The Muslims who shaped America – from brain surgeons to rappers

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http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/08/donald-trump-famous-muslims-us-history

What have Muslims ever done for America? If your sole source of information were Donald Trump, you’d think that the answer was not much – apart from murdering its citizens and trying to destroy its values. The Republican presidential hopeful has called for a halt to Muslims entering the US until American authorities “can figure out” Muslim attitudes to the US in the wake of last week’s killings in San Bernardino. If only, you might well think, Scotland had had the same thought about Trump before he was allowed in to blight Aberdeenshire with another of his golf resorts.

What Trump doesn’t seem to grasp is his own country’s history, and how many American achievements worth celebrating are the work of the kind of people – Muslims – he wants to keep out.

Here, then, is a guide to some of the things Muslims have done for the US. It’s not an exhaustive list – but it’s still more impressive than what Trump has done for his homeland.

Creating America

Muslims were part of the US from its very beginnings. Among those who served under the command of chief of the continental army, General George Washington, in the war against British colonialism were Bampett Muhammad, who fought for the Virginia Line between the years 1775 and 1783, and Yusuf Ben Ali, who was a North African Arab. Some have claimed that Peter Buckminster, who fired the gun that killed British Major General John Pitcairn at the battle of Bunker Hill, and later went on to serve in the Battle of Saratoga and the battle of Stony Point, was a Muslim American. This may be so, but the chief ground for the claim is that Buckminster later changed his surname to Salem or Salaam, the Arabic word for peace. But clearly, Washington, later America’s first president, didn’t have a problem with Muslims serving in his army. By giving these Muslims the honour of serving America, Washington made it clear that a person did not have to be of a certain religion or have a particular ethnic background to be an American patriot. Trump seems to want to overturn that venerable American principle.

The largely Muslim kingdom of Morocco, incidentally, was the first country to recognise the US. In 1786, the two countries signed a treaty of peace and friendship that is still in effect today, the longest unbroken treaty of its kind in history.

Building its cities

The US wouldn’t look the way it does if it weren’t for a Muslim, Fazlur Rahman Khan. The Dhaka-born Bangladeshi-American was known as the “Einstein of structural engineering”. He pioneered a new structural system of frame tubes that revolutionised the building of skyscrapers. That system consisted of, as he once described it, “three, four, or possibly more frames, braced frames, or shear walls, joined at or near their edges to form a vertical tube-like structural system capable of resisting lateral forces in any direction by cantilevering from the foundation”.

The result was a new generation of skyscrapers that reduced the amount of steel necessary in construction and changed the look of American cityscapes. Islamist terrorists may have blown up the World Trade Center, but without Khan’s innovation of the framed tube structure, the twin towers probably wouldn’t have been constructed in the first place. Nor would the John Hancock tower, with its distinctive exterior X-bracing (devised by Khan) or the Sears tower (also made possible by Khan’s variant on the tube structure concept, the system was the so-called “bundled tube”) both in Chicago. The Sears Tower was for nearly 25 years from 1973, at 108 stories and 1,451ft (442m), the tallest building in the world. Khan died in 1982, but his innovations have proved key for future skyscrapers – including the 2009 Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago.

Among other buildings on which Khan served as structural engineer is US Bank Centre in Milwaukee and the Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis. He also worked on the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado, where officers are trained. If it weren’t for this Muslim, arguably, the US air force wouldn’t be quite so good at its work that, as we know, sometimes involves bombing other countries, some of them populated chiefly by Muslims.

Living the American dream

Shahid Khan is the personification of the American dream. The Pakistan-born billionaire arrived in the US aged 16 on a one-way trip to the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. “Within 24 hours, I had already experienced the American dream,” Khan said, by which he meant he found a job for $1.20 an hour washing dishes — more than the vast majority of the people back in Pakistan earned at the time. He started a car-parts business after university. Now, the 65-year-old – best known in the UK for owning Fulham FC – is the head of the $4.9bn (in sales terms) auto-parts company Flex-N-Gate, the 360th richest person on the planet and three years ago Forbes magazine put him on its cover as the face of the American dream.

