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Islam Grows Into a Strong Presence in America
This article first appeared in the News Watch column of Volume 23 / Number 4 / 2001 issue of the Christian Research Journal.
We welcome Islam in America. It enriches our country with Islam’s teachings of self-discipline, compassion, and commitment to family. It deepens America’s respect for Muslims here at home and around the world.1
Today, Muslim Americans are a cornerstone of our American community. They enrich our political and cultural life; they provide leadership in every field of human endeavor, from business to medicine, to scholarship.2
These public pronouncements of President Clinton to Muslim Americans are indicative of how Islam has become established as a major religion in America. For most of America’s history, Islam had been a marginal presence. Muslims were mostly foreign nationals or resident aliens, with only a few naturalized United States citizens, and even fewer second or third generation Americans. Christian churches relegated evangelism of Muslims to foreign missions. The typical American Christian rarely, if ever, encountered a religiously active Muslim. Now, however, Islam is a noticeable religious force in America. Christians need to be as knowledgeable of Islam’s presence as they are of any other religion in America.
Islam is no passing fad, and it is growing quickly in America. American Muslim leaders are quite open about their hopes and dreams. In an editorial entitled “Time to Make an Imprint,” Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi writes: “North America needs our contribution, and it is up to us to make an imprint in founding a truly Islamic civilization on this continent.”3
Very few Americans lack an opinion about Islam. There are numerous views concerning the religion, many not favorable. “According to a recent Roper Poll, 50% of those polled believed all Muslims to be inherently anti-American. Today, the bywords of the relationship between the Muslim and the Judeo-Christian worlds are alienation and suspicion.”4 Carl Ellis, a noted African-American Christian leader, asserts that Islam “is the most serious threat to the church in America.”5