hen a visitor
stopped by his office, Ahmed Osman pointed to a table laden with
paperbacks that Amana Publications, a publisher of Islamic books,
had been producing at its headquarters in Beltsville, Md., a
Washington suburb, where Mr. Osman is director of publications.
"Muslim Teens: A Practical Islamic Parenting Guide" was one
title. Others dealt with marriage, conversion and more. But the big
seller was the Koran, in the English-language translation by
Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Mr. Osman said.
Amana belongs to a widely scattered universe of American Muslim
publishing, which links members of an ethnically diverse community
through newspapers, magazines, books and Internet sites.
But Muslims in America are of course a very long way from the
communication and publishing operations of evangelical Protestants,
whose ventures have set the gold standard for media identified with
a particular religious group. Such resources raise a group's public
profile and ensure that its views will be heard, because prominent
members can be easily identified by journalists and policy makers.
Naim Beig, secretary general of the Islamic Circle of North
America, based in Queens, said American Muslims got much of the news
about their communities "through the ethnic papers," newspapers
printed in Arabic, Urdu and English that are distributed to
"On a Friday," Mr. Beig said, "if you pass by any Islamic center,
you will find a lot of these papers sitting there."
One, found in mosques frequented by African-Americans, is The
Muslim Journal, affiliated with Imam W. Deen Muhammed, a national
figure among black American Muslims.
Another is The Mirror International, a weekly that circulates
among Pakistani immigrants. In October, one issue carried an
editorial urging the development of Muslim news media, and for
Muslim journalists and editors to go to work in mainstream news
Ibrahim Hooper, national director of the Council on
American-Islamic Relations, said many American Muslims also got
their news from the Internet.
One site is IslamiCity.org, with a 12-member staff and
headquarters in Culver City, Calif. Its chief executive, Muhammed
Abdul Aleem, said its goal was to create "a medium for Muslims
around the world and for non-Muslims, where they can get an
objective view of Islam."
Among its features, the site offers selected articles, from
various news organizations, on American policy toward Afghanistan
and the Middle East.
Southern California is also home to a weekly television program,
"The American Muslim Hour," produced in Altadena, a Los Angeles
suburb. The program, begun in 1985 and transmitted around the
country over a variety of local cable channels and the Internet,
focuses on discussions of the Koran, interreligious dialogue and
Aslam Abdullah, editor of The Minaret, a Muslim magazine with an
investigative bent, said the day of a national Islamic media
presence might not be far off.
"There is now a trend within the Muslim community where a lot of
younger people are going to journalism courses," Mr. Abdullah said.
"And some of them are getting jobs in local media."
"I'm confident that within two or three years, we'll have a
national Muslim print media," he said, "either a weekly or a
A New Year's Thanksgiving
Given the holiday, this will be a weekend for members of the
clergy to deliver messages of thanksgiving. But of course one may
show gratitude at any time. Consider a resonant sermon of
thanksgiving preached very long ago on a New Year's Day, about the
fundamental issue of the right to personal liberty.
It was in 1808, when a federal law took effect barring the import
of African slaves into the United States. The Rev. Absalom Jones, a
former slave who had become an Episcopal priest in Philadelphia,
delivered "A Thanksgiving Sermon," taking as his text Exodus 3:7-8,
God's promise to deliver the Israelites from bondage in Egypt.
Father Jones was an elegant writer, whose message may be read in
"American Sermons" (Library of America, 1999). He asked that Jan. 1
be always set aside as a day of thanksgiving for the end of American
involvement in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
He also wrote a prayerful concluding sentence that seems apt for
the present moment, two centuries later. "Give peace in our day, we
beseech thee, O thou God of peace," he said, "and grant that this
highly favoured country may continue to afford a safe and peaceful
retreat from the calamities of war and slavery, for ages yet to