The U.S. Embassy Blog
Celebrating Diversity in the U.S.A. – American Muslims
July 20, 2012
The United States of America is known as a country of great diversity and a country of great faith. Americans have a rich tradition of celebrating holidays from a variety of cultures and marking holy days of many faiths. Currently, during the month of Ramadan, Americans of all faiths and backgrounds join Muslim Americans at Iftar dinners. Each year, the President of the United States and the Secretary of State host Iftar dinners to celebrate the diversity of America and America’s positive relationship with Muslims around the world. Restaurants from Atlanta, Georgia to Detroit, Michigan to Los Angeles, California host patrons who break the fast together with family and friends. Just as Muslims around the world use the month of Ramadan as a time of reflection, American Muslims also step back and reflect on the core values of their faith.
Americans are lucky to have a country which was founded on the principle of the freedom to practice one’s own religion. The United States of America and the Muslim religion share many core values including the principles of justice and progress; tolerance; and the dignity of all human beings. Since America was founded, American Muslims have played key roles in communities across the United States and are strong contributors to the strength and character of America. Muslim Americans serve in law enforcement, the military and government; campaign for civil rights; found successful businesses; and hold Nobel Prizes.
Many Muslim Americans, such as U.S. Congressmen Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Andre Carson from Indiana, were born in America. Congressman Carson grew up in a rough area of Indianapolis and through education and the encouragement of his family, rose to leadership positions in law enforcement, on the Indianapolis city council and now as a U.S. Congressman, working to support small business growth in America. Congressman Ellison grew up in Detroit, earned a law degree in Minnesota and now focuses on environmental sustainability and peace promotion. Other Muslim Americans are proud immigrants, who moved to America with the goal of building a better life for their families.
The religion of Islam is practiced by Americans throughout our country. There is a mosque in every state, and over 1,200 mosques total in the U.S. Muslims in America live side by side with Americans from a variety of different faiths and backgrounds. They are neighbors and friends and hold jobs from cooks to accountants. Muslim Americans are also superstars. American rapper and actor Mos Def is known to audiences around the world. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Muhammad Ali and Shaquille O’Neal are just a few examples of famous Muslim American sports stars. Many American Muslims such as Fareed Zakaria are renowned journalists, and other American Muslims such as Ingrid Mattson, the first woman to head the Islamic Society of North America, and Soumaya Khalifa, who founded the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta, are recognized for their leadership abilities and advocacy of women’s rights.
There is no doubt that the Islamic faith is an important part of America’s religious diversity. America is a country where people of all religions aspire to live in peace and security, to care for families and friends and to use the values of faith to contribute to local community development. Thanks to the contributions of Muslim Americans throughout the United States of America, our country is enriched and our values are strengthened.
By Shelly Seaver, Public Affairs Officer