TIO: As a second-generation American Muslim, raised in Chicago, with a doctorate from Oxford, you are an examplar of meeting the challenge of growing up in one culture and navigating the culture we share today. Your books unpack the complexities of ‘growing up Muslim in America’ beautifully, vividly. And today you relate to thousands of young people in American universities and colleges, coming into constant contact with second-generation religious minorities. Could you share the biggest challenges they face collectively?
My work life so far has focused on the youth and young adult communities in Muslim and Unitarian Universalist (UU) settings, and this essay is about the challenges they face. Many American faith communities face the problem of large elderly populations and small to non-existent populations of young people from 18 to 30. The Pew Forum reports that a third of the U.S. population under 30 now identifies as religiously unaffiliated. Clearly, faith communities are having trouble maintaining relationships with their estranged youth communities.