home
RSS
My Take: Muslims deepened their American roots after 9/11
Civic groups that American Muslims launched before 9/11 expanded dramatically after the attacks.
September 2nd, 2011
02:08 PM ET

My Take: Muslims deepened their American roots after 9/11

Editor's note: Eboo Patel is Founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based organization building interfaith cooperation, and author of Acts of Faith. Follow him on Twitter: @EbooPatel.

By Eboo Patel, Special to CNN

In the early years of Islam, when the Muslim community was small and frequently under attack, the Prophet Mohammed sent a delegation of recent converts from the city of Mecca to the kingdom of Abyssinia. The Abyssinian king was a Christian and when he asked the Muslims about the faith they followed, one of the Muslims recited the Quran:

She said, "How shall I have a son whom no mortal has touched, either have I been unchaste?"

He said: "'Even so my Lord has said; 'Easy is that for Me; and that We may appoint him a sign unto men and a mercy from Us, it is a thing decreed.'"

These lines are about Mary, mother of Jesus. They show how Muslims revere her and that they believe that Mary was a virgin when she bore Jesus, just as Christians do.

But some enemies of the Muslims emphasized to the Abyssinians that the Muslims had a different view of Jesus than Christians did. Sure, Muslims believed that Jesus was one of God's prophets, these enemies said, but they didn't believe he was God's only son or humankind's savior.

And yet the king of Abyssinia was so moved by the commonalities between his Christian faith and Islam that he ignored those who sought to sow division, allowing the Muslims to stay and practice their faith in his kingdom.

This story is a metaphor for the path that Muslims in America have taken since the tragic events of 9/11 ten years ago. In the face of those who would paint us as "foreign" or "other," we are emphasizing the values and beliefs that Islam holds in common with other American communities.

As the American Muslim community started to grow in the 1960s and 1970s, largely through immigration from the Middle East and South Asia and conversion by African-Americans, Muslims focused their energies on establishing families, building businesses and advancing their careers.

With respect to religion, there was a huge amount of work involved in opening mosques, finding spaces to hold Muslim weddings and funerals and creating educational outfits to teach our faith to our children. Like Jews and Catholics before us, Muslims also showed concern for family and the faithful back in the countries of their birth.

But by the 1990s, Muslims began looking outside our own community, launching projects to strengthen ties between us and the rest of the country.

The idea behind these new organizations was simple: Muslims were now calling America "home" and Islam called us to cooperate with and serve neighbors of all backgrounds.

In Chicago, the INNER-City Muslim Action Network was formed to run community development programs, ranging from anti-violence interventions to feeding the hungry.

In the San Francisco Bay area, Muslims launched a group called ING to send Muslim speakers into schools and to community groups to emphasize shared values. In Washington, the Muslim Public Service Network got going to provide fellowships for young Muslim interning in the nation's capital.

As opposed to focusing solely on the Muslim immigrant community, this new generation of groups worked closely with African-American Muslims. And the groups' model of reorienting the Muslim community toward the United States attracted support from Muslim leaders.

"Home is not where your grandfather was born," says one of those leaders, Muslim Public Affairs Council founder Maher Hathout, "but where your grandchildren will be buried."

After the 9/11 attacks, Muslims grieved for fellow Americans who perished in the attacks, whose ranks included Muslims. We were shocked when some of our fellow citizens threatened mosques and pointed their fingers at Islam, treating us as if we were in league with the terrorists, rather than as fellow victims and mourners.

Those accusations made us realize that too many of our neighbors knew too little about us and our religion. In turned out that the event most Americans associated with Islam was 9/11. The Muslim figure they were most likely to recognize was Osama bin Laden.

This problem was exacerbated by a small network of activists and intellectuals intent on spreading ugly misinformation about Islam, presenting our religion as inherently violent, its adherents as dangerous fanatics.

For all the pride we Muslims took in having established our mosques and families and businesses in the United States over the past generation, we had the same realization that largely immigrant religious groups like Jews and Catholics had in earlier decades as they strove to deepen American roots: we had to invest more energy into bridge-building efforts with the rest of the country, to place more emphasis on commonalities.

