Muslim Students’ Perceptions of Prejudice and Discrimination in American Academia

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Dissertation

Transcript of Muslim Students’ Perceptions of Prejudice and Discrimination in American Academia

Muslim Students Perceptions of Prejudice and Discrimination in American Academia: Challenges, Issues, and Obstacles and the Implications for Educators, Administrators, and University Officials

By Mohamed S. Omeish B.S., 1989 George Washington University M.A., 1991 George Washington University

A dissertation submitted to the faculty of The Graduate School of Education and Human Development of The George Washington University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education

January 30, 1999

Dissertation Directed by Dr. Reynolds Ferrante Dissertation Committee Chairman

COPYRIGHT BY MOHAMED SALEM OMEISH 1998 ALL RIGHTS RESEREVED

DEDCATION

I would like to dedicate this dissertation to the souls of men and women who have died for their peoples just causes; to all freedom fighters who are seeking better tomorrow for their people; to every caller for justice and equality; and to every believing man and woman

ABSTRACT

Muslim Students Perceptions of Prejudice and Discrimination in American Academia: Challenges, Issues, and Obstacles and the Implications for Educators, Administrators, and University Officials

The purpose of this research was to (a) study the Muslim students, as a minority group--a group that no longer is foreign to this society or academia, in spite of the prevalent prejudice and discrimination found in the media and elsewhere; (b) investigate their perceptions of prejudice and discrimination while attending colleges and universities; (c) explore their satisfaction with their academic experience; (d) determine the main concerns and issues of Muslim students in academia and the importance of such issues to them; and (e) provide educators and administrators with insights and guidelines when dealing with this unique group of students. The researcher selected three predominately white universities in the Washington metropolitan area as the sites from which the sample population (N=237) of the local participants was drawn. Another sample (N=232) was selected from among the participants of the MSA in national activities. The instrumentation of this study consists of four parts. The first part consists of basic demographics. The questionnaire's Part II was adopted from previous studies iv

measuring perceptions of prejudice and discrimination. Parts III and IV, highlighting issues of concern and importance to Muslim students, were developed by the researcher. Descriptive statistics (including numbers, percentages, means, standard deviations) as well as inferential statistics (including one- and two-way ANOVA, independent t-test, and Pearson Product Moment correlation coefficient test) were employed to report demographic data and to answer research questions and hypotheses. The findings indicate: (a) majority of Muslim students who participated in this study perceive that prejudice and discrimination is a common phenomena in their institutions of higher education; (b) majority of Muslim students who participated in the study were satisfied with their academic and intellectual development at the schools they attend; and (c) majority of Muslim students attach greater importance to matters of religious obligations and commitments than to other matters; thus, it is suggested that administrators, faculty, and university officials at institutions of higher education be considerate and attentive to the needs and concerns of the growing numbers of Muslim students in academia.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

B.S., 1989, George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA M.A., 1991 George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA International Relief Organization, 1992-1998, Falls Church, Virginia, USA CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE: Reynolds Ferrante, Professor of Education Salvatore Rocco Paratore, Professor of Education Walter Brown, Assistant Professor of Education RESEARCH TOOL FIELD COMPLETED: Fall 1992 TIME IN PREPARATION: 1997-1998 COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION PASSED: Spring 1993

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to say that, I owe it first and for most to Allah (God) Almighty for instilling in me the courage and patience to complete this dissertation. I then owe it to my family, starting with my parents for their continuing encouragement and persistence that I continue and complete what I have started. I am also grateful and indebted to my loving wife, Haifa. Her patience over the past seven years had made the difference in my persevering to continue the journey. I am also thankful to my brothers and sisters, especially Samar, for their assistance and support. I am also grateful to my advisor, Dr. Reynolds Ferrante, for his belief in me and his continuous support and encouragement. I have enjoyed his advisorship and mentor in my academic pursuit. I would like also to thank Dr. Parator for his time and willingness to advise me and answer my questions. I am also thankful to Dr. Greenberg who accompanied this dissertation up until his retirement from GWU in spring of 1998. I would like also to thank Drs. Brown, Nyang and Nimer for their time and efforts in the final oral defense. I would like also to thank the academic staff of the GSEHD at GWU. I owe it also to the many friends who have help me with their advice, support and efforts in completing the study, among them are: the team of the International Relief Organization, Dr. Ahmed Yousef, Dr. Anisa Abdelfatah, Sara Al-Dahir, Dr. Fatima AlMaadadi, Muhammad Qadir, and Fakhry & Sabeha Barazangi. vii

I also owe it to the many volunteers and officers of the Muslim Students Association of USA & Canada chapters and national officials who have helped with the distribution and collection of the survey, especially at GWU, GMU, and GU. Finally, I am grateful to those whom I have forgotten to mention their names or missed to acknowledge their contributions toward the completion of this dissertation.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABSTRACT .......................................................................................................iv BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH...............................................................................vi ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ...............................................................................vii Table of Contents................................................................................................ix List of Tables.....................................................................................................xii CHAPTER 1........................................................................................................1 Introduction .....................................................................................................1 Background......................................................................................................4 Islam, the Faith of Muslims..........................................................................4 The Pillars of Islam ......................................................................................5 The Pillars of Faith in Islam .........................................................................8 Muslims .......................................................................................................9 Prejudice and Racism .................................................................................13 Prejudice and Hostilities against American Muslims ..................................14 Statement of the Problem ...............................................................................15 Purpose of Study............................................................................................18 Need for the Study .........................................................................................19 Research Questions........................................................................................21 Research Hypotheses .....................................................................................21 Assumptions ..................................................................................................23 Limitations.....................................................................................................23 Definitions of Terms ......................................................................................24

CHAPTER 2......................................................................................................29 Literature Review...........................................................................................29 Muslims and Islam .....................................................................................30 Where Are the Muslims?............................................................................32 The American Muslims: The Immigrants ...................................................32 The American Muslims: The Indigenous Muslims......................................33 Demographics of American Muslims .........................................................35 ix

Prejudice and Discrimination .....................................................................37 Basic Concepts and Definitions of Prejudice ..........................................37 Historical Research on Prejudice and Discrimination..............................39 Forms and Sources of Prejudice..............................................................42 Religious Prejudice ................................................................................43 Racial Prejudice .....................................................................................47 Why Deal With Prejudice? .....................................................................50 Why Muslims Face Prejudice? ...............................................................55 The Media...........................................