Lecture examines Islam’s influence in American society

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

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

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

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

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

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


Jefferson’s interest in the Koran was related to the Barbary pirates. From Wiki:

The First Barbary War (1801–1805), also known as the Tripolitian War or the Barbary Coast War, was the first of two wars fought between the United States and the Northwest African Berber Muslim states known collectively as the Barbary States.

These were the Ottoman provinces of Tripoli, Algiers, and Tunis, which were enjoying a large autonomy, as well as the independent Sultanate of Morocco.

The war was fought because U.S. President Thomas Jefferson refused to pay the high tributes demanded by the Barbary states and because they were seizing American merchant ships and enslaving the crews for high ransoms.

It was the first military conflict authorized by Congress that the United States fought on foreign land and seas.

h/t pislamonausea Central

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