I remind all of us to take a moment on The 4th of July to remember Independence Day and what it means – Freedom, Democracy, Hope. On this special day we thank our Lord, Who created all people equal and for granting us with exceptional liberty in our beloved country, the United States of America. Please say a Prayer and Thank God for the Blessings we have in this Great Land of America. Let us recommit ourselves to service to our Country. Let us recommit to more Community Service, Interfaith Collaboration, and Civic Engagement. Please join 4th of July Festivals around Virginia
Please reflect on American Muslim Contribution to America since before its founding, during its founding, and today.
Reference: American Islamic Heritage Museum
In 1492, Columbus had two captains of Muslim origin during his first voyage, one named Martin Alonso Pinzon the captain of the Pinta, and his brother Vicente Yanex Pinzon the captain of the Nina. They were wealthy expert ship outfitters who helped organize Columbus’ expedition and repaired the flagship Santa Maria. The Pinzon family was related to Abuzayan Muhammad III, the Moroccan Sultan of the Marinid Dynasty (1196-1465).
Approximately, 30% of Enslaved Africans brought to America during the Slave trade were of Muslim background. We all know about the famous story of Kunta Kinte in Alex’s Haley book Roots. In 1767, Kunta Kinte was captured and enslaved. Kunta Kinte was a Muslim born in 1750, in the village of Juffure in Gambia. He was shipped to Annapolis, Maryland on the ship Lord Ligonier and sold to a Virginia planter. Kunta Kinte fought hard to hold on to his Islamic heritage. Having learned the Qur’an as a boy Kunta scratched Arabic phrases in the dirt and tried to pray every day after he arrived in America.
Research has revealed that Muslim Veterans and people with a Islamic last name have participated in the different wars America has engaged in over the years. The United States Armed Services records confirm this fact, particularly during the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. On June 17, 1775, Peter Salem (Saleem) born (1750?-1816) a former slave who fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill. Peter Salem got awarded for fighting in the Revolutionary War, and he also fought at Lexington. Peter Salem and Salem (Saleem) Poor were honored for their bravery. History reports that a Jewish man told the people that the word was like “shalom” which means peace. The name for peace in Arabic is Salaam and Saleem in Arabic means one who is peaceful. Postage stamps have been made of Peter Salem and Salem Poor as American Revolutionary war heroes. From 1774-1783 there were at least six people with Islamic names who fought in the Revolutionary War as colonial soldiers. One of them was Yusuf Ben Ali, also known as Joseph (Benenhali) Benhaley, who fought with General Sumter in South Carolina. After the war, General Sumter took Joseph Benhaley with him inland to Stateburg where they settled down. Joseph Benhaley’s name appeared in the 1790 census of Sumter County. Revolutionary records also show that there was a Bampett Muhamed who was a Corporal in the Revolutionary Army, from 1775-1783 in Virginia. Francis Saba was listed as a sergeant with the Continental Troops in roll 132, 1775-1783, and Joseph Saba was listed as a Fifer in the Continental Troops roll 132, 1775-1783.
1864-1865 Max Hassan was another Muslim from Africa who fought in the Civil War. His war record shows he came from Africa and worked as a porter in the service.
In 1860, Muhammad Ali ibn Said (1833 – 1882), known as (Nicholas Said) arrived in America as a free man. In 1861 he arrived in Detroit. Shortly afterward he found a teaching job and in 1863 Muhammad enlisted in the 55th Massachusetts colored regiment and became a Civil War hero. He served faithfully and bravely with his regiment as Corporal and then Sergeant in the South. Near the close of the war he was assigned, at his own request, to the hospital department, to learn some knowledge of medicine
From the Foundations of America to over 7 Million American Muslims today, we all know many famous American Muslims like Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Hakim Olojuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine Jackson, Mos Def, Ahmad Rashad, Janet Jackson, Dr. Oz, Ice Cube, Ellen Burstyn, Aasif Mandvi, Dean Obeidallah, David Chappelle, Congressman Keith Ellison, and Congressman Andre Carson.
The roots of Muslims in America are represented in more than 500 names of places, villages, streets, towns, cities, lakes, rivers, etc . . . in the United States in which there name are derived from African, Islamic, and Arabic words. Places like Mecca, Indiana; Morocco, Indiana; Medina, NY; Medina, OH; Medina, TX; Toledo, OH; Mahomet, IL; Mahomet, Texas; Yarrowsburg, MD; Islamorada, FL, and Tallahassee, FL are found throughout America.
I am a Muslim and I am proud to be an American.