Helping Hillary to the White House

Huma Abedin may be America’s most powerful Muslim woman. The 39-year-old Kalamazoo-born political staffer is a long-time aide to Hillary Clinton and was her deputy chief of staff at the State Department. She currently serves as vice chairwoman of Clinton’s 2016 campaign for president. But can she be trusted? In 2012 five Republican Congress members wrote to the State Department inspector general and claimed that she had “immediate family connections to foreign extremist organisations”. The claims were refuted and the allegations dismissed by the Washington Post as “paranoid”, a “baseless attack” and a “smear”. Republicans baselessly smearing Muslims? At least Donald Trump is around in 2015 to stand up against that kind of thing.

Treating the sick

Without Ayub Ommaya lots of people, some of them American, would be dead or suffering appalling pain. In 1963, the Pakistani-born Muslim neurosurgeon invented an intraventricular catheter system that can be used for the aspiration of cerebrospinal fluid or the delivery of drugs. What that means is that a soft, plastic, dome-shaped device is placed under the scalp. This so-called Ommaya Reservoir is then connected to a catheter that is placed into your brain. The reservoir is used to provide chemotherapy directly to the site for brain tumours. He also developed the first coma score for classification of traumatic brain injury and developed, too, the US’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, which, as part of its mission, focuses on traumatic brain injury.

Giving hip-hop its greatest MC

For many music fans of the 80s and 90s, hip-hop was the first, thrilling, exposure to Muslim culture and the religion of Islam. After the early days of breakdancing and braggadocio, it found room for a spiritual and religious element. The range of Muslim rappers spans the obvious – Yasiin Bey (the Artist Formerly Known As Mos Def) – and the superficially unlikely – T-Pain, taking in such luminaries as Nas, Andre 3000, Lupe Fiasco, Ice Cube and Busta Rhymes.

The expression of Muslim belief through hip-hop has frequently been mediated through fringe groups such as the Nation of Islam and the Five-Percent Nation, and the language they use has bled into the rap argot. A lot of this is down to Rakim, perhaps the first and most prominent Muslim rapper to speak openly about his faith. As one half of Eric B & Rakim, the man known to his mum as William Griffin – but to fans as Rakim Allah – dropped frequent allusions to Muslim religion and culture into songs that quickly propelled him to the top of the MC list. While artists such as Jay-Z and the Notorious BIG went on to wider fame and bigger sales, Rakim is still regarded in many quarters as the greatest rapper in history. His unique flow and gravitas helped to usher in the brilliant “Afrocentric” era of hip-hop in the late 80s, and allowed more Muslims to profess their faith on record.

Established classic rap albums like KMD’s Mr Hood (1991) and Brand Nubian’s One for All (1990) were made possible by this strain of Muslim influence. There’s an often jarring disconnect between songs about dealing dope and love of Allah on releases by such influential artists as Scarface and the Jacka, and modern mainstream hip-hop is markedly less vocal about Islam. But perhaps that’s because its deep, important impact on the music and culture is so long-standing and obvious that it no longer needs saying out loud. Andrew Emery

Inventing the ice-cream cone

Picture the scene. It’s the 1904 St Louis Worlds Fair. An ice-cream vendor has run short of dishes. I predict a riot. How are God-fearing Americans supposed to eat their ice-creams now? Lick them from cupped hands like animals or something? That’s not America. That isn’t even Italy. Thankfully, at the next booth is a Syrian Muslim immigrant. Ernest Hamwi is selling something called zalabia, a waffle-like confection. He rolls a waffle into a conical shape to contain the ice-cream, thus inventing the world’s first edible cone. But not the last. Business acumen and community spirit rolled up into a delicious proposition: how could you refuse that, America? Nowadays incidentally, the zalabia is so integrated into American society that Martha Stewart has a recipe for it.

