A Muslim in Victorian America: The Life of Alexander Russell by Umar F. Abd-Allah

By Umar F. Abd-Allah

Conflicts and controversies at domestic and out of the country have led americans to target Islam greater than ever sooner than. additionally, progressively more in their associates, colleagues, and associates are Muslims. whereas a lot has been written approximately modern American Islam and pioneering experiences have seemed on Muslim slaves within the antebellum interval, relatively little is understood approximately Islam in Victorian the United States. This biography of Alexander Russell Webb, one of many earliest American Muslims to accomplish public renown, seeks to fill this gap.Webb was once a important determine of yank Islam in the course of the overdue 19th and early 20th centuries. a local of the Hudson Valley, he was once a journalist, editor, and civil servant. Raised a Presbyterian, Webb early on started to domesticate an curiosity in different religions and have become quite occupied with Islam. whereas serving as U.S. consul to the Philippines in 1887, he took a better curiosity within the religion and embraced it in 1888, one of many first american citizens identified to have performed so. inside many years, he started corresponding with very important Muslims in India. Webb grew to become an enthusiastic propagator of the religion, founding the 1st Islamic establishment within the usa: the yankee undertaking. He wrote quite a few books meant to introduce Islam to american citizens, all started the 1st Islamic press within the usa, released a magazine entitled The Moslem global, and served because the consultant of Islam on the 1893 World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago. In 1901, he was once appointed Honorary Turkish Consul basic in long island and was once invited to Turkey, the place he bought Ottoman medals of merits.In this first-ever biography of Webb, Umar F. Abd-Allah examines Webb's lifestyles and makes use of it as a window by which to discover the early background of Islam in the US. with the exception of his followed religion, each point of Webb's lifestyles was once, as Abd-Allah indicates, quintessentially attribute of his position and time. It was once simply because he used to be so regularly American that he used to be capable of function Islam's ambassador to the USA (and vice versa). As America's Muslim neighborhood grows and turns into extra seen, Webb's lifestyles and the virtues he championed - pluralism, liberalism, common humanity, and a feeling of civic and political accountability - exemplify what it potential to be an American Muslim.

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They dug simple dwellings in the hillsides and lived much like Native Americans. ’’ They would collect young white ash branches just before the appearance of the new moon and pound them in preparation for weaving baskets. 68 National discord over slavery and perpetual ‘‘Indian’’ trouble interspersed by frontier wars pervaded Webb’s early years. Consolidation of the West meant unabated conflict with Native Americans, the original owners of the land. Most of Webb’s life transpired during the great ‘‘Indian Wars’’ and tribal ‘‘last stands,’’ a period stretching roughly from 1840 till 1890.

Osman had come to know of Webb in 1931 while in Turkey after someone in India mailed her a copy of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s Teachings of Islam. The preface had been written in 1910 by Muhammad Ali, a prominent Lahori Ahmadiyya66 leader and scholar. Ali paid tribute to Webb, whom he identified as a New Jersey resident, and thanked him for valuable editorial assistance in the final draft of Ali’s English translation of the Qur’an. Osman exuberantly declared: No one can imagine how joyful I was to see this reference to an American convert to Islam from New Jersey, for I had been born in that state myself, and many of my relatives were still living there.

A year before his birth, President James Polk annexed Texas and triggered the Mexican War (1846–1848), which ended in a humiliating defeat for Mexico and cession of most of its northwestern territories to the United States. Such monumental changes had local significance for Webb. Hudson’s General William J. 3 By coincidence, a prominent nineteenth-century memorial to General Worth stood in Manhattan directly in front of the location of Webb’s first mission office at 1122 Broadway. 5 The Hudson Valley of Webb’s childhood was little different from the agrarian landscape familiar to George Washington.

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