Muslim Americans becoming more involved in U.S. politics

An effort to encourage more Muslim Americans to participate in the U.S. political process is underway in the U.S.

Meet a few people working toward that goal:

Saba Ahmed is a Pakistani-American Muslim who founded the Republican Muslim Coalition “to bring the voice of conservative Muslims to American politics.”

Ahmed, who has several degrees — in law, business and electrical engineering — from top U.S. universities, says she is passionate about defending Islam in conservative Republican business, legal and media circles.

“I exercise my rights and freedoms as an American in both my mosque and in Republican politics — and hope to have other conservative Muslims join me, and for our voices [to be] heard through civic engagement,” she has said.

Sarwat Husain, an American Muslim from Texas, has been working with the Democratic Party with the aim of providing more political representation for Muslim Americans across the country.

“Being involved in politics is a form of worship in Islam,” Husain said. “The land you live in, you must serve that land at every level in every respect.”

She helped create the American Muslim Democratic Caucus, a political organization, which aims to increase the number of Muslim Americans who hold political office.

Two women talking to man (VOA/K. Farabaugh)
Sarwat Husain (left, in green jacket) at the American Muslim Democratic Caucus luncheon in the Pennsylvania Convention Center during the 2016 Democratic National Convention. (VOA/K. Farabaugh)

Will Muslim Americans vote?

One barrier to increased involvement of Muslim Americans in politics is the challenge of persuading them to vote.

The Pew Research Center estimates 3.3 million Muslims of all ages live in the United States. But many Muslim Americans who can vote do not.

Tahir Ali works at the American Muslim Alliance, a California-based organization that promotes Muslim civic participation. He said the lack of voting is “not the fault of the American government.” He said experience with voting in other countries may be the reason so few Muslims in the United States decide to vote.

“Where they come from, the process may not be clean. It may be corrupt,” he said. “We have to educate them that this process [in the United States] is a very clean process.”

While immigrants are busy settling into a new country, many of their children are beginning to vote. They include people like Noman Khanani.

“Now you are starting to see more second-generation Muslims get a little more involved,” Khanani said. “But a lot of them are still around my age, in their mid-20s, early 30, so it’s still too early to tell, so I think in the next five to 10 years, you are going to see more and more of them involved.”

(ShareAmerica contributed to this article.)

Graphic reading "Elections 2016" (State Dept./J. Maruszewski)