for me. FM I know that being an American and being a Muslim, in some certain areas, it doesn t mix. I have to know how to draw the line between being an American and being a Muslim. I dont follow the norm, like I dont party, I dont drink, I dont have a boyfriend. I try not to judge others though, because I dont like to be judged. So, I stay f riend with my American friends, but I keep a bit of distance. IM There are definitely limits to the things that Americans normally do that I choose not to do. Most Americans have boyfriends, they fornicate and stuff. Christianity is against fornication, but its the norm here. That part, certain parts of being an Ame rican that I dont partake in, but that doesnt mean I cant have nonMuslims as friends I am learning that we cant isolate ourselves UR Ive never had a problem balancing being a Muslim and being an American, but certain traditions that Americans do, I definitely opted out of, like prom Its not a problem for me to give up these things, its a tradition here. My dad always told me that there are lots of memories to take from high school, prom doesnt need to be one of them. There is a lot of mixing and dancing at promI can still do other stuff with them, just not prom. However, some Muslim American young adults may find it too difficult to negotiate these two environments, and eventually surr ender to one or the other. RZ shared how he experienced this difficulty, which eventually led him to giveup the Islamic lifestyle and fully commit to what he referred to as being an American. He said: I started going back to my old friends, started t rimming my beard little by little, then one day I shaved it completely I went back to the old lifestyle, drinking and stuff. RZ also shared that he wants to go back to his Islamic lifestyle, but feels that the environment on campus was just too tempting and made it too difficult to balance both worlds. He said: m y goal is to go back to the Islamic lifestyle. I would need to cut off ties with nonMuslim friends, put more effort to having a support group of people like

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119 myself I see myself doing it at the end of the school year, or next year, definitely by the time I get married, or before I get married. I am just waiting to get out of this environment to start all over. As long as I am here, its too easy to fall back in the old lifestyle. Although RZs reaction was not common, it was worth noting as a contrast to the experiences of others who either ch ose to stay immersed in the Islamic culture and environment or those who are successful at negotiating both environments and eventually integrating them for the benefit of themselves, their community, and the greater good. Those who are successful at achieving the next stage in their identity development, which is called integration, begin to show signs of fluidity between both cultures and ease in their int eractions with members of both environments. As a result, they earn the respect of their peers in both worlds and are seen as leaders who can be trusted with counsel and issues that impact MSA and the campus community These elements of negotiation are ill ustrated in Figure 43, which shows a process of balancing the two identities. EG explained how she experiences this process EG A s a Muslim American, I feel like were not really recognized in a way, were kinda like walking between two worlds, you have the American, you have the Arab, you cant fit in totally with the Muslim world because youve adopted some of the American values, and you cant fit in totally with the American world because youve adopted Muslim values also, so its kinda a balancing ac t Th is balancing act illustrated in Figure 43 is a culmination of the salient identity dimensions and contextual factors described in Chapter 4. The students level of religiosity, culture, gender, family background and involvement, and the peer support that is typical provided by MSA and its members all have an impact on thei r salience of the students Muslim identity. Likewise, the students past and current experiences with

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120 prejudice, his or her desire for academic and career success, affiliation with American citizenship, and the level of support and guidance received from the university administration and faculty ultimately impact the salience of the American identity. Figure 43 Model of Identity n egotiation for Muslim American college students Integration While Muslim American young adults initially commit to their Muslim identity and struggle with the process of negotiating and balancing both cultures and environment s, they eventually begin to contemplate the idea of integrating both worlds wi thout compromising their values or relationships. This tends to occur closer to the student s senior year when they realize that it is possible to live in both worlds. The epiphany of being able to integrate both identities typically occurs as they observe other students, usually role models, who were able to achieve what seemed to be an impossible task. IS learned that he could integrate both identities from observing his friend and past MSA president. He explained this when he said: it wasnt until I saw last years MSA president that I realized that you can do both, and thats actually good for the Muslim community because then nonMuslims respect us more and relate to us better. As was

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121 inferred by IS comment, students in this stage also justify this integration process with the impact it has on the greater good for the entire community, and the Muslim community specifically. The integration stage is characterized by a sense of acceptance and appreciation of the unique affiliation with two cultures. Participants who were in their senior year discussed how they have finally reached a point in which they enjoy the fluidity between the two cultures. EG compared her experience with her roommate who seemingly affiliates with one culture only EG I just like the fact that I hang out with friends, that I have them and joke around with them, and also having two cultures. I like t he fact that I can be flexible like my roommate, shes American and thats all she has, so I feel like they dont really have fun the way we do. Shes very involved in her church, she would talk about her church activities, Christian camp, its fun for them, but I feel like theyre not really colorful. I like the fact that I can mix and go with each, the whole flexibility, different tas tes with different cultures. As described in Chapter 3, while Muslim American young adults are often anxious about achieving balance between their religious values and American values and constantly have to negotiate their dual identities (Sirin et al., 2008) they were found to have the capacity to craft integrated and parallel identities This was illustrated in the following comments by SB: I see myself as a Muslim American who is trying to fit into both worlds you realize that they can actually go together and that its not too difficult to be both at the same time. In fact, Muslim American young adults overwhelmingly prefer being engaged in social and cultural activities with both communities (Sirin et al., 2008) In the integration stage, Muslim American young adults realize that in a post 9/11 world where hostility towards Islam and Muslims continues to grow, their identification