Being sporting heroes


Trump tweeted the following earlier this week: “Obama said in his speech that Muslims are our sports heroes. What sport is he talking about, and who?” One of those sports heroes is, Mr Trump, someone you’ve met before. Here are some clues. He was known as the Louisville Lip. He was three times World Heavyweight Boxing Champion. Oh yes, and in 1965 he changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali and later gave interviews explaining his perspective on his new faith. Now you remember. He’s the same guy you met in 2007 when he presented you with a Muhammad Ali award. In May, you posted a photo on Facebook posing with the great Muslim sporting hero and claimed then that he was your friend.

President Obama was making a point after the San Bernadino shootings. “Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbours, our coworkers, our sports heroes. And yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defence of our country,” he said, speaking from the Oval Office. “We have to remember that.” Here are some more sports heroes he might have meant. Basketball icons Shaquille O’Neal and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the latter perhaps the greatest NBA star after Michael Jordan. Hakeem Olajuwon, 52, Hall of Fame NBA centre. Oh yes, and Mike Tyson, who set the record as the youngest boxer to win the WBC, WBA and IBF heavyweight titles aged 20.

Promoting diplomacy

Farah Pandith worked in the George W Bush administration at the National Security Council as a director for Middle East Initiatives and then in the Department of State as adviser on Muslim engagement in Europe. In 2009 she became Hillary Clinton’s envoy to the world’s Islamic communities. She argues that Islamic State is exploiting a crisis of identity for young Muslims. “Muslim millennials are growing up in a post-9/11 world and are asking questions about culture versus religion, being modern and Muslim. The people who are answering their identity crisis questions are not parents or family or community voices that in the past may have helped young people navigate their identity. Instead, they’re going online to Sheikh Google. The loudest voices are those of the extremists that know how to shape the way young people see everything.”

Fighting injustice

After the end of slavery in the US, many African Americans began to move to cities in large numbers. But because of restrictive housing and employment policies, the result was that many lived in troubled ghettos. In such a context, some African Americans returned to what they believed to be the religion of their ancestors. Many of them were attracted, during the 1950s and 1960s, to the brilliant oratory of a spokesman for the Nation of Islam, who was born Malcolm Little in 1925, but became famous as Malcolm X, the Muslim convert who cast off his slave name and exhorted African-Americans to cast off the shackles of racism “by any means necessary”, including violence – a message contrary to his fellow civil rights activist Dr Martin Luther King, who called for non-violent civil disobedience. “I don’t even call it violence when it’s in self-defence,” he said once. “I call it intelligence.”

Advancing science

Ahmed Zewail won the Nobel prize for Chemistry in 1999, becoming thereby the first Egyptian-born scientist to do so. He is known as the “father of femtochemistry” and for doing pioneering work in the observation of rapid molecular transformations. Zewail, now 69, has spent most of his life in the US where he is now professor of chemistry and physics at Caltech and director of the physical biology center. He joined President Barack Obama’s presidential council of advisers on science and technology (PCAST), an advisory group of the nation’s leading scientists and engineers to advise the president and vice president and formulate policy in the areas of science, technology, and innovation in 2011. When he joined PCAST the White House hailed this Muslim Egyptian-American as one who is “widely respected not only for his science but also for his efforts in the Middle East as a voice of reason”. Postage stamps have been issued to honour his contributions to science and humanity.

Bringing the laughs

Can Muslims even be funny? Hell yes. Try this. When Rupert Murdoch tweeted this January: “Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible”, Aziz Ansari counter-tweeted: “Rups can we get a step by step guide? How can my 60-year-old parents in NC help destroy terrorist groups? Plz advise.”

Ansari, who you’ll know as Tom Haverford in Parks and Recreation, as a hilarious standup and the author of a book about sexual mores. Modern Romance: An Investigation, describes himself as an atheist, but he was born to a Tamil Muslim family in South Carolina. His mother, Fatima, works in a medical office, and his father, Shoukath, is a gastroenterologist. And then there’s Dave Chappelle, who came to our attention as Ahchoo in Mel Brooks’ 1993 film Robin Hood: Men in Tights and is now a leading American standup. He converted to Islam in 1998 but doesn’t go on about it. Why? “I don’t normally talk about my religion publicly because I don’t want people to associate me and my flaws with this beautiful thing,” he told Time magazine in 2005. “And I believe it is beautiful if you learn it the right way.
 
