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Lecture examines Islam influence in American society

| Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Amir Hussain, professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University, said American Muslims have profoundly impacted American society in a lecture Tuesday titled “Islam and the Building of America.”

The lecture was hosted by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and took place in the Hesburgh Center for Peace Studies.

Hussain highlighted the significance of various Muslims  both famous and obscure  to American history.

“They’ve contributed something, and some things that I think are quite crucial, as you start peeling back the layers of the sports, of the activism, of, for me, the music,” he said.

Central to any discussion of Islam’s impact on America, Hussain said, is the understanding that Muslims have been part of American history since its conception.

“The rhetoric that one gets these days is that Islam is a new religious tradition in America and that it is somehow alien, foreign to American values,” he said.  “And I’m going to turn that on its head and say, ‘How has America been influenced by Islam and by its Muslim population?’”

Indeed, Hussain said Muslims have constituted a significant percentage of the American population even before America declared independence in 1776.  He said at least 10 percent of the slaves brought to America from West Africa were Muslim.

A clear example of Islam’s longstanding influence in America is in New York City, Hussain said, where the African Burial Ground National Monument is the final resting place for many Muslim Americans.

“For much of American history, Muslims have come to New York seeking freedom and opportunity, like every other group of immigrants that comes to New York,” he said.

But beyond the fact that Muslims have always been part of American history, Hussain said Muslims have made a lasting impression on American politics and culture.  He said the life of Thomas Jefferson provides evidence of the pervasiveness of Islam in American thought.

“How many of us are aware that in 1765, Thomas Jefferson  in 1765 before America is America  purchases a Koran?” Hussain said.

Moreover, Hussain said in areas such as music, entertainment, architecture and popular culture, Muslim Americans have helped shape American society.

He referenced numerous examples of prominent figures in each industry, including Fazlur Rahman Khan, the structural engineer who designed the Hancock and Willis Towers, and Ahmet Ertegün, the founder of Atlantic Records, the record company that signed the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Ray Charles.

The presence of Muslims has been particularly strong in the sports arena, Hussain said, where athletes such as professional boxer Muhammad Ali or National Basketball Association (NBA) player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have greatly contributed to the legacy of American sports.

“I would argue that perhaps Muhammad Ali is the most famous person in the world,” he said. “And what does that mean, that the most famous person in the world is yet again an American — in this case another African-American —Muslim?”

Although Hussain said it is important not to overemphasize the influence of Islam in American history, he also said America would not be what it is today without the presence of its Muslim inhabitants.

“Can you imagine an America without Muhammad Ali? Can you imagine the contributions that people like Ali have made to what it means to be American, really rethinking that kind of thing?” he asked the audience.

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  • todd

    Sounds like a bunch of talking points with little to no substance to back them up.

    “This book is a long conference of God, the angels, and Mahomet, which that false prophet very grossly invented; sometimes he introduceth God, who speaketh to him, and teacheth him his law, then an angel, among the prophets, and frequently maketh God to speak in the plural. … Thou wilt wonder that such absurdities have infected the best part of the world, and wilt avouch, that the knowledge of what is contained in this book, will render that law contemptible …” – John Adams

    “…he [Muhammad] declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind…The precept of the Koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God.” – John Quincy Adams

    • enlightened11

      Until you know muslims, visited a mosque or choose to learn the Quran as Muslims do you remain a ignorant fool

      • todd

        – Are you an American citizen?
        – Have you (or will you) read the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence?
        – Do you (or will you) vow to defend the U.S. Constitution?
        – Do you respect and honor the American flag?
        – Do you condemn the actions of ISIS and others who, in the name of Islam, have vowed to destroy America and Americans, kill Christians, and establish a caliphate over all humankind?
        – Do you condemn all those, who in the name of Islam, cry out “death to America”?
        – Do you recognize the right of Israel to be its own state/country?
        – Do you believe the United States would be better off if its laws were replaced with Sharia law?

        Looking forward to your answers.

        • Arafat

          enlightened11, as you know, is a typical Muslim apologist.
          The landmass now known as Saudi Arabia was once peopled with people of diverse religious beliefs. Mohammed and his followers took care of that and today there is not one single non-Muslim citizen (infidel).
          One wonders how enlightened11 explains how this took place?
          enlightened11, what happened to the Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians who once lived in that area?

  • I don’t see sura 8:12 in your list.

  • Would you wear a T-shirt with a Mohammad cartoon printed on it?

    You might in Montana. Don’t try it in Mecca.


    Because, Islam trains a small number of its most devout believers it’s OK to kill. And Islamic killers have been trained to kill anyone who insults Allah and/or Mohammad.

    In Montana you’d have a good chance none of these Islamic killers would see you.

    In Mecca you wouldn’t last five minutes. One of Islam’s killers would come from out of nowhere and kill you. It is that simple.

    You don’t believe me? Ask any Muslim!

    Read it all at: http://islamsfatalflaw.blogspot.com/