As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to
Islam. It was Islam – at places like Al-Azhar University – that carried the light of learning through so many
centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment.
It was innovation in Muslim communities
that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding
of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless
poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation.,,,I
know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America’s story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco.
In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President John Adams wrote, "The United States has in itself
no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims." And since our founding,
American Muslims have enriched the United States...
And when the first Muslim-American was recently elected to Congress, he
took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers – Thomas
Jefferson – kept in his personal library...
So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed.
That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not
what it isn’t.