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Islam in the Americas

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Islam is a minority religion in all of the countries and territories of the Americas.

Suriname has the highest percentage of Muslims in its population for the region, with 13.5% or 66,307 individuals, according to its 2004 census. However, the United States, in which estimates vary due to a lack of a census question, is generally believed to have the largest population, with between 1.3 and 2.7 million.[1]

Some West African slaves taken to the Americas by colonists may likely have been Muslims, although they became forcibly converted to Christianity. Most Muslims in the former British Caribbean came from the Indian subcontinent as labourers following the abolition of slavery. This movement also reached Suriname, although other Muslims there moved from another Dutch colony, which is now Indonesia. In the United States, the largest Muslim ethnic group is of African Americans, who converted in the last century, including the syncretic, radical and revisionist Nation of Islam. However, in South America, the Muslim population is mainly composed of wealthy immigrants from the Levant, including Lebanese and Syrians.

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  • ✪ Islam in America, 18th-21st Century
  • ✪ They came before Columbus, Islam in the Americas
  • ✪ African Muslims in America Before Columbus | Islam and the Black American
  • ✪ Islam in America Before Columbus | Deeper Roots | Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick | AlMaghrib Institute
  • ✪ How Islam Is Taking Over America


>> From the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. >> Carolyn Brown: Well, good morning. >> Good morning. >> Carolyn Brown: I'm Carolyn Brown, Director for Area Studies Collections at the Library of Congress which means the Foreign Language Collections here. And I'm delighted to welcome you this morning to our Symposium on Islam in America. Over the last two years, I think the first one was maybe April in 2000, we have been doing a series of programs on Muslim societies. Most of our focus has been abroad. I guess there have been seven of these. We've looked at the things, Globalization in Muslim Societies, who looked at issues of identity of women, minority communities, civil society, et cetera. Some of these were funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. Others were variously funded. So we've had a long, relatively long conversation about Muslim societies. This morning's program, instead of looking outwards, we're now taking a look at Islam in America. But it's part of really that ongoing thinking and concern really which began with our perception two years ago that Americans didn't understand very much about the Muslim world and that we needed to do sort of our part in trying to bring that greater awareness. I think we thought we had greater time than it turns out. The imperative has increased but the problem is, or the issue is not a new one. It's one, a long-standing one. Why at the Library of Congress? A number of reasons for this series. We collect materials in over 460 languages of the world and in all scripts. So we have a long-standing collection whereby readers can study all parts of the world where Muslims are a significant percentage of the populations, whether you're talking about Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Central Asia, even Europe. We have materials from all parts of the world, so actually theoretically your limitations in terms of research are only those of the languages that you read. Also another point here is that when you collect that broadly you're also assembling multiple perspectives. It's not one view; it's multiple views. And there's an opportunity then to get broad thinking. As we've looked at current events, most recent ones, but more long-standing, it's clear that you can only understand so much, and some people might say not much, if you don't have a rich background in the culture and histories in the particularities of individual places and peoples. And, as I said, the collections support all of that. But it's also recognition that, although we're sitting across the street from the U.S. Congress which is very focused as it needs to be on the current moment, we need to bring to the Capitol a deeper historical cultural understanding rooted in the languages and perceptions of the peoples in the areas of the world that we're thinking about. And that includes our own United States which is what we're focused on today. As we look to the future, this is not the last of several programs. We also have fellowships for the study of Globalization in Muslim Societies and there will be other programs coming along. So if you enjoy this morning's program, keep your eyes open. There'll be more programs. This morning's program is being recorded for Webcasting, and you'll find some of our earlier symposium are on the Web. So there's a reach and an opportunity beyond just what you receive in this room. I did want to take a moment to thank all of you for coming today. A special thanks to our panelists who are joining us, to the also Scholarly Programs, especially its Director, Pross Gifford, over there at the back of the room, the African and Middle Eastern Division and all of the staff involved, and especially to our World Area Specialist Mary-Jane Deeb who has been the, I'll say the brains, really, behind all of these. We may have the idea but in terms of executing it with intellectual integrity and wisdom we've relied on Mary-Jane. So she's kind of the silent one around here. Although if you have a chance to talk to her you'll find she's anything but silent -- a great store of knowledge and wisdom. And with that said, why don't we move on to the first panel. The panelists are here and Rita Harper is going to be the Chair of that panel, [inaudible] with the African Middle Eastern Division. Thank you. >> Marieta Harper: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. You are welcome to our symposium this morning on Islam in America. My name is Marieta Harper, Area Specialist for Africa, in particular the francophone countries. I have the distinct honor of being the Chair for today's first panel, Historical Roots of Muslim Immigration to the United States. Each panelist will speak for 15 minutes. At the end of the panel we will have time for questions. Our first speaker will be Derrick J. Beard. He's widely recognized to be a preeminent collector of 18th, 19th, and early 20th century African American decorative arts, photography, rare books, and one-of-a-kind documents. He owns over 10,000 items of African American material culture that includes furniture, books, paintings, and memorabilia. Chief among his achievements has been the reconstruction over the last decade of the Art Institute of Chicago's collection of African American art. He was responsible for the Institute's acquisition of Horace Pippin's Cabin in the Cotton done in 1935, the most important 20th century painting by an African American. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Crane Hook Arts Academy in Michigan, and graduated with a degree in Urban Economics from the University of Illinois. He and his family are the current owners of the unique African manuscript in Arabic of Omar ibn Said, which you'll get chance to see later. Derrick Beard. >> Derrick J. Beard: I think first I think I would like to give a moment of silence for all of the victims of 911 and all the victims of terrorism throughout the world. So that we can at least give a moment of silence. And I would like to thank the staff of the African Middle Eastern Division here at the Library of Congress, the staff of the Scholarly Programs, and our government for offering the first Symposium on Islam in America. After 911 I was thinking that there was a very important Arabic manuscript which could help us as Americans to have a better understanding of Islam and our American Islamic heritage. So, therefore, I felt that it was my duty as an American to come forward with the manuscript of the life of Amar ibn Said. And what we'll find with the life of Omar will help to shatter many of the stereotypes and prejudices about Islam in general, and Muslims in particular. I believe one important question has kind of recently arisen. Can Islam be synonymous with patriotism? And I say absolutely because Islam represents a critical consciousness which personifies itself in high moral character. It starts with the individual, then to the family and the community, and then to the nation. In fact, if we look across the Pacific, particularly to China, we'll find many of the Chinese Muslims who are minorities in China were great citizens and they had contributed immensely to the development of Chinese civilization over the last 1000 years. And here in America we have many patriotic acts of Muslims, particularly such as an African Muslim by the name of [foreign words] who was at Sapelo Island in Georgia where he and his fellow Muslims prevented the British from invading the coast of Georgia. And then we have Nicholas Said who was from the famous 54th Massachusetts Regiment, and as we know in the movie <i>Glory </i>, which turned the tide of the whole Civil War. And, of course, we have Muslims who have contributed militarily, to science, to medicine, and many areas which helped to develop our great country. So which brings me today to bring my presentation, which is the story of Omar ibn Said, a Muslim slave and evidence of early Islam in America. And I guess I should greet you in the words of Omar would have greeted you, Assalamu-Alaikum. >> Assalamu-Alaikum. >> Derrick J. Beard: Al-Islam in the Americas is not a 20th century phenomenon. Many people have been led to believe that it did not have many followers here, until the large-scale movement spearheaded largely by Malcolm X in the 1960s. It is true that during this time Islam gained prominence in America in a way that it had not previously done before. However, it did exist, and in some cases, thrived in the Western Hemisphere. In the past, scholars have ignored or simply failed to mention this fact. This is probably because many of them did not have sufficient enough understanding of or interest in Islam to accurately document and access its New World's presence. This is beginning to change. The legend of Abubakari II of Mali was reported in [foreign words] places his journey to the Americas in the year 1312 according to Professor Ivar van Surderman [assumed spelling] at Rutgers University. And because of the explosion, the expulsion I should say, of Muslims from Spain, and Jews, during the years of 1609 to 1614, a large number of them fled to Spanish Americas which Spanish Americas included here in the United States Florida, South Alabama, and parts of Louisiana depending on, you know, dates and time. This resulted because many Muslims living in Spain at this time were forced to convert to Christianity which Muslims would call it Moriscos and Jews would call it Marranos, but continued to practice, covertly practice their Islamic faith. Islam intolerance persisted even after those people were identified as Muslim had been banished from Spain. The southern part of this country for a long time required that its citizens keep its doors open on Friday prevent possible Jumu'ah congregations. There are numerous other clues that would alert the observant to the existence of Muslim communities in early America, from the Spanish Inquisition into the Transatlantic and the Transpacific slave trade which is very interesting. A Transpacific slave trade. There's a book called the <i>History</i> <i>of the Manila Acapulco Slave Trade </i>by Father Jose Maria Luengo which this Transpacific slave trade which spanded [sic] about three centuries included the shipment of Filipinos, Indonesians, and South Asians to the Americas. These bits of evidences, material evidences, that we find -- the presence of foods and spices such as dates, sate, cumin, cunderdin; architecture such as the corbel technique and the use of interior courtyards; and the documentations of names such as Bolelli, Belau, Mamadu, Abdel, Fatima, Omar, Mecca, Medina. These are quite common names, particularly in the Caribbean and in Latin America. One of the most important remaining articles of Islamic material culture from early America is a manuscript written by Omar ibn Said. So this is a frontage slide of the manuscript which you can take a look at after the conference. It's in this display case here. It was written in 1831 and it is the only existing autobiographical manuscript that is known to exist in the Americas. Omar was born in Futa Tooro. And this, of course -- this is the Arabic writing of the front page of the manuscript by Omar. So Omar was born in area of Futa. This is -- actually I was in Futa in May, so I took some photographs. So just give a the viewer -- give us a little visuals of the landscape of what Omar came from and his environment. Futa is an area in -- along the Senegal River which encompasses Senegal, Mauritania, and Mali. It's an area where Islam actually thrives and existed for over 1000 years. He was born in Futa in the year of 1770. He was a devout Muslim and a member of a family of impressive wealth who represented from the -- who were represented from their strict adherence to the laws of Islam. Omar ibn Said had made Hajj and he was also a trader who probably spoke many languages as was the case with most people of similar social standings. During the 18th and 19th century Islam in Africa was undergoing a series of changes. There was simultaneously expansions, jihad of the faith, throughout the regions of Senegal, Gambia, and the Gulf of Guinea alongside the collapse of older, some established Islamic empires because of European military expansions and the development of the Atlantic slave trade. The fall of these communities resulted in the capture of many Muslims as well as non-Muslims for the sale of chattel in the Western Hemisphere. Omar was captured around 1807. This was a result of a battle that took place about the same time, which we pretty much believe is a result of his capture, the Battle of [foreign words], who was defeated by his cousin, [foreign words] who was -- with the aid of the French was able to defeat [foreign words] and he controlled that area of Senegal and Omar describes this in his manuscript, that he was captured as a result of a big battle, that many people had died. So we largely believe that this, in fact, is the Battle of [foreign words] that resulted in the capture of Omar. And he was brought to Charleston, South Carolina. Upon his arrival in North America his name was contorted to such various pronunciations and spellings such as [speaking foreign language]. Despite his shift in status, being removed from his native land, Omar remained an individual noted for his -- I should say, quote, whole person and gaunt bearing marks of considerable refinement according to Reverend William S. Plummer, a Presbyterian pastor or professor in the Western Theological Seminary from 1854 to 1862. The following is a brief account by Omar, written by Omar, to a man by the name of Shake Hunter. In fact, this manuscript was written and given to Shake Hunter, but also known as Layman Kaaba [assumed spelling]. He was another fellow Muslim from that area of Africa, Mbundu, who was living in New York City. And it was given to him around 1836 and then subsequently it was given to Theodore de White who was the brother of the President of Yale University. And I'll read -- this is the Introduction of the actual manuscript itself. It says, "In the name of God, the Grace, the Glorious, the Merciful, thanks be to God, supreme and goodness and kindness and who's worthy of all honor, who created all things for his service, even man's power of action and speech. You asked me to write my life. My name is Omar ibn Said. My birthplace was Futa Tooro, between two rivers, the land between two rivers. I sought knowledge under the instruction of a sheik called Muhammad Said, my own brother, and Sheik Solomon Kaaba, and Sheik Gabriel Abdel. I continued by studies 25 years," which was the tradition, "and returned to my home where I remained six years. Then came to our place a large army which killed many men and took me and brought me to the great sea, and sold me into the hands of the Christians who bound me and sent me onboard. We sailed upon the great sea a month-and-a-half when we came to a place called Charleston in the Christian language. Before I came to the Christian country, my religion was one of Muhammad's, the Apostle of God. May God have peace upon him and give him peace. [Foreign word] have mercy upon him and give him peace. We walked to the mosque before daybreak, washed my hand and face and head and feet, prayed at noon, prayed in the afternoon, prayed at sunset, and prayed in the evening." Throughout the course of Omar's life, Omar's