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122 with both identities, Muslim and Amer ican, can serve as the bridge that facilitates the dialogue between Muslims and nonMuslims in America. As a result, they become skilled at managing their hyphenated self and balancing both identities and maintaining healthy relationships with members of b oth worlds. Summary As illustrated in Figure 44 the identity development process for Muslim American college students is a juxtaposition of the five identity stages they go through while in college and the balancing act they have to experience between t he two worlds they live in. As described in Chapter 3 Muslim American young adults identify with both their Muslim and American identity, a concept labeled hyphenated self by Sirin and Fine (2008) in their recent study about identity negotiation for Mus lim American youth (Sirin et al., 2008) The model illustrates two principle findings relative to the identity development of Muslim American college students: 1) contextual factors act as a filter for the identit y dimensions that impact their development through the stages of identity formation and 2) they go through stages of development that may involve reluctance from being associated with Muslims, identification with Muslims through a new friendship, immersio n into the Muslim community and alienating nonMuslim friends, negotiati on between their two identities, and normalizing their experience by successfully integrating their two identities

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123 Religiosity Contextual Factors Family, 9/11 Backlash, Muslim on Muslim Prejudice, Peer Support (MSA), University Support Gender Culture Citizenship Identity Dimensions Reluctance Identification Immersion Negotiation Integration Stages of Identity Development Figure 4 4 Model of Identity dev elopment for Muslim American college students The model also illustrates that the identity formation process for Muslim American college students is heavily influence d by 1) the Muslim Student Association (MSA), which offers support through friendships and a community and affirms students religious values, culture, family background, and gender affiliation, and 2) the university administration, student affairs in particular, which affirms students status as American citizens and ensures their academ i c, pe rsonal, and professional success through advocacy, guidance, resources and support.

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124 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSIONS The purpose of this study was to explore the identity formation of Muslim American college students relative to their experience in college. The need for this contribution to the field of college student development is crucial given the gap in research about Muslim American young adults, a populations that has been subject to increased scrutiny and prejudice since 9/11 and its aftermath (Britto & Amer, 2007; Cole & Ahmadi, 2003; L. Peek, 2005; Sirin et al., 2008; Williams & Vashi, 2007) This qualitative study was conducted using grounded theory methodology to allow for a new theory to emerge from the data (Charmaz, 2006; Glaser et al., 1967) Findings revealed the salience of four identity dimensions for Muslim Ame rican college students: religiosity citizenship, culture, and gender, which are influenced by various contextual factors: family 9/11 backlash Muslim on Muslim prejudice, peer support via MSA, and university support. A new theoretical model has emerged from this study to describe five stages of identity formation for Muslim American college students: reluctance, identification, immersion, negotiation, and integration. Chapter 5 provides a summary of these findings, a discussion about the v arious elements of these findings in the context of other theoretical models, and implications of the newly proposed model on theory, research, policy, and practice. Chapter 5 closes with the major conclusions der ived from this study as well as my personal reflections, as the principle investigator, about this study and the process I went through to complete it. Summary of Findings Using Jones and McEwen model of multiple dimensions of identity (2007) as a backdrop, four major identity dimensions seemed most salient for Muslim American

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125 young adults: religiosity, citizenship, culture, and gender. The intersections of these dimensions were found to have an impact on their degree of salience based on a variety of contextual factors: familys influence on values and decision making, role of the Muslim and nonMuslim community, prejudice and discrimination incidents that resulted from the 9/11 backlash on the Muslim American community, internal Muslim onMuslim prejudice that is often displayed in judgment of others, peer support that is provided through the campus MSA, and university support and accommodations to facilitate a healthy and safe environment for Muslim students to have a positive experience in college The study also revealed five stages of identit y development that Muslim American college students tend to go through while in college : reluctance, identification, immersion, integration, and negotiation. Although the anecdotes of some participants indicated that some Muslim American young adults may experience a few some, or all of these stages at different points of their lives rather than in college mainly depending on the contextual influences in their environment, the majority of participants seemed to begin their freshman year in college at the reluctance stage and graduate at the integrat ion stage Throughout their four years in college, Muslim American college students seem to transition from a foreclosed identity, in which they avoid their association with Islam and Muslims, to an integrated i dentity, in which they develop a hyphenated identity that integrates various elements of their Muslim and American identities. Discussion Through identity integration, Muslim American college students achieve self authorship, a process by which they reach maturity in all three domains: interpersonal,

