The United States’ long struggle to integrate the religion of Islam into public life, and the subsequent backlash it has faced, has left the country with a troubling new understanding of the Muslim faith.
A Pew survey published in January found that 57% of Americans now believe Islam is “a religion of peace and tolerance”, up from 37% in 2015.
It also showed that 63% of Muslims believe the US is a “greater nation” than Islam, while a majority of white evangelicals said this.
The Pew survey also found that 61% of US Muslims think that women are not allowed to drive, while 63% said women are “required” to be in the workplace, and 58% said that children of immigrants should not be forced to attend school.
But while many Muslim Americans remain wary of the new faith, there are still a number of prominent figures who have taken on the mantle of Islam.
In recent years, several prominent American Muslim leaders have come forward to speak out against religious extremism, including Imam Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a former imam of a mosque in California, and Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Qutb.
But the recent spate of terror attacks that have targeted Muslim-Americans has also pushed the issue back into the spotlight.
In June, Imam Abdulrahman al-Shahbandar, a prominent Saudi cleric, spoke out against the “evil” of the US government, saying that the government was “pandering to the hatreds of the far right” and that it “must be condemned”.
The attacks were the latest blow to the US’s image in the Muslim world, with a majority in the region saying the US has not taken the necessary steps to confront the threat posed by Islamic extremism.
“It is a great mistake to have such a hostile attitude towards Muslims,” Shahbandar said in a speech in March, adding that the US had “done nothing to solve” the problem of Islamic extremism and had instead turned a blind eye to it.
“If the US continues to harbour such feelings and is unable to act on them, it is a grave mistake to say that we have failed.
It is also a grave error to say the Muslim community is failing because it does not have enough religious leaders.”
In October, Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb, a Muslim-American cleric in the US, was killed by a gunman who allegedly targeted him over his advocacy of “free speech”.
“I believe that it is incumbent upon Muslims to take on the responsibility of challenging the views and actions of extremists who have become increasingly vocal in the United States,” Tayeb told the Washington Post in October.
The violence and hatred that has occurred in recent months in the West has been exacerbated by the failure of the Obama administration to respond to the rise in Islamophobia.
The White House has faced criticism for not taking a firm stance against extremism and the Muslim ban, and even for not speaking out against those who have expressed support for the killings of the two worshippers.
The new survey found that 62% of white evangelical Protestants think the US should ban Muslims from entering the country, a number that has more than doubled in the past five years.
In the wake of the San Bernardino shootings, which killed 14 people and injured 21 others, White House press secretary Josh Earnest blamed the rise of Islamic terrorism on a “lack of vigilance”.
But, he added, “The vast majority of Americans think that it’s important to make sure that our national security is strengthened, not only by the kinds of actions we take but also by the kind of thoughts and ideas that are expressed”.
The Pew poll found that 64% of American Muslims think the United State is “more like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) than the United Kingdom or Canada”.
And while a plurality of white Americans (43%) agree that Muslims “should be allowed to live and work in the country they are born in” and 49% say the US “should have more people who are Muslim”, a majority (55%) of black Americans think the country is “like the Islamic state of Iraq”.
White evangelicals are among the most supportive of the Islamic faith, with 88% saying that Islam “is more influential in the U.S.”, up from 71% in 2016.
But, when asked about the rise, only a quarter of white Christians (24%) say the country “should remain Islamic”, while nearly half (45%) say it “should not”.
Meanwhile, a quarter (24%) of white Protestants said the US would be “better off without Islam”, a number which has been steadily rising over the past decade.
The religious diversity in the American electorate has also helped to drive up the number of Muslim-owned businesses.
In the latest census from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were a record 38,038 Muslim-affiliated businesses in the USA, up from 31,928 in 2015 and 26,637 in 2016, the latest available figures.This has