RECENT EXPERIENCE IN AMERICA
Prof. Dr. M. Es'ad COSAN
Travelling is enjoyable and beneficial. As you know, I have been in the United States of America for the past two or three weeks. Of course, I have already seen New York and the district of Manhattan, and their skyscrapers. I have had a chance to go up to the 104th storey of the World Trade Center where 500,000 people visit everyday. I have been to the White House in Washington D.C. I have also visited the Capitol and taken pictures.
What I liked the most about my experience in the United States was leading the prayer and speaking to the bearded young men of incredible faith who were pursuing their Ph.D.'s in several of the scientific fields.
I walked around the campus of Maryland University, a very large campus with many buildings, sports facilities and laboratories. I saw seven or eight well equipped, well cared for private buildings owned by different Christian denominations, the largest one called Dalled Chapel. No one there seemed to interfere with anyone's religion and dressing. There is also a synagogue by the campus. Unfortunately, there are no mosques, but the Muslim students there have collected and donated money, and bought a house close by which they changed into a mosque. I thought about the ignorant, bigoted, intolerant, uncivilized professors in Turkey who consider it a virtue to close down masjeed s soon as they become the dean or rector of a university. It is not possible that they have not seen the freedom of Muslims in the United States or in other western countries. I hope God can help them change and make Muslims more aware of their faith.
The Muslim students at RPI University in Troy, New York, also donated money and bought a two-storey building with a yard. They use the first floor as a masjeed. Every week a different student delivers the sermon and leads the Friday prayer. Elhamdülillah!
I have been given five or six articles on evidence from excavations showing that Muslims came to the United States long before Christopher Columbus. Inshallah, I will translate and publish them later. According to some statistic, there are approximately seven to eight million Muslims in the United States today. A large number of them is made up of Afro Americans. The others are Africans, Asians, Indians, Pakistan, Chinese, Yugoslavian, Turkish, Tatar, etc. It is estimated that there are about 300,00 Turkish immigrants and students in the United States. Most of them live in New York and New Jersey. The Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs sent an ambassador to the Turkish Consulate in the United States to travel around the country to meet various members of associations and groups. One understands that the Turkish government does not want the Turkish people who live in the United States to have very different views. Several of the groups I spoke to were wondering why they had suddenly become so popular.
People in the United States are very interested in sufism, tarikats, tekkes and dhikr. At various times, sheiks from Ceylon, India, Pakistan, Yugoslavia, and even Turkey dame and tekkes were in the United States. The deceased Muzaffer Ozak Hodja was one of them. Many Americans have accepted Islam as their religion because of them. I was shocked to hear that a group of American Jews had converted to Islam, started an association and founded a mosque in New York.
Around the United States there are many mosques which belong to to Afro-American Muslims. These Muslims are divided into different groups. Slowly, those with perverted ideas are dying out. It is believed that they are turning to sunnisim. I will read and translate some of their books and magazines.
I have many valuable books from different associations and groups in various parts of the world, including North America. Besides, I have some books and magazines from the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) which publishes scientific research in both English and Arabic and some from the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). I believe that we should try to follow Islamic developments in the United States and support them in any way we can.
I hope that American Muslims will unite, make bigger investments in the publishing business, radio/television, and education. The right environment and conditions are certainly available, and the people are willing to search for it and accept it.
(Islam July 1989)