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126 intrapersonal, and cognitive (Baxter Magolda, 1999). Achieving self authorship is necessary for them to be able to make mature decisions, build relationships independent of external influences, and become effec tive citizens (Baxter Magolda, 2007) Similar to other ethnic and underrepresented groups, this study revealed that Muslim American college students need to be exposed to various complexities crisis events or new relationships in order for dissonance to occur and movement through the psychological stages of exploration and commitment is achieved, as described by Marcia (1966, 1980). Each one of the underrepresented groups that have been studied in past decades have their own unique contextual influences that impact their identity formation process. Similarly, unique historical, sociopolitical, environmental, and cultural circumstances were found to have created contextual factors that have impacted the identity development for Muslim American college students. For example, the events of 9/11 and their aftermath, which have resulted in an entire decade of intense negative rhetoric that may have caused many Muslims to question their worth and position in American society, were found in this study to have res ulted in Muslim American young adults having developed foreclosed identities in various dimensions, especially religiosity and citizenship. We already know that Muslim American young adults have the capacity to craft integrated and parallel identities (Si rin et al., 2008), but we did not know how they achieved this integrated identity. This study revealed the five stages of identity formation that Muslim American young adults tend to move through to achieve commitment which results in an integrated identit y and a sense of hyphenated self These stages are

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127 defined as : reluctance, identification, immersion, negotiation, and integration. This important discovery and new knowledge about the salient identity dimensions and contextual factors that influence these stages will lead to further investigation on what university administrators can do to help M uslim American college students achieve self authorship through identity integration. This study confirmed that the newly found and socially constructed integrated identity allows Muslim American young adults to assert both their religious and national identities, which results in the creation of a new label that they proudly use to define themselves: Muslim American, just as did other marginalized and oppressed mi nority groups before them, such as AfricanAmericans, Jewish Americans, and AsianAmericans (Grewal, 2009; Sirin et al., 2008) More importantly the socially constructed identity allows them to develop relationships, knowledge, and decision making abilities independent of contextual influences, a process known as self authorship (Baxter Magolda, 2007). Implications The major contribution of this study is in the new knowledge that environmental, cultural, and sociopolitical conditions have create d contextual factors that influence the salience of various dimensions, resulting in foreclosed identities for Muslim American young adults when they enter college. The Muslim Student Association ( MSA), the student organization that Muslim students on campus are involved in, was found to play a critical role in sparking a change for Muslim American students to move through various stages of identity formation and eventually reach an integrated stage of identity. Achieving integrated identity is important for minority college students including Muslim American students, because it ensures their social integration, academic

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128 success, and ultimately retention in college. While there are no indications o f college attrition among Muslim American college students, experiences of discrimination and prejudice have been found to be contributing factors to college attrition among minority college students (Swail et a l., 2003) We know that prejudice based on religious practice and cultural differences has a negative impact on the educational experience of Muslim students (Cole & Ahmadi, 2003) We also know that t he majority of Muslim American young adults (over 53 %) report that it has become difficult to be a Muslim in America (Pew Research Center, 2007) Thus, theorists, researchers, and practitioners have the responsibility and duty to build upon these findings to identify the complexities and accommodations in order to promote the movement towards identity integration and self authorship for Muslim American college students. Theory The new five stage theoretical model proposed i n this study adds a new application for the self authorship model, a concept that has been adapted for several other minority groups ( Baxter Magolda, 2007), but never on Muslim American young adults before this study The model also complements the string of other identity development models that have come before, including cognitive ( Baxter Magolda, 1992; Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, & Tarules, 1986; Kitchener & King, 1981, 1990; Perry, 1968; Piaget, 1952), racial (Cross, 1995; Helms, 1990, 1992, 1995), ethnic (Phinney, 1990, 1992), sexual (Cass, 1979; DAugelli, 1994; Evans & Wall, 1991; McCarn & Fassinger, 1996), moral (Kohlberg, 1958, 1976; Rest, 1979, 1986), and gender (Ossan, Helms, Leonard, 1992; Josselson 1973, 1987, 1996; ONeil, Egan, Owen, Murry 1993). Similar to these models, my proposed theoretical identity model for Muslim American college students touch es on two major aspects of identity formation: 1) sense of self

