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What if Obama Wins? Loses? What’s at Stake for Muslims?

The U.S. presidential election cycle is a unique political event. Spanning more than 18 months, each nominated candidate from the two major parties can spend more than a billion dollars to vie for the presidency. The size and scale of the process dwarfs most other elections around the world by orders of magnitude. While there is no doubt the stakes are high for the candidates and their respective political parties, the question for most Americans is: What does it mean for them?

As Barack Obama and Mitt Romney make their case, this magazine sets forth three distinct points of views about what their election may or may not mean for America at large, and for Muslims in America in specific. Zaheer Ali argues that not only do elections matter, but also that Obama matters for Muslims in America. Mohamed Alo, a longtime supporter of the Republican Party, makes the case for why Romney is better positioned to address issues that matter to Muslims. Finally, Mohamed Fadel argues that while Obama’s personal views may align better with Muslim sensibilities on a range of issues, the nation’s underlying political infrastructure make his election inconsequential. Fadel’s analysis concludes that Muslims need to address certain underlying constraints within the political machinery before participation in elected office is meaningful.

This brings to light the place of Muslims in American politics. While most have heard of high-profile Muslims in politics, including Representatives Keith Ellison and Andre Carson, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin, few have heard of the accomplishments of so many others who work tirelessly as public servants. We share the inspiring stories of seven notable Muslims involved on the local level.

Turning to America’s relationship with Muslims globally, this issue features an exclusive interview with Thomas Friedman. We ask Friedman to walk us through a number of scenarios that synthesize foreign policy, energy policy and the role of America vis-à-vis the Muslim world in a rapidly changing global environment. We also ask Friedman to evaluate the challenges facing American democracy.

Zaid Hassan explores the aftermath of the first year of the Arab Spring, looking specifically at the issue of suicide and the significance of Mohamed Bouazizi’s act in the larger context of revolution, resistance and theology. His wide-ranging analysis represents a critical look at an issue that raises numerous conflicted feelings across the Muslim world.

Salma Hasan Ali profiles a leading photographer who captures the essence of life in his
community through beautiful photos. And Hala Durrah shares a personal and touching account about her daughter’s fight for life.