Dean was relentlessly challenged by the insistence that all slaves imported to the Americas were to accept Christianity or face dire consequences. And I'd like to quote from the late Reverend Howard Thurman, which is one of our great African American theologians who was, in fact, the mentor to Martin Luther King when he was a student at Morehouse. And this is what the Reverend Howard Thurman says. "The slave was cut off from his religion, whatever kind it was. It is quite beside the point to say that he was given Christianity, an infinitely better religion than anything he had known before when the Master gave to the slave his Master God. For a long time it had meant it was difficult to disentangle religious experience from slavery sanction." Thus, Omar was forced to replace the writings of the Koran with those of the Bible, and eventually began to go regularly to the Presbyterian Church. Soon Omar did not publicly acknowledge that Islam was a faith that he had been born into. He began to hide it and thereby making Christians observe [Inaudible] assume that he had -- his soul had been won. In fact, Omar's Christian studies ended up being a bridge that reinforced what was being challenged, his Islamic faith. And I'll mention this from -- there's this quote from Omar's manuscript. Jim Owens, who was his -- General Jim Owens, who was his owner, and the wife used to read in jail the Gospel of Jesus Christ. "They read to me -- did very much allow Lord I create a King who regulates all circumstances, our health and wealth, who bestows His bounty willingly without constraints exceeding according to His powers. Open my heart to the way of guidance. All praises are due to allow the Lord of the World with abundant praise. He is putting us in his blessings and abundant in His goodness. For this reason the laws of Moses, one most act further. The blessings and trust by made by the Jesus the Messiah. First and foremost is Muhammad." And then he opens up with "[foreign words], praises due to Allah, the Lord of the World's munificent to most of the king of the dear judgment. And it is that you worship and you alone that we see for assistance, guide us to the straightway, the straight path, those of the path upon whom have blessed, not those who have earned anger. Know those who have go astray. Amen." And then he goes into the words of -- and now in the words of Jesus, the Messiah. And this is quote again from Omar's manuscript. "Our Father who art in Heaven, holy be your name, your kingdom come, you will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us our daily bread, forgive us as we have forgotten those who have done harm, done us harm. Do not enter us into temptation but redeem from evils. To you belong the kingdom, the power, the majesty forever. Amen." So, again, at the time of Omar's death, he had fully rededicated himself to Islam and as a Muslim. It is undoubtedly the countless numerous other followers of Islam shared a religious experience similar to Omar in Islamic communities throughout the Americas. It was tolerated to a much lesser degree than some other non-Islamic religion such as Voodon and certain parts in particular, Santeria, and Candomble in certain parts of the Americas. In some rare instances it was absorbed into practices such as Voodon and Candomble. In Northwest Haiti there presently exists, according to a friend of mine who's a professor there, a Voodon ceremony performed in Arabic. And there are also Voodon Santeristas or ceremonies in Cuba and Puerto Rico. Also performed in Arabic. Such is an example found in Salvador, Brazil. The architect, Manual Ferandez [assumed spelling], and African Muslim of [inaudible] descent build a church what looks very Christian on the outside and an interior which transforms into a mosque. The interior walls were molded with prayers from the Koran and also the great [foreign word] and Muslim [foreign word] from Haiti wrote and spoke Arabic along with many other languages. He organized the slave insurrections of the 1740s. And through his fluency in many languages were able to mobilize the enslaved Africans to fight the oppression of slavery. Many other Muslims sought to return to their native homelands. For example, Jonas Mohammad Bathe, a Mandingo Muslim leader in Trinidad, asked the Queen of England to provide him and his community with a ship so that they could return. His request was denied. And there are other Muslims who were able to return. Prince Abdul-Rahman of Mississippi, Joe bin Solomon here in Maryland, Mohammad [foreign word] who took their jihadists upon landing on the African Continent despite the fact that they had converted to Christianity. It was their so-called conversion that provided a means to return to home. Al-Islam had faced many challenges in the Americas, but it has endured those challenges. We may learn from the history of these early Muslims who help us to understand the illustrious nature of our multicultural, multi-religious American heritage. And I would like to end this with the words of Reverend Howard Thurman from his book, <i>Deep River </i>. And this is quote from Reverend Thurman. "At the moment" -- in fact, this was written in 1945 right during the -- end of the climax of World War II. And he writes, "At the moment we stand as the graphic masters of much of the Earth, particularly America, by virtue of our vast resourcefulness and material resources. The techniques by which we have reduced great conglomerates of nature to simple units of control and utility. It is a terrifying truth that life in its own restraint and that the moral laws that bind in judgment the life of the individual by insinuation. No amount of power, wealth, or prestige can stay this judgment. If we would be love, we must share that kind of spirit of expression of the true genius of our democratic government." Thank you and God bless. >> Marieta Harper: Thank you Derrick for that informative discussion on Omar ibn Said. And later we'll have opportunities to actually see the manuscript over in the case. Our next speaker will be Dr. John Hunwick, Professor of African History and Religion at Northwestern University. He holds a PhD in Islamic Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, and is a world-renowned expert on Arabic manuscripts from Africa. He began his work in the 1960s at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, and later helped with the establishment of the Center for Documentation in Timbuktu. He was a Director of the Fontes Historiae Africanae project of the International Academic Union. He has published extensively in the field including West Africa and the Arab World, Arabic Literature of Africa, and the writings of Central Sudan, Africa, and edited a two-volume catalog of Arabic manuscripts of the Nigerian National Archives for the Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation. Dr. Hunwick. >> John O. Hunwick: In Islam there is no parallel as we onto the Prophet Muhammad. He is rather the messenger of God. For the message he brought to mankind, the Koran, may be regarded as the word of God made book. The Koran, which is often referred to in Arabic religious writings simply as The Book [foreign words] is considered by Muslims to be literally the word of God and, hence, portions of its text are used as a protection against evil and as a cure for sickness. This is generally in the form of talismans, verses of the Koran written out in the original Arabic, folded up, encased, and attached to the body while hung up in a home. In some societies, especially in Africa, the word of God made book may be treated rather like communion wine in Christianity. Appropriate healing verses of the Koran are written on a special board and washed off and then drunk by the afflicted person. Just as communion wine is considered the blood of Jesus Christ so the swallowing of Koranic words in water is effectively an imbibing of divine blessing and power. The Koran then is terrestrial manifestation of the divine. As such, it may not be touched by a Muslim unless he has undertaken ritual washing to cleanse himself physically and spiritually. Also as the word of God, it must be recited and written in the language in which it was downloaded from God to the Prophet Muhammad. That is, Arabic. Not only is the Koran then the core of and key to all things Islamic, but acquaintance with the Arabic language is an essential task for believers. Literacy and then learning have forever been hallmarks of Muslim societies. When Islam was introduced to West Africa through the activities of North African merchants it brought with it a system of literacy and the basis for a system of education. Arabic played a role similar to that played by Latin in Medieval Europe. And just as the Roman script was used in Europe for people to write their own languages, so in West Africa the Arabic script was eventually used for writing some African languages spoken by Muslims, most notably Fulfulde, the language of the Fulani people, while widely disseminated over West Africa from Senegal and Guinea to the Cameroon. Hence, through Islam, much of West Africa became literate and members of such societies became educated and even [inaudible]. Koranic learning with ability to read the Arabic script was begun by children from about the age of six to eight years old. And the idea of receiving education was so compelling that Koranic classes even attracted some non-Muslims to send their children to them. The later 18th century Scottish traveler, Mungo Park, observed this while staying in a village if what is now the Republic of Mali. He said, "I've observed the peoples at Kamalia where most of them -- I have observed that the peoples at Kamalia where most of them, the children are pagans. Their parents, therefore, have no predilection for the doctrines of Mohammad. Their aim was their children's improvement." He noted, too, that young people graduated, quote/unquote, from their schools in a manner he seemed familiar with from his European experience. And he put it this way. "When any of them has read through the Koran and performed a certain number of public prayers, a feast is prepared by the schoolmaster and the scholar undergoes an examination or, in European terms, takes out his degree. I attended three different inaugurations of this sort and heard with pleasure the distinct and intelligent answers which the scholars frequently have to the bushreims [assumed spelling], that is, the men of religion, who assembled on these occasions and acted as examiners. Education clearly thus brought people into the Islamic faith just as in the colonial area it brought some of them into the Christian faith. And it helped them more -- to have more extensive literacy in Arabic. As Mungo Park further noted, where the Mohammedan faith is also introduced the Arabic language with which most of the Fula's, that is the Fulani, have a slight acquaintance. Another European traveler, some two decades later, the Frenchman [foreign words] observed Muslim education in Senegal, the Kingdom of Kyor [assumed spelling], and how a man came to be considered part of the class of religious instructors or [foreign word] as they are called in French. He said, "Two conditions are indispensably necessary to procure admission into the class of [foreign word] -- an irreproachable character and an acquaintance with the Arabic language. The candidate also knows several chapters of the Koran by heart. And to combine with these requirements a knowledge of certain Arabic books which treat of the history of the world and of arithmetic." Mohammedan priests are always called upon to divide inheritances which is one of the reasons why they need arithmetic, of course. African [inaudible] scholars therefore had to be able to use the Arabic language and have wider knowledge than just memorizing the Koran even though this was the foundation stone of the Muslim educational system. Of all the sentence of advances dynamic education in West Africa before the 20th century, Timbuktu was undoubtedly the most celebrated. And its scholarly tradition was widely disseminated throughout the area. Timbuktu is situated at the point where the Sahara intersects with the great Niger Waterway, grew from being a nomad's camp around 1100 to being a major center of both commerce and learning in the 16th century. Scholars migrated there from North Africa and from Saharan oases, and their presence attracted students from a wide range of regional locations. One of its most famous scholars was Ahmad Baba, born in 1864, died in -- sorry, born in 1564, died in 1627. A member of a family that provided the city with Islamic judges, [foreign word], for a century-and-a-half. He was a prolific writer, composing some 70 works, mainly dealing with aspects of Islamic law, but also including treatises on Arabic grammar and a large biographical dictionary. His teachers were at first from among his relatives. But his primary professor, his sheik, was a man called Mohammad [foreign word], a [inaudible] scholar from [foreign word] some 500 miles south of Timbuktu. With him he studied Islamic law very deeply. But also many other fields including [foreign word], the sayings and actions of the Prophet, exegeses of the Koran, logic and astronomy. Both Mohammad [foreign word] and his student Ahmad Baba assembled great libraries of their own. Mohammad [foreign word] had a great reputation for lending books to students while Ahmad Baba reported that his library contained 1600 items. But he stated that it was the smallest of those in his family. Timbuktu in the 16th century had such a number of teachers and students at the higher level of Islamic learning that some writers have referred to it quote/unquote University of Timbuktu. Although the Islamic tradition of learning is individualized rather than institutionalized, the advanced nature of much of the instruction in Timbuktu and the fact that it produced qualified teachers does to some extent justify use of the term University. This type of learning was also to be found in other West African Muslim towns but Timbuktu was the Harvard of West Africa. And its tradition of scholarship still exists as do some of its scholarly libraries. The same is true in many other West African locations, from Senegal towns such as Dakar, Louga, Saint Louis, Kaolack, to Nigeria towns such as Sokoto, Katsina, Kano, Zaria, Ilorin. The breadth and depth of Islamic learning in this region is reflected in the literacy and learning of some of those otherwise quote/unquote ordinary persons who were captured in conflicts, enslaved, and eventually exported to the Americas, South and North. Noteworthy among these was the member of a Guinean Fulani ruling family, generally known under the anglicized form of his name, Job ben Solomon who was shipped out of the River Gambia to Annapolis in Maryland in the year 1730. As one of his recent biographers put it, "When Job appeared before surprised and sympathetic Europeans prior to the rise of both anti-slavery and anti-black theories, his impressive manner and mind and his strong African and Muslim identity attracted the serious attention of a number of colonial Marylanders in the old country Englishman." One of these sympathizers, Thomas Bluett, persuaded Job to relate the story of his life, and this was published in London in 1733, and was to become, in the view of Allan Austin, a model, in part at least, for later African and African American memoirs or freedom narratives. A devout Muslim who could not deal with the limitations placed on him by slavery, Job wrote a letter to his father in Arabic, and this letter eventually came into the hands of the philanthropist James Oglethorpe who was so impressed by this display of literacy and Job's firm religious faith that he arranged a bond to release him. In 1733 a group of Annapolis gentlemen, also evidently impressed on similar grounds, arranged for Job to travel to London and from there, after being feted in learned and political circles, he was allowed to return to Africa. Religious devotion and Arabic literacy undoubtedly played an important role in gaining respect and ultimately freedom for this Muslim slave. Another Muslim slave, and Derrick Beard has just been talking about Omar ibn Said, was literate in enough to write his own autobiography in 1831 whilst in slavery in America. He originated in Futa Tooro in Senegal and spent some 25 years studying in various parts of the region. In slavery he had the good fortune to end up in the hands of a sympathetic master, John Owen, and his brother James Owen, a one-time Governor of North Carolina, who together spared him hard labor and did their best to convert him to Christianity -- though whether they succeeded or not has been contested -- giving him an Arabic translation of the Bible. Omar gained respect not only from his masters but more broadly from members of the communities of Fayetteville and Wilmington in North Carolina on account of his manifest piety and his ability to write