Just as Jews and Catholics deepened American roots by launching an array of civil society organizations, from schools to universities to hospitals to social service groups that have benefited the broader American public, so would Muslims.

As a result, the American Muslim organizations launched in the years leading up to 9/11 have moved to the center of the American Muslim consciousness. Many of them grown dramatically since 9/11, expanding staffs, budgets and programs.

The change the groups have inspired has been remarkable.

A new generation of Muslims are becoming public policy experts, writers and social entrepreneurs, launching organizations that seek to build understanding and cooperation between Muslims and the rest of the country. These American Muslim leaders will be the architects of a network of civic organizations that will one day look like the networks that Catholics and Jews have established.

Muslims are not the first faith community to experience discrimination in America and we're not the first to respond by building bridges outside the community. It's precisely the path that Jews and Catholics walked before us, and it's a crucial part of the American story: a nation defined by its diversity and built by the contributions of its many communities.

The opinions expressed are solely those of Eboo Patel.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam • Opinion

soundoff (823 Responses)
  1. trxsuspension

    Hello. everyone.
    would like to make new friends with you guys.

    November 28, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  2. No911VictoryMosque

    American Muslims have definitely deepened their roots since 9/11. As a matter of fact, emboldened by their fellow Muslims, American Muslim groups have been caught preparing 35 home grown attacks since 9/11. Can we stop them all? Scary stuff...

    September 11, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  3. Muneef

    911 Goha's Nail fixed on the whole Islamic Nation and not particular sectors of Islam;

    911. From days alike last year 2010 up to these same days..of 2011 already one whole year for me here and noticed that heat arises every time this days come closer or a certain accidents take place... Last year was a Florida Paster of Dove Church threatening to burn the Quran...! This year GOD knows what under sleeve awaiting the opportunity to divid the nations united under the Western and Eastern Flags further more into bloodshed confrontations...under the name of Religions or Political Parties"Ideologies"...! 

    September 7, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • Muneef

      Latest was explosions in India marked as "Islamic Jihadists" and another in Pakistan although I was surprised that it was not marked as "Hindu Jihadists"... That would have had both Great Countries confront each other serving the purpose of other competing nations over the Rich Indian Peninsular... Believe me no nation fall back unless people of her own are traitors to it's nations principals and beliefs for the reason of Hate,Envy,Revenge, or Greeds towards material wealth even if by selling their Dignity and integrity or their family,tribe,community,the nation and the country it wouldn't mean much to them...and those can be found among every level of the one Society...

      September 7, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • Muneef

      Any way seems that we Muslims are seeing our religion is being Nailed one  after another with acts that we disapprove of under any name such as targeting civilians or those in duty of the law and order..! As a responsible person from a great religion such as Islam, I wouldn't make an act in a place where I think many innocent Muslims would suffer in the hands of non Muslims...!!
      Still I do not believe that those call them selves Muslims Jihadists would not mind making a Terrorist acts at or close to Mosques or any minorities worship houses,nor in the markets where people make and take their living and needs..!?!
      This is not my Islam where we should reflect to be a honorable example that is Respected and Feared as Human of High Morals and Intel-lig-ence rather than being Feared as Sa-v-age Barb-a-rians...!! That is the True Jihad and not the one we see every one use to claim a false victory bases other humans miseries..!?!

      September 7, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
    • Muneef

      Islam and Muslims is a General Word that is divided it to many sectors that are rejecting,disputing the main Islamic doctrine... So how would we know which of those are doing what where all then blamed for some thing they knew not of...?
      Find for your self which sector could be responsible in such big conspiracy with others who hate Islam in targeting the Original Islam Doctrine and other innocent Islamic sectors...!?!

