There has never been an America without Muslims.
That was a key point made April 10 in a talk at Marymount University by Dr. Amir Hussain, author of Muslims and the Making of America, published in 2016 by Baylor University Press. Hussain was the keynote speaker at this years Interfaith Forum, which drew 100 audience members and was part of International Week at Marymount.
Hussain, a professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, discussed the contributions American Muslims have made to the concept of what it means to be an American. He mentioned well-known American Muslims such as Muhammad Ali, as well as lesser-known figures like Ahmet Ertegun, a Turkish-American who co-founded Atlantic Records, and Mohamed Zakariya, an Arlington resident who is considered to be the greatest American Muslim calligrapher. He dedicated his book to Ali and Ertegun, whom he called perhaps the two American Muslims with the greatest global influence.
Hussain noted that Islam shares deep roots with Christianity and Judaism. While some Americans might think of Islam as a relatively new religion in the United States, Hussain said Muslims have helped create and shape American life since the countrys beginning. He said that 10 percent of the slaves from West Africa were Muslim and that American Muslims have served in the U.S. military since the Revolutionary War. Some 300 Muslim soldiers served during the Civil War.
The goal of MUs annual forum is to promote awareness between people of different faiths. It is co-sponsored by Marymounts theology and religious studies department, International Student Services and Campus Ministry.
I think our dialogue related to inclusive excellence must include understanding and knowledge of all faiths, said Dr. Linda McMurdock, Marymounts vice president for student affairs.
In addition to his lunchtime talk, Hussain met with a group of students that evening for a more in-depth discussion.
It was very inspiring and motivating to talk to him in a smaller group, said Ahmad Abumraighi, a junior interior design major and president of the Universitys Muslim Student Association.
I liked talking about Dr. Hussains interest in music, poetry, and film, added Abumraighi, who is also a painter and calligrapher. He emphasized that we are unable to understand people without understanding their art because its their form of expression.
Abumraighi said Dr. Hussain also provided practical advice on how to bring people together as a student leader.
Hussain is an advisor for the television series The Story of God with Morgan Freeman, and is active in several academic groups, including the American Academy of Religion and the Canadian Society for the Study of Religion and. He is on the editorial boards of three scholarly journals, The Journal of Religion, Conflict and Peace; the Ethiopian Journal of Religious Studies; and Comparative Islamic Studies. He earned his academic degrees from the University of Toronto.
Dr. Amir Hussain, a professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, spoke at Marymount University on April 10 about this book, Muslims and the Making of America.
Dr. Hussain signs a copy of Muslims and the Making of America following his talk at Marymount University on April 10.
Dr. Amir Hussain was the keynote speaker at this years Interfaith Forum, part of International Week at Marymount.