Arabic. In addition to his autobiography he wrote many smaller items include copies of prayers, even including "The Lord's Prayer" and a document in 1890 in which he returned a prayer for his return to Africa is enshrouded in numerous quotations from the Koran and from other Arabic writings, including the opening lines of a 12th-century versed work on Arabic grammar, the [foreign words] which he must have memorized during his studies in Senegal. Such slaves, therefore, were the first representatives of the Islamic faith to live in the United States, and in some cases the faith was retained by their descendants. However, slaves were not the only African path for the dissemination of Islam in the United States. Early in the 20th century a Sudanese preacher and teacher called Satti Majid came to America after a brief period in Britain where he had been acting as a Muslim missionary. He was attracted to come to America -- -- because he had heard that Islam had been coming under attack. So he resolved to go and defend the faith, and ultimately to promote it. Satti Majid spent some years in New York where he devoted himself to supporting Muslim seamen, Arabs and Indians, who had become stranded there and weren't able to get jobs to return them home. He appealed to both the British Consul in Washington and John D. Rockefeller for help. And to administer such a project he set up the Islamic Benevolent Society. And other times he also established other Islamic organizations. These included the Muslim Unity Society, the Islamic Missionary Society, and the Red Crescent Society. He became known as the Shaykh Islam of America and remained in the United States until 1929, when he left for Egypt and then home to the Sudan where he died in 1963. Regrettably we do not yet know much detail about his activities in the United States. But the little we do know indicates that he was an active promotor of the faith. In an interview with a Cairo newspaper in 1935 he said that he had converted a number of persons living in America to Islam -- Afghans, Indians, Africans, and Americans. The latter term presumably meaning Euro-Americans. The role of Africans in the implantation of Islam in America then is significant. There's undoubtedly much still to be learned about the role of [inaudible] African slaves in this process for as Michael Gomez has suggested, there may have been some hidden linkage between the Islamic practices of such early African residents in America and the later expressions of the faith promoted by such African Americans as Noble Drew Ali and Elijah Muhammed. Thank you. >> Marieta Harper: She specializes in contemporary Islamic issues including Islam in America and Women in Islam. An author and edited more than a dozen books, among them <i>The Muslims</i> <i>in America </i>and <i>Gender and Social Change </i>. With John Esposito, Haddad co-edited the <i>Oxford Encyclopedia</i> <i>of Modern Islamic World </i>in 1995. She has taught, lectured in numerous universities in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, and sits on the Advisory Board of the Council of Foreign Relations, the American Council for the Study of Islamic Societies, as well as many others. Haddad. >> Yvonne Y. Haddad: Thank you. I am speaking out of sequence and I think Professor Diouf should have been on this panel. I'm going to talk about the immigrants mostly. And I'm going to talk about the situation prior -- you know, how we got here post 911, who are they, what are they up to, and what has America done to them? And the question, the last question is sort of something that came to me after -- I mean I recollected this question because I had once an interview with a reporter from <i>New York Times </i>and he was asking me, you know, "These people do not share our values," which is something that came up a lot after 911. And he said, "You know, why don't they go back to where they came from?" And so I asked him, "What values are you talking about?" And he said, "Well, you know, they don't believe in premarital sex and homosexual lifestyle and drugs." And I said, "Well, okay. Let's send them all back to the Middle East. What are you going to do with all the Jews who agree with them? Maybe we can send them back to Israel. What are you going to do with all the Christians who agree with this, you know, who condemn this kind of lifestyle?" And his question is, what are they doing to America? And I told him that my research into Muslims in America started by studying the work of Sayyid Qutb who came to the United States as an agnostic and went back as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and eventually wrote the text<i> Milestones </i>which became sort of the bible of Islamic Revolutionary Movement. And I wanted to know what has American done to this Muslim person and to others who have come to America. Let me start with 911. The immediate response of the Muslim community to 911 was one of apprehension. There was this fear that the American people or the public, American citizens, would take this terrible opportunity, the horrible act of what happened, and attack Muslims to pay for it. And they were very gratified that President Bush took a very strong stand in which he distinguished between acts of terrors, terrorists, and Islam. They were gratified that he met with Muslim leaders, they were gratified that he went to the mosque. It was only the second time that an American President had gone to a mosque. The first one was President Eisenhower when the mosque here in Washington on Massachusetts Avenue was inaugurated. It was a long time in-between in which an American President felt that it was okay to go to a mosque because up until then America had identified itself, unconsciously maybe, or consciously in some people's mind, as a Judeo-Christian country. America is changing. It's not only that Muslims are here. We have Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and a variety of other religions that are now part of the American, you know, environment. And America has not addressed this issue. Quite a few of our Senators and Congressmen continue to talk about America as Judeo-Christian country as though there is no room for other people to have an input. Now there were some incidents against Muslims and Arabs and, you know, first incident was against an Egyptian Copt who was Christian. And the majority of Arabs in the United States are Christian. We expect, you know, somewhere estimate about 2 million Arab Christians live in the United States and about 1 million Muslims. But the Arabs and Muslims seem to be interchangeable in the mind of many Americans. The majority of Muslims in the United States, you know, some people think that they are African Americans. Others think that they are from South Asia. But it is definitely from, you know, from a variety of surveys that people have conducted, Muslims in the United States are a minority in Islam, just as they are a minority in the world. And a Muslim community in the united States reflects the composition of the Muslim community in the world. Now, what happened is, right after 911 is that the American press went into a special mode of trying to explain Islam to the American people because suddenly the American people woke up and discovered that their next door neighbor is a Muslim, and they were sort of scared. I remember one time about 10 years ago I got a phone call from a reporter from the <i>Christian Science Monitor </i>, and she said, "I want to write an article about Muslims in America." And I said, "Why do you want to write on this topic and why now?" And said that her next door neighbors have just moved in and they were Tunisians. And she was worried that while they were playing with their, you know, guns and bombs, that her whole place would blow up. And I said, "Well, you know, I think you should go and talk to them." And she said, "Can I do that?" And I said, "Why not? Just knock on the door, tell them you're writing an article on Muslims in America, and interview them. And ask them about their grenades and bombs." So she went and knocked on the door. And I forgot about her. A few days later she called and said, "Dr. Haddad, thank you very much for that very important suggestion." She knocked on the door, they invited her to dinner. She had a great time. And then she said something that still -- I can still hear it. She said, "You know, they're people like us, they're people like us." And I think that the first reaction of the American press was what I increasingly call Islam 101. And, basically, it was this introduction to Islam, the five pillars of Islam. This is what Muslims believe. They pray five times a day. There are five schools of Islamic Law, and so everything is five's and five's. And so all Islam can be reduced to that. But it was an effort to explain Islam to the American people. And there was a great deal of support from a variety of areas within the American population. There were the women in Michigan who put on a headscarf and went to school that day in solidarity with Muslim women that felt constrained, that people had spat at them and tried to pull their headscarf off. There were women from various areas that offered to do the shopping for Muslim women who wearing a scarf, or walk with them to the grocery store. There were people from mosques -- from churches and synagogues who offered to stand vigil to protect Muslim institutions in the United States. And there were Muslims who were elated at what happened. And I heard one Muslim say, "We couldn't have spent $1 billion to do as much dowah, which is Islamic propagation in America. In a sense there was a by-product of 101 in which America was introduced to Islam, and all the Korans sold out, and translations of the Koran, and books on Islam were being bought all over the place. Now what happened after that is about three months after 911. Something happened. And, you know, so those of us who've been monitoring this have an idea of what happened. But basically let me say that the press switched into Terrorism 101. So that in asking -- rather than asking who are the Muslims, suddenly the question is why are Muslims terrorists? What is it in Islam that is terrorists? What is jihad? Why do they hate us? Now the question of why do they hate us was there even when the press was doing Islam 101. And what happened is that you had a variety of people, most of them from the think tanks around the Washington. I'm not wearing any armor to protect me, but basically what they said, one after the other, is they hate us because of our values, not our policies, but our values. And then they identified the value as, you know, because we have a democracy, because we are -- you know, we have a very progressive country, we have human rights, et cetera. And what was interesting was almost every one of them was a policy-maker. And every one of them was defending the policies that he had instituted that brought us to 911. And probably the best way that it has been categorized -- I heard Vergam [assumed spelling] yesterday say it out loud, and it's the first time I hear it on TV. But there are quite a few of us have been whispering it. It's the policy, stupid. There was been several policies that the United States had propagated in the last 10 years or so, since the Madrid Agreement, which led us to 911. And there are people in the policy industry, whether think tanks or former administration people, and I apologize to anybody who's here in the audience who was involved in these, who gave us some policies to let -- that led to that event. But the question is, is there a difference between the ones that perpetrated that act and the Arab Muslims who live in the United States, because most of them, as far as we can tell, most of the people who have been accused of perpetrating the act were here illegally, they were not immigrants. Now, who are the Muslims of America, people who have put roots in the United States? Today we have our -- probably sixth generation of American-born Muslims in the United States, immigrants who came from Lebanon and Syria in the 1870s. Some of them will tell you that the first language spoken in the United States when it was discovered was Arabic because Luis de Torres, who was on the ship that brought Columbus was the first one to address the American Indians who came to meet the ship in Arabic. Columbus was looking for Prester John. He was looking for the other people who are going to have a pincer operation to contain Islam and he brought Luis Torres with him. Now, I've seen some Jewish sources that say that he was a Jewish person. But the point is he spoke both Hebrew and Arabic, and we know that. And so some people speculate that his Arabic name is [foreign words]. That's not the point. The point is that we know that immigrants started coming in 1870s. Their children have fought in American wars. We have -- I have collected a whole set of pictures from Detroit area where you have people who fought in the First World War. You have some communities that were totally decimated. Cedar Rapid, Iowa sent its young people. They never came back. And, you know, 1911 you have in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, one of the first mosques built. There were over a hundred Lebanese Muslims there and 1978 the mosque was demolished and there were no Muslims left. But most of them went to the First World War. Some of them died and the rest probably settled in Dearborn or in Ohio. And what you have is a people who fought in the Second World War. Yeah. In the first days during the Second World War in the Air Force was Mr. Igram who started the Federation of Islamic Associations of North America. He came out of South Dakota. You have -- then you have people who fought in the Viet Nam War and they have been American, they have been -- as Americans you can. They have fought for American wars. Now that is the immigration that was stopped in 1924 when America changed its immigration laws to keep a lot of people out. But then we have a different kind of immigration that starts after the Second World War, and that is the beginning of the coming of the brain drain. There were Arab students that were recruited from all over the Arab world and brought to the United States to be trained to be sent back with the hope that they are going to become pro-American. Anti-Communist was part of our strategy during the Cold War. By 1965, when the Asia Repeal Act was instituted, basically the immigration was open to people of Asian background and we have a continuation of the brain drain with the coming of Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis who were doctors and engineers and a part of the brain drain. If you go to San Jose there is one mosque which has over 325 computer engineers with MAs and PhDs. So there have been -- and, you know, the Pakistani Medical Association has over 2000 medical doctors. The Arab Medical Association has thousands of doctors. So they have been part of the people ministering to the needs of the United States. What happened is, and after that we have a new sort of immigration because there were laws that were -- you know, our immigration laws were changed so that Muslims from South Asia couldn't come to the United States in the numbers they did after '65. And that was by an act of Congress in which they restricted the coming of people with a British passport. Up 'til then we were welcoming people with a British passport and then because Pakistanis and Indians who had lived in the United Kingdom were coming on this immigration loophole if you want. So it was stopped and instead we shifted to importing Irish people. What happened after that is we have then most of the newer people have been coming either as chain migration, coming to live with their relatives, or as refugees. And there is a great deal of difference between the immigrants who came as part of the brain drain and the refugees. And the refugees have come from Somalia, from Iraq, from Palestine, from Afghanistan, from Bosnia, and Lebanon. Some of the Lebanese refugees who came from South Lebanon after the Israeli invasion of South Lebanon are illiterate in both Arabic and English when they came. So that you get PhDs on one side and illiterate people, you know, from Afghanistan and Somalia also that have come to the United States. How have they fared in the United States? Well, the United States had special stereotypes for them. I personally -- who -- I'm not a Muslim. Yesterday somebody asked me that. I should go teach Islam in Cairo because he thought I was a Muslim. And I had to correct him. But, you know, it's part of this misinformation that everybody with an Arab name must be a Muslim. Anyway, when I first emigrated to the United States in 1963, the dominant stereotype of Muslims and Arabs in the United States was of the camel jockey, somebody on the periphery of America. And I remember going on a trip with wives from -- faculty wives from Princeton because my husband was teaching