American Muslim History
A Chronological Observation
By Fareed H. Numan (December 1992)
(Edited by Ishaq Zahid for islam101.com)
Unquestionably, Muslims have made an impact on the evolution
of American society. Historically Muslims have made major contribution, e.g. humanities,
the sciences, and art. They explored North America 300 years before the so-called
"discovery" of the New World by Christopher Columbus. They used the Mississippi
river as their access route to and from the continent's interior. Here are a few glimpses
of Muslim life in American History:
|A Chinese document know as the Sung Document records the
voyage of Muslim sailors to a land know as Mu-Lan-Pi (America). Mention of this document
is contained in the publication, the Khotan Amiers, 1933.
||Abu Bakari (Abu Bakar), a Muslim king of the Malian Empire, spearheads a
series of sea voyages to the New World.
||African Muslims (Mandinga) arrive in the Gulf o Mexico for exploration of
the American interior using the Mississippi River as their access route. These Muslim
explorers were from Mali and other parts of West Africa.
||Pri Ries completes his first world map, including the American, after
research maps from all over the world. The practicality and artistry of his map surpassed
any from his time or before.
||African slaves arrive in America. During the slave trade, more than 10
million Africans were uprooted from their homes and brought to American shores. Many of
these slaves were from the Fulas, Fula Jallon, Fula Toro, and Massiona as well as other
areas of West Africa. These areas were governed from their capital, "Timbuctu."
These slaves were sent to Mexico, Cuba, and South America. More than 30 percent of these
10 million slaves were Muslim. They became the backbone of the American economy.
||Estevanico of Azamor, a Muslim from Morocco, lands in Florida with the
ill-fated expedition of Panfilo de Narvaez in 1527. Estevanico remained in America to
become the first of three Americans to cross the continent. At least two states owe their
beginnings to this Muslim, Arizona and New Mexico.
||Ayyub ibn Sulaiman Jallon, a Muslim slave in Maryland, is set free by
James Oglethorpe, founder of Georgia, and provided transportation to England. He arrived
home (Boonda, Galumbo) from England in 1735.
||Moors from Spain are reported living in South Carolina and Florida.
||United States Congress prohibits the importation of slaves into America
after Jan. 1, 1808. Despite suppression of the slave trade during the next 60 years,
slavery reached its peak between 1840 and 1860. The last Slave ships to be confiscates by
the federal government were Wildfire, Storm King, Williams, Erie, Echo, Cora, and Binita,
all of which violated the ban on importing slaves.
||Yarrow Mamout, an African Muslim slave, is set free in Washington DC, and
later becomes one of the first shareholders of the second chartered bank in America, the
Columbia Bank. Yarrow may have lived to be more than 128 years old, the oldest person in
American history. Two portraits of Yarrow done by well known artists are on public
display. The first, painted by Charles W. Peal in 1819 was done when Yarrow was 