Normally I post every Sunday night on this blog, and normally it’s about movies, but this week is different.
I decided that tonight, after Peter King began his Homeland Security Committee Hearings on “Radicalization in the U.S. Muslim community was the time to put out my new video, “American Muslims.” I didn’t want to wait until Sunday.
This is a slideshow of very accomplished, successful, and in some cases, legendary American Muslims. They are actors, comedians, musicians, athletes, writers, scientists... even Miss USA 2010.
Because I used Yusuf Islam’s (Cat Stevens') song, “The Wind,” the video can’t be watched on this site from everywhere in the world. It’s okay if you’re in the U.S. (Unfortunately it means that YouTube also run ads.)
Most of you will be familiar with some or most of the people in the video, but as we all are knowledgeable in different areas, here’s some background on people you might not know.
KAREEM RASHAD SULTAN KHAN was a U.S. Army Specialist who died in Iraq. Inspired by 9/11, he wanted to show that Muslims, like him, were patriotic Americans willing to lay their lives down for their country. He enlisted immediately after graduation and was sent to Iraq in July 2006. He received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his service, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
LEWIS ARQUETTE is best known for playing "J.D. Patrick" on "The Waltons." He is the son of Cliff Arquette (aka "Charlie Weaver") and the father of Rosanna, Patricia, David, Alexis, and Richmond Arquette.
Comedian/Actor AASIF MANDVI is currently the "Middle Eastern Affairs Correspondent" on "The Daily Show."
IQBAL THEBA plays Principal Figgins on "Glee."
MARA BROCK AKIL began her career as a writer for "South Central" and "Moesha," and then became the Supervising Producer of "The Jamie Foxx Show." She created and executive produced "Girlfriends" and "The Game," and is currently a consulting producer for "Cougar Town."
KAMRAN PASHA co-produced the TV series "Sleeper Cell," and produced "Bionic Woman" and "Kings."
PARVEZ SHARMA' s debut film "A Jihad for Love" has won five international awards and has been seen by over eight million people in 49 countries. Even though the film has faced theological condemnation and has been banned in a number of countries, Sharma remains (in his own words) "fatwa-free" as he has become a leading spokesperson on defending Islam and yet being able to speak for urgent reform, as a Muslim. He has conducted and led more than 200 live events across the world talking about Islam and in part its relation to homosexuality.
FAZLUR KHAN, more than any other individual, ushered in a renaissance in skyscraper construction during the second half of the twentieth century, and has been called the "Einstein of structural engineering," His most famous buildings are the John Hancock Center and the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), which was the world's tallest building for several decades.
AHMED ZAWAIL won the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on femtochemistry. He is the Linus Pauling Chair Professor Chemistry and Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology.
HAKEEM OLAJUWON – If you’re not a basketball fan (like me) then you should know that . Hakeem "the Dream" Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets is in the Basketball Hall of Fame and is considered by most experts to be one of the top 25 basketball players of all-time.
MICHAEL WOLFE is a poet and author who is a frequent lecturer on Islamic issues at universities across the US including Harvard, As a small press publisher, he published Jim Carroll’s The Basketball Diaries, as well as works by Paul Bowles and others. Wolfe has made and continues to make numerous award-winning short and long films for PBS and worldwide release.
Rightly or wrongly, I chose not to include members of The Nations of Gods and Earth, also known as the Five Percenters. Some people consider the Five Percenters to be Muslims, but mainstream Muslims do not. This is why I left out people like Busta Rhymes, Nas, Rakim, etc., although no one would argue that I short-changed rappers in this video.
IMAN was born a Muslim, and is cited in Wikipedia and in other places online as being a Muslim, but I have no idea if she is still a practicing one.
Her name in Arabic means "faith."