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What book on Islam in America would you recommend to someone who is clueless about the roots of Islam here?
Allan D. Austin's, African Muslims in Antebellum America is a must read for anyone interested in the history of Islam in America. Also, Islam in the African American Experience by Richard Brent Turner provides an excellent analysis of this subject. Then, there is the book, Deeper Roots by Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick and lastly, my book, A Black Man's Journey in America, Glimpses of Islam, Conversations and Travels by Muhammad Ali Salaam. Look forward to particapating in your group and pray it goes well.
Peace unto you,
All great choices! Thanks for posting. I also would add Sylviane Diouf's Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas as an excellent account of how Islam first came to the US through the Africans who were enslaved here. What is fascinating is her description of how these slaves tried to continue to practice their faith in the face of hardship and persecution. Prince Among Slaves by Terry Alford is another great book outlining the story of Abd al Rahman Ibrahima an African prince who was enslaved but successfully managed to petition for his freedom. Finally, I would recommend Al America: Travels Through America's Arab and Islamic Roots by Jonathan Curiel. I loved how this book effectively demonstrates the rich cultural borrowings from Muslim and Arab culture that are now accepted as part of American culture.
I do hope this group survives. Please spread the word. Lets keep the ideas and conversations going.
I just checked your book out on Amazon. Could you kindly post some more information about your book?
As my book, A Black Man's Journey in American, Glimpses of Islam... demonstrates, there are far more traces of Islam in African American history than most people realize. In my case, I began with my family's history, which began in the 18th century in this country, according to my father, and continue with my own Islamic experiences up to the very present.
Interesting! I just read an article written by Dr. Abdul Kalimat about an action-research project out of the University of Toledo where African-American families try to use the web to trace their family history and connect through one another. Really fascinating project. I've place the link to it below. The article is from the book: Community practice in the network society: local action/global interaction By Peter Day, Douglas Schuler.
I found the Toledo experiment quite interesting. It is just the kind of work so vital to our survival as a people. More recently, I have engaged myself in the work of Lorenzo Dow Turner, considered the first Black Linguist in America. I found his efforts to trace the origin of the Geeche dialect of coastal South Carolina and Georgia quite interesting. I was even more moved by the work he did in Brazil, and West Africa and his eventual recogition that he needed to study the Arabic language to sufficiently understand Black or African language patterns in the Diaspora.
Something has just come up and I must go but in haste let me conclude by saying I found his study in Brazil quite interesting, especially in relation to the findingsof E. Frazier Franklin and Melville Jean Herskovits (September 10, 1895) on African cultural in the Diaspora, both men, of whom, were present their in Brazil at the time of Turner or shortly thereafter.
I learned through a friend who's done research on Bilali Muhammad and translated his fiqh manual, that the Sapelo Island's Cultural and Revitalization Society is working towards developing an interpretive center. I don't know how much support this project is getting but it is an important initiative. This history needs to be preserved not just in books but in ways that come alive for people.
I'm going to have to look up those studies you mentioned.
peace unto you,
It was with great joy that I read your recent blog. I am in total agreement that we need to discover means by which information on the early African Muslim slaves and their great contributions to early American life can reach the public, not soley in book form as you intimated. It is amazing how these great Muslim scholars had been written out of history. Of course, when we recognize the contemporary ignorance of the American public on the role Medieval Muslims played in awakening Europe from the Dark Ages, it become less of an amazement.
More recently, I have found the scholar, Muslim slave, Lamine Kebe very interesting. He, as we know, had been an educator in his native land in Africa and is recognized as the first Sub-Saharan African to be quoted in an American professional journal. I am not sure of the name of this journal but belive it was the American Annals of Education and Instructions. As a former teacher, myself, I found his recomendations on the requirements of a suitable teacher and his remarks on disciplining students noteworthy. Now, I am not quoting here but according to my aging recollections, he beleived that an ideal teacher is neither too rigid nor too loose with his students but should be of a middle course, (mizan) in regards to his temperament. He also denounce the practice in American education at the time, of allowing the student to change teacher when he had been discipline by the same instructor for as he put it, it eradicates the demand for the student to change his unruly behavior.
Again, it seems as if I am always rushing but thank you so much.
Muhammad Ali Salaam,
Recently, I read the story of a 17th century Muslim slave in the United States known simply as "London," whose life gives further strength to the belief that more Muslims were present among the American slaves than is often recognized. Allan D. Austin has written of him, thusly: "A Georgia slave, London, removed to Florida in the 1850s shortly before he died, deserves recognition for his truly extraordinary efforts in Arabic. His manuscripts provided problems to the translator, William Brown Hodgson, until he discovered that London had done what thousands of West Africans had done before him; written the local language with Arabic characters. Once he gave up looking for Arabic vocabulary and transliterated London's letters into sounds, he came up with the following: “Fas chapta ob jon. Inde be ginnen wasde wad; ande Wad waswid Gad, ande wad was Gad.”’
Concluding his remarks about London, Hodgson wrote, "it is also impossible to know whether London was doing this writing out of a broad spiritual interest or because he had converted to Christianity." My point in all of this, is that these African Muslim slaves had to disguise their adherence to Islam thus the true number of Muslims among the slaves could not be correctly known nor the extent to which Islam was secretly passed on to many of their descendants.
Lastly, I must mention that, according to Austin, the Bilali document was also presented to some of the Muslim scholars of Northern Nigeria for translation some years ago and they simply dismissed it as, “the work of the jinn.” But, as Austin goes on to show, they ignored completely that Bilali Muhammad of Sapelo Island, Georgia was using Arabic characters to write pronunciations in his Fulfe language. I sincerely believe the secret to understanding these early American Muslim slaves reside in a better understanding of Arabic, Geechee Gullah, Creole and the African languages the early Muslim slaves spoke before coming to America. This is important work that African American Muslim should be seriously engaged in for in connecting these dots we will find the missing link to African American history.
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