Speaker: Professor adam jaffers
May 12, 2011 6pm Thursday.
Rethinking our path: Islam in America
The presence of Islam in the New World began with the Moriscoes who accompanied the Spanish invaders. Following their time, great numbers of Muslim slaves were imported to this continent to work on the plantations of the South. In spite of the effort to wipe out the slaves’ Islamic identity, Islamic practices and beliefs remained strong with many of them.
In the early part of this century, waves of immigrants from various parts of the Muslim world, most notably Palestine, Lebanon and what is now Pakistan, appeared on these shores. These people were mostly illiterate, unskilled Arabs who found work in the auto factories of Detroit, or peasants from the Panjab who set up house in such places as Sacramento.
Then, beginning in the ’50s, the picture changed drastically. An influx of Muslim professionals, many of them physicians, finding conditions in their homelands inhospitable, settled in this country after completing their studies. The black movements, the back-to-Africa groups, had come into flower by this time. Great numbers of Muslim students from all parts of the world also began to arrive in this country.
This was the period which saw the formation of the early Muslim communities and mosques in such places as Detroit, Ann Arbor, Gary (Indiana), Cedar Rapids (Iowa), Sacramento and the like. Visiting scholars and missionary groups from the Middle East and the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent also began to arrive. And Islam began, in a very slow manner, to gain adherents among white Americans.
On September 11, 2001 two planes deliberately crashed into and destroyed the Twin Towers in New York City, and an additional plane was flown into the Pentagon in Washington D.C., with a fourth plane being forced into crashing into a field, thus missing its intended target (Anderson, Danis, & Stohl, 2009). On July 7, 2005, three separate London subways were attacked at the same time (Danis & ...
It was this period which also witnessed the formation of national Islamic groups, such as the Muslim Students Association (MSA) of the United States and Canada, later to be replaced by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and their supporting institutions. Regional and national conferences of Muslims for the discussion of issues of common concern were streamlined during this period. Many Muslims who had never practiced their religion now found their way back to their roots and began, for the very first time, to appreciate the value of their faith.
The black movements now came into their own. Most prominent among them was the Black Muslim sect, headed by the self-proclaimed “prophet,” Elijah Muhammed. He ading a political rather than a religious movement, Mr. Muhammad was easily able to sell the frustrated, suffering black community his ideology of reacting to racism with racism under the heading of “Black Islam.” For a time the movement flourished, but later, with the exposure of Mr. Muhammad’s sexual improprieties, it began to wither and fade. Malcolm X, who had been its chief spokesman, had turned against its leader and, after experiencing the brotherhood of true Islam during his Hajj, changed his position concerning the inherent evil of all members of the white race. Malcolm’s assassination in 1965 did nothing to halt the dissolution of the Black Muslims. Subsequently, Elijah’s son Wallace, now Warithuddin Muhammad, led the majority of his father’s ex-followers into orthodox Islam. What remained of Elijah’s followers became the Nation of Islam under the leadership of the controversial Louis Farrakhan.
Today, mosques, Islamic centers and schools are found in every community of any size. Islamic organizations and institutions abound, now at last able to minister to the needs of the Muslim congregation in America. Muslims’ voices are heard speaking up for their faith in official circles, to the media and in every field of endeavor, and Muslims are now able to make a significant contribution, especially in the realm of spirituality, values and morals, to the life of this nation.
The Islamic faith began with one man and his spiritual encounters with god and his angel Gabriel. Muhammad, the Prophet, as he is referred to by his followers, is considered to be the last prophet sent by god to interact with human beings on earth. Due to his importance and his influence over the people of his time his words and actions have been collected, over a mass number of years into a book ...
At present, the number of Muslims in the United States is estimated to be on the order of between 5 to 8 million. It is the fastest growing faith in this country. Estimates indicate that by the year 2000, the number of Muslims in the United States will be greater than that of the Methodists, and that by the year 2010 the number will have doubled to 10 to 16 million. The estimated conversion rate among Americans is 135,000 per year. The Defense Department reports that there are now approximately 9000 Muslims on active duty in the U.S. armed services (it is reported that more than 3000 Americans embraced Islam during the Gulf war alone).
A vast network of Muslim ministries also caters to some 300,000 converts in prisons, with an estimated conversion rate of 35,000 per year.
The predominant group among Muslims in the United States are Afro-Americans. The immigrant communities, which come from a great variety of countries stretching from Eastern Europe to Cambodia and virtually every country in between, comprise the next largest group. The student community is the third largest group. Finally, Caucasian and other ethnic Americans comprise the smallest group, but this too is growing at a fast rate.