“With Liberty and Justice for All”

Image: Palestine Chronicle

 

If I had a nickel for every time I have heard the claim that Muslims aren’t patriotic enough, aren’t American enough, refuse to “be American”, I’d be a millionaire. Seriously.  I have also always found this statement highly ironic.  The vast majority of American Muslims are hard-working patriotic individuals.  While many of the first American Muslims were brought to the US through the slave trade (some reports claim as many as 30% of all slaves originally brought to the US were Muslim) many millions more came on their own for a variety of reasons.  They have worked hard to build a life based on the rights afforded to all Americans.  Don’t believe me?  Here are some American Muslims you may (or may not) have heard of;

  • Farooq Kathwari – CEO of Ethan Allen Furniture
  • Dave Chapelle – Comedian
  • Akon – Musician
  • Ice Cube – Rapper/Producer
  • Dr. Oz – TV host
  • Andre Carson – Congressmen Indiana
  • Keith Ellison – Congressmen Minnesota
  • Elias Zerhouni – Director, National Institute of Health
  • Fazlur Khan- Structural Engineer who designed the Sears Tower
  • Muhammad Ali – Boxer
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Basketball player
  • Shaquille O’Neal – Basketball Player
  • Fareed Zakaria – Journalist
  • Iman – Supermodel

While it may be easy to lump all American Muslims into the immigrant category there are many native born Americans who are Muslim, primarily in African American communities.  Because religion is not used on any census it is hard to pinpoint a number of total Muslims in the country, and even more difficult to breakdown based on ethnic background.  Most estimates however are that ¼ of the American Muslim population are native-born African American.  The remaining 75% of Muslims have an ethnic background originating elsewhere.  Immigrant American Muslims come from over 100 countries around the world.  The reasons for immigration are the same as any other group of immigrants;

  • Ethnic persecution
  • Religious persecution
  • Islamism (not being seen as Islamic enough in their homelands)
  • Anti-Islamism (ironically being seen as too Islamic in their homelands)
  • Civil wars
  • International wars
  • Education
  • Economic opportunity

No matter what ethnic group or affiliation an immigrant has they have been able to find a home in the United States.  This fact is not lost on those who have come to live here.  Even in a post-9/11 world most American Muslims still believe that they have the most opportunity and are afforded more right in the United States than anywhere else.  They also realize that these rights are because of the US independence and that the rights afforded them are based on generations of sacrifice.  I have many friends who have told me one of the proudest days of their lives was when they became naturalized citizens, because finally they too would be seen as American.

On this Fourth of July, there will be hundreds of thousands if not millions of American Muslims celebrating along with you. They are proud of this country they call home.  For those of us who were born here, there’s no difference from our pre-Islam and post-Islam days.  We too retain our patriotism and pride.  I encourage every American to help us breakdown this stereotype – that somehow Islam and American identity are incompatible.  It’s simply not true.

 

Comments

  1. Tnh9479 says

    How true! My naturalized husband may be even more patriotic than me (if that is possible).

  2. says

    I am so glad you touched on this sad but very true stereotype and hatred that I see far to often.  I traveled overseas and was deployed to the middle east years ago while I was in the military, it was there I met so many amazing muslim people and learned about the muslim community and religion.  I will never forget how sincere, friendly and giving they were.  Whenever I hear an anti-muslim comment or remark I am quick to voice my opinion and defend.  Every country, religion and group has bad seeds and it's funny how we are quick to forget about white christians in this country that do hateful things in the name of religion.    

  3. says

    Thank you for writing about these misconceptions and for sharing your feelings, Amanda. How easy it is to make assumptions about what is not understood. Isn't that really the basis of much intolerance? In reading a little recently about immigration I found most of your bullets to be true for any group that's sought to come to the United States. The two that really surprised me, though, were: not being Islamic enough, or being too Islamic. Like Angelique, I do the same whenever I hear intolerant remarks, I'm quick to cite examples from history to illustrate that no "group" is beyond reproach. Sad, but true. 

  4. Holly Garza says

    Thank you!

    It's so true I am often lamenting of My own peoples ignorance be they american, Mexican and or Muslim. There is sadly so many misconceptions about each and every group and even harder to dispel them. Thanks for helping "us"