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Islam in America

The Islamic Society of North America, which has 40,000 members, held its 39th annual convention in Washington, DC. It was proof of the growing presence of Islam in America as a counterbalance to the Jewish lobby. However, the crowd looked "un-American", unlike a similar Jewish crowd, which would be more assimilated. Most of the speakers introduced their remarks with a quotation in Arabic from the Koran, but no data were given about the ethnic origin of these Muslims. All speakers stressed peace and cooperation with other faiths. They opposed terrorism, described as an unjust response to injustice. Here is a question for specialists. I dislike Mohammed as a man of violence. He is just the messenger. Can a Muslim view the Koran as the word of God and still criticize the messenger?

There were outside speakers. Anthony Williams, mayor of Washington, DC popped in and welcomed the assembly, boasting that his city was free of anti-Muslim activities. Another speaker was Mured Hoffman, described as former German ambassador to the US and an authority on Islam. The introduction made it appear that he himself was Muslim, but I doubt this. Scott Alexander came from the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, said to be the largest Catholic seminary in the country. He is in charge of a new program there in Islamic studies. There seemed to be no comparable representative of the Jewish community, Indeed, in Colorado Jewish leaders criticized Colorado College for inviting a Muslim to speak at a conference at which a Jew was also to speak. Perhaps Sal Bizzarro can tell us more about this.

Ronald Hilton - 8/31/02