Some other notable Muslim Americans:

Dr. Oz: Has a well known medical talk show
Jawed Karim: Co-counder of YouTube
Dave Chappelle: Comedian
Akon, DJ Khaled, Ghostface Killah: Famous rappers/musicians
Rima Fakih: Miss USA 2010
Keith Ellison: congressman of Minnesota
Andre Carson: congressman of Indiana
Malcolm X: civil rights leader

There are tons of others in music, sports, media, etc...
 
Some other notable Muslim Americans:

Dr. Oz: Has a well known medical talk show
Jawed Karim: Co-counder of YouTube
Dave Chappelle: Comedian
Akon, DJ Khaled, Ghostface Killah: Famous rappers/musicians
Rima Fakih: Miss USA 2010
Keith Ellison: congressman of Minnesota
Andre Carson: congressman of Indiana
Malcolm X: civil rights leader

There are tons of others in music, sports, media, etc...

Not exactly also the Islam he followed most of his life was not the original one just saying.
 
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So much like the OST of "Gangs of New York" -The Hands that built America---
 
Yes but he left Nation of Islam eventually and converted to Sunni Islam iirc.

Yes in his last moments i think but all his civil right fights were before that when he supported a corrupt organization unintentionally ofcourse.
 
Should also add the group, Native Deen, to this amazing list. Never knew Shaq was a Muslim.

According to the Turkish president, Muslims were also the first ones to discover America, so there is that. Alhamdulillah, The United States and Islam cannot be separated, no matter how ignorant Donald Trump decides to be. Lol at not know that Muhammad Ali isn't a Muslim. :))

Not exactly also the Islam he followed most of his life was not the original one just saying.

Died as a Muslim but yes, most of his life was spent with The Nation.

True. But Muslims still claim him lol.

He claimed to be a Muslim. What's there to "lol" about?
 
When did religion matter so much..

I hate it when people look at the world as Muslim World vs the rest?

Whats the point of this generalization?
 
All Muslim Bengalis consider themselves Bangladeshis.

Not Faisal Islam.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Why would someone put me on a "list of British Bangladeshis" without absolutely knowing its true? (its not, unless Calcutta's been annexed)</p>— Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) <a href="https://twitter.com/faisalislam/status/79534296662151168">June 11, 2011</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
 
Some other notable Muslim Americans:

Dr. Oz: Has a well known medical talk show
Jawed Karim: Co-counder of YouTube
Dave Chappelle: Comedian
Akon, DJ Khaled, Ghostface Killah: Famous rappers/musicians
Rima Fakih: Miss USA 2010
Keith Ellison: congressman of Minnesota
Andre Carson: congressman of Indiana
Malcolm X: civil rights leader

There are tons of others in music, sports, media, etc...

Shaqille O'Neal
Rasheed Wallace
 
Shaq isn't Muslim and this is according to him. It's kind of funny as this goes back a few years when my friend asked him this question point blank and was going to follow up and ask him why was he in a Baconator (or whatever they're called) ad.
 
Mike Tyson

original
 
Should also add the group, Native Deen, to this amazing list. Never knew Shaq was a Muslim.

Native Deen is horrible. Rather listen to A Tribe Called Quest than that rubbish.

According to the Turkish president, Muslims were also the first ones to discover America, so there is that. Alhamdulillah, The United States and Islam cannot be separated, no matter how ignorant Donald Trump decides to be. Lol at not know that Muhammad Ali isn't a Muslim. :))

I would take what Erdogan says with a grain of salt.
 
When did religion matter so much..

I hate it when people look at the world as Muslim World vs the rest?

Whats the point of this generalization?