      Summaries of the major sects within Islam;

      http://contenderministries.org/islam/divisions.php

      September 7, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  4. Muneef

    M. Asad
    Islam at the Cross Roads, S M Ashraf Publisher
    Lahore Pakistan

    THE SHADOW OF THE CRUSADES

     It was then for `the first time in history that Europe conceived itself as a unity-and it was a unity against the world of Islam. Without indulging in undue exaggerations, we can say that modern Europe was born out of the spirit of the Crusades. Before that time there existed Anglo-saxons and Germans,
    French and Normans, Italians and Danes: but during the Crusades the new
    concept of "Western civilisation", a cause common to all European
    nations alike, was created; and it was the hatred of Islam that stood
    as godfather behind the new creation...

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/shiatalk/message/30296

    September 7, 2011 at 7:03 am |
    • Reality

      TODAY'S SHADOW OF ISLAM

      Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

      This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.

      And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

      Current crises:

      The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

      September 7, 2011 at 7:51 am |
  5. chewie

    They want to consider America home alright. And they do want to strengthen their ties to America. First they get as many muslim into America as they think are needed to be able to send money back to the Palestinians and then the destroy some of Americas most outstanding landmarks(even though they missed a couple) then they try to build a mosque right on top of the buildings they destroyed to show their victories to the rest of the mu slim world. They want to make" America their home by destroying anything that disagrees with their cult.

    September 6, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • Tired of hate

      I feel that your accusations are unfair. One of my good friends is a muslim and I consider myself fotunate to be counted among her friends. Not only is She extremely intelligent ( she's a student at Brown) but she is also very kind. She's a vegetarian and. An animal rights activist, works to rehabilitate wounded wild life and even serves as a tutor for def children. Yes, she does send the money she earns from that tutoring to cousins in the middle east but those cousins live in Bangladesh, a country so poor that some people eat mud to stave off hunger. Above all she abhors violence and cannot even bring her self to kill a spider. Please remember that not all Muslims are the same and the majority just want to live in peace .

      September 12, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  6. AGuest9

    Like how political appointees "burrow in" when their presidential candidate loses their re-election bid?

    September 6, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
  7. Muneef

    Watch what Muslims can do and enjoy as well but still they pray and worship !!! It was not only religions that were imported from the middle east but as well the laws of Music;

    I would like to dedicate the lovely Music to all the American and World Nations...
    while Dedicating the Words of this Song to the Long Absent "Moon of Yemen" ; 

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ty5NsmPKWG0&w=640&h=390]

    September 6, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • Reality

      Watch what Muslims can do. We do and this is what we see as the koranic/mosque driven acts of terror and horror continue:

      The Muslim Conquest of India – 11th to 18th century

      ■"The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

      and the 19 million killed in the Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C by Muslims.

      and more recently

      1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured

      1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh

      2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured

      3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US troops killed in action, 3,483 and 925 in non combat roles. 99,901 – 109,143 Iraqi civilians killed as of 3/3/2011/, mostly due to suicide bombers, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

      4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.[2]

      5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.

      6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.

      7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.

      8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.

      9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.

      10) – Afghanistan: US troops 1,141 killed in action, 242 killed in non-combat situations as of 03/03/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror

      11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.

      12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.

      13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,

      14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane's wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations.

      15 The daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings in the terror world of Islam.

      16) Bombs sent from Yemen by followers of the koran which fortunately were discovered before the bombs were detonated.

      17) The killing of 58 Christians in a Catholic church in one of the latest acts of horror and terror in Iraq.

      18) Moscow airport suicide bombing: 35 dead, 130 injured. January 25, 2011.

      19) A Pakistani minister, who had said he was getting death threats because of his stance against the country's controversial blasphemy law, was shot and killed Wednesday, 3/2/2011

      20) two American troops killed in Germany by a recently radicalized Muslim, 3/3/2011

      21) the kidnapping and apparent killing of a follower of Zoraster in the dark world of Islamic Pakistan.

      22) Shariatpur, Bangladesh (CNN 3/30/2011) - Hena Akhter's last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl. Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh's Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public. Hena dropped after 70 and died a week later.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:03 am |
  8. Reality

    And the idiocy of it all is that Muslims like Eboo aka Ebrahim Patel, believe in and are driven by the myths of the OT, NT and the koran especially in mythical Abraham and a mythical "pretty, wingie, talking, thingie" aka Gabriel!!