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129 and relations with others (Stryker, 1968, 1980; Turner, 1978), and 2) ongoin g construction, selection, and negotiation between identity dimensions (Cahill, 1989; Nagel, 1995, 1994; Waters, 1990; West & Zimmerman, 1987). This theoretical model gives validation to the premise that dissonance is often the catalyst for individuals to transform from an identity diffused state to a state of foreclosed i dentity and onto a state of identity achieved (Marcia, 1966 1980). In prior theories, this dissonance is usually caused by a crisis event or incident that causes shock and stress to the i ndividual. In my proposed model of identity development for Muslim American college students, this dissonance is usually sparked by a new relationship, which makes the experience much more pleasant and positive for the individual. This new concept of dissonance through a relationship may inspire other theories and models to emerge in the future. Furthermore, t his contribution to theory may open the door for not only other studies to be conducted on Muslim Americans, but also for new theories to emerge or be adapted for subgroups of the Muslim American population, such as women, working adults, and teenagers. It is conceivable that t he theoretical model may also be adapted for other misunderstood and marginalized religious minorities with overlapping themes a nd dimensions of identity, such as Sikhs, Mormons and Jewish Americans For Research Conducting this study using a qualitative method reinforced the usefulness and credibility of qualitative research, especially when studying areas that represent a gap in literature. Grounded theory proved to also be an effective methodology for this study as it allowed for a new theory to emerge from the voices of participants. In addition to providing new knowledge to the field of college student development, this contri bution to

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130 the literature will also provide an additional model of 1) how to approach a study about a population that may not have been previously explored, 2) how to conduct a qualitative study using grounded theory and ensure validity and reliability, and 3) a new theoretical model for researchers to reference when reviewing literature about ethnic, cultural, and religious groups in future studies. Given that findings of this study may not be generalized to the general Muslim American young adult populati on, the next step in exploring this population would be to create or adapt an identity formation scale that can be used in a quantitative study nationwide to generate a revised identity development model that would be generalizable to the Muslim American c ollege student population. The five stages of identity development that have emerged in this study should be explored further through longitudinal studies that follow Muslim American college students from acceptance into college to graduation. It would be interesting to have these students write reflective journals throughout their four years in college and participate in videotaped interviews at least once a year which will allow for their progress and development to be followed and documented thoroughly within the context of their experience. Further research about the psychological impact of some of the contextual factors discussed in Chapter 4, such as family pressures, Muslim onMuslim prejudice, and the post 9/11 bullying and prejudice against Islam, is necessary to understand the experiences of Muslim American young adults and develop the appropriate interventions, support systems, and resource s to promote identity formation process for

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131 them and facilitate their social integration, academic success, and personal and professional development Future research about Muslim American young adults may include further exploration of inter gender dynamics experiences of Muslim Americans in the workplace, or issues of post 9/11 bullying against Muslim America n children. In any of these potential studies, it is critical for the researcher to understand the importance of b uilding trust and rapport between the principle investigator and the group of participants as well as the larger Muslim community Therefore, I recommend conducting some of these explorations using ethnography methods, which would help researcher s integrate into the Muslim community, build relationships, and gain trust before beginning the study. Being immersed in the community would also help r esearcher s observe transitions as they occur while building strong relationships with the community members and gaining their trust. For Policy Although participants have expressed gratitude for their university s support in response to acts of prejudice, stereotyping, and at times bullying, some of them wished for a stronger stance and response from university officials and have cited examples of when the university has done so when other groups were victims of incidents of hate. Based on the participants stories, it seems that some Muslim American students are concerned about a double standard in handling cases of Islamophobia in comparison to other cases, although they understand the difficult position their university administrators are in due to the c urrent political environment in the United States. One of the major revelations of this study is that some Muslim American college students feel that university administrators may not always have consistent standards

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132 and policies when dealing with acts of hate and prejudice towards Muslims. As indicated by some student s statements in Chapter 4, some Muslim American college students may feel at times that university administrators are more careful and less responsive to acts and speech of hate that target M uslims compared to other minority groups, such as African Americans and JewishAmericans. While university administrators often refer to free speech and academic freedom to explain the dilemma they have when dealing with incidents that involve Muslims on c ampus, Muslim Ameri ca n college students may perceive that the real reason for what is seen as a weak response is that university administrators are afraid of the political backlash against them and the university if they stand for Muslims on campus often in the name of freedom of expression. Institutions of higher education have the difficult task of striking a balance between maintaining civility on campus and protecting as well as promoting the freedom of speech as a central ingredient to citizenship and academic freedom, while striving to create a vibrant, inclusive, and safe multicultural community for all constituents (Fenske, Hoffman, & Schuh, 1998; Swail, Perna, & Redd, 2003) T his has become a bigger challenge when dealing with incidents against Muslim college students, especially since the Muslim community has become the acceptable target of bigotry and hate speech since 9/11 and its aftermath (Abdo, 2005) Nonetheless, this issue is about more than just legal rights, politics, or diversity. It transcends all core areas of an institution of higher education, including institutional mission, learning, wellness and safety, campus resources students rights and responsibilities, law enforcement, civility, and multiculturalism.

