National Museum of African American History and Culture. Muslims in the New world

See there site https://nmaahc.si.edu/

It is an interactive site with pictures and photographs of historical pieces.

Here is 2 extracts from their site and a link to their resources. While we do not know exactly how many African Muslims were enslaved and transported to the New World, there are clues in legal doctrines, slaveholders’ documents, and existing cultural and religious traditions. African Muslims were caught in the middle of complicated social and legal attitudes from the very moment they landed on our Eastern shores, and collections at the Museum help provide insight into their lives.

I knew several [people] who must have been, from what I have since learned, Mohamedans [Muslims]; though at that time, I had never heard of the religion of Mohamed. There was one man on this plantation… who prayed five times every day, always turning his face to the east, when in the performance of his devotion. 

CHARLES BALL

1837

Indeed I wish to be seen [again] in our land called Africa in a place of the sea called Gambia.

OMAR IBN SAYYID1819

Two handwritten documents in Arabic script beloning to Omar ibn Sayyid.

These two documents, incorrectly labeled the 23rd Psalm and The Lord’s Prayer, provide insight into the methods of resistance used by enslaved Muslims.

Loan courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina

Muslims also used literacy to leverage their freedom through their labor. Slave owners exploited Muslims’ ability to read and write, as well as their professional backgrounds. So enslaved Muslims used jobs such as bookkeepers, personal servants, and coachmen to gain physical mobility, learn American business practices, and access information normally only shared within white society. Yarrow Mamout of Georgetown, Washington, D.C., was one such example. Mamout, enslaved by the Beall family, was known as a jack of all trades: he made charcoal, worked on the ship Maryland, weaved baskets, and made bricks. He was able to earn his own money from these endeavors, and a brick-making agreement with Beall’s wife eventually led to his manumission in April 1807. After 44 years enslaved, Mamout became an entrepreneur, bank investor, and homeowner in Georgetown, where he would walk the streets singing the praises of Allah.

See the link above for more information.

Resources

Interested in learning more about the history of African Muslims in the United States? See Sylviane Diouf, Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas (NYU Press, 2013); and Allan Austin, African Muslims in Antebellum America: Transatlantic Stories and Spiritual Struggles (Routledge, 2011). You can also find the WPA Interviews at the Library of Congress.

For short audio stories about the history of African American Muslims, see NPR’s “A History of Black Muslims in America” (August 23, 2005); Backstory with the American History Guys’ “Writing on the Wall: the Story of Omar ibn Said” (October 29, 2014); and The Rise of Charm City’s “Can’t We All Just Get Islam?” (July 22, 2016).

Want to learn more about the Qu’ran? View this digital copy hosted by the University of Michigan.

Other institutions with collections related to African Muslims in America include America’s Islamic Heritage Museum in Washington, D.C. and theIslamic Society of Baltimore in Catonsville, MD. If you would like to learn more about Islam in Africa, visit the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C.

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