I grew up in India, where cultural and religious exchanges with my Muslim neighbors were part of my day-to-day life. We shared food, participated in one another’s religious festivities and even visited the same Sufi shrines.

But there are over 200 million Muslims in India, comprising about 10% of the country’s population. Here in the U.S., with some 3.4 million Muslims, the opportunities for such interactions are far fewer. At the same time, Islam in the U.S. is unique – it brings together the richness of practices from many cultures and ethnicities that can hardly be found elsewhere.

These observations led The Conversation to create a special Islam newsletter series that we are launching today. Starting with an introduction to Islam, I’ve written six emails that draw on the work of contributors to our religion desk to explain the basic tenets of the faith, its seminal contributions to Western cultures and differing interpretations of Islamic law.

You can sign up here to join us on this journey of discovery and exploration with a new newsletter arriving in your inbox every two days – and a quiz at the end to test what you learned.

And on Thursday, Sept. 2, The Conversation, the Associated Press and Religion News Service will host a webinar on the Muslim experience in America, exploring how it evolved from the aftermath of 9/11 to today. Register here to take part in a discussion among academics, journalists and religious leaders.

Also today:

Kalpana Jain

Senior Religion + Ethics Editor

Historians believe Muslims first arrived in the U.S. in the 17th century. Julie Jacobson/AP Photo

Understanding Islam - a brief introduction to its past and present in the United States

Kalpana Jain, The Conversation

Fewer than half of Americans report knowing someone who is Muslim. Here we explain Islam, its diversity and its long history in the United States.


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