Sunday, March 27, 2011

Muslims Contributions to America

Historical evidence suggests that there were Muslims within the original, native, Ameri-Indian community and that the first group of immigrant Muslims reached the Americas in 1312 (180 years before Columbus). From Mali and other parts of West Africa, Muslim explorers arrived via the Gulf of Mexico for exploration of the American interior, using the Mississippi River as their access route. Abubakri was one of the first to set sail to America from Africa (according to "˜Muslims in America' by Amir Nashid Ali Muhammad).

In 1492 when Columbus arrived here, he was strongly influenced by the writings of 13th century Arab geographer Al-Idrissi, who served as an advisor to King Roger of Sicily. Columbus arrived with Al-Idrissi's book and Muslim captains, crews, and translators. He had two Muslim captains: Martin Alonso Pinzon and his brother Vicente Yanex Pinzon. The Pinzon family was related to Abuzayan Muhammad III, the Moroccan Sultan of Marinid dynasty (1196-1465) (ibid).

Columbus himself admitted in his papers that while his ship was sailing near Gibara on the northeast coast of Cuba, he saw a mosque on top of a beautiful mountain. Ruins of mosques and minarets with inscriptions of Qur'anic verses have been discovered in Cuba, Mexico, Texas, and Nevada. A historian, Dr. Berry Fell, in his books "˜America, BC' ("˜BC' representing "˜before Columbus') and "˜Saga America! ,' provided evidence of early presence of Muslims in America.

The Muslim country of Morocco was the first to recognize and acknowledge America's independence in 1777. Morocco was the first nation to sign a peace treaty in 1786 with America, followed by Algeria in 1795, Tripoli in 1796, Tunis in 1797, and Muscat (Oman) in 1833. All the earliest signatories were Muslim countries. During 1788 to 1789, President George Washington exchanged letters with the Sultan Mohammad III about peace and! asked the Sultan to plead with authorities in Tunis and Tripoli to obtain the right of free navigation for American ships in the Mediterranean. In this way, American ships entered the sea with the support of Muslims.

There are hundreds of examples of contributions of Muslim immigrants to building the nation in all spheres of American life; here are just a few:

The United States Cavalry hired a Muslim by the name of Hajj Ali to experiment with breeding and raising camels in the deserts of Arizona. Hajj Ali came from Syria in the mid 1850's, and in 1868 he went to work prospecting and scouting for the government. He was given the quaint, American nickname 'Hi Jolly' as he became a local folk hero in Quartzsite, AZ, where he died in 1902. His tombstone is a stone pyramid with a camel on top of it (according to "˜Muslims in America' by Amir Nashid Ali Muhammad).

An African immigrant Muslim, Muhammad Ali Ben Said (1833-18820), joined the 55th Regiment of Massachusetts Colored Volunteers. Serving in Company 1, Muhammad rose from corporal to sergeant by July 16, 1863 (ibid).

In 1875, the wave of Muslim immigrants started coming; the first small group came from Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Punjab (Pakistan and India). Some of the Syrian-Lebanese Arabs settled on lower Washington Street and in Brooklyn across the East River around Atlantic Avenue and South Brooklyn (ibid).

The agricultural lands of America were cultivated and raised by African slaves; the original religion of most of them was Islam. African American Muslims were among the major working force in building America.

Muhammad Ali, a boxer, is one of the most famous and world-recognized personalities of the twentieth century. Three times World Heavyweight Champion, Muhammad Ali increased the prestige of America. Other Muslim boxers --Saad Muhammad, Eddie Mustafa, Dwight Braxton (Muhammad Qawi Ali), for examples"” have magnified the name and fame of America.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar, a member of basketball Hall-of Fame, is one of the greatest basketball players of all times. Other famous Muslim basketball players are Jamal Wilkes, Walt Hazzard, Charlie Scott (Shaheed abdul Aleem), Spencer Haywood, Hakeem Olajuwoon, Mahmoud Abdul Rauf, Shareef Abdur Rahim, Larry Johnson, TariqAbdul Wahad, and Craig Hodges. Other examples of outstanding athletes among Muslims include Ahmad Rashad, former receiver for the Minnesota Vikings and now a national sportscaster; Abdus-Salam, a former tackle for the New York Jets; Raghib (Rocket) Ismail, a receiver for L.A. Raiders; Salaam, a running back for Chicago Bears; Karim Abdul Jabbar of the Miami Dolphins; Efram Salaam of the Atlanta Falcons; and Mustapha Muhammad of the Colts.

Abdul Hakeem Muhammad, a computer scientist with the IRS, won the "Department of the Army Commander's Award for Civilian Service" for his work in the field of computers open system standards and technical architectural environment. This is one of the highest, most rare, and unusual Congressional awards won by an IRS employee.

Dr. Fazlur Rahman, Khan, a Bangladeshi Muslim immigrant, and outstanding architect, designed Chicago's John Hancock Center in 1970, the One Shell Plaza in Houston in 1971, and the Sears Tower in Chicago in 1973.

El-Hajj Malik el-Shabbaz (Malcolm X) was a leader of international fame, and his legacy continues to influence Americans today. There have been dozens of famous Muslims in Jazz music, arts, and other entertainment fields, and American Muslim contributions are visible in every walk of life from the most sensitive and military areas to more common jobs.

Presently, there are more than 5,000 Muslims in uniform on active duty in the military. A Pakistani American in uniform, Azhar Mahmood, recently died in the War in Iraq and is now buried in Long Island, New York.

American Muslim women are also adding their names to the list of distinguished inventors, scientists, engineers, etc. Among them is Lubna Ahmad, a young biomedical engineering student who recently invented a noninvasive sensor for obesity and diabetes management.

In the First World War, Muslim states were allied with America, even against the Muslim State of Turkey. In the Second World War, Muslims were again allied with the US, with all their political, economic, and military resources. In the Cold War with the Soviet Union, Muslim states were allies of America. Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey were the front line states against the Soviet Unio! n; they were vulnerable and exposed to the danger of nuclear assault of the enemy. Till now, US military bases were all over the Muslim world, allied with America.

Since 1945, all the natural resources of the Muslim World have been at the disposal of American companies. Presently, only one Muslim country, Saudi Arabia, has an investment in America that is more than one trillion dollars.

At the society level, Muslims have the lowest divorce rate, lowest abuse rate, lowest domestic violence, lowest criminal percentage, and Islam gives a model for an ideal family. Muslims, making up the second largest religious minority of the country, contribute moral values to the society and thus reduces the crime rates. Masajid (mosques) play a great role in minimizing crime, drug usage, and other social evils. Muslims living in America have helped create a bridge between America and the most resourceful Muslim worlds.

In a nutshell, Muslims in America were always an asset and never a liability.

They are always well-wishers and benefactors of America. Any nation that, instead of rewarding its benefactors, begins punishing them instead invites the wrath of God. I request that all citizens of America stand with Muslims in these difficult times and differentiate between lies and truths so that together we may build a better America based on truth, justice, and a Godly American dream.
Jawed Anwar, Editor in Chief - Muslims Weekly


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