there. And one woman asked me, she said, "You have a slight accent. Where are you from?" And I said, "Jordan," because my husband's Jordanian. I had a Jordanian passport. And said, "Georgia?" "No, Jordan." "Oh, King Hussein, Lawrence of Arabia riding into the sunset." And then she turned to me and she said, "Whoever civilized you did a very good job" [laughter]. And that is, that is the stereotype that Muslims and Arabs have had to live with in the '60s, one in which they were uncivilized, and if they could speak English, somebody must have civilized them. By the '70s the stereotype shifted and they became all part of the oil sheik syndrome because it comes after the 1973 oil boycott and suddenly the Muslims are a threat to America's economic welfare. And you have these cartoons in which every Muslim walks, and then he has four wives sort of, you know, sort of traipsing behind him a few steps behind. And probably the best description of that would be the cartoon of "Dennis the Menace" in which he runs home and he says to his mother, "You know, the Arabs have stolen the Thanksgiving dinner of our neighbors." And what happened is they were eating hamburger because they couldn't afford the turkey. Why? Because of the price of oil. So Arabs became a threat to America's economic welfare. By the 1980s it shifted and they became the terrorists over there. And the press had a great deal of terrorism movies. I won't go over them but anybody who's interested in how Arabs and Muslims have been depicted in American movies, there is a recent book published by Dr. Shaheen in which he goes over 990 movies from the time of the silent movies in which Arabs and Muslims have been depicted. And in over 990 movies he finds only three, only three in which they're depicted as, you know, sort of regular guys, regular human beings. In all the rest they are, you know, what he calls the bombers, the rag-heads, and the belly dancers. But basically they are all -- and the name of the book is <i>Reel Bad Arabs </i>and the "Reel" is R-E-E-L. And I recommend you look at it because it tells you how over a century Muslims and Arabs have been stereotypes and depicted in these sort of parts of the unconscious of the American people. By the 1990s the stereotype shifted again, and they became not only terrorists who are a threat to some people over there, but also part of an evil that has to be wiped out. And there's a difference between a terrorist that you can bring to justice and try and execute, and to somebody's who identified as evil that has to be eradicated. And it becomes your duty, your divine duty. I mean, all religions have asked people to get rid of evil, so that increasingly in the press this terrorism 101 that has taken place -- increasingly you will find that people, you know, that Chris Matthews on MSNBC or O'Reilly on FOX or Linda Gradstein on NPR, basically there are questions, there can -- contextualization, their attacks, are definitely what is wrong with Islam. Why are they terrorists? And so and so forth. Now -- two minutes, okay. I'll try and finish before then. How have the Muslims adjusted to America? When they came, America was, you know, it was -- the dominant theme of America was this is a country that demanded Anglo conformity. And they did. If you look at the records, they called their imams "our minister," or the Koran "our Bible," mosque, "our church." Part of it is because the American public had no idea what they were talking about if they used the Arabic words. And part of it is because they wanted to meld. That was part of the melting pot. And you will see that -- if you look at the architecture of the first mosques they built, they looked like congregational churches. They tried to fit within the environment. It's not until the '70s and '80s that you begin to have, except for the mosque in Washington, D.C., which was built by the Embassies, you begin to have purposeful mosques, mosques that looked -- you know, or cathedral mosques or mosques that looked Islamic and you begin to have people saying, "Well, I want to put a dome on top of the mosque," or put a minaret on top of the mosque. But basically identify it publicly as Islamic. And there were several things that brought this about. Part of it was there was some funding from foreign sources to support the building of mosques in the United States. That came to an absolute and total end by 1990. And then there was this feeling of confidence of belonging to America and trying to find a niche where Muslims can fit within the American mosaic and create the space for themselves. Nineteen-ninety, during the Gulf War, there was pressure from Saudi, Arabia for Muslims to condemn -- not only to condemn Saddam Hussein, that is for Muslims in the United States, they all did, but also to support American intervention. And they brought a sheet of paper and asked them to sign, and they were against it, so Saudi, Arabia, forthwith [inaudible]. And for a few years the Muslim community in North America stumbled and didn't know what to do. A headquarters in Indiana, you know, they had to shut it down. Basically, they couldn't afford somebody to answer the phone even. And then they said, we don't need them anymore. And basically they went into their own pockets and started rebuilding -- building, constructing mosques. So then I have a list here of the mosques that -- and development of mosques. One I [inaudible] in 986. These are mosques and centers. There were 598 mosques in 1986 and about five months ago I got the information from Dr. Nimmer who is writing a book on Muslim institutions in North America and his calculation is at present there are 1372. So you have a major growth in the number of mosques and centers in the United States. And a lot of this has come from the fact that Muslims began to feel comfortable in the United States, most comfortable during the last election where they came out from the mosques and decided they wanted to participate in the election process. They endorsed George Bush and about half of them voted for him. Many people believe that the vote of the Muslims in Florida was what delivered the election to George Bush because there was a greater deal of support for George Bush in Florida from the Muslim community. Today the Muslims are still eager to belong in America. The question is whether America is going to be able to accommodate them on equal terms, because at the moment there is still a feeling that when President Bush said "You're either with us or with the terrorists," he definitely left no wiggle-room for anybody. And there is this feeling that the press believes that, too. And that the -- there is this special division between us and them, good and evil, and it's gliding over, so that if you look across the Muslim world today you will see that the United States is losing the propaganda war because of some of the statements that our policymakers are making. And I think I better stop. I see her eyes staring at me. >> Marieta Harper: Thank you, Dr. Haddad. At this point in time I'd like to entertain some questions from the audience. We'll have about 15 minutes to do that. And also an opportunity for you to have a little coffee break if you want. Where are the mics? Okay. We have one. Where are the questions? All right. So the gentleman over to my left, over here. I have -- I have two -- well, that wasn't a gentleman, but we'll take you for right now. Then the gentleman up front. >> Should I start here first? >> Marieta Harper: Yes, you may. >> Thank you. Well, I would like to thank all the panelists for their representations. And I have a [inaudible] on Dr. Yvonne Haddad's presentation. The Muslim block vote that was done in the 2000, it was not done by the mosques. It was done by the National American Muslim Political Organizations which have a coordinating council that did back, and according to that they did make a choice between the two candidates. And because of the responsiveness of then Governor Bush they did endorse him. So just to set the record straight. Thank you. >> Yvonne Y. Haddad: I accept that. >> Marieta Harper: Okay. >> Yvonne Y. Haddad: No problem. >> Marieta Harper: The gentleman up front. Okay. >> My question, too, is to [inaudible]. It is on your last comment, whether America will abate Muslims. Now the one -- the way Muslims are being treated after the 911 event -- and, really, I have lived in this country for a quarter century. I did not see this America. Now Americans are very tolerant, much more than France and some of the European countries so far as religion is concerned. But yet a neighbor started talking to neighbors. People never stared at me during the last quarter century. For the first time after 911 I saw people staring at me. My -- a Pakistani boy who is friend of my daughter, he was [inaudible]. Now to what do you attribute that? It is kind of -- is it -- it is not religion. People are very tolerant, as you said. >> Yvonne Y. Haddad: Well, I really don't -- I mean, I think it's a combination of racism and also what kind of religion is tolerated in America. Because I was at a meeting of the World Council of Churches, which was on Christian-Muslim relations in Cairo, in December. And there was one person who came from Gatare and he was responsible for schools for the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Africa. And he told me that the American Embassies were escalating what they are teaching in their schools, what they're teaching about Islam. And he was very distressed about it, and he said, "You know, they can ask the -- the can interview the professors, they can interview the principal, they can interview the students, they can look at the textbooks, but they cannot tell me how to interpret Islam." And, basically, there is this effort to say that this kind of interpretation of Islam is unacceptable. And the question is, who decides what Islam is acceptable? And given the fact that there are no -- there is no Pope in Islam, okay? Who is going to decide? I mean, for example, I've heard some Muslims say that President Bush went to the mosque and said, "Islam is a religion of peace." A lot of Muslim's believe it's a religion of peace. But it's also a religion of justice. And unless you have justice, you have no peace. And so if the issue of justice is missing, then [inaudible] interpreted right at -- or sanctioned by the President of the United States in the way Muslims see it. I know what I'm saying is controversial. Don't attack me. I'm just reporting to you what I gather, the information. Now what this one guy said to me is, "Are they checking the Jewish schools in Brooklyn? Because Brooklyn produces the settlers that go to the West Bank and people who go who hate Christians and Muslims carry Uzi machine guns. They call them the Brooklyn Cowboys." And the question is, what kind of Judaism are they teaching in Brooklyn? He said, "Are they also checking what kind of Christianity is being taught by the Fundamentalist Christians?" So he had some issues. The other thing I want to report to you that came out of a conference I attended in January, just a couple of weeks ago, and it was sponsored by Tony Blair and the Archbishop of Canterbury, and it was Christian-Muslim relations. And there was one guy who is a PhD in Islamic Law, from Egypt, and he was asking about American racism in the treatment of the prisoners, or the detainees. How come Walker is put into a building where no one can see him and how come the Muslims are paraded like animals in cages? And this is the way they perceive it. So that they perceive that there is an innate racism in American policy. And they see that America has sanctioned a certain type of Islam, but not the type of Islam that they want. I mean, I'll tell you one more thing and I'll shut up. Let other -- please ask the other people. I got some phone calls. There was, you know, they kept asking a certain type of questions and the press runs in herds. And, you know, a new question comes and then everybody's asking the same question. And the question was, who is the moderate Muslim? And <i>Newsweek </i>wanted to put him on the, on the front page of <i>Newsweek </i>. And I wondered, you know, the poor guy. The minute we identify him, he's gone. I mean, who is the moderate Muslim. And I asked him? I said, "What are you looking for?" He said he wanted somebody who separates religion from state, who privatizes religion. That would be the acceptable person. Will the Muslims of the world accept that definition of Islam? >> Dr. Hunwick. For those of us who are still in Islam 101, I first of all thank you for your essay there. But I'd like to ask -- you mentioned the incursion of Islam into early Africa by the merchants. Now some of us have heard that there were also several violent conquests where people were converted by violence. You spoke to the impact of the Arabs going into Africa and how the literacy was improved. But were there other conditions which historically might have attributed to our, some of our stereotypes and beliefs as of this time? Are those things true about the conquest, the violence? I've heard Islam is a religion of peace, but still somehow in the back of my mind I have, from my history, that there were conquests, that the converts were gained through these kinds of things. >> John O. Hunwick: Well it's certainly true that North African was subject to conquests. I'm not even going to say it was an Islamic conquest. It was an Arab conquest where the Arabs happened to be Muslims. And maybe that was what also inspired them to do it. But Sub-Saharan in Africa, black Africa, was never attacked in that kind of way. It's entirely -- came across -- I said West Africa -- by merchants who were doing trade, particularly trade in gold, from North Africa into West Africa. They were Muslims. And they came. It was their influence that brought Islam to the societies in the West African regions. >> What made you interested in studying Islam? >> Marieta Harper: Could you repeat that? Can you repeat that? >> Dr. John: What made you interested into studying Islam? >> Yvonne Y. Haddad: Why did you study Islam? >> [Inaudible] interesting. >> What made you to study Islam? >> John O. Hunwick: Well, very early in my career I worked in a Muslim society which really caught my imagination and interest. That was -- of course I'm British by origin though I'm American now. That was back in the 1950s when I was serving in the British Army. That was in what is now Somalia. It was then British Somaliland. And so I decided when I came back from there that I would study Islam. And the best way to do that was to learn Arabic. That's why I went to the School of African Studies in London and did my first degree in Arabic. >> I have a question directed to Mr. Beard. I spent 20 years in the military. I was stationed in Panama, pre and post so-called just cause. And I came across information that the -- there were a tribe of Africans who were present in a area called Darian. And that they are mentioned in the explorer or the exploiter Balboa. That in his diaries that he saw black people, or he saw black men, and they were [inaudible] any background on these Africans who obviously made the Transatlantic trade before the slave trade? >> Derrick J. Beard: Ah, let's see. Somehow. It's interesting that you mentioned Panama because along with the manuscript of Omar ibn Said which was collected by [inaudible] like there was a collection of three Arabic manuscripts written by a Sheikh [foreign word]. Sheikh [foreign word] was a Sheikh Muslim from Sierra Leone who was living and working in Panama, working there with the Panama Railroad. And he wrote a series of four manuscripts in Arabic in the year of 1854 to about 1856. I have three, and I could share with you the manuscript and also the translation of those manuscripts. I'm familiar with Panama and Panama at that time was a part of Colombia. And in Colombia, particularly Carta Haina which was a slave port for South America, or particularly that region in South America, you had a number of [inaudible] that would come in and people that were brought from Senegal, Mali, Cambia, the Gulf of Guinea, Guinea. And, again, many of these people were Muslim -- Hausas, Fulanis, Mandingos, Mendes, Fulas, et cetera, et cetera. And there are -- presently there are retentions of Islam in South America. I know of one guy who was actually Colombian. His name is [foreign words]. And he lives on the Pacific. That whole region, particularly the Pacific Coast going from [inaudible] all the way along the Pacific of Colombia, Ecuador all the way to Northern Peru is about 90% African today. Okay. These people were Maroons. They fled from the plantations of Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, et cetera, and they fled to the jungle along the Pacific Coast. And they stayed there, isolated, up to the 20th century. And only recently they had roads and people, Christians, missionaries, that came in there and began to convert a lot of these