By Ben Winsor
On the sports field and at awards ceremonies, it’s common to hear people thanking God. Thanks to Allah is heard less often.
Still, there are over 2.5 million American Muslims, making it the third largest religion in the country.
While Muslims only account for 0.8% of the population, they have faced rising discrimination and prejudice since the 9/11 attacks 13 years ago. With the rise of groups like ISIS now seeking to promote their brand of violent extremism, that may be unlikely to end anytime soon.
A recent poll reported that 62% of American’s didn’t personally know a Muslim, so here’s a list of 10 Muslim Americans you probably will know.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr Oz Show” and vice chair and professor of surgery at Columbia University, wasborn in Ohio to Turkish parents. His mother’s family was fiercely secular, while his father’s family treated Islam as much more central to their lives. Dr. Oz has said he’s struggled with his religious understanding, but describes his beliefs as amystical form of Islam closely related to Sufism.
O’Neal has rarely spoken publicly about being a Muslim, but in 2010 he did reveal he intended to take the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, known as the Hajj. The Saudi government bars all non-Muslims from visiting the city of Mecca.
The Indian-born journalist Fareed Zakaria hosts his own show on CNN, is an editor at large for Time Magazine, and writes a foreign affairs column for The Washington Post. Zakaria was raised by Muslim parents, though he has stated he doesn’t consider himself“a particularly religious person.”
Emmy-winning actor Ellen Burstyn appears to follow a loose form of Sufi Islam, the Wall Street Journal has reported. Burstyn, known for “The Exorcist,” “Requiem For A Dream,” and “Political Animals,” says she believes in aspects from many major religions.
Actor and comedian Aasif Mandvi is best known for his role as a “Daily Show” correspondent. Mandvi was born in India and then spent much of his childhood in the UK before his familyultimately moved to Tampa, Florida.
Mandvi told the Tampa Bay Times, “My experience on ‘The Daily Show’ is that … sometimes you get the thing that you want, but in a way that you never expected to get it.”
“Like an important time to say something as a Muslim-American, as a brown person, as an immigrant. I feel like a lot of my work is about (exploring) that gap between cultures … I just want to keep building on that,” he said.
A self-described “spiritual man,” Akon has weaved his religious beliefs into his music. In his song “Senegal,”he raps, “So what you know about how God comes first in our lives, everything that we do is for Allah.”
The comedian Dave Chapelle has spoken about his beliefs on occasion but tends to shy away from talking about being a Muslim. “I don’t normally talk about my religion publicly because I don’t want people to associate me and my flaws with this beautiful thing,” hetold Time Magazine in 2005.
In a later interview, the comedian said a trip to Africa had crystallized his beliefs. “I’m a Muslim, I don’t necessarily practice the way a good Muslim is supposed to practice but I believe in these tenets,” Chapelle said.
Rapper and Hollywood movie star Ice Cube converted to Islam in the 1990s. Born and raised in LA California, Ice Cube has stated, “What I call myself is a natural Muslim, because it’s just me and God. You know, going to the mosque, the ritual and the tradition, it’s just not in me to do. So I don’t do it.”
Grammy Award winning rapper T-Pain was born Faheem Rasheed Najm and grew up in Tallahassee, Florida.
He says most people aren’t aware that he was raised a Muslim. “People don’t even know. Me, Busta Rhymes, Lupe Fiasco — they don’t even know we are Muslim. People think a Muslim has to have a turban or a big beard. It’s stupid,” T-Pain said.
However, T-Pain has also expressed broad beliefs in aspects of many religions, and has also stated that he doesn’t like that religion separates people.
(Courtesy: Business Insider Australia)