Contact: Meredith Dickenson or Ellen Sterner
SMU News & Media Relations
(214) 768-7654


September 6, 2002


DALLAS (SMU) -- Muslim-Americans from across the area will gather at SMU Saturday, Oct. 5, to discuss what it means to be a Muslim and an American.

"Islam in North Texas" will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater, 3140 Dyer St. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. For reservations call 214-768-3684 or e-mail Preregistration also is required to attend the noon luncheon, which is $20 per meal and optional for conference attendees.

Presenters representing all walks of life -- including physicians, lawyers, office workers, "soccer moms," teachers and students -- will discuss the scope of their experience as Muslim Americans. Topics range from the way religious practices structure daily life to the multiple views of Muslim-American women, second- and third-generation Muslim-American youth and converts to Islam. In addition, one panel will focus on the past, present and future of African-American Muslims, and another will look on the meaning of charity in Islam and the work of Muslim charitable organizations in North Texas.

The event is part of a series of lectures and discussions this fall called "Worlds of Islam," presented by the SMU William P. Clements Jr. Department of History and the Clements Center for Southwest Studies in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. The series is designed to show the Muslim experience in historical, personal and political terms. Beginning with a Sept. 12 lecture on Muslims and Christians in Medieval Spain, the series moves to the Oct. 5 symposium on "Islam in North Texas" and concludes with a Nov. 12 lecture on the contemporary issues embroiling the Middle East. For a more complete listing of "Worlds of Islam" events, go to

The following is the schedule for the Oct. 5 "Islam in North Texas" symposium:

8 -- 8:45 a.m. Registration and opening remarks

8:45 -- 10 a.m. "An Overview of Islam in North Texas"

This panel will present an overview of the history of Muslims in the area, with an estimate of current demographics and a picture of the expanding presence of mosques in the area. Panelists will describe their experiences since Sept. 11, and how various Muslim leaders have developed public outreach programs to explain Islamic life to other Americans.

10:30 -- noon Concurrent sessions: "Being Muslim, Being American"

  • "Islam in Daily Life" -- Muslim men and women will discuss the challenges of practicing Islam in a non-Muslim majority society and the wide spectrum of identities as both Americans and as Muslims.
  • "Second- and Third-Generation Perspectives" -- Young Muslim-Americans will share experiences of practicing their faith while participating in professional, educational and social activities. They will describe the choices they face amidst the pressures of generational, religious and cultural differences.
  • "The Work of North Texas Muslim Charitable Organizations" -- Muslim charitable organizations have been in the media since the events of Sept. 11. Panelists will discuss the role of charity in Islam and explore what is at stake for North Texas Muslims and the recipients of their charitable gifts.

2 -- 3:30 p.m. Concurrent sessions: "Being Muslim, Being American" (continued)

  • "African-American Perspectives" -- This panel will discuss the history of African-American Muslims in North Texas, beginning with the first families in the 1950s and the formation of the first African-American mosque (masjid) in the 1960s. The panel also will discuss the work of Iman W. Deen Muhammed, a central figure in the Muslim American Society, and his efforts on behalf of multiracial Islam and African-American Muslims in North Texas.
  • "Convert Perspectives" -- Panelists will discuss the reasons for converting and the process and will describe the experience of explaining their new religion and identity to family, friends and co-workers. In addition, the panelists will comment on what Islam has in common with other religions.
  • "Women's Perspectives" -- While the media often has portrayed a negative stereotype of Muslim women in other countries, members of this panel will discuss what it is like to be a Muslim woman in the United States, from childhood to adulthood, as single women, spouses, mothers and professionals.

3:35 -- 5 p.m. "Views on the Future of Muslim Americans in North Texas"

This concluding panel will offer a summary of the day's events from a variety of perspectives.

"Islam in North Texas" is made possible in part by the Scott Hawkins Fund in Dedman College.