A Muslim in a New York State of Mind—Part 2

Muslim History Detective’s log, 05/30/13 On October 4, 1865, the anti-slavery, Tunisian Muslim General Otman Hashem arrived in New York via the steamship Persia. The very next day, the New York Times reported his stay in the city to be a one day rest stop before moving on to his intended destination of Washington, DC. But wouldn’t you know it, given how “colorful” New York City is, the stopover morphed into quite an eventful, days-long tour of the city, full… Read more

A Muslim in a New York State of Mind—Part 1

 Muslim History Detective’s log, 05/28/13 Recently I travelled to New York to give a speech and I have to say, as a Muslim History Detective, I feel like a kid in a candy store whenever I am there. Everywhere I turn in the city there are always so many amazing connections to the history of Islam in America, going back several centuries. For example, in a 1793 speech on the “universality of masonry” DeWitt Clinton included Muslims among those considered… Read more

A Reflection: Love Thy Neighbor

 Muslim History Detective’s log, 05/3/13 “History is all around us,” I once wrote, “and we are all historians.” “The creative ways we choose to preserve history can be used as a catalyst for building community across seemingly intractable divides and as a means to help us grow in our own humanity for the betterment of human interests.” I was on my way to the bus stop to pick up my daughter on Tuesday, when I saw men bringing a stretcher… Read more

Muslim Ghosts of the Civil War

Muslim History Detective’s log, 03/19/13 “As our nation commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, one group has been wholly overlooked in the modern portrayals of how America ended slavery in the 1860s. Muslims. Wait…. What? Yes, Muslims played historic roles during this critical period (and others) in American history. In the past year, I have spent hundreds of hours poring over historical newspapers, government documents, plantation records, rare books and presidential diaries for my report, “Muslims and the… Read more

An American Muslim’s Reflections on the U.S. Capitol, Obama, and Moving Forward Together

Muslim History Detective’s log, 01/24/13 To witness President Obama give his inaugural address on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Inauguration Day holds a particular significance for me as an American Muslim of African descent. My family—my husband, our two daughters, and me—watched the address on television. We wanted to be in Washington but God’s plans kept us home in Virginia. Squished together on a love seat in our den, our six-year-old, whose name means “the highest definition of… Read more

Pay it Forward: The Elders, the Muslim Historian, and Obama

The elders are at again—Africans, Americans, Muslims, and women among them, just like me—some living and some long since passed away, but all having toiled here in this republic. “Be conscious of how you arrived at the moment,” they warn, in variant ways, reminding me of what is at stake. I know that on Election Day, my voting booth will be crowded—with their words and their struggles—with their presence. Read more

An American Muslim History Detective’s Vision

Muslim History Detective’s log, 10/16/2012. A wise woman once said, “Whoever tells the story writes history.” Well, I want to write history, and I want to build community through telling the stories of diverse people in America who happen to be Muslim. Several years ago, I presented on the history of Muslim women in America for a panel titled “Women of Faith in the Struggle for Social Justice: Abolition to the Present.” Later, one of the other panelists, a representative… Read more

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