people. But they still have their African, many of the African traditions. And you will find elements of Islam. As I mentioned, this guy's [foreign word]. His - which we trace that name to Mali. And his family was able to retain their name for almost four centuries. And you have quite a few people down there that have those name. And in Panama, the area you're speaking about there, I talked to Panamanian Muslims and there apparently there is a mosque, they say, somewhere in the jungle. But I have not gone there nor have I seen any actual physical evidence. A friend of mine, Mustafa Benema [assumed spelling], he's a teacher at Brooklyn College. He was in Panama last year doing research on Sheikh [foreign word]. But unfortunately, you know, Panama doesn't have any vital statistics prior to like 1900. So if you want records you have to kind of go into the church, you know. And then there's just this folklore legends that you have to kind of explore. >> Marieta Harper: We have two more questions. >> [Inaudible] of America Radio. It's wrong also to think that the other side does not have the same debates we're having right now. Basically I'll go back to Mrs. Yvonne Haddad. The other side is also asking. It includes also the African countries. It's not only the Middle East itself. What type of Islam do they want? I'm just translating here basically word-to-word. How did daily editorials have the daily tentatives to explain what America wants? It seems to me they think Europe has [inaudible] understanding, probably for [inaudible] reasons. But so far the other side, the Muslims all over the world, including these we just -- which is just a tiny portion of the whole -- of all that [inaudible] is still asking what type of Islam America wants now, in the future. And also they seem to be surprised at the -- to what some describe as a naïve question, why do they hate us? They answer, both, the [inaudible] and institutionalized. We do not hate you. Who created that? Who created the [inaudible]? Therefore, knowing all what you know, and I'm sure if you go to the other side within -- your peers on the other side of the world -- there wouldn't be too much differences. What is the solution to [inaudible]? Is it in the school level? Should we go back to the ABCs of schooling on both sides to bring up basically both worlds. Because the same questions are being asked on the other side. And nobody seems to have answers so far. Not the institutions, rest, and politicians basically do not have it according to what it seems. Thank you. >> Yvonne Y. Haddad: Do you want to answer him? >> Marieta Harper: [Inaudible] a question over here. >> John O. Hunwick: No. >> Yvonne Y Haddad: No. I don't think that there are answers for this because what I read -- you know, I read the<i> Arab Press </i>too. They're asking, why does America hate us? Yeah. And I think that there is some kind of a gap. I think one of the things that's worthy of looking at at the moment is the fact that America is in the process of defining itself again. In the '60s it became fashionable to have a hyphenated identity. So you became, you know, I'm Irish-American, a Jewish-American, and whatever. If you look at the ads that are being put on television, there is no room for hyphenation. They all say, I am American, regardless of who they are. And I think that we are going through some kind of process of brainwashing ourselves, that we want to get away from any kind of identity with wherever people left behind, and, in a sense, get rid of history which is something that the United States has had before. I mean, the United States is a country that is constituted of people from all over the world. They come with a lot of hatreds for each other and with a lot of histories of genocides and wars. And one of the ways in which the United States has constituted itself and was able to sort of create an American society is to say let's forget about that history. And that's why they don't teach a lot of history. They teach social studies and conflict management and the peaceful solutions, and that kind of stuff. The question is that, you know, in the rest of the world part of their identity, part of their national identity as they were formed into nation states is a particular understanding of history. And generally it's anti-colonial history because all countries of the Muslim world have been ruled by Britain or France or Germany or somebody, except for Saudi, Arabia, and part of Iran and Afghanistan. But all of them have known the boot of a foreign occupier. And so part of their identity is getting rid of foreign occupation. And what has happened is that a lot of American policy right now -- all you have to do is turn on the TV and they get CBS and NBC and CNN, and they hear the policymakers saying it's all right to be hypocritical, you know. Look at the British. All empires of the world have been hypocritical. The British were hypocritical, the French were hypocritical. I'm sorry [laughter]. But that's what they're saying. I'm just quoting. And so -- I mean I take refuge in being a historian and not a political scientist. I can't tell you where we're going to go. >> Do you believe African countries within [inaudible] also? >> Yvonne Y. Haddad: Some of them. Some of them. It would -- >> Do you think it's also in Africa? >> Yvonne Y. Haddad: It's everywhere. It's everywhere every day. And it is within Islam itself. What kind of an Islam do we want? But part of it is there are nation states reacting to colonialism. And the unfortunate thing is that we've had people like -- you know, the President of the United States and Secretary Powell have said they -- we in the civilized world. That means that they are uncivilized. That is a no-no word because it brings back the French colonial civilizing mission. And what was part of the civilizing mission in Algeria? Get rid of Islam. The only way that an Algerian could become a citizen is if he renounces the Sharia. Are we asking the same thing? I think it is unconscious. But for them it is not unconscious because they are grounded in this anti-colonial history. And we've been using terms that come right out of a century ago, whether it's, you know, Huntington's you know -- >> John O. Hunwick: Civilization. >> Yvonne Y. Haddad: Yeah, The Civilization Struggle. That was what the missionaries went with at the beginning of 19th century. It was this conflict between Islam and the Christian world, and they wanted to Christianize everybody. And so we're resurrecting demons that people have thought have been put to rest. And we are unconscious because we have, as Americans, no concept of history. >> John O. Hunwick: But this is where President Bush and Osama bin Laden have a similar point of view. The world consists of two kinds of people, us and them. And the clash of civilizations is taking place. So that's a view they share I think. But let me just make one other remark as regards how the United States is beginning to look at Islam. Nowadays the word Islam has become part of our vocabulary and you find it on the news, on the television, in the newspapers, and so on. Nobody things they have to kind of explain it. But even more than that words like Ramadan and Hajj have also come into our vocabulary, which shows that little by little the notion of Islam as an American religion is being accepted. >> Marieta Harper: The last question. >> I won't keep you from your coffee break, so I'll just ask a brief question from Derrick. Derrick, I'm grateful you shared your information on Omar, a fascinating historical figure. I've been a great admirer of Omar the caliph, and my own son is called Omar. My question is, where can one get information about Omar or Umar. Is there some book or accessible literature available? >> Derrick J. Beard: Well we did a symposium about three years ago I guess, 1998, at Harvard University, which was sponsored by the Longfellow Institute. And, yeah, there we go. In fact -- >> Say it again. >> Derrick J. Beard: -- people here on the panel was a part of that. That's Sylvaine's book, Diouf's book, <i>Servants of Allah </i>. She's here, the author. She has quite a bit of information about Omar and other slave Muslims. There is a new book out called<i> The Multilingual Anthology</i> <i>of American Literature </i>which was edited by two Harvard professors, Marc Shell and Professor Werner Sollars, and that's available through New York University Press. The Longfellow Institute is doing a monogram on Omar itself. And I'm not sure of the exact date when that's supposed to be published. It's coming out through John Hopkins University Press. But, again, that could be, hopefully, this year. >> John O. Hunwick: Yeah, I wish I knew, because I have an article [laughter]. >> Derrick J. Beard: That's right, uh-huh. But -- and if you want to get a translation or Arabic copies, Eric's copy, you can contact me and I can give you a copy. No problem. Thank you. >> Marieta Harper: Thank you. With that, you have five minutes to have some coffee before we go to the second panel. Thanks. Let's give a hand to our panelists for the first panel. >> Prosser Gifford: Thank you. We're now in for a second treat. Marieta Harper, whom you saw was the Chair of the first panel, had a significant role in putting this whole thing together. And although she was quite modest and didn't indicate that, I think you should all know that. We are, again, going to have an order that is not really strictly chronological. I don't think that makes a great deal of difference. But it is occasioned by the fact that a number of our eminent panelists have to teach and, therefore, have to squeeze these presentations here in and around a very busy schedule and other commitments. We begin with Akbar Ahmed who holds the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, School if International Service at the American University. I apologize for reading what you have on your yellow sheets, but the yellow sheets are not on the camera, so I really do have to indicate something by way of an introduction on camera. Professor Ahmed holds a PhD for the University of London, has served as Pakistan's High Commissioner in the United Kingdom. He's the author of many books on contemporary Islam including <i>Discovering Islam,</i> <i>Making Sense of Muslim History and Society </i>which, as many of you probably know, was the basis of a BBC six-part TV series. And his Jinnah Quarter consists of a feature film about Jinnah who was, of course, the prime creator of Pakistan, the documentary <i>Mr. Jinnah, the Making of Pakistan </i>, his book, <i>Jinnah, Pakistan, and Islamic Identity </i>, and a graphic novel about which I'm ashamed to say I don't know much. He is a recipient of a number of awards including the Star of Excellence from Pakistan, and the Sir Percy Sykes Memorial Medal given by the Royal Society for Asian Affairs in London. So, Professor Ahmed. [ Applause ] >> Akbar S. Ahmed: Thank you, Professor, for that very warm introduction. A key question that will face all of us in America and abroad, all human societies, will be how are we able to live together as a multi-cultural, multi-religious entity, because the processes of globalization are creating so much turmoil through all sorts of processes. And this idea will relate to what I'm going to be sharing with you this morning. My title for those of you who looked at this -- the proceedings for this morning will note is "A New Andalucía?" You will also note I have put a question mark after the title. For me, Andalucia symbolizes something in our history and world history. It symbolizes a time almost a thousand years ago when Jews, Christians, and Muslims were able to live together in great harmony. This wasn't just an ideal construct, a theory. But it created something. If you look at the literature, the art, the level of thought at that time, you will be astounded. Some of the greatest writers and thinkers come from that era in world history. Above all, it was a society where people were able to talk, talk freely. There was open debate. So Jews, Muslims, Christians, talked to each other. It was through this civilization that Europe and the West learned of its own history and its own foundations, the Greeks. If there'd been no Muslims in Spain perhaps the Renaissance may not even have taken place. And I came across several great scholars, American scholars, scholars like Professor Tamara Sun, Professor John Esposito, Professor Dinah Eck, who were exploring this idea of America as a New Andalusia, America as a society which was relatively comparatively but very advanced in terms of peoples and cultures living together. There was a genuine feeling of welcome to the immigrant because America essentially is a society of immigrants welcoming other immigrants. And that gave it a certain flavor and a character in America. I discussed this with a colleague of mine at Princeton University in making a comparison between European experiences with Islam and American experiences. And he told me, a very wise Professor of Anthropology who studied the Muslim world, he said the difference is that in America the door's open. There is no restriction. You want to make a mosque, go and make a mosque. You want to make an Islamic center, go and make it. Of course, that is on one level. We know that on another level there are three distinct streams in the American Muslim community -- the Afro-American stream of which we've heard with such eloquence this morning, the Arab stream from the Middle East, and then the Asian stream which came more recently. We also know that these three streams run parallel, sometimes they fuse, sometimes they maintain their own identity. We also know that there are individuals in the first stream, individuals who are towering, who are in a sense gigantic figures acting as bridges between not only the three streams but outside. And I refer to figures like Malcolm X and Muhammad [inaudible] as much an Afro-American stars. He is an American stars. He's much a Muslim star. So for someone in Pakistan, my country, he'd be a complete superstar. Now, September 11 and Osama bin Laden -- Osama bin Laden challenges many things on September 11. And I believe one of the great, great ideas that he challenges is the idea of the New Andalusia. He does challenge that. And as a result of this we have immediately after September 11 three things happening -- the levels of ignorance about Islam, the levels of understanding about Islam, and the levels of hatred against Islam. These three things become immediately apparent after September 11. And you have so many cases. You have men with beards wearing a turban. Sometime Sikhs, not even Muslim, being attacked. You have women wearing the hijab being abused or humiliated, or forced to take their hijab off. And we suddenly have a great challenge to the idea of a New Andalusia. At the same time, with this great challenge, we also have a new opportunity because there is a genuine interest in Islam after September 11. People want to know about Islam. So matched with the great ignorance on one hand there is a great interest. And the ignorance cuts across at all levels. Sometimes I aghast at the media and the experts on the media. Recently I heard a commentary on the prisoners in Cuba, and one of the experts was explaining why the beards of these prisoners were shaved. And the expert was saying they were shaved so that they could become purer. It was a purification process. And I was aghast. How do you respond to something which is this level of ignorance? And, really, in a sense that is what we are up against, the challenges of trying to create understanding and mutual dialog between the communities. So our work as scholars interested in Islam in America is really cut out. The great challenge today is how to explain Islam in an environment which is, A, volatile, B, often hostile, and C, accumulation of so many years and years and years of prejudice, history, and negative images. We've heard the negative images that have come from the media, particularly Hollywood and the films, so I won't go into that. So Muslims are in a sense in the dark. Whether people accept that or do not accept it, anyone I ever name which ends with Ahmed or Amed. Try going to a check-in counter at an airline with the name like that. You're going to be looked over very carefully. You're going to be asked to step aside. You've suddenly become aware that whatever you are, whoever you are, you are suddenly representative of the Islamic civilization as a whole. And why not? Just look at what's happening. Look at the media. Constantly Islam or Muslims are in the news. There's a Muslim story all the time on the media. [Inaudible], Muslims; Philippines [inaudible] Muslims. Where are we going next? Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Muslim, Muslim, Muslim, Muslim. Captives, all Muslims. All captives. Johnny Jihad. Muslims, Muslims, Muslims are always in the news. So however much we pretend that we as scholars, we live in our own world, we write our books, we have nothing to do with the real world, we are part of the debate. I see all of us facing several crises. The first crisis, for of these crises is the crisis of identity. I believe that this has thrown open the issue of identity in Muslim society. Are we Arabs? Are we Pakistanis? Are we American Muslims? Are we part of the world [inaudible] or are we only American Muslims, defined politically and geographically by the borders around America? Number one, identity. Number two, theology. The debate about Islamic self. Does the Koran encourage violence? I'm asked that all the time. And I'm sure other Muslims are asked that all the time. We need answers. It is not good enough for me to say, well, you must know we are peaceful, we love you, we love America. Islam is a peaceful religion. That has been the Muslim response and that just will not do because no one is buying that. After you kill 5000 people or 4000 people, you blow up the [inaudible] you can't simply say there is no violence [inaudible] there. We need explanations. We don't need cliches. So theology. We need the theologians and the scholars to be giving us the answers rooted in their knowledge of the Koran and the Hadis and Islamic history. The questions people asking. Three, Muslim leadership. I believe there's a crisis of Muslim leadership in America right now. Who are the Muslim leaders? I simply hear people in the media saying Islam is peaceful, Islam is peaceful. This chant, this incantentiation [assumed spelling] which doesn't mean anything. What does this mean Islam is a peaceful religion? It doesn't explain anything. We need the Muslim leadership to connect with the community, number one, their own community and, number two, with the larger American community. That is not happening. Number four, education. Muslim education and larger American education, where do they meet? Where do they divert? We hear so much talk about the madrassa. Have we had position papers on the madrassa? Do we know anything about the madrassa? What is the madrassa? The madrassa is the religious system, the religious education system, that eventually created the Taliban. But at the same time the madrassa is the foundation for Islamic learning and has been for the last thousand years. So does that needed information? What do we need to do about the madrassa? We also know that there's a crisis, not only in Muslim society in analyzing non-Muslims, but in non-Muslims looking at Muslim society. There's also a failure in non-Muslims studying Muslims or commenting on Muslims. I see four experts, all four non-Muslims, commenting on Muslim issues. And all four having the same opinion. So A will say Islam is a violent religion. B will say yes, it's a terribly violent religion. C will say it's an even more violent religion. And D will agree with this. I don't see much debate. I don't see much interaction of ideas. And when a Muslim expert often appears in the media he's often shouted down. There's a tendency to simply dismiss him or her. So there is a problem of communication right now in the media and we may again say the media doesn't have an impact. It's just the media. But I would like to remind you that the media determines how ordinary people think in any country. And the power of the media is so great that this may damage those people like me who are talking of dialog of civilizations of understanding. It is a very frustrating moment to be a Muslim in America at this time because I feel that the challenge is so great. I also know that there are millions and millions of people on both sides, Muslims and non-Muslims, who are taking this challenge as an opportunity to move towards the idea of dialog, to try to create understanding. And I would like to end with the notion, with the idea of New Andalusia. Remember that the 21st century itself will be a century of change, of turmoil, of conflict. We've heard the professors talking about the clash of civilizations. We are seeing in some ways, whether we agree or not, a clash of civilizations taking place. It is happening and there's no reason to pretend it is not happening. And, therefore, the idea and ideal idea of a New Andalusia, a land where people are respected for what they are, a land that respects difference, a land that we are able to say I am different, my color is different, my religion is different, and yet I have respect. I think that is a great ideal. And as a Muslim I would like to share the vision that the Holy Prophet in the seventh century gave of this ideal of New Andalusia in the last great address that he presented to humanity in which he said, "There is no Arab or non-Arab, there is no black or there is no white." And this was the seventh century. This was a thousand years before anyone was talking about equality. This is the vision that drives Muslim society. And I believe at that point it meets the American ideal of New Andalusia. Thank you. >> Prosser Gifford. Thank you very much. An appropriate series of thoughts from somebody who holds the Ibn Khaldun Chair, the first really great sociologist I think it's fair to say, historian, of course, great historian of the Berbers. But the first great sociological theorist of the movement of peoples in Northern Africa. We now turn back to a more historical presentation. At least I believe that's what it's going to be. Sylviane Diouf is the Content Manager for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture on the African American Migration Experience Project. And she has done a lot of work on camera for the PBS series <i>This Far</i> <i>by Faith, African American Spiritual Journeys </i>. And it was her book that was held up at the end of the last panel as evidence that there is indeed in print a good deal on the subject of her book, <i>Servants of Allah,</i> <i>African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas </i>. That book received a number of awards and she holds a Doctorate in Les Sciences Humaines, Human Sciences, from the University of Paris. She's an Adjunct Professor at New York University, Research Associate at the Center for Historical Analysis at Rutgers, and a former Diplomat from the Senegalese Diplomatic Service in both the U.S. and in Italy. Sylviane, it's yours. >> Sylviane A. Diouf: So I'm going to take you back to the first panel. I will be speaking about the African Muslims were enslaved in the Americas. And when we look at the situation today we see that about 7% of the Muslims in the United States are Sub-Saharan Africans. But there was a time when they represented 100% of the Muslims in this country as well as in the Americas at large in the Caribbean. Those were the first 400 years. Now between the really early years of the 59 [inaudible] until the 1860s hundreds of thousands of Sub-Saharan Muslims were brought to the Americas. There were prisons here but between 15 and 20% of the 12 to 15 million Africans were swept in the Atlantic slave trade. About 600,000 Africans were sent to -- but they came to the United States so we can think that about 100,000 of them were Muslims. Those people were men, women, children. They were [inaudible] Muslims, farmers, musicians, cattle herders, craftspeople, any category that you can think of. But there were also categories that were specific to the Muslims. For example, they were students and teachers in Koranic schools. They were scholars, Imam, [inaudible] were memorizers of the Koran. They were judges in Islamic [inaudible]. They were political religious leaders and clerics. Some just like Omar [inaudible] Said were enslaved here mentioned that before they were brought to the Americas they had gone to Mecca to make the pilgrimage. Some studied in Egypt also or in Morocco. Here, in the Americas and the Caribbean, they did all the work that people were enslaved to do -- picking cotton, tobacco, rice, et cetera. But there is also evidence that many Muslims were employed as professionals, as slave drivers, as craftspeople, et cetera. What -- but there was one thing that differentiated them from the rest of the population. Not only the other people were enslaved, but also many of the unslavers, and this is the fact as mentioned by Professor Hunwick that some of them could read and write in Arabic but also in their own language written in the Arabic script. Now it's one thing to know how to read and write and to come here knowing that. It's another thing to continue to do so when you're enslaved. And especially in countries that forbid slaves to read and write. So, obviously, even though they kept their skills in the Americas and there are many documents not only in the United States but in Latin America that mention that slaves -- I mean Muslims were writing. It was a difficult endeavor. Of course they could not buy paper and ink. It was a very -- it was very hard to do, not only for financial reasons but also because if you were [inaudible] you were just not supposed to do -- buying ink and paper. So we have an example of Ibrahim [foreign words] from Guinea was a slave in Mississippi for 40 years and what he did was when he was -- when the people were taking a break, he was a cotton picker, he used to write on the sand of the plantation just to make sure that he did not forget how to write. But in some other countries, and maybe here in the United States also, it's just that I haven't found the documentation, people were also making their own implements. They were making ink as people do in Africa. I found an example of people from Nigeria would be enslaved in [foreign words] who were described as making ink and making wooden tablets. This is very interesting because as Professor Hunwick mentioned the tablets, the Koranic tablets are used either for talismans or they also are used as a slate in Koranic schools. So these may indicate that there were Koranic schools in [foreign words] during slavery. And even though it may seem a little bizarre this is not the only case. There were many Koranic schools which operated underground in Brazil. And there was a big mass enterprising in 1835 in Brazil. And the police went, of course, through the houses of the Africans and they found the slaves and they found books, et cetera. And it was revealed that those schools had been operating for years. And I must say that there were quite sophisticated. We are talking about some people were free, but the majority of them were slaves. I have an interesting quote by the French Ambassador in Rio who wrote, and I quote, "The Koran was sold in Rio at 15 to 25 queseros by the French [inaudible] for showing [inaudible]. We import copies from Europe. Slaves who appear to be quite poor are willing to make the greatest sacrifices to acquire this volume, going into debt to do so, and sometimes taking a year to pay off the bookseller. About a hundred copies of the Koran are sold every year." So you can see that even though people were enslaved what leads all time in urgent money they had, they [inaudible] separated that to buying the Koran. We also have mentions of Korans in the United States. Some were given by priests to the Muslims. Some were smuggled, if you will, here. There were also people who wrote -- did not have access to a Koran, and they wrote their Koran by rote. I mean this is one thing that people should be able to do after good Islamic education. John [inaudible] that was mentioned before wrote two copies of the Koran as he was going to London back from -- back to Senegal. Another in Jamaica, also that we know of, wrote his own copy of the Koran. [Inaudible] Muhammad from Guinea, who was enslaved on [inaudible] wrote a 13-page manuscript in Arabic on paper that has been analyzed. And it's been shown that this paper was manufactured in Italy for the Muslim market of North Africa. So we have this Muslim from Guinea in Georgia writing a manuscript on paper coming from -- I mean made in Italy and which had been then sent to North Africa and then smuggled in some way by what I call Islamic networks of traders and sailors to Georgia, to a remote plantation on the Sea Islands. What is important to see is that Muslim literacy introduced a subversive element in those slave societies because they were based on the idea that Africans were kind of a sub-species, incapable of any intellectual pursuit. So the idea was that, well, you know, if these people came here knowing how to read and write in Arabic, what does it mean? That there are schools in Africa. There's paper, there's ink, there are teachers, students. So what about the idea that all those people are just savages running around naked hitting one another. So these opened questions in the slave societies to the point that in many cases these Muslims were Sub-Saharan Africans from Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana, were described as not being Africans but as being Arabs. Now there was also another problem. The fact that paper was smuggled out, books were also smuggled in some way. And the fact that there were Koranic schools -- evidence that there was a well-run organized underground community. And this community could do something else than just pursue religious and literary things. It could be used in a more practical manner. And, of course, we've seen in Guyana, in [foreign words], in Brazil, maybe not -- not in the United States as we know of, but in other countries a literacy in Arabic used by the slaves to plot revolts. From 1807 to 1835 there were many Muslim conspiracies enterprising in Brazil. And we found -- I mean the documents exist. They are still here today. And they show maps in Arabic -- maps, blueprints for the revolts, plans, et cetera, of people who were planning those revolts. They were also writing of another type which were talismans as they -- as you, as well as I explained earlier. Those [inaudible] talismans are mainly used by the Sufi and they are like, if you will, I don't know, a saint medal in Christianity. They are not revered, but they are supposed to, you know, to help the person who wears them. So what we've seen is that we have many documents that are still -- exist today that were talisman, that were used during those revolts. So, in fact, the talismans were also kind of a weapon, if you will, that helped people feel more secure and more sure of the outcome of the fight. So in the specific situation of bondage, the literacy of the Africans provided them an efficient tool that could be used as a weapon. And, of course, it was discrete because the plans and the letters could go rather far and very few slaveholders and overseers wrote and read Arabic. On top of it some of those papers were written in also Mandingo, written in the Arabic script. So it was very difficult to decipher. Were there written denunciations of slavery, a kind of a protest literature if you will in -- written by those men? We don't know. But what we can safely say is that they were writing for other African [inaudible] were enslaved, so there was no use denouncing the situation. Everybody knew exactly what it was. But it's interesting to look at texts which were written by African Muslims for the rest of the population, the white population. I won't go into the texts by Omar Said because I don't think I would have time. But I will just like to mention one text which was written in 1834 by -- a man from Mali was enslaved in Jamaica, and he wrote his autobiography in Arabic. He wrote the first version while he was still in Jamaica and one part is interesting. He wrote it and then he translated it into English saying, and I quote, "We were three months at sea before we arrived in Jamaica which was the beginning of bondage. I have no one to thank but those who brought me here." End of quote. Now, the second version he wrote when he was free in London before going back to Mali. And the second version -- this paragraph reads -- "This was the beginning of my slavery until this day. I tasted the bitterness of slavery from them and its oppressiveness. But praise be to God, under whose power are all things." So once he was safe, he meant -- he made sure that people understood that some people were at fault for him being enslaved. And he was not thanking them at all. Can we say, as some people mentioned, that the Muslims were reclaiming their humanity through the [inaudible]. I would say that people have to be careful about saying things like that. We've seen -- I mean, many people have seen Africans and blacks in general who [inaudible] which for [inaudible] in 500 years of stereotypes. And there is no indication at all that Muslims and non-Muslims were enslaved in the Americas. [Inaudible] themselves as not human at all. On the contrary, French, Portuguese, Spanish, British, American sources consistently mentioned that the Africans thought that they were equal or superior to the people who had enslaved them. The Muslims have no reason to think of themselves as pagans, as sub-humans. They certainly felt oppressed. They do not feel -- some of them do not feel inferior but they certainly