Best wishes to those who opened the The Masjid of Muskogee, the area's first mosque, earlier this month. Establishing the mosque is, as one founder stated, an opportunity for Muslims who live in the area to share their faith and, as a group, to give to the community to which they belong and in which they have a stake. Muskogee is a very diverse community, and the mosque simply highlights that diversity, something that has been a part of America's heritage from the very first settlements. Christianity is certainly the dominant religion in America, but Native American beliefs and philosophy were expressed on this continent for centuries, and native people were often integral parts of and contributors to the first white settlements in the colonies. Some of the first ships to America brought not only Europeans, but also African people with their own views of the world and religions.
The early settlements of the American West included immigrants from China. Immigrants continue to come from all over the world to America because of the freedom offered here, and the fact that Muslims can open a mosque in Muskogee is a testimony to the principles by which we all live. This really shouldn't have to be discussed, but of course, conflicts in the Middle East and terrorists attacks have generated suspicion and fear among Americans, as well as among those of the Muslim faith from many countries. But mosques are not new to American communities. For years, they have contributed in other places, and in Muskogee, we should welcome what those of the Muslim faith — and fellow Americans — have to offer.