Did you know there are about seven million Muslims living in America today? They make up about two percent of our total population and have had an enormous impact on the way we run our society, but we treat them like garbage–as if they don’t belong, and as if they don’t matter at all. Those living in the United States make up only a small fraction of the 1.6 billion who live across the globe. Here are a few things you probably didn’t know about the Islamic faith in America.
- The word Islam is derived from another Arabic word, “salaam.” Guess what it means? Peace. Much like Christianity or Judaism, those who practice Islam are taught first and foremost the benefits of a pacifist lifestyle. Much like Christianity, there is only a small percentage who twist the words of the Muslim prophet in a way that could be construed as an excuse to commit violence. Peace is an Islamic principle, however.
- The Muslims represent a very vocal community in America. They’re politically active, and continue to hold or strive to hold office in the towns where they’re needed the most. A number of noteworthy scientists come from backgrounds of the Islamic faith.
- Many of us recognize that Christopher Columbus was far from the first person to “discover” the Americas (even though he never stepped foot on the mainland himself, he was our guy, and so our ancestors gave him all the credit). Those who know more about the first explorers likely believe it was the vikings who crossed first, but there is a significant treasure trove of evidence that points to early Islamic travels to and from the Americas long before in the eighth or ninth centuries AD.
- The Muslims who live here as our friends and neighbors worship at over 2,000 mosques spread across the country, the majority of which are split between New York and California. If a Muslim man or woman is active within their local mosque, the likelihood that he or she is more active in community affairs, volunteer work, and good will is greatly increased.
- The Pentagon admits that over 5,800 Muslims serve in our armed forces, although this number represents only the ones who choose to release their identity. The number might be far greater.