felt oppressed as human beings as well as [inaudible]. And literacy had them fulfill their needs, not only spiritual -- intellectual, political, and social. It was a marker, I think, of identity, not of humanity, of identity as Muslims, as clerics, as scholars. It meant continuing to be in the situation of bondage where they had been before, before they had status, before they had been teachers or students. And they continued to remain so even though they were enslaved. Given the number of Muslims throughout the Americas, why don't we find more manuscripts? And, of course, I mean they are the limitation that's, you know, you can imagine. But I must also say that more and more manuscripts are cropping up. We found some recently in Jamaica and in Trinidad. Besides the Omar [inaudible] there are hundreds of manuscripts in Brazil. And as the topic becomes more -- I mean as more and more scholars are looking into this topic, more and more things are being discovered that were there all along just in boxes somewhere. And you know, to conclude, I will say that a tradition of reading and writing, which in some areas that being established 500 years even more the slave trade started found a new utility in America. Islam was the fourth behind that. But literacy here had its own dynamics. It served also other purposes than just reading of the Koran and the text. In the very harsh [inaudible] were that they were forced to live in, the literate Africans used their knowledge to defend and protect themselves, to regain control through, for example, the talisman and the revolt, over their lives and over their -- the present and future of their communities. And they also tried to get their freedom. Their knowledge may have seemed worthless in these -- in the Western environment, but it proved to be extremely useful as well as extremely threatening to the enslavers. And those are not the only things that the African Muslims have left in the Americas. There are many others that can still be found today in the religions even of people of African descent who are not Muslims today. As mentioned also earlier, Vodou has some very distinctive Islamic elements. So does Santeria and Candomble, as well as other religions. So for 400 and sometimes 500 years, the African Muslims have been a cultural, social, and spiritual force in America. They have left their mark, including their written mark, in a society that negated and rejected them. They were Africans, they were Muslims. They became African Americans. And their story has to be heard an unearthed if we want to better understand the various cultures that have made America. Thank you [applause]. >> Prosser Gifford: Thank you very much. Let me just, before I introduce Amir Al-Islam, let me just try to briefly pull together a couple of the threads that we've heard so far, because Professor Hunwick, by emphasizing the Islamic learned tradition in Timbuktu, which of course came down from North Africa, helped to establish the very kinds of learning and network that we've just heard from Professor Diouf. And what Professor Ahmed emphasized, the new Andalucia ties back to that also because not only was Andalucia symbolically a society of tolerance, but it was a society of intellectual inclusiveness. And it was not only the Greek learning, but the Byzantine learning that came through Islam and eventually not only through Spain, but also through Sicily, and through the North Africa people like Ibn Khaldun himself. So there is a -- this tradition of learning, of inclusiveness to discovery from the ancient classical West and from the Byzantine world of what is now Turkey in Eastern Orthodoxy. All of that is incorporated in the tradition of Islamic learning. And these networks, as has been suggested several times today, these networks were expanded by sailors, and traders, and others all over the world. Now Amir Al-Islam, who will be our sort of cleanup batter for today, is presently the Executive Director of the Center for Professional Education at Medgar Evers College where he also teaches African American History and World Civilization. He holds graduate degrees from NYU, New York University, from Princeton in Islamic Studies and African American History. And was Director of Domestic Affairs at the Muslim World League Office at the United Nations. He's been actively involved in interfaith activities in many parts of the world, Poland, Japan, Sierra Leone, Turkey. He's organized and conducted interfaith dialogues throughout this country. He has several publications on African American Islam and has coauthored a number of U.N. documents, including "The Role of Religion in Social Development." So it is I think quite appropriate for him to be our final speaker this morning. >> Good evening. I would like to begin by an invocation that is part of the tradition of the Muslim community in praising Allah and sending out peace and blessings upon his prophet Muhammad in Arabic. [Speaking in foreign language] Praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds. Peace and blessings upon his final prophet, Muhammad. I would first like to take this opportunity to thank the organizers for inviting me to come today and share with you some of my views, ideas, perspectives, and research on Islam and the African American experience. I have -- we tried to in the beginning get the order switched, because Akbar Ahmed is one of my mentors, a person that I read and study. And I thought that he -- it would be more appropriate for him to be last, as well as the chronological order would be, I think, more consistent. But we are consistent in somewhat of our inconsistencies. So what I'm going to do very briefly today is give you kind of an overview of the African American Islamic experience. And as I was researching some information for this presentation at the Chamburg [assumed spelling], I realized that there's such a shortage of material about such a profound and dynamic subject. And as I listened to Yonne Haddad and Professor Akbar Ahmed talk about the idea of 9/11, in many instances within the discourse within the Islamic community, we are framing our experience pre- and post-9/11. And we are not really clear on what to make of the change that is taking place after 9/11. But I think it's ironic around the idea of civilization project and the idea of civilizational dialogue, as Dr. Ahmed talked about, is that we have to actually go back to a period in our history to refer to a point or a period where we can draw from that will allow us to be more civilized with each other. I think that is indicative of the failure of our ability to cope with the reality of the plurality of our existence here on this planet. Having said that, I would also like to say about the idea of 9/11, African Americans are not new to racial profiling. The term was coined by our existence. African Americans are not new -- we're not neophyte to the idea of oppression, and marginalization, and misrepresentation. This all happened pre-9/11. This has been the sum total of our existence and our struggle as we strived, and continue to strive, to establish a sense of social justice for people in general in America. This is not new to us. And as an activist scholar -- I was going to say scholar activist, but really I am an activist scholar. More activist than scholar, actually, because I feel like Gramsci has told us, somewhat as -- when he talks -- when he characterizes the organic intellectual, that theory is grounded and actualized in praxis. So having had the experience of working within the African American Muslim community for over 20 years, it has actualized much of my understanding of the theoretical framework. Let me say that as African American Muslims, there is no way that I could convey to you the trials, tribulations, the struggles, the difficulties, the pain, the anguish, the contradictions, the alienation, the marginalization of a people who have embraced Islam. And after embracing this great faith of 1/5 of the entire human race, now have taken on another burden where we are, in many instances, doubly margined -- doubly marginalized for being black -- punished for being black in a society that privileges whiteness, that -- where racism continues to permeate individual minds, and consciousness, and imaginations, and institutions. And being Muslim in a society where Ibn Said characterizes that the Islam that is represented or, quote, misrepresented, or covered, or miscovered [sic], is more about a conception and a construction of a demonized group rather than the profound religion that is represented by such a large number of people, a great religion that is embraced by such a large number of people on this planet, a religion that teaches such beautiful teachings of love, and compassion, and understanding, and respect for human beings, and respect for human life, and respect for the dignity of human beings and human existence. My topic was, of course, contemporary African American Islam. And for the few minutes that I have left here, I want to talk to you about some aspects of that. When we say contemporary African American Islam, we have to -- I have to make a disclaimer because the concept of contemporary African American Islam is problematic for Muslims, because in most cases Muslims would argue that there's no such thing as African American Islam, nor is there such a thing as Arab Islam, or Pakistani Islam, that there really is one Islam. But I would argue that that one divine and revealed religion and way of life that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, by the Creator of the universe immediately changes as soon as human beings claim agency over it, as soon as individual human beings embrace it, it now is changed from the pristine purity of its revelation to its interpreters and interlocutors who nuance it with their culture, who nuance it with their hermeneutics, who nuance it with their worldview and continue the process of its misrepresentation. Not only does the Western media often misrepresent Islam, but in many instances Muslims themselves misrepresent Islam. So when I talk about African American Islam, what I'm really saying is Islam among African Americans. I think that is a much more appropriate title And I don't need to go into detail, and I don't have time to go into detail about the delineation of the history or chronicling the history of the experience. I have basically divided the experience into three phases. One is what I call the pre-emancipation phase, African Muslims in antebellum America. In this experience alone one sentence will, I think, be appropriate for you to capture the essence of what the experience is about. The slaves, a Muslim who left the mosque in the Senegambian region to go home to his family, captured, chained, enslaved, taken from his homeland, his family, his loved ones, his community, and brought to the shores of North America to be dehumanized, to be demasculated [sic] and sold. And out of this horrific experience, this individual -- or these individuals like Omar, like Saliba Lada [assumed spelling], like so many others that we have not even discovered, but whose spirit we embody, particularly as African Americans, who lived that experience. These people were able to maintain the Islamic practice within the context of the horrific experience of slavery. That's pre-emancipation slavery. Painful, painful. There are not even enough texts to explain the pain that existed to the experience of slavery. One can read it, but the reality of the experience of it is something altogether different. The second phase is what I call the early Islamic communities, from 1900 to 1960. And in this particular phase of the Islamic development we see the evolution of what I call proto-Islamic movements. And I call them proto- to qualify the fact that many of these movements did not articulate nor practice the orthodox teachings of Al-Islam, but in fact appropriated -- selectively appropriated various theological teachings of Islam, to use, to construct, to develop, to construct tools -- as tools to be deployed to oppose racism and oppression. And within that period of time we did have individual communities that evolved and emerged, that became closer -- that emerged closer to what we call the Islamic orthodoxy. So movements like the Nation of -- I mean, the Noble Drew Ali, the Moorish Science Temple, even organizations like Marcus Garvey who was influenced by Duse Mohamed Ali when he went to London, before he came to the United States, that Muslims involved in the Marcus Garvey movement, Muslims, of course, African Americans, emerging from that movement into what is called the Nation of Islam with Fard Muhammad and eventually Elijah Muhammad, using the teaching of Islam to fight oppression and racism. And the final phase is the phase that I call the contemporary period, which is basically from 1960 until now. If you look at the movements in 1960, the Dar al-Islam, the Muslim International Brotherhood, Sheik Daud -- not Shake Daud [inaudible], I'm sorry -- other Islamic movements and Islamic party during that period, these movements were fired by the spirit of the Black Power Movement and the Civil Rights Movement, and much of their interpretation of Islam was nuanced and influenced by the radicalization and the rebelliousness of the people at that time who were fighting and continued to fight racism. As you might notice in my comments, race and racism is the meta-narrative that permeates every aspect of our history and experience as African Americans in this country. And it continues to do so. Now finally, let me say that in spite of the difficulties, in spite of the suffering, in spite of the indignities, in spite of the challenge, of example, of the Muslims who have -- a Muslim who has reverted to Islam, reconnected with their heritage and history, who has often be alienated from their own Christian family because now they have new names. They have new dress. They have new food. They have all of the things that now have -- the things that have transformed them into a new person. We're talking about an experience, an Islamization process that creates havoc in a community, in an individual family, in a society that continues to suppress that evolution and development. In spite of all of these difficulties, African American Muslims, by the grace of the Creator, are now functioning in every aspect of the American society. Muslims are -- African Americans are doctors, lawyers, judges. We have several Muslim -- African American Muslims who are elected officials, who are -- who have formed mosques. I think for the most part, out of the 1300 mosques in this country, at least 30% of them are African American mosques. We have leaders like Imam W.D. Mohammed who has probably the largest number of African American Muslims in this country, probably over 2 million, and other African American traditional Sunni communities like the new organization that's established called the Muslim Alliance of North America that was formed not long ago, which represents part of the traditional Sunni community. But the Islamic community is emergent and is -- and evolving, and the largest number of Muslims who are coming into Islam are primarily African American. And the people are saying [inaudible] questions, "What is this about?" And I don't know about you, but I know many of my African American Muslim friends say, "Well, we're surprised that we didn't see any African American with the Taliban," because that's all they needed to see, because the Muslim communities -- the last week we were -- I was in a mosque in Brooklyn, and they found a listening device at the mosque. We're almost strip-searched every time we go to the airport. So now racial profiling is very, very -- is a serious burden on us as we move around the country. But in spite of this, as Muslims, because we believe in Allah, and fear Allah, and want to practice Islam, we love this country -- in quotes love, because there are some conditions for love. We've suffered in pain, but we do have strategic patriotism. But the reality is we're going to change this country, as we have done as part of our African American experience. But we're going to change it in a way that creates a dialogical process, that engages American people in discursive networks, that allows us to evolve the existence of a humanity that represents a plurality. We're not going to throw bombs. We're not going to kill anyone, because it is against Islam for us to kill anyone that does not try to kill, or maim, or harm us. We're going to change this society. We're going to continue to change this society. And I don't think we need to look at Andalus -- al-Andalus for that. I think we should have enough within our creative imagination and within our own humanity to create a sense of -- of embrace. Not tolerance. Tolerance is an inappropriate word. Are you tolerable? Can you tolerate me? I'm just tolerable to you? We're going to create an environment that embraces