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133 H ate speech is defined as any verbal and written words or actions, often communicated through slurs, insults, and threats, that portray a person or group negatively based on their race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or disability (Fenske et al., 1998) Many campuses have explicit policies and codes about appropriate and inappropriate forms of speech to pro mote civility on campus and insure physical and emotional safety for all constituents (Fenske et al., 1998) While these policies provide general guidelines for appropriate civil behavior on campus, they are oft en written in general and ambiguous terms to allow institution s to adhere to constitutional laws that protect free speech under the first amendment (Swail et al., 2003) Freedom of expression has been recognized, under the protection of the first Amendment, as a central ingredient to academia by the Supreme Court, in Sweeny v. New Hampshire, 354 US. 234 (1957). College campuses are still coming to grips with accommodations and response plans to acts of hate, prejudice, and microaggressions against Muslim students (Adams, 2000) This is especially true during a time filled with politically polarized discussions around issues of freedom of speech, terrorism, national security, and patriotism. The major contribution of this study in relation to policy is in helping institutions of higher education 1) understand the perceptions that Muslim American college students have about universities commitment to diversity and their students safety, and 2) develop appropriate, effective, and consistent response plans that can be deployed when dealing with incidents of hate that target all marginalized groups on their campuses.

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134 For Practice Intentional interventions and accommodations by u niversity faculty and administrators, especially student a ffairs, are crucial in creating a safe environment that fosters the development and growth of students, especially those of marginalized groups such as Muslim American college students. University s upport and accommodations were found to play a critical role in the growth and identity development of Muslim American college students in this study. The voices of Muslim American students represented in this study suggest several interventions and accomm odations that universities can implement to facilitate a positive experience for these students. Many studies have been conducted in past decades to determine the types of complexities that should be introduced to promote self authorship for various minori ty student groups ( Baxter Magolda, 2007). Yet, due to the lack of research about Muslim American college students, knowledge about how college impacts them and the types of complexities that should be introduced to promote self authorship for them is limit ed. This study provides a platform to begin the conversation about how Muslim American young adults experience college and how university administrators can facilitate their growth and development through support, guidance, accommodations resources, and p rogramming This study helps provide a context for the challenges that Muslim American college students experience while in college, and emphasizes the importance of creating and maintaining a safe campus climate that promotes their growth and development. C ampus climate has been found to have a major impact on students social and academic integration on campus (Swail et al., 2003) In addition to the known

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135 and expected stressors that students from all groups m ay endure during their transition in college such as personal wellness and transition to a new environment minority students including Muslim students, who are in predominantly white campuses are subject to additional stressors, including achievement ex pectations, withingroup stressors, interracial stressors racism, discrimination, and racial microaggressions (Sue, Capodilupo, Nadal, & Torino, 2008; Swail et al., 2003) Understanding the background of these students and the challenges they face is the first step for higher education practitioners to take to help them with their identity development. Universities may be able to do so by host ing training seminars and immersion progra ms to help their faculty and staff learn about Islam and the Muslim population, particularly the Muslim American community in order to best support their students and create an environment conducive to their development and growth. This study confirms the effectiveness of student organizations as a positive intervention that helps minority students cope with the challenges they face and navigate the various complexities related to their identity in an environment that is most familiar to them on a college campus. R esearch indicates that the culture shock that results fr om the stressors minority students face juxtaposed with their inability to see their culture represented throughout their institution causes great harm to their academic achievement and social integration (Swail et al., 2003) Tinto (1975) suggests that students social and academic integration in college is instrumental to their persistence and graduation. Integration in college occurs in two pri nciple ways: 1) by developing meaningfully relationships with peers, a process that often takes place in living communities such a s residence halls, fraternities and

