Colonialism as a whole was one of the most important forces in shaping the way the United States would eventually interact with those of the Muslim world. Land divisions created by colonial forces, for instance, created the root of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict which have marked the discourse between the U.S. and Islamic countries.
Many Muslims found refuge in the United States and it is a thriving, growing religion to date and many African-Americans converted to the religion like Noble Drew Ali (an early convert), Malcolm X, and black activist Louis Farrakhan in rejection of the American Christian tradition of oppression. While Americans were beamed footage of extremist Muslims abroad (Khomenini, Saddam Hussein, and Bin Laden for instance) other challenges lay ahead.
Unfortunately, the most critical events that has shaped the way Islam is perceived in the United States are the deadly attacks of September 11, 2001. The terrorists were jihadists and had a distinctly pro-Islamic message, although in all of the fervor following the tragedy, it was often overlooked that extremist Muslims such as those who committed these acts are by far the minority. The “War on Terror” that followed after the attacks also seemed to be a war on Islam as so often in the media the two (terrorism and Islam) were almost interchangeable, even if people knew they were not the same thing at all. While suicide bombers, Islamist extremists, nuclear threats from Iran, and other pro-Muslim militia groups throughout the Middle East and living in the West will always receive press attention, the religion itself is peace-loving in its non-extreme form but the impact of the events of the last decade in the West have not provided an easy path to see that far.