In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

Out in northwest North Dakota, where the winds hit heavy on the borderline, rural Mountrail County backed Donald Trump, as did all but two of North Dakota’s 53 counties. And the city of Ross, population 97, voted a bit more heavily for Trump than the rest of the county and the rest of the state.

That’s notable because of the place Ross holds in the history of Islam in America.

It was in this farm town that in 1929 the first mosque purposely constructed as such in the United States was established.

Thus began the column by John Nichols, the national-affairs correspondent for the Nation. I’ve been a huge fan of his work for a long time, especially because of columns like this one. I have already learned a lot from him, and this column is no different.

I have always known that Islam’s history in the United States dates back to before its independence, but I did not know – until John Nichols educated me – that the oldest mosque in America was in Ross, North Dakota.

I doubt that Donald Trump knows there is a Ross, North Dakota, let alone that Muslim immigrants constructed a mosque there before he was born. I doubt that his aides know that Muslims were living and worshiping in the United States before the founders drafted a Constitution that guarded against religious tests and then added an amendment designed to preserve freedom of religion in a country where Thomas Jefferson believed that a mantle of protection should extend to “the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.”

But this history needs to be recalled, and respected, as President-elect Donald Trump begins to fill his administration with men like his incoming National Security Adviser, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who has claimed that “fear of Muslims is rational.”

The emphasis was mine. Yet, I cannot agree with him more: “this history needs to be recalled, and respected…”

There are those in our country that seek to “otherize” Islam and Muslims; they seek to make Islam “foreign”; they even cast doubt on whether Islam is a religion. This is wrong, and it tears at the fabric of our unity as a people.

Thank you, John Nichols, for this wonderful piece and reminder of the beautiful and vibrant history of American faith, which includes Islam.

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