Muslim trading communities existed in Americana before Christopher Columbus found the continent by accident in early 16th century. Muslims came from Africa and Muslim Spain.
The American Constitution that framed the USA, was drafted in September 1787. Muslim Morocco was the first nation to recognize the United States of America. Its second President John Adams signed the ‘Treaty of Tripoly’ in 1796. He wrote: “The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims”.
John Adams, like his successor, Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), to the great shock to the present-day pro-Israel ‘Islamophobes’, not only studied Islam but also owned a copy of English translation of Holy Qur’an. Adam’s copy of Holy Qur’an (taged Adams 281.1) can be seen within the citadel of Copley Square – the Boston Public Library.
Both Adams and Jefferson seems to have studied George Sale’ (1697-1736) book ‘Preliminary Discourse’, in which he wrote: “If the religious and civil Institutions of foreign nations are worth our knowledge, those of Mohammed, the lawgiver of Arabians, and founder of an empire which in less than a century spread itself over a greater part of the world than the Romans were ever masters of, must need to be so”.
America’s fourth President James Madison (1809-17) while he was Jefferson’s Secretary of State (1801–1809), had a very close friend by the name Rev. George Bethune English (1787-1828), who converted to Islam while serving in Egypt as part of US Marine Corps. He adopted the Muslim name of Mohammad Afendi. After working for Ismail Pasha (1830-95), the Khedive (ruler) of Egypt and Sudan, English returned to his native country. President John Adams appointed him to the Diplomatic Corps of the United States in the Levant as an agent and asked him to use his Islamic background and expertise to secure a US-Ottoman treaty. The President instructed English to write to him directly with private letters about his progress and success. English, the first American Muslim, entered Istanbul, the then Capital of Islamic Empire, on November 5, 1823. English conveyed a private message from President Adams to the Ottoman officials that America was a country where a “Mussalman” citizen would have precisely the same rights as a Christian citizen. Due to his Islamic background, Turkish language, customs and costumes, English was able to help secure the first trade agreement between the government of the United States and the Ottoman Empire against the will of the British Crown. The agreement had an estimated trade value of nearly $800,000 in 1822. English returned to the United States in 1827 and died as a Muslim in Washington the next year.
Rep. Keith Ellison, a Muslim convert and America’s first elected Muslim lawmaker, took oath of his office over Thomas Jefferson’s copy of Holy Qur’an. Ellison was hounded by pro-Israel media and Islamophobe lawmakers. Former congressman Virgil Goode (R-VA), best known for his malicious attacks on Muslims and immigrants – called Ellison’s action “a threat to the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America”.
Read Ted Widmer’s article, entitled ‘The true history of Koran in America’ at the Boston Globe, here.