Because like it or not, a large segment of the world is sadly ignorant about the contributions of Muslims in this world.

A few of my friends had no idea Dave Chapelle was even Muslim, and they were Bill Maher lovers to begin with.
 
Because like it or not, a large segment of the world is sadly ignorant about the contributions of Muslims in this world.

A few of my friends had no idea Dave Chapelle was even Muslim, and they were Bill Maher lovers to begin with.

Dave Chapelle is a Muslim? I used to like him. :(
 
Native Deen is horrible. Rather listen to A Tribe Called Quest than that rubbish.



I would take what Erdogan says with a grain of salt.

I love them, they're pretty awesome and their message is uplifting. Better without the instruments, believe it or not.

I don't believe that either but just wanted to put this out there.
 
Because like it or not, a large segment of the world is sadly ignorant about the contributions of Muslims in this world.

A few of my friends had no idea Dave Chapelle was even Muslim, and they were Bill Maher lovers to begin with.

and who gives a rats behind if someone was a muslim or not? Does that make you superior in any way?
 
There are rumours that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has now settled in the West Midlands area of the UK with his family.
 
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Dave Chapelle speaking to David lettermen About his conversion to <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/islam?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#islam</a> at the age of 17 years old. May Allah bless him and give us all firmness &#55358;&#56626;&#55356;&#57341; <a href="https://t.co/YzVdnPsx4d">pic.twitter.com/YzVdnPsx4d</a></p>— Mutah Beale مطاع بيل (@MutahNapoleon) <a href="https://twitter.com/MutahNapoleon/status/1320917793936584707?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 27, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
 
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Dave Chapelle speaking to David lettermen About his conversion to <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/islam?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#islam</a> at the age of 17 years old. May Allah bless him and give us all firmness ���� <a href="https://t.co/YzVdnPsx4d">pic.twitter.com/YzVdnPsx4d</a></p>— Mutah Beale مطاع بيل (@MutahNapoleon) <a href="https://twitter.com/MutahNapoleon/status/1320917793936584707?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 27, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Lol Dave Chappell would trigger majority Muslims..if they listened to him ,irrespective GOAT according to me.
 
US Senate confirms first federal Muslim judge in American history

Quraishi, 46, son of Pakistani immigrants, was confirmed for post by 81-16 voting ratio


Zahid N Quraishi, nominee to be a US District Judge for the District of New Jersey, testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on pending judicial nominations on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S.,

The US Senate on Thursday approved President Joe Biden’s nomination of Zahid Quraishi, a magistrate judge in New Jersey, to the federal bench, making him the first Muslim federal judge in US history.

The Democrat-controlled Senate voted 81-16 to confirm Quraishi, 46, who is the son of Pakistani immigrants and a former federal and military prosecutor.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York noted on the Senate floor that while Islam is the third-largest religion in the US, no Muslim has ever served on the federal bench.

"We must expand not only demographic diversity but professional diversity, and I know that President Biden agrees with me on this and this will be something that I will set out to do," Schumer said.

Quraishi could not immediately be reached for comment.

Before being appointed as a magistrate in 2019, which did not require Senate confirmation, Quraishi was a partner in the white collar criminal defense practice of New Jersey law firm Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti.

He had previously worked as an assistant US attorney, assistant chief counsel with the Department of Homeland Security, and a prosecutor with the US Army Judge Advocate General's Corps. Quraishi served two tours with the Army in Iraq, in 2004 and 2006.

The Senate on Thursday also voted 52-46 to elevate US District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the District of Columbia to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Jackson, whose record on the bench was criticized by some Republicans, is widely considered a contender for any US Supreme Court vacancy that arises during the Biden administration.

Quraishi and Jackson were nominated in March along with a diverse slate of nine other candidates that included several women and Black and Asian-American nominees. The Senate on Tuesday confirmed the first two Biden-appointed judges to the bench in New Jersey and Colorado.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2304704/us-senate-confirms-first-federal-muslim-judge-in-american-history
 
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