Aliya Hassen: Transnational Networks, Ecumenism and American Islam


  • Thomas Simsarian Dolan George Washington University Author



MENA, Aliya Hassen, Transnational, Muslim


This article explores activist Aliya Hassen’s life to identify local, regional, national, and international networks cultivated by early MENA Muslims in the United States. The United States was a hub of mid-twentieth-century transnational Arab and Muslim organizing, where many activists promoted an ecumenical understanding of Islam that tackled pressing American concerns like feminism, anti-imperialism, as well as social and racial justice. Because this organizing engaged both Arab and non-Arab American groups, including the Federation of Islamic Associations, Islamic Center of DC, the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, the Nation of Islam, Muslim Mosque, Inc., Ahmadiyya missionaries, and the Muslim World League, it challenges the salience of American racial formations and even national frames as meaningful analytical categories. Spanning the historic marginalization of MENA peoples and post-World War II consolidation of Islamophobia in the United States, Hassen's biography demonstrates the ways historical forces surface different ways of "reading" and understanding her life.

Image: Aliya Checking a Tire, folder "Group and Miscellaneous Photographs," Box 2, Aliya Hassen Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan

Author Biography

  • Thomas Simsarian Dolan, George Washington University

    Thomas Dolan is a PhD Candidate in American Studies at George Washington University whose research examines Middle Eastern diaspora in order to trouble categories of race and citizenship. He is also a graduate of Yale and New York University.



2020-03-20 — Updated on 2020-03-20