Muslims in America
By Amir Muhammad
Publisher: Amana Publications
Address of publisher: 10710 Tucker Street, Beltsville, MD 20707
Year of publication: 1998, 2001
Pages: 84
Price: $10.00
ISBN: 0-915957-75-2

Many Americans, including a great many Muslim-Americans, are not knowledgeable about Muslim history in the United States. Most Americans believe that Muslims are recent arrivals in the country. To correct this misperception and to “leave his children, grandchildren, and the general public (both Muslim and non-Muslim) a clear picture of America’s rich Islamic heritage,” Amir Nashid Ali Muhammad has written Muslims in America: Seven Centuries of History 1312-2000). This book was first published in 1998, and the second edition came out in 2001.

In a well-focused book, Muhammad presents the history and development of Islam in the United States in a historical context. The author brings to the reader’s attention key Muslim figures from 1300-2000 and presents their contributions to Islam and North America. Muhammad mentions the fact that there were many Muslims (almost 10%) among the Africans that were sold into slavery in North America. His research further reveals that Muslim slaves lived in at least 7 of the 13 original colonies: Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia.

The author highlights the struggles and hardships Muslim-Africans encountered in the practice of their religion. It is well known that early European Puritans while fleeing intolerance at home were themselves intolerant of other religions amidst them. Islam, therefore, did not survive slavery times. So, African American Muslim history must start again in the Twentieth Century when blacks migrated to the North and embraced a totally distorted version of classical Islam. These Muslims later became followers of Nation of Islam. Sulayman Nyang labels them as simulationists as opposed to assimilationists. Assimilationists are orthodox Muslims, according to Nyang.

Muhammad’s research has unearthed some little-known but interesting facts about Muslims: The first person to request the freedom of all slaves in America was a Muslim; [and] that Muslims fought in many of the early America wars, according to his research. An invaluable collection of rare photographs of key personages, historical mosques, relevant sites and various writings brings the book to life.

Written in layman’s English, Muslims in America, is highly recommended for children’s libraries. In addition, K-12 educators and the general public can use this book as a general resource guide to Muslim history in the United States of America. - Shahid Sheikh
(The reviewer, Shahid Sheikh, is executive director of the New York City-based American Educational Research Institute and the moderator of He intends to review all the books written about Muslim-Americans. He can be reached at


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.