Muslim contribution to America
Sorry Barack, but there were no Muslims on the Mayflower
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Speaking at the University of Cairo, President Barack Hussein Obama said that Americans are indebted to Islam for the great contributions Muslims have made to the history and development of the United States.
“I know that Islam has always been a part of America’s story,” Mr. Obama told the throng of unenlightened Muslims. “The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. . . And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States.”
Mr. Obama went on to say: “They [Muslims] have fought in our wars. They have served in our government. They have stood for civil rights. They have started businesses. They have taught at our universities. They’ve excelled in our sports arenas. They’ve won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building and lit the Olympic torch. And when the first Muslim American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same holy Koran that one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, kept in his personal library.”
No one at the Egyptian University or the international media took issue with the President’s bizarre interpretation of American history, let alone his confusion of the Nation of Islam (the religion of Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X) that bears scant similarity to orthodox Islam. The Nation of Islam teach that Allah in the flesh was a bona fide nutcase named Wallace Fard and that Eli Muhammad, a conman with a tested IQ of 70 and not the Prophet Muhammad, was the true last prophet of Allah.
Let’s set the record straight once and for all.
Sorry, Barack Hussein, but there were no Muslims among the passengers on the Mayflower or the settlers at Jamestown. Muslims were conspicuously absent from the ranks of George Washington’s Army of the Revolution and played no role in the creation of the American republic - - save for the fact that the new country’s first declaration of war was against the forces of Islam in the form of the Barbary pirates.1
Despite popular folklore, few Muslims numbered among the 12 million black Africans who were shipped to the New World from the 17th to 19th centuries. The Muslims, in fact, were not the slaves but the slave traders. Senegalese educator Amadou-Mahtar M’Bow has written that in 1587 a shipload of Moriscos (Spanish Moors) landed in a coastal area of South Carolina. The Moors, he contends, migrated to the mountains of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina where they established colonies.2 In reality, this is pure speculation. There is not a scintilla of archival or archaeological evidence to support this claim.
This is not to say that no Muslim slaves were transported to the colonies. Two such slaves - - Ayuiba Suleiman Diallo and Omar ibn Said - - were brought to America is 1731 but both were returned to Africa in 1734.3 In a Herculean effort to materialize at least one Muslim living in America before the Civil War, Muslims in America, an Islamic website, point to the name of Mahomet, the great grandson of Uncas, the founder of the Mohegan tribe, on a gravestone in Norwich, Connecticut.4 The name of this Native America, they argue, resembles that of the prophet, and, therefore, he must have been a convert to Islam.
In a similar example of straining at gnats, the compilers of The Collections and Stories of American Muslims, a non-profit organization, claim that Peter Salem, a former slave who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill, must have been a Muslim since “Salem” bears an etymological resemblance to “Salaam,” the Arabic word for peace.5
For additional proof, the compilers turn to folklore, such as the story of Old Tom, a slave at a plantation in Georgia, who allegedly uttered, “Allah is God and Mohammed his Prophet” on his death-bed - - and the apocryphal tale of “Old Lizzy,” a slave from Edgefield County, who reportedly said, “Christ built His first church in Mecca.”6
Surprisingly, there is no record of any Islamic American among the enlisted and conscripted forces of World War I, let alone among the blue and grey armies of the Civil War. The great migrations that lasted from 1865 to 1925 brought 35,000,000 people to the New World: 4,500,000 from Ireland, 4,000,000 from Great Britain, 6,000,000 from central Europe, 2,000,000 from the Scandinavian countries, 5,000,000 from Italy, 8,000,000 from Eastern Europe, and 3,000,000 from the Balkans. But the number of Muslims who came here from the Middle East was statistically nil.7
In 1960, aside from the temples of the Nation of Islam, the only mosques in the United States were in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Dearborn, Michigan, and Washington DC (which opened in 1957) - - and all three professed less than 200 active members. Four other cities contained miniature mosques with less than fifty members.8
Oh, yes, Jefferson did possess a copy of the Koran which Keith Ellison, our first Muslim Congressman, used to make his oath of office. But what was Jefferson opinion of Islam? Did he believe the Muslim religion represented a salubrious influence in world affairs? Far from it. In 1786 Thomas Jefferson, then US ambassador to France, and John Adams, then US Ambassador to Britain, met in London with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the Dey’s ambassador to Britain, in an attempt to negotiate a peace treaty with the Barbary Pirates based on Congress’ vote of funding. To the US Congress these two future Presidents later reported the reasons for the Muslims’ hostility towards America, a nation with which they had no previous contacts.
”...that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman (Muslim) who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.”
Jefferson had it right.
Obama has it wrong.
1 Michael B. Oren, Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present (New York” W. W. Norton & Company, 2007), pp. 17-40.
2 Amadou-Mahtar M’Bow, cited in M. M. Ali’s “Muslims in America,” The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May/June 1996.
3 Melton J. Gordon, Islam in North America: A Sourcebook (New York: Garland Publishing, 1992), pp. 26-27.
7 Herberg, p.8.
8 Karl Evanzz, The Mesenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad (New York: Random House, 1999), p. 189.