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2 January, 2016 00:00 00 AM

American Muslims have nothing to be ashamed about

Muhammad Ziaur Rahman
American Muslims have nothing to be ashamed about

In recent days, Islampphobia, xenophobia and bigotry have got a new lease of life here in the US. The American Muslim community is beleaguered and is going through a horrific experience of hatred and lack of trust. Not to mention that the holocaust took place in Paris and then in San Bernardino has triggered the situation, it has been intensified by the demagogue that Donald Trump is playing on his way to the Office. The political right-wing, whenever getting a chance, is mumbling that the Muslims should be barred from an entrance to the US, at least their entrance should be curbed, if not barred completely. They are also questioning the contribution of Muslims towards the socio-cultural-economic development of the US. “Exactly what part of our nation’s fabric was woven by Muslims?”-was a public post in Facebook by Bob Fitzsimons, a Republican Party Treasurer from Virginia. Not only people like Bob, but also the GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump himself is criticizing the Muslims to have no significant contribution to the US. Well, is there no contribution of the Muslims towards the alluring development of the US? Let’s have a closer look.
Morocco, a Muslim country from Africa, was undoubtedly the first country to recognize the United States of America. The recognition was granted in 1777, which was followed by a formal treaty in 1786. That treaty, known as The Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship is still in effect today and has been proven to be one of the most enduring treaties of human history.
New York, the quintessential home of skyscrapers, along with other overwhelming cities with mega structures, might not look the way it does, if it weren’t for a Muslim, namely Fazlur Rahman Khan. This structural pioneer, known as the Father of Tubular Design for High Rises was a Bangladeshi-American Muslim. Sometimes called the Einstein of structural engineering, he is recognized as one of the most influential engineers and architects of the 20th century. He designed the Willis Tower, popularly known as Sears Tower, which was the tallest structure in the world for 25 years until it was surpassed by the Petronas Twin Towers. The revolution that Khan brought about was the key factor of renovating the idea of structures. It was Khan’s bundled tube structure, without which, World Trade Center, which was blown up by extremists, wouldn’t be possible in the first place. The panoramic view of modern Chicago, Seattle would not be possible without the contribution of this Bangladeshi-American Muslim engineer.
At the beginning of this century, the world has experienced a huge push in the development of cyber science. More precisely, social networking in the shape of sharing views, ideas and videos has earned a tremendous popularity around the globe. This technological revolution, which was once surreal has  been translated in to reality through social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube etc. Well, one of the three founders of YouTube-the most popular video sharing site- is Jawed Karim. He is an American Muslim and his father is a Bangladeshi-American Muslim.
Dr. Aziz Sancar, Sarah Graham Kenan Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, has been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in chemistry, along with his two peers. This modern mastermind of biochemistry has exquisitely mapped part of the DNA repair system in cancer cells. Such kind of work has implications for cancer treatment. For example, a drug given to a patient to kill off cancer cell is not effective always, because the cancer cell fights back with DNA repair. Disabling the cancer cell’s DNA repair mechanism could lead to more effective medicines. Noteworthy that Dr. Aziz Sancar is a Turkish-American Muslim. Ahmed Zewail, who was also awarded a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1999 and is known as the father of femtochemistry is an Egyptian-American Muslim.
Muhammad Ali, who used to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee in the ring, is one of the greatest heavyweights in the history of the sport. This sporting super hero, who is the only three time lineal world heavy weight champion, as the name says, is a Muslim. Converted to Sunni Islam in 1975, Muhammad Ali has been named the Sportsman of the Century by the Sports Illustrated at the close of the 20th century.
Three of the top ten scorers in NBA (National Basketball Association) history are Muslims. They are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon. Among them, Kareem is the NBA’s all time scoring leader. Apart from these sporting supermen, there are more of them. But they might not be a ton in Trump’s defense, especially among famous current professional athletes.
American Muslims have a significant contribution to the health care industry of this country. The American Medical Association, in a statistical survey, demonstrates that 10 per cent of all American physicians are Muslims. Let me put a note written by Georgetown Researcher Nathan Lean- “While no Islamic hospitals exist in the United States, per se, several Muslim-based health clinics do. And let’s not forget that the hospital itself is not an American invention-it’s an Egyptian one. For that matter, the father of modern surgery wasn’t an American Protestant pioneer, either, but a 10th- century Muslim physician from Spain, Abu Al-Qasim Al-Zahrawi”.
Muslims do have influence on western music. The origin of violin dates back to the 10th century bowing instruments of Islamic civilization. Engel, in page 79 of his book “Researches into the early history of the violin family”(1965) said that- “The Arabs, when they came to Europe, in the beginning of the eighth century, were more advanced in the cultivation of music, or at all events in the construction of musical instruments, than were the European nations, thus only can their astounding musical influence be accounted for” .
Muslims in the United States, are devoted to variety of charity activities. Due to innumerable Islamic charity organizations, it is tedious to catalogue them all. But some of the biggest Muslim charities include the Bay Area Islamic Networks Group, the UMMA Clinic in LA, Inner City Muslic Action Network in Chicago and the ACCESS in Dearborn.
American Muslims, lead by Faisal Qazi, a neurologist from California, have recently raised nearly $200,000 to help the victims of the San Bernardino attack. In 2013, the Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD), a Muslim charity organization, was rated among the top ten charities in the United States.
There are numerous number of scientists, professors and professional- who are working hard and contributing to the economy of the US. So criticism over the absence of Muslim in weaving the fabric of this nation rings hollow, doesn’t it?
The Islam, that is being represented by the so called jihadists and ISIS is not the true face of Islam. Many of the political and religious scholars urge that the Wahabism, the state religion of Saudi Arabia, is teaching extremism to a child from a very young age, which in turn is changing the thought process of the child and turning him into an extremist in his later life. Ironically, Saudi Arabia is one of the closest allies of the US in the Middle East. That might be the reason why news coming from Riyadh hardly makes global headlines. To truly defeat radical Islamists and global religious terrorism, this aura of mystery and silence needs to be broken down. Instead of stereotyping all the Muslims as terrorists and banning them from entering the US, The US and the west need to push Saudi Arabia to stop its funding to the extremist groups. The sooner they do it, the better. If not, the world may reap the unfortunate consequences in future.  

The writer is pursuing higher studies in Utah State University



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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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