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Email: "Muslims In The USA"

December 15, 2009 1:16 pm ET

The following email has been widely forwarded.  Media Matters Action Network has written a response to the text below.  Please feel free to copy and paste it and send to your friends.

"Muslims In The USA"

[note - all mistakes below are original to the text]


Thanks for sending this my way.  Unfortunately, whoever wrote this is missing an important lesson in American history.  The fact of the matter is that Muslims, and more generally, the religion of Islam, have always been part of the American experience.

I think much of this e-mail is based on the false assumption that the majority of Muslims are from the Middle East, and are of Arab decent.  This is not true.  Only 20% or 1 in 5 Muslims are from the Middle East.  Indonesia has the largest Muslim population.

It is true that no Muslims were present at the first Thanksgiving; but it is also true that no Catholics or Jews were present.  Are Catholics and Jews not part of the American story?

It is true that no Muslims signed the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence; but is also true that no Native Americans signed these documents.  Would you contend that Native Americans are somehow not part of America's story because no Native American signed any of these documents?  Also, for your knowledge, the Bill of Rights is part of the Constitution, not a separate document.

Do you know the story of Estevanico? Estevanico was born Muslim, but was converted to Catholicism when he was captured as a slave.  He was the first African born person to set foot in the continental United States.  This happened in 1527.  The Pilgrims came here in 1620.  That means that a Muslim was in American even before the Pilgrims.  Don't believe me?  Search it yourself.   Check this out.

Did Muslims fight during the Civil War to free the slaves in America?  Probably.  Why, because Muslims were originally brought to the United States as slaves.  One famous Muslims slave was Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori, who was a prince from West Africa, brought to the United States in 1788 and freed by President John Quincy Adams more than 40 years later.  Check it out:

Here is what the San Francisco Chronicle writes in an article discussing Muslims' role in Jazz music:

It's really there because of all the Muslim slaves from West Africa who were taken by force to the United States for three centuries, from the 1600s to the mid-1800s. Upward of 30 percent of the African slaves in the United States were Muslim, and an untold number of them spoke and wrote Arabic, historians say now. Despite being pressured by slave owners to adopt Christianity and give up their old ways, many of these slaves continued to practice their religion and customs, or otherwise melded traditions from Africa into their new environment in the antebellum South. Forced to do menial, back-breaking work on plantations, for example, they still managed, throughout their days, to voice a belief in the God of the Quran. These slaves' practices eventually evolved -- decades and decades later, parallel with different singing traditions from Africa -- into the shouts and hollers that begat blues music, historians believe.

You will be surprised to learn about Alexander Russell Webb, an American writer and editor of several newspapers converted to Islam.  There is a book written about him, and it's published by Oxford University Press.  These days, anyone can print a book, but not everyone can get something published by Oxford University Press.

There are many more stories like this, and I encourage you to do some research on this issue.

Where were Muslims during the Civil Rights era? Here is El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, also known as Malcolm X, alongside Martin Luther King, Jr.  Indeed, he was and still is a a very controversial person, but there is not doubt that he was both a devout Muslim and a strong supporter of the Civil Rights movement.

Where were Muslims during World War II? A lot of Muslims were fighting against Nazis.

The majority of Allied troops that landed on the beaches of Provence in August, 1944 were "Free French" Muslims from North and West Africa. Thousands of Moroccan and Indian Muslim troops voluntarily served in the liberation of Italy. They risked and gave their lives along with Polish freedom fighters and American GIs at Monte Cassino. Tens of thousands more Soviet Muslim troops bravely served at hellish Stalingrad and Leningrad. All of us should honor and be thankful for their sacrifice in helping end the scourge of Nazism.

So as you can see, Muslims have always been part of the American narrative.  As much as some people may not like to accept reality that goes against their own blind hate, the facts speak for themselves.

If you want to learn about Islam, you really should read things from authors who don't have a clear vendetta against the Islam.  Anyhow, I hope this clears up some of the misinformation.



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