Conférence l'Islam et les pères fondateurs américains
‘’Islam and the founding Fathers of America’’
“Since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, they have served in our government, they have stood for civil rights, they have started businesses, they have taught at our universities, they've excelled in our sports arenas, they've won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers -- Thomas Jefferson -- kept in his personal library’’
President Barack Obama Speech in Cairo, June 2009
Following the tragic incidents of September 11th, the two wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, and the Arab spring - which spilled over into an uncontrolled spiral of violence and turmoil – Islam, both as a religion and the community that represents it, has come under some of the worst attacks upon its heritage and legacy.
Islamic civilization has been depicted in the western world to many as an alien culture full of hatred and violence, and with minimal contributions to human civilization, progress and development, even more towards the United States.
In the Muslim world in general, on the other hand, the US is also perceived--by many--as the leader of an anti Muslim campaign with its different positions on conflicts taking place in the Middle East region.
What is unknown to many on both sides, though, is the place that Islam held in the eyes of the founding fathers of America.
All three consecutive founding fathers of the United States - George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson - opted for America to be open to Islam and Muslim citizens, and encouraged their integration into the new American society.
President George Washington had Muslims enfolded into his private world at Mount Vernon. For him, Muslims were part of his understanding of religious pluralism.
Similarly, John Adams, showed his outreach to Muslims by signing in 1796 the treaty of Tripoli in which he states that "As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, -- as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims], -- and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan [Muslim] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."
In similar fashion, the third president of the United States Thomas Jefferson engaged with Islam and fought to ensure the minority rights of Muslims. He was the first president to host the Ramadan iftar at the White House. This gesture on behalf of the president was not only a diplomatic one. It reflected his genuine interest and familiarity with Islam, a religion that interested him since his time as a student at the College of William & Mary. As a student of law, Jefferson bought the Koran in 1780 and he considered it as a law book because Muslim leaders considered the Koran not only the word of God but also a source of Islamic Law.
The Moroccan American Friendship Foundation and the Jefferson Circle, in Collaboration with the US Embassy- Rabat will hold an international symposium on “Islam and the Founding Fathers of America”.
This debate will explore how the Founding fathers of America thought hard about including Islam in the newly created free country. Many had a good understanding of the Koran, and all perceived Muslims as productive citizens and able to play a positive part in US prosperity and diversity.
The second part of the event--“Islam and The US in the 21st century”--will shed light upon the current situation of Islam in the US. We will explore if this religion is able indeed to be a natural part of the American way of life or not.
Four distinguished speakers from the US and from Morocco, together with a select audience of ambassadors, academicians, journalists and officials, will be invited to learn about, and debate, this interesting topic.
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