As the US marks Veterans Day, designed to honor and thank all military personnel who served the United States in all wars on Monday, November 11, it’s important to take note of the roles thousands of Muslims played in this regard.
Service by Muslims in the United States military dates back to the American Revolutionary War where records indicate that at least a few Muslims fought on the rebel side. Muslims fought in the War of 1812 and the Civil War.
“Muslims helped the 13 colonies wrest their freedom from the Redcoats. Peter Salem, believed to have been Muslim, was a veteran of the Revolutionary War,” Omar Qudrat wrote in an opinion article published Sunday by Fox News.
“Salem served in the 4th Continental Regiment and Col. John Nixon’s 6th Massachusetts Regiment. He fought in the Battles of Bunker Hill, Saratoga, and Stony Point.”
Records from the American Revolutionary War suggest that at least a few Muslims fought on the American side. Among the recorded names of soldiers are “Yusuf ben Ali” and “Bampett Muhamed”.
Two hundred and ninety-two Muslims are known to have fought during the Civil War. The highest-ranking Muslim officer during the War was Captain Moses Osman.
Qudrat, an American Muslim veteran who served in Afghanistan, went on to recall Muslim soldiers’ participation in several wars.
“Approximately 300 Muslims signed up to serve with the Union in the Civil War,” he wrote.
“Osman Moses served with the 104th Regiment of the Illinois Infantry. He rose to the rank of captain, becoming the highest-ranking American Muslim service member at the time.
“In World War II, the tradition continued. After the war, due to the work of service member Abdullah Igram, Islam was added as an option for religious affiliations.”
In another editorial published in 2016 by the New Yorker, Robin Wright wrote about Muslims serving America.
“Among the more than five thousand Muslims who fought for America in the First World War, the name Muhammad was so common that it was spelled forty-one ways in military records, according to Amir Muhammad, the author of “Muslim Veterans of American Wars” and the co-founder of the Islamic Heritage Museum, in Washington, DC,” she wrote.
Muslims also fought and died in the Second World War, Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, and Iraq. There are so many Muslim vets that the Muslim American Veterans Association is opening its twelfth regional post this month.
More recently, Humayun Khan, a Pakistani-American, is one of the most famous Muslim soldiers.
Humayun’s father, Khizr Khan, rose to prominence in 2016 when he spoke at the Democratic National Convention about his son, Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who died in Iraq in 2004.