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136 sororities and student organizations such as MSA ; and 2) by developing meaningfully relat ionships with mentors and role models, a factor that is even more significant for minorities and continues to be hindered by the lack of minority representation among faculty and staff on colleges campuses (Swai l et al., 2003) As discussed in Chapter 4, s tudent organizations play a larger role in not only providing a network of support for minority students, but also facilitating the mentoring relationships with upper class students and advisors and minimizing the effects of isolation and alienation that they experience on predominantly white campuses, which has a greater effect on their persistence in college (Swail et al., 2003) For university administrators, providing support and a strong advisory system to the campus MSA may just be the most important intervention they could implement to promote Muslim American students identity development in a safe environment. The Muslim Student Association (MSA) clearly pl ays an important role in facilitating Muslim students transition into college and providing them with a safe environment in which they can be themselves, build long lasting relationships, and grow spiritually, emotionally, academically, and professionally The need for continued support for MSA, financially and symbolically, was emphasized by most participants in this study Universities may assist with early introduction of MSA to Muslim students during orientation or freshman programs to help expose them to resources and support systems as early as possible. Universities may also be able to assist with helping MSA s build strong connections and collaborations with other student organizations. Many participants have expressed concern about MSA members mai nly focusing on internal dynamics and programs only

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137 and neglecting key relationships with other student organizations. The opportunity to collaborate with other organizations, especially religious and ethnic ones, may foster further learning and developmen t that is currently missing among MSA members. Attending to students religiosity, the most salient identity dimension for Muslim American college students, is of most importance and can be achieved by providing a permanent prayer space on campus outfitted with proper washrooms and foot baths to allow students to conduct Wudhu (ablution) without feeling embarrassed or fearing criticism by non Muslims. This request was mentioned by every participant I interviewed, even those that do not adhere to religious practices. Providing such a facility will send a clear signal to the Muslim American student population that the university not only accepts them, but also celebrates them and supports them as members of its community. A number of college campuses such as t he University of Michigan have built such facilities for their Muslim students (Adams, 2000). Accommodations for religious holidays already exist on college campuses to accommodate all religious groups, but some universities are now noting Islamic religiou s holidays on their academic calendars in effort to be more inclusive and accommodating These signs of progress are met with their share of criticism by various groups, which creates further tension and hatred towards Muslim American college students who are often anxious about the stressful task of balancing their cultural and religious values with the western culture they live in (Sirin, 2007). Recent discussions about Islam in America and the impact on Muslim students on college campus present an oppor tunity for society and institutions of higher education to better understand Islam

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138 and Muslims in America and learn about their faith, culture, world views, traditions, values, beliefs, challenges, and opportunities to contribute to society. As the increas ed attention on the Muslim community has created more incidents of prejudice, racism, and hate crimes on American college campuses, it has become crucial for higher education faculty and administrators to gain a better understanding of the religion of Isla m and Muslims. Further research in this area will help increase the level of support and accommodations that college campuses, employers, and society can offer to facilitate a positive and successful experience for Muslim American college students. Conclusions A common theme in the study was in the desire of the participants to assert that they are just like everyone else. AB, one of the more outspoken participants in this study, said: i ts really important for people to understand that we are just like everyone else Similar sentiments by other participants sparked several questions for me as the principle investigator of this study: 1) are Muslim American college students just like everyone else?, 2) do they want to be just like everyone else?, and 3) should they be just like everyone else? As the study progressed, it became clear to me that the participants meant to say something else with their statement just like everyone else. As I became more familiar with the participants, I learned that most o f them did not have the desire, n or the intent to be like other nonMuslims, although those who were in a foreclosed identity state may have desired to not be identified as Muslims. The many hours of interviews with these students made it clear that what t hey really meant to say was : we are normal and not strange, which could be a common reaction by people from marginalized groups.

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139 Although Muslim American college students may insist tha t they are just like everyone else, the discovery from this study is that the way they experience college is different due to various identity dimensions and contextual factors they experience. This study revealed that the dimension of religiosity, citizenship, gender, and culture play a critical role in the identity for mation of Muslim American college students and the way they experience college. These dimensions are unique to this student population, and so are the contextual factors that were found to impact them: family, 9/11 backlash Muslim onMuslim prejudice, peer support via MSA and university support. Some of these contextual factors were found to create a state of foreclosed identity for Muslim American young adults, in which they are reluctant of identifying or associating with Islam and Muslims. Thus, many t end to enter college as freshmen in the reluctance stage, as described by the proposed identity development model for Muslim American college students in Chapter 4. Campus climate s that offer a variety of support mechanisms and complexities may be able to help students move beyond this first stage into an identification stage, in which they identify with elements of their faith and culture, then an immersion stage, in which they completely immerse themselves in the Muslim community and culture on campus and begin separating from old nonMuslim friends, then a negotiation stage, in which they attempt to balance the two worlds they associate with, and finally an integration stage, in which they are successful at infusing and integrating elements of the two cul tures they live in and adopt a hyphenated identity: Muslim American. C onsistent with the shift in how colleges impact students development, from a general effect, representing a similar impact of given experiences on all students, to a