    September 6, 2011 at 7:36 am |
    • Tired of the Muslim Ignorance bred by our so called Christian leaders

      Oh and the Westerners are oh so innocent.. between 2 and 80 million is a stretch.

      1. Natives killed by the United States: 114 million Indians killed as a direct result of US actions

      2. Over 3000 Freedmen and their Republican Party allies were killed by a combination of the Ku Klux Klan and well-organized campaigns of violence by local whites in a campaign of terrorist violence that overthrew the reconstructionist governments in the American South and re-established segregation.[1][2]

      3. 1910, 1 October: Los Angeles Times Bombing by a member of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers Union killed 21 people and injured an additional 100.

      4. 1920, 16 September: Wall Street Bombing killed 38 people and wounded 300 others. – bombing was carried out by Galleanists (Italian anarchists)

      5. 1940 – 1956: George Metesky, the "Mad Bomber", placed over 30 bombs in New York City in public places such as Grand Central Station and The Paramount Theater, injuring ten during this period in protest against the local electric utility. He also sent many threatening letters

      6. 1970-1972: The Jewish Defense League was linked with a bomb explosion outside of Aeroflot's New York City office, and a detonation outside of Soviet cultural offices in Washington. Also a JDL member allegedly fired a rifle into the Soviet Union's mission office at the United Nations. Two JDL members were convicted of bomb possession and burglary in a conspiracy to blow up the Long Island residence of the Soviet Mission to the UN.

      7. During this year, The Black Liberation Army is suspected of killing three policemen (one at his desk), shooting four others, opening fire on three patrol cars and rolling a grenade which heavily damaged a police car and injured two officers. An attempt is made to bomb a police station. These incidents happen in various cities around the country. In August the group runs a one month long guerrilla warfare school in Fayetteville, Georgia. Seven arrested in January 2007 in relation to the shooting of the policeman at his desk

      8. January 27: Two policemen, Gregory Foster and Rocco Laurie, are shot in the back by at least three persons; four suspects in the case are members of the Black Liberation Army; one suspect is later killed in a street battle with St. Louis police; the recovered pistol matches Laurie's

      9. In the last 50 years, the United States has promoted, financed and participated in over 200 incursions and 20 separate wars, killing over 8,000,000 people.

      1952 – 79, 70,000 Iranians killed. ( Ayatollah Khomeini, US public enemy for the 1980s, was on the CIA payroll while in exile in Paris in 1970s, as were Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden at different times and in different places. )

      1954 – 120,000 Guatemalans killed

      1954 – 1975, 4,000,000 Vietnamese and Cambodians killed.

      1965 – 3,000 Dominican Republicans killed

      1965 – 800,000 Indonesians killed

      1973 – 30,000 Chileans killed

      1975 – 250,000 East Timorese killed

      1970s – 1,000,000 Angolans killed

      1984 – 30,000 Nicaraguans killed

      1980s – 80,000 El Salvadoreans killed

      1989 – 8,000 Panamanians killed in an attempt to capture George H. Bush's CIA partner now turned enemy, Manuel Noriega,

      1980s – over 700,000 Libyans, Grenadians, Somalians, Haitians, Afghanistanis, Sudanese, Brazilians, Argentineans and Yugoslavians killed,

      1991 – over 1,000,000 Iraqis killed, including over 500,000 children – While George W. Bush owns over 80% of the oil wells in Kuwait, trouble will continue there.

      ( Source: Philip Bradbury, Insight Magazine, November 2001 )

      View the 200+ Incursions by the United States since WWII

      http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/ops/index.html#post

      http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm – from this site you will see that there are close to 1million americans who have been murdered, with an average of almost 15k each year.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:22 am |
    • Tired of the Muslim Ignorance bred by our so called Christian leaders

      Oh and also...Ten million in all is probably of the right order of magnitude – this is the deaths during the slave trade in the USA, but since slaves were considered property, the figures are probably substantially higher.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:25 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.