Muslims long history in America

Posted Jan 22, 2012 @ 12:08 AM

The reality of 9/11 has left a deep scar on the minds of most Americans. It’s similar in some ways to the anger so many Americans felt toward the Japanese after Pearl Harbor. Yet, the facts tell an interesting story. Muslims have been in this country for a very long time.
It will come as a surprise to many that from 1619 to the 1800s, about 30 percent of the 10 million Africans brought to North America as slaves were Muslims. In fact, Muslims played an active part in some of the most significant periods of our nation’s history. What follows is a chronicle of some of those events.
In 1775, Peter Salem, a Muslim African American slave from Framingham, distinguished himself so much for his courage during the Revolution that a United States stamp was issued depicting his bravery at the battle of Bunker Hill.
In 1856, the U.S. Cavalry hired Hajii Ali, a Muslim to experiment on the feasibility of raising camels in the Arizona desert.
Mohammed Ali Said enlisted in the 55th Massachusetts Colored Regiment in the United States Army and rose to the rank of sergeant during the Civil War.
Mohammed Alexander Russell Webb, former U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, one of the earliest white American converts to Islam, founded the Islamic Propaganda Movement in 1893.
In 1898, the first Arabic newspaper in the United States, Kawkab Amrika (Star of America) began publication in the United States.
In 1908, large numbers of Muslim immigrants poured into the United States from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey without incident.
The Red Crescent, a Muslim charity modeled after the Red Cross is established in Detroit in 1920. Muslims have served in the U.S. military during World Wars I and II, the Korean conflict, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
The first mosque in the United States was established in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1934.
In 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower and first lady Mamie Eisenhower attended the dedication of the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C.
Charles Bilal was elected mayor of Kountzr, Texas, in 1991 to become the first Muslim to head an American city.
In 2001, the U.S. Postal Service issued the first stamp honoring a Muslim holiday. That same year, the 9/11 terror attack produced a wave of bitter anti-Muslim sentiment. Muslims working inside the World Trade Center were among the dead.
In 2006, Keith Ellison of Minnesota becomes the first Muslim elected to Congress.
Today, there are approximately six million Muslims living in the United States. Now, one characteristic of immigrants is a tendency to keep one foot in their new country and one foot in their old tradition. It’s part of integration. That same process becomes more complicated because of how a few people interpret the Koran and feel the need to impose the legal and social codes of Shariah law. However, even there, Muslims have a. lot in common with earlier immigrants who carried their own versions of what America ought to be.
The reality of 9/11 has left a deep scar on the minds of most Americans. It’s similar in some ways to the anger so many Americans felt toward the Japanese after Pearl Harbor. Yet, the facts tell an interesting story. Muslims have been in this country for a very long time.
It will come as a surprise to many that from 1619 to the 1800s, about 30 percent of the 10 million Africans brought to North America as slaves were Muslims. In fact, Muslims played an active part in some of the most significant periods of our nation’s history. What follows is a chronicle of some of those events.
In 1775, Peter Salem, a Muslim African American slave from Framingham, distinguished himself so much for his courage during the Revolution that a United States stamp was issued depicting his bravery at the battle of Bunker Hill.
In 1856, the U.S. Cavalry hired Hajii Ali, a Muslim to experiment on the feasibility of raising camels in the Arizona desert.
Mohammed Ali Said enlisted in the 55th Massachusetts Colored Regiment in the United States Army and rose to the rank of sergeant during the Civil War.
Mohammed Alexander Russell Webb, former U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, one of the earliest white American converts to Islam, founded the Islamic Propaganda Movement in 1893.
In 1898, the first Arabic newspaper in the United States, Kawkab Amrika (Star of America) began publication in the United States.
In 1908, large numbers of Muslim immigrants poured into the United States from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey without incident.
The Red Crescent, a Muslim charity modeled after the Red Cross is established in Detroit in 1920. Muslims have served in the U.S. military during World Wars I and II, the Korean conflict, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
The first mosque in the United States was established in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1934.
In 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower and first lady Mamie Eisenhower attended the dedication of the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C.
Charles Bilal was elected mayor of Kountzr, Texas, in 1991 to become the first Muslim to head an American city.
In 2001, the U.S. Postal Service issued the first stamp honoring a Muslim holiday. That same year, the 9/11 terror attack produced a wave of bitter anti-Muslim sentiment. Muslims working inside the World Trade Center were among the dead.
In 2006, Keith Ellison of Minnesota becomes the first Muslim elected to Congress.
Today, there are approximately six million Muslims living in the United States. Now, one characteristic of immigrants is a tendency to keep one foot in their new country and one foot in their old tradition. It’s part of integration. That same process becomes more complicated because of how a few people interpret the Koran and feel the need to impose the legal and social codes of Shariah law. However, even there, Muslims have a. lot in common with earlier immigrants who carried their own versions of what America ought to be.
For the overwhelming majority, America means freedom and opportunity. That’s what makes this country all that it is. Where else could immigrants become doctors, lawyers, and be elected to public office so soon after their arrival?
Naturally, the legal waters will be tested to see how far their rights can get them. They will be surprised to learn that the majority of Americans will eagerly support them. Only when those rights collide with the rights of others will they find resistance.
Historically, Muslims have brought mankind magnificent advances in philosophy, mathematics, medicine, and science wherever they found freedom. Like the rest of us, Muslims have discovered the true value of freedom while retaining the highest values of faith. There is every reason to believe then that those creative qualities will emerge here.
So, it’s only a matter of time before we celebrate the innovations that our new Muslim neighbors will bring to benefit us all.
Frank Mazzaglia can be reached at Frankwrote@aol.com
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