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140 conditional effect representing a wider gap between how different ly students benefit from the same experiences (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005) the need to provide further accommodations and support to Muslim American college students, especially during the current sociopolitical environment, must be a priority for universities in the United States. Reflections As described in Chapter 3, the principles of grounded theory that allow for the emergence of theory from systematic ally generated data and the reliance on data rather than literature to develop a theoretical model have made this methodology ideal for this study (Charmaz, 2006; Charmaz, 2006; Emerson, 1983; Emerson, 1983) As a researcher, I enjoyed the autonomy and freedom to create a theory that emerged from data that I collected, transcribed, and analyzed myself rather than poor data into someone elses theory (Charmaz, 2006; Emerson, 1983) Charmazs model of simultaneous data collection and analysis (2006) was an effective strategy that allowed me to begin formulating themes as I was interviewing participants and make decisions about future probing questions to ask and students to interview. The flexible nature of grounded theory allowed for new questions to be asked and new themes that may not have been addressed in the literat ure review to be explored. For example, many students mentioned dealing with bullying in elementary and middle school, which may have affected their transition to college, at least initially. This was an area that I had not explored in the literature review and did not plan to ask questions about. U sing coding, theoretical memo writ ing, and theoretical comparisons, I

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141 was able to identify the theme quickly and add relevant questions in future interviews to explore it further with participants (Charmaz, 2006) Most importantly, I genuinely appreciated the relationships I developed with the participants throughout the research process. As a counselor by training, and a natural listener, I found that conducting a qualitative study played into my strengths. Resis ting the temptation to give advice to some participants when they described their own challenges was challenging at times but I reminded myself throughout the process of my researcher role and that my job was to ask questions, probe, listen, and take notes. A year has passed since I met with the participants ; I often wonder how they are doing now. I know that some of them have already graduated and have moved on to their professional lives. My hope is to launch a new study in the future and conduct a one y ear follow up with each participant to track their progress and identity evolution.

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142 APPENDIX A RECRUITMENT EMAIL Assalamu Allaikum (Peace be Upon You), My name is Farouk Dey, and I am a graduate student in the College of Education at the Univ ersity of Florida. I am conducting a qualitative study exploring identity development of young adult Muslim American college students. I am seeking to interview Muslim American college students between the age 18 and 23, who have been raised in the United States, consider themselves to be practicing Muslims, currently enrolled in an undergraduate degree in a four year university, and are either juniors or seniors. Each participant will participate in two onehour individual interviews and one final focus gr oup that will last 90 minutes. If you are interested in participating in an interview, please reply to: Farouk Dey; xxxxxx ; 352xxxxxxx Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely, Farouk Dey

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143 APPENDIX B CONSENT FORM Purpose of the research study: The purpose of this study is to examine the process of identity formation of Muslim American college students in the United States of America. What you will be asked to do in the study: You will be ask ed to provide your demographic information in a one page form and participate in the following activities: one twohour interview and one focus group with other participants of this study. The interview and focus group will be audiotaped to insure accurac y of the information provided. Time required: I nterview will last about 120 minutes. Focus group with other participants of this study will last 90 minutes. Risks and Benefits: There are no risks involved with this study. This study will help university faculty and administrators increase their knowledge about identity formation of Muslim American college students, and possibly lead to increase in support and accommodations to Muslims on college campuses. Compensation: There is a compensation involved with this study : gift card of $25 value. Confidentiality: Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. Your identity will be kept confidential in all transcribed materials to the extent provided by law. All digital recording files of i nterviews will be kept on my private harddrive and under password protection. The final results will be presented in an anonymous manner in a dissertation paper and future research article. Voluntary participation: Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. There is no penalty for not participating.

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144 Right to withdraw from the study: You have the right to withdraw from the study at anytime without consequence. Whom to contact if you have questions about the study: Pilar Mendoza, Ed.D. Assist ant Professor Department of Educational Administration & Policy College of Education University of Florida P.O. Box 117049 Gainesville, FL 326117049 Email: Tel: (352) 2734309 Fax: (352) 8462697 Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study: IRB02 Office, B ox 112250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 326112250; phone 3920433. Agreement: I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily agree to participate in the procedure and I have received a copy of this description. Participant: ___________ ____________________ Date: _________________ Principal Investigator: ___ ____________________ Date: _________________

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146 APPENDIX D INDIVIDUAL INTERVIEW PROTOCO L Thank you for agreeing to participate in this study. Again, the purpose of this intervi ew is to help me understand how Muslim American college students see themselves and form their identity which in college and how their reconcile the various parts of their identity. General Questions 1. How do you see yourself in the context of your current life in college? 2. What factors influence how you see yourself? 3. How are you perceived by others (Muslims and nonMuslims)? 4. Tell me about your experience as a Muslim American student in college. 5. How has your experience as a Muslim American student changed s ince you first entered college? 6. Discuss some of the challenges you experience or have experienced as a Muslim American student in college so far. 7. Describe some of the positive experiences you have had as a Muslim American student in college so far. 8. What do es being a Muslim mean to you? 9. What does being an American mean to you? 10. How do you reconcile being an American with being a Muslim? 11. Describe your relationship with other Muslims. 12. Describe your relationship with other nonMuslims.

