CAIRO - Digging into the history of Islam in America, students at Louisiana University will have the opportunity to get better information about Islam and Muslims in a five-week series of readings and discussions.
Islam is the world's second largest religion, so when it goes through a period of internal revision it affects more than just its own adherents, Dr. Ahmad Nazir Atassi, a Tech assistant professor of history, told Shreveport Times.
The Muslim professor was speaking about a new course planned by Louisiana Tech's department of history to discuss the Muslim experience in America.
The course titled, Let's Talk About It: Muslim Journeys, will be divided into five sessions, each scheduled for a Tuesday evening during October
Atassi, serving as facilitator and discussion leader, noted that the program would begin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1 and continue every Tuesday evening until Oct. 29.
Accompanied by appropriate readings, session topics will include women and gender in American Islam.
The course will also tackled American Muslims from the 18th Century to World War I, American Muslims since World War I, cultural encounters and cultural integration, and American Muslim politics between identity and 9/11.
The course is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association.
It is also a part of the Readings in Literature and Culture (RELIC) program of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.
Louisiana Tech is one of 840 educational and cultural institutions selected nationally to present the series.
In a shrinking world, the program was praised for serving multiculturalism in the US and helping Americans to get better information about Islam and Muslims.
Although the Muslim experience in America did not come to the forefront until recently, it has deep roots in the nation's past and it is an integral part of our history, just like all the other immigration waves that have enriched the American experience, Dr Atassi said.
A member of the Louisiana Tech faculty since 2007, Atassi holds a Ph.D. in history and religious studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
He teaches courses on Middle East history, the history of Islam and the history of US-Middle East relations.
Although there are no official figures, the United States is believed to be home to between 6-8 Muslims.
In 2010, Dr. Edward E. Curtis, Professor of Religious Studies and American Studies at the Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, traced the history of Islam in America.
His book Muslims in America, traces Muslim tales, from African American converts to Islam in the 1920s, to the post-1965 wave of professional immigrants from Asia and Africa, to Muslims in post 9/11 America.
He also documented the lives of American Americans in the early history in the eighteen century.
Professor Sulayman Nyang, chairman of the African Studies Department at Howard University in Washington, has also traced the history of Islam in America, even before the arrival of Christopher Columbus.
In his book, Islam in the United States of America, and many essays, Nyang said that Muslims came to America during the times of Mansa Musa, the celebrated King of Mali in Western Africa who revealed Muslim voyages to the New World.