difference, that transforms us, that allows us to create collectively an America that we envision, that I envision, that Dr. King envisioned, that all of us would like to see, that embraces all of us and celebrates our difference. Thank you very much [speaking in foreign language]. >> Hi, everyone. Thank you very much for your presentation. I have a historical question for Ms. Diouf -- how do you pronounce your name? >> Sylviane A. Diouf: Diouf. >> Diouf, excuse me. I know in many West African societies there is a very engrained caste system where the slave case has existed for thousands of years in these societies, and that it was common practice for well-established people to have slaves in their house, in their fields, and whatnot. I'm just very curious if there's any documentation of any of the slaves that had been brought to America had been, in fact, slave owners in Africa already, because I'm very curious because of the presentations we have heard of Omar Ibn Said, and other scholars, and very well-respected people in their communities. Based on other historical studies I've done, these people usually are, in fact, slave owners in their communities as well. >> Sylviane A. Diouf: Yes, of course. In fact, Omar mentioned that his father owned, I think, if I'm not -- if I'm correct, 70 slaves. No? >> Seventy? >> Sylviane A. Diouf: Seventy. I think that's what he mentioned. And I mean, in the -- it's evident that there were people who were enslaved here who had been slaveholders, whether they were Muslims or not Muslims. But you have to make a distinction between American slavery and African slavery. And those are two very, very different things. They have the same name, and you know, in some ways people are not free. And that's, you know, what -- but bondage exists -- I mean, people who are in jail are not free, either. They are not slaves. Okay, so there are differences between enslavement in Africa or in Asia and in America. And in West Africa, this bondage was more similar to servitude in Europe than to what was going on here. And there were categories of slaves, those who could never be sold, and those who could. So beyond saying just people held slaves, there is a whole history behind that that has also to be brought, because otherwise it kind of gives a slant that kind of excuses everybody. "Well, you know, if they held slaves, so after all if they became slaves themselves, so what?" >> This morning I was earlier at a competing conference over at the Capitol Hill Club where they were -- the topic was immigration and national security. And I'm, yeah, hearing very different messages over there from here. But I'm -- >> Amir Al-Islam: I can imagine so. >> -- wondering now, one of the speakers there talked about -- I'm not sure where he got the statistic, but if I heard him correctly, he said only one in 10 Muslims in America -- in the united States identifies more with America than with some specific Islamic nation. And you know, I really sensed that for the majority over there that was very problematic. And I'm wondering if any of you would, you know, want to try to give any kind of explanation for that. You know, I'm wondering if there is a certain security and comfort with Islamic law, and even, you know, what seems to me to be, you know, oppression and repression of people that, you know, may be identified as Infidels, or you know, not faithful to Islamic teaching or law? But you know, it seems like it -- the root of this country, you know, in -- with Christianity there is a real sense of freedom, and you know, on one hand may, you know, allow something like immorality in decadence which, I mean, I sense even these terrorists were struggling with, you know, even just the night before their act of terror. But on the other hand, you know, maybe there's, you know, some reason that there's -- do you think there is a comfort and security with this as far as, you know, wanting the Islamic law imposed upon everyone? >> Amir Al-Islam: Well, let me say this -- let me respond to that. That's an excellent question, and one that is extremely complex, and one that requires a few conferences. This is probably part of the discourse that will be -- that we will be engaged in within the next few years about the idea of Muslims, and Muslim immigrants, and even Muslims who are indigenous in this country. And they -- and their challenge, the issues around their loyalties and sense of patriotism around and commitment to America. But let me draw this. I'm not -- I can't answer that question, but let me put this in some kind of context and frame it for you so that at least you can think about it, because it requires some serious thinking. There is part of what we call a kind of a mythologized notion of an America that also permeates the minds of many American people. Yvonne Haddad talked about this. And then -- and she alluded to this. And that is this sense that makes us believe that America stands for all of the wonderful qualities of democracy, and equality, and egalitarianism that is espouses. The reality is, I would say from my own point of view -- I'm not representing a community, nor am Imam, and I'm not talking -- speaking on behalf of all the African American Muslims. Please don't quote me on that. The point is, for the most part most Americans, in my own view, who are Judeo-Christians, who are not Muslims basically are decent, peace-loving people. And there is a small percentage of policymakers and people that influence policy based upon a paradigm that has to do with strategic national interests. Now we can question that strategic national interest, but having studied international relations, we understand that policymakers do also have the responsibility of maintaining a sense of security and stability within the confines of this country. Just, for example, let all of the Arab countries who sell oil stop selling oil. Tomorrow you will be angry, as a Muslim in America, with Arabs because for the most part you have to heat your house. You want to drive your car. So when you talk about the idea of Muslims and their commitment to America in this society, in this country, we're going -- we're -- for the most part from what I've done in my own research and my interviews with Muslims, typically African Americans, I find that African Americans for the most part who have come out of this 1960s movement -- this is probably the largest percentage of African American Muslims -- well, probably their children are, but that generation of Muslims who came through the '60s and those -- and that what we call that period of the contemporary period from the '60s on -- have had experiences in America that have subjected them to COINTELPRO programs, oppression, racism, and assassinations. So we come from a bloody history in terms of the way African American/Muslims see America. However, if you have any American or African American Muslim who is traveling abroad, the first thing they actually flash is their American passport. It's like an American Express card. So there is a patriotism that is there. We are Americans. And I say to my immigrant brothers and sisters when I am invited to speak to them, I am an African American Muslim. My grandmother and great-grandparents died and struggled to give us the right to vote, for example. My great-grandmothers and grandfathers fought in this country to give us the rights that we have. Yes, we are Americans. Now we do not embrace everything that America has to offer in terms of its policies. We disagree with it policies, and we have the freedom to be able to demonstrate our objection to these policies based within the context of civil society and democracy, which is a wonderful thing, and which in most cases Muslim countries don't have. So we're not in any denial about that, although, I think some Muslims are in denial about that reality. But now -- so let us make a distinction between policymakers -- and I don't want to demonize policymakers, because they're critical. But let us differentiate between the people that make policy for America that impacts Muslims abroad and the general populace of American people who basically are -- in many instances are influenced and understand Islam by virtue of the media and all of its misrepresentations and soundbites, not necessarily always negatively intentioned, however. So let us make a distinction between that group and the American policymakers and the -- and let us not misread the sentiments and the feelings of the Muslims in this country, because for the most part, if you talk to Muslims in this country, the immigrant Muslim population, they love America. They have no delusions about the fact that if they -- they're not ready to go back to their countries, because they -- what America has to offer -- and I say this -- and my nationalist friends cringe at me saying this. And they'll probably see this on the film and say, "Amir, what were you doing in Library of Congress talking -- praising America like this?" But as an old pan-Africanist, and influenced by black nationalist thought, and being an activist in the black community, the reality is that Muslims embrace the wonderful opportunities that we have in this country, no question. And the -- and all the Muslims that I know -- the majority of Muslims are not about to destroy this. Don't even think about it. This is the greatest thing happening. So why would you want to destroy it? So we have to really be clear, finally, on making the distinction between the actual -- the passion and the anger with Muslims who constantly see themselves misrepresented in media, misrepresented in the press, misrepresented in terms of the way people interpret them, because others are interpreting them as opposed to them having voice of their own to express themselves. So as the policyholders over there -- they wouldn't have a Muslim over there explaining that. Now they think they understand at a policy meeting about the majority of Muslims of America and have not done any research. But they have concluded that based on their conclusions that nine -- one out of every 10 Muslims really has no relationship or loyalty to the American country. They're here. They're raising their kids here. And their kids are going to stay here. The kids are Americans. We are Americans. Hyphenated, which represents an identification that has to do with our cultural continuity. And we don't want to deny that. No one else does. No one else wants us to -- and no one should want us to do that. But we are Americans. But we have some serious issues about the way America is dealing with Muslims. And we're going to do everything we can to change, to make sure that the way they deal with Muslims in the future is going to be one that's reflective of the great democracy that America stands for. It's kind of long, but I'm sorry -- [ Applause ] >> Thank you. I'm a social studies teacher, and these are my students -- some of my students that we've brought from Clara Mohammed School. And I wanted, as the Principal wanted, an opportunity for our students to observe what is going on in the real world and how they can make a difference, inshallah, God willing, amongst those -- or because we are, they are all American. They were born here. I had two comments that I wanted to make. I don't really have a question. What I wanted to say real quickly in response to the question that the lady back here had on conquest, one of things I remember that Bishop Desmond Tutu said about South Africa is -- and this is in regard to Christianity, "When the Dutch and the British came to South Africa, or Anzania, they had the Bible, and the people in South Africa, Anzania, had the land. Now they have the land and the Africans, the black Africans, have the Bible." Talk about conquest. I teach social studies, and I teach history, and I teach geography, which is most important because I know that many Americans, students and adults, have so little knowledge about what country is in what continent, and actually act like they don't care. Now we're on -- for U.S. History, my eighth graders are dealing with religious tolerance right now. And somehow a lot of times we have selective amnesia. When most of the people came from Europe, they came for religious reasons, because they were not able to practice their religion the way they wanted to in Europe. So I'm just giving to all of you a reminder that this has been going on for a long time, way before Europe, way before what's happening in Palestine and Israel, and way before the United States, or America, as it was named. So we need to read and study history. And one of the things I know that we do not do well is we don't read and we don't study. We need to get that together, and perhaps maybe that will answer some of the problems that we're having in this world. [ Applause ] >> [Speaking in foreign language] I just had just one brief comment. As I said earlier that I was -- spent 20 years in the military. I'm a cardiovascular technologist, and I deal with people one on one. And in the time that I was in the military, most of the time I did [speaking in foreign language]. In other words, I propagated Islam. As it says in our religion, there's no compulsion. Our only duty is to deliver a clear message. But being honest -- I want to be as completely honest as possible. In my travels and in my activities in [speaking in foreign language], I found one consistent response to Islam from a particular ethnic community. And I don't want to label everyone this way, but the majority of Caucasian, people of European decent, the response has been very condescending toward the Islam. This is well before 9/11. And I've given opportunity to say extracts from Quran as Allah says in Quran, "Do they not consider the Quran if it had been from other than God, they would have found many discrepancies in it." That's an open invitation to let's debate it. If -- let's come out in the light of day. If your God is the God of technology, of science, of information, let's debate the issue. So the -- it still to me seems like there's not a willingness on the part of Caucasians to want to redress wrong, justice. I think Durban, South Africa was an opportunity, but I think a clear message was sent to the world. So I don't think the world has been completely shut, but if you do shut the door, Almighty God, he is slow in anger. But let there be no doubt that judgment doesn't come from human beings, that there is someone who is in control. And let us seek to understand one another. And that's my only comment. And if someone wants -- on the panel would want to maybe make any comment, I'd greatly appreciate it. Thank you for your time. [ Speaking in Foreign Language ] >> Prosser Gifford: -- all morning. It will be available on the website. Not instantly, but soon. And it will join the other morning colloquia that we've had on various aspects of Islam. It can be found by going to the Library of Congress homepage and looking at the library [inaudible], and you will get a dropdown menu of the sessions on Islam. So in conclusion, let's thank the panelists, one in absentia on this panel. And thank you all for being with us patiently all morning [applause]. >> This has been a presentation of the Library of Congress. Visit us at


Muslims in the Americas

Shia Muslims comprise 15-20% of Muslims in the Americas.[2] Nearly 786,000 Shia Muslims are situated on United States.[3] The American Shia Muslim community are from different parts of the world such as South Asia, Europe, Middle East, and East Africa.[4][5] They have many activities and have founded several organization such as the Islamic Center of America and North America Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities Organization (NASIMCO).[6]

Population by country

The population of Muslims varies across the Americas. Below is the percentage of every American country that was Muslim in 2010, according to a Pew Research Center estimate:[7]

See also


  1. ^ "The Global Religious Landscape". Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project. 2012-12-18. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  2. ^ "World Shia Muslims Population". Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  3. ^ Zahid Hussain Bukhari (1 January 2004). Muslims' Place in the American Public Square: Hope, Fears, and Aspirations. Rowman Altamira. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-7591-0613-0.
  4. ^ Daniel Brumberg; Dina Shehata (2009). Conflict, Identity, and Reform in the Muslim World: Challenges for U.S. Engagement. US Institute of Peace Press. pp. 366–370. ISBN 978-1-60127-020-7.
  5. ^ "Mapping the Global Muslim Population". 7 October 2009. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  6. ^ Mohsen Saleh (1 January 2009). American Foreign Policy and the Muslim World. Al Manhal. p. 179. ISBN 978-9953-500-65-2.
  7. ^ "Religious Composition by Country, 2010-2050". Pew Research Center. 2 April 2015. Retrieved 18 August 2017.

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