Becoming American: A Balancing Act
". . . immigrants from the Arab world have prospered in the United States. They have 'made it' by working hard, carefully shedding their particular cultural distinctions, compromising and blending in. They have not, as yet, been welcomed as a group into the American mainstream." This is a point that Aseem Shukla also made in reference to Nicki Haley and Bobby Jindal, who left their parent Dharmic traditions for mainstream Christian denominations.
Haddad joins many other voices raised today in reiterating America's ideals of religious pluralism—those of Hindu-Americans, Muslim-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Christian-Americans—all seeking authentic interfaith dialogue and an acceptance of the religious diversity that is intrinsic to our country and our world. Her voice also reminded me of another distinguished scholar, John Kelsay of the University of Florida. Kelsay, in Arguing the Just War in Islam, provided a systematic account, not of forging an Arab or Muslim American identity, but of the historical precedents and Quranic sources upon which the modern day calls to jihad are made. His work explained the complexities of interpretation within Islam, which must be explored and synthesized for the development of a moderate Islam for the current geo-political context.
I am thankful that that the concept of pluralism is something that is so fundamental to being both Hindu and American, that the synthesis and exploration was already prescribed for me with the concept of Truth. My life's journey is to find It—and find balance between my hyphenated national, religious, and ethnic identities as an Indo-Hindu-American.
For more conversation on Yvonne Haddad's new book Becoming American?, visit the Patheos Book Club here.
Padma Kuppa is a writer, IT professional, community activist, wife, and mother working to build a more pluralistic society within a Hindu and interfaith framework. You can also read her blog A Balancing Act, at padmakuppa.blogspot.com. The views represented in this column are not a reflection of the views of any organization of which she is a part.