Since 9/11, Americans have learned a lot about what Islam is and who the Muslims are. Unfortunately, a lot of what Americans have learned is untrue. And this misinformation has lead to more fear and hatred. The article below (that I have abridged and added a few comments in brackets) was written by Feisal Abdul Rauf, the founder of the Cordoba Initiative. It helps shine some light on the urban legend of the bête noire that is the Muslim lurking in the shadows of American society.
5 Myths About Muslims in America:
1. American Muslims are foreigners.
Islam was in America even before there was a United States. But Muslims didn’t peaceably emigrate — slave-traders brought them here.
Historians estimate that up to 30 percent of enslaved blacks were Muslims. West African prince Abdul Rahman, freed by President John Quincy Adams in 1828 after 40 years in captivity, was only one of many African Muslims kidnapped and sold into servitude in the New World. In early America, Muslim names could be found in reports of runaway slaves as well as among rosters of soldiers in the Revolutionary War.
2. American Muslims are ethnically, culturally and politically monolithic.
In fact, the American Muslim community is the most diverse Muslim community in the world. [Fear not! We are very divided.]
U.S. Muslims believe different things and honor their faith in different ways. When it comes to politics, a 2007 Pew study found that 63 percent of Muslim Americans “lean Democratic,” 11 percent “lean Republican” and 26 percent “lean independent.” Ethnically, despite the popular misperception, the majority of Muslims in the United States (and in the world, for that matter) are not Arabs […]
3. American Muslims oppress women
According to a 2009 study by Gallup, Muslim American women are not only more educated than Muslim women in Western Europe, but are also more educated than the average American. U.S. Muslim women report incomes closer to their male counterparts than American women of any other religion.
Of course, challenges to gender justice remain worldwide. In the World Economic Forum’s 2009 Gender Gap Index, which ranks women’s participation in society, 18 of the 25 lowest-ranking countries have Muslim majorities. However, as documented by the Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality, Muslim women are leading the struggle for change through their scholarship, civic engagement, education, advocacy and activism in the United States and across the world.
4. American Muslims often become “homegrown” terrorists.
According to the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, more non-Muslims than Muslims were involved in terrorist plots on U.S. soil in 2010. In a country in the grip of Islamophobia — where Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) can convene hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims — this has been overlooked.
In 2010, the Triangle Center also found, the largest single source of initial information on planned terrorist attacks by Muslims in the United States was the Muslim American community. [i.e. the Muslims are doing their civic duty by informing the authorities of potential terror attacks]
Policymakers must recognize that, more often than not, the terrorists the world should fear are motivated by political and socioeconomic — not religious — concerns.
5. American Muslims want to bring sharia law to the United States.
[This is a particularly hot topic of late and most protests are for naught because] For centuries, most Islamic scholars around the world have agreed that Muslims must follow the laws of the land in which they live. Muslim jurists agree on the principal objectives of sharia: the protection and promotion of life, religion, intellect, property, family and dignity. None of this includes turning the United States into a caliphate.
Not only do American Muslims have no scriptural, historical or political grounds to oppose the U.S. Constitution, but the U.S. Constitution is in line with the objectives and ideals of sharia. Muslims already practice sharia in the United States when they worship freely and follow U.S. laws.
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