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147 13. How does being a Muslim Am erican impact your academic success in college? 14. How does being a Muslim American impact your career path? a. How did you choose your academic major? b. How did you choose your career path? 15. What could the university do to improve your experience as a Muslim Ameri can college student?

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148 APPENDIX E FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS 1. Describe your level of religiosity. 2. How does your religion impact your life as a college student? 3. What cultural group(s) do you affiliate with the most? a. How do they influence your daily life as a college student? b. How do they impact others interactions with you? 4. How does your race impact your daily life as a Muslim American college student? a. How does your race impact others interactions with you? 5. Describe your relationship with people of other racial groups. 6. How does your gender impact your daily life as a Muslim American college student? a. How does your gender impact others interactions with you? 7. Describe your relationship with Muslim members of the opposite gender. 8. Describe your relations hip with nonMuslim members of the opposite gender. 9. Tell me about your family background. 10. How does your family background impact your daily life as a Muslim American college student? 11. How does your family background impact others interactions with you?

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151 Creswell, J. W. (2008). Educational research : Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall. Cross, W. E. (1971). The negroto black conversion experience: Toward a psychology of black liberation. Black World, 20, 13 27. Cross, W. E. (1991). Shades of black: Diversity in african american identity Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. Cross, W. E. (1995). The psychology of nigrescence: Revising the cross model. In J. G. Ponterotto, J. M. Casas, L. A. Suziki & C. M. Alexander (Eds.), Handbook of multicultural counseling, 93 122. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. D'Augelli, A. R. (1994). Identity development and sexual orientation: Toward a model of lesbian, gay and bisexual development. In E. J. Trickett, R. J. Watts & D. Birman (Eds.), Human diversity: Perspectives on people in context 312333. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Denscombe, M. (1998). The good research guide for small scale social research projects Bucki ngham: Open University Press. Doyle, S. (2007). Member checking with older women: A framework for negotiating meaning Healthier Care for Women International 8 (10), 888908. Emerson, R. M. (1983). Contemporary field research : A collection of readings B oston: Little, Brown. Evans, N. J., Forney, D. S., & Guido DiBrito, F. (1998). Student development in college : Theory, research, and practice (1st ed.). San Francisco: Jossey Bass Publishers. Evans, N. J., & Wall, V. A. (1991). Beyond tolerance: Gays, lesbians and bisexuals on campus Alexandria, VA: American College Personnel Association. Fenske, R. H., Hoffman, A. M., & Schuh, J. H. (1998). Violence on campus : Defining the problems, strategies for action. Gaithersburg, Md.: Aspen Publishers. Fine, M. (1995). Building successful multicultural organizations Westport, CT: Quorum Books. Firestone, W. A. (1993). Alternative arguments for generalizing from data as applied to qualitative research. Educational Researcher, 22(1993), 1623. Glaser, B. G., Stra uss, A. L., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory; strategies for qualitative research. Chicago: Aldine Pub. Co.

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158 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Farouk Dey was born in Algiers, Algeria in June of 1975. He received a PhD in Higher Education Administration and a Spec ialist in Education (Ed.S) in Higher Education Administration from the University of Florida, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and a Master of Education in Counseling Psychology (M.Ed) from Washington State University, and a Bachelor of Business A dministration from the University of WisconsinMilwaukee. While pursuing his doctorate in Higher Education Administration, Farouk has served in various leadership positions in higher education, including Director of the Career and Professional Development Center at Carnegie Mellon University, Chair of the Commission for Career Development with the American College Personnel Association (ACPA), Senior Association Director for the Career Resource Center at the University of Florida, and Residence Hall Directo r at Washington State University. Throughout his professional career, Farouk has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Superior Accomplishment Award by the University of Florida, the Dr. James E. Scott Fellowship at the University of Fl orida, the Rising Star Award by the National Association for College and Employers (NACE), Excellent in Innovation Award by NACE for his research on career services paradigms, and Distinguished Service Award by the American Coll e ge Personnel Association ( A CPA ) for his many years of service to the association and profession. Farouk conducted a PhD dissertation study that explored identity development of Muslim American college students. Prior to that, he conducted other pilot studies that related to the experiences of Muslim American college students and career services, and published a study that explored the emerging trends in college career services.