What is Islam ?
Islam is not a new religion, but the same truth that God revealed through all His prophets to every people. For a fifth of the world's population, Islam is both a religion and a complete way of life. Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy, and forgiveness, and the majority have nothing to do with the extremely grave events which have come to be associated with their faith.
As-Salāmu `Alaykum wa rahmatu l-lāhi wa barakātuh!
I hope you're fine
MUSLIMS ARRIVED IN AMERICA BEFORE THE FOUNDING OF THE UNITED STATES
America’s early Muslims
by Peter Manseu
IT was not the imam’s first time at the rodeo.
Scheduled to deliver an
invocation at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo last week, Moujahed
Bakhach of the local Islamic Association of Tarrant County canceled his appearance because of the backlash brought on by a prayer he had offered a few days before.
The imam had been asked to
confer a blessing on horses, riders and members of the military. He was
met with gasps from the audience and social media complaints: “Outraged
at a Muslim prayer at an all American event!” “Cowboys don’t want it!”
Vocal anti-Islamic sentiment is
undergoing a revival. Four days before the imam’s canceled benediction,
protesters at the State Capitol in Austin shouted down Muslim speakers,
claiming Texas in the name of Jesus alone. In North Carolina two weeks
earlier, Duke University’s plan to broadcast a Muslim call to prayer was
abandoned amid threats of violence.
Meanwhile Gov. Bobby Jindal,
Republican of Louisiana claimed that if American Muslims “want to set up
their own culture and values, that’s not immigration, that’s really
Islam in America is not an immigrant religion
No matter how anxious people
may be about Islam, the notion of a Muslim invasion of this majority
Christian country has no basis in fact. Moreover, there is an
inconvenient footnote to the assertion that Islam is anti-American:
Muslims arrived here before the founding of the United States — not just
a few, but thousands.
They have been largely
overlooked because they were not free to practice their faith. They were
not free themselves and so they were for the most part unable to leave
records of their beliefs.
They left just enough to
confirm that Islam in America is not an immigrant religion lately making
itself known, but a tradition with deep roots here, despite being among
the most suppressed in the nation’s history.
In 1528, a Moroccan slave
called Estevanico was shipwrecked along with a band of Spanish explorers
near the future city of Galveston, Tex. The city of Azemmour, in which
he was raised, had been a Muslim stronghold against European invasion
until it fell during his youth. While given a Christian name after his
enslavement, he eventually escaped his Christian captors and set off on
his own through much of the Southwest.
hundred years later, plantation owners in Louisiana made it a point to
add enslaved Muslims to their labor force, relying on their experience
with the cultivation of indigo and rice. Scholars have noted Muslim
names and Islamic religious titles in the colony’s slave inventories and
The best known Muslim to pass through the port at New Orleans was Abdul-Rahman
Ibrahim ibn Sori, a prince in his homeland whose plight drew wide
attention. As one newspaper account noted, he had read the Bible and
admired its precepts, but added, “His principal objections are that
Christians do not follow them.”
A few cowboys may grow up to be Muslims
the enslaved Muslims in North Carolina was a religious teacher named
Omar ibn Said. Recaptured in 1810 after running away from a cruel master
he called a kafir (an infidel), he became known for inscribing the
walls of his jail cell with Arabic script. He wrote an account of his
life in 1831, describing how in freedom he had loved to read Al-Qur’an,
but in slavery his owners had converted him to Christianity.
The story of Islam in early
America is not merely one of isolated individuals. An estimated 20
percent of enslaved Africans were Muslims, and many sought to recreate
the communities they had known. In Georgia, which has joined more than a
dozen states in the political theater of debating a restriction on
judges’ consulting Shariah,
Muslims on a secluded plantation are known to have lived under the
guidance of a religious leader who wrote a manuscript on Islamic law so
that traditional knowledge might survive.
to what happened to these forgotten American Muslims can be found in the
words of a missionary traveling through the South to preach the gospel
on slave plantations. Many “Mohammedan Africans,” he noted, had found
ways to “accommodate” Islam to the new beliefs imposed upon them.
“God, say they, is Allah, and Jesus Christ is Mohammed. The religion is the same, but different countries have different names.”
missionary considered this to be lamentable evidence of Muslims’
inability to recognize the importance of religious truths. But in fact
it proves just the opposite. They understood that their faith was
important enough that they should listen for it everywhere, even in a
country so distant from the places where they had once heard the call to
Islam is part of our common
history — a resilient faith not just of the enslaved, but of Arab
immigrants in the late 19th century, and in the 20th century of many
African-Americans reclaiming and remaking it as their own. For
generations, its adherents have straddled a nation that jolts from
promises of religious freedom to events that give the lie to those
In a sense, Islam is as
American as the rodeo. It, too, was imported, but is now undeniably part
of the culture. Whether or not protesters in Texas and elsewhere are
ready for it, it is inevitable that some Muslims will let their babies
grow up to be cowboys. A few cowboys may grow up to be Muslims as well. (HSH)