Life course is determined by life goals, which are the characteristics of an ideal image of the future life. And the system values, on the basis of which these objectives are arranged, can be attributed to the qualitative characteristics of life strategy, as they reflect its content – something that people live for and strive for.
The concept of life strategies is closely connected in human minds with aims, planning, achievement, success, and a number of personal characteristics, such as activity, commitment, prudence, perseverance, etc. Personal life strategy lies in achieving any meaningful purpose; and the effectiveness of its implementation depends on the above-mentioned personal qualities, formed under the influence of the whole row of factors, such as ethnic and social origin, religion, gender, education level.
However, factors providing one person with life success can turn into discrimination for another person. Such factor as race, color of skin, gender, language, religion, social class, occupation, and sexual orientation can also be the cause of discrimination.
Being a Muslim living in the USA is surely a specific social status, and it involves several basic indicators. The first significant factor is the peculiarity of Islamic religion, which influences all the spheres of my life.
Religion plays a remarkable role in meeting both my physical and spiritual needs. Islam gives any Muslim the meaning of existence and teaches the code of behavior. Islamic principles based on the provisions of Koran and the Hadith, are the best background to form personal value criteria and ethic principles. Islam also helps to endure stressful events of our lives and develop our ability to adapt to them. It gives us a sense of self-esteem and teaches the virtues of family life and social cohesion in a spirit of brotherhood.
Another important aspect, also connected with the factor of religion, is the factor of family up-bringing in traditions of Islam. For Muslims, family is an important sociocultural institution, which largely determines the development of personality. I was brought up in the atmosphere of love, care, systematic education and hard constraints. Growing up, Muslim children become healthy developed individuals who possess qualities such as responsibility and self-confidence. Growing up in favorable circumstances, a person develops the inherent innate creative abilities and, like every living being, strives to realize its potential.
Strictly following the principles of Islam, a Muslim should find the harmony of existence in this world. Spiritual wealth of Islam can not be exhausted: it teaches freedom and tolerance, offers the ability to resist harmful temptations of the modern world. Religion gives me a firm support, because I do not consider myself omnipotent and do not fall into depression if something goes wrong, as intended. Islam, covering all spheres of human existence in the world, teaches wisdom. This is a religion that gives people freedom and recognizes its value, in this way influencing my life course and decision making process.
Islam acknowledges religious freedom as an inalienable human right. Therefore, the basis is the elimination of all sorts of interference between God and the mind of man, his consciousness and will. One contemporary Muslim theologian expressed the belief that if Islam as a religion, corresponding to human nature and common sense, is perceived correctly, then no one will oppose it and treat it hostile.
But here arises another factor, a factor of being an immigrant, in particular a Muslim immigrant in the United States. Contemporary Muslim population of the USA is an extraordinary mosaic of ethnic, linguistic, ideological, social, economic and religious groups. Muslims born in the US are well integrated into American society, and many newcomers are only beginning to adapt to American life and pluralistic society in general.
For me, this aspect includes the process of adaptation and the process of overcoming possible discrimination. For example, I am among more than 40 000 people, who waited for a decision on their applications for naturalization during more than three years, though by law, this process should take no longer than 180 days. According to a recent study by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at the Faculty of Law at New York University, the majority of this 40 thousand people are Muslims.
However, the Pew poll 2007 showed that American Muslims generally mirror the US population by level of education and income; and Muslim immigrants are a little richer and better educated than the Muslims who were born in the country. 24% of all Muslims and 29% of Muslim immigrants have a college degree, compared with 25% among the US population. 41% of all American Muslims and 45% of Muslim immigrants report the level of annual household income of 50 000 dollars and more. This could be compared to the national average indicator – 44 %.
Besides, Muslim immigrants are well represented among those with higher incomes, which is most likely due to the strong concentration of Muslims in professional, managerial and technical fields, especially in information technology, education, medicine, law and corporate world. At the same time, many Muslims of the USA, including me, felt the effect of declining incomes since the events of 2001, although more recent data indicates a possible turn of this trend.
The life way of Muslims in America is unique in the sense that it belongs to two distinctively American realities of life – Muslim and immigrant. Muslim immigrants find ways to realize themselves in politics and society, although their racial, cultural, socio-economic and historical circumstances and peculiarities vary greatly from the majority of the American population.