Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version

September 2007


Published in Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures, Volume V: Practices, Interpretations and Representations. General Editor: Suad Joseph. Brill: Leiden & Boston, 2007. Pp. 237–240. Copyright © 2007 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands. Used by permission.


Yemeni migration to the United States is part of a larger historical trend of Arab immigration to North America. Many recent immigrants moved to the Detroit area because they could find work in the shipping and auto industries, and since the 1970s, southeastern Michigan has had the highest concentration of Arabic-speaking people outside the Middle East, an estimated 250,000 residents (Ameri and Ramey 2000, Zogby 1995). Unlike earlier Arab immigrants, recent arrivals from northern Yemen have persisted in preserving both their Muslim ways of life and their Arab identities. These immigrants have kept strong ties with their motherland, buying land in Yemen with the intention of going back, visiting for long periods, and sending their children there to marry. Consequently, in the United States, the children of these immigrants straddle two worlds, the literate world of school and the home world of religious and cultural values where the text of the Qurān sanctions behavior and social norms.

This entry focuses on Yemeni American high school girls or hijābāt (what the girls call themselves, girls who wear the headscarf) in the Detroit working-class suburb of Dearborn. While their experiences are unique, they are also instructive in understanding the roles of religious oral and print texts among other Muslim women immigrants – and their daughters – in contemporary North America.