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Keeping It HalalThe Everyday Lives of Muslim American Teenage Boys$
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John O'Brien

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691197111

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691197111.001.0001

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On Being a Muslim in Public

On Being a Muslim in Public

(p.112) 5 On Being a Muslim in Public
Keeping It Halal

John O'Brien

Princeton University Press

This chapter demonstrates how two competing methods for the presentation of Muslim identity at a time of potential stigma coexisted and sometimes conflicted at the City Mosque. Such internal cultural friction resulted from the fact that these methods for managing stigma were rooted in two distinct models of public Muslim selfhood, one developed by the Legendz through the in-group processes of their small friendship group, and one constructed by the mosque leadership as their ideal model for Muslim American youth. While the mosque leadership method of presenting young Muslim selves centered on leading with and explaining Islam, demonstrating vulnerability to harassment, and developing concern for non-Muslims' perceptions, the method cultivated by the Legendz prioritized the development of a low-key Islamic self, an emphasis on locally valued American teenage behaviors, and the expression of individual autonomy and self-sufficiency. These differing logics of public identity management represented a significant rift between the Legendz and the leadership and sometimes even undermined the boys' faith and trust in the mosque adults. This development was a surprising and emotionally intense experience for the Legendz.

Keywords:   Muslim identity, stigma, Muslim selfhood, mosque leadership, Muslim American youth, Islam, American teenage behaviors, individual autonomy, public identity, mosque adults

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