Author to speak on Muslim contributions to American culture

Amir Hussain's "Muslims and the Making of America" highlights leading Muslim figures in U.S. sports and popular music.

On March 8, Amir Hussain, professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, will present a lecture entitled “Muslims and the Making of America” based on his recent book of the same name.

Hussain will challenge the stereotypes about Islam that are common in post-9/11 America and will uncover the ways in which Islam has been instrumental in the formation of American identity and culture. Hussain argues that America would not exist as it does today without the essential contributions made by its Muslim citizens. In his book, Hussain writes, “Islam is viewed in a three-fold way: as new to America; as foreign to America; and as comprised of adherents who are violent, ‘un-American,’ and a threat to our nation. The reality is that Muslims have helped us to be more American, to be better Americans.”

Hussain writes about contributions of notable Muslim Americans in sports, music, art and politics including Mohammed Ali, Ahmet Etregun, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Keith Ellison. “Muslims and the Making of America” also sketches the history of Islam in North America beginning with the Muslim slaves forcibly brought to the New World. 

Hussain has held a longstanding commitment to interfaith work and has written extensively on the topic. He authored a book entitled “Oil and Water: Two Faiths One God” about the relationship between Christians and Muslims in North America today. The book seeks to inspire an ongoing interfaith dialogue between the two groups about finding a space for reconciliation, where both groups can feel recognized and honored by the other.

Hussain holds his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate from the University of Toronto and has been the co-editor of several textbooks including the fourth editions of “World Religions: Western Traditions” and “World Religions: Eastern Traditions.” He has also published over 50 book chapters and scholarly articles about religion. Hussain serves on the editorial boards of three scholarly journals, the Journal of Religion, Conflict and Peace; the Ethiopian Journal of Religious Studies; and Comparative Islamic Studies.

The lecture will take place in McKinnon Hall in the Moseley Student Center at 5:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Elon Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society.