America was built on diversity. The same is true of Islam.

Posted on July 26, 2007

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By Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and Daisy Khan
Newsweek, July 30, 2007
INTERNATIONAL section; Guest Column; Pg. 32
U.S. Edition

It’s strange that the United States and the Muslim world so often seem to be in conflict. The more you know about America’s basic ideals and those of classical Islam, the more similarities you see. For one thing, both the country and the religion were founded on the principle that individual freedom is a God-given, inalienable right. For another, they share a central belief in the strength that comes from embracing diversity.

The resemblance dates back to their beginnings. The Muslim world grew in much the same way America would, a thousand years later. As Islam spread from its birthplace in Western Arabia, its community of followers–the umma –expanded into an increasingly diverse collection of cultures, peoples and nations. Muslim rulers made a practice of welcoming and protecting people of all faiths–a tradition begun earlier but set in stone less than 10 years after the Prophet Muhammad’s death, when Caliph Umar captured Jerusalem in 638 and invited 70 Jewish families to come and live there, after centuries of repeated expulsions by non-Muslims. America’s Muslims are uniquely blessed. They embody the diversity championed by both their own religious history and their country’s heritage–a cross section of the global Muslim community.

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