Muslims in America
By Amir Muhammad
Publisher: Amana Publications
Address of publisher: 10710 Tucker Street, Beltsville,
Year of publication: 1998, 2001
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 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Muslim-Americans.
He intends to review all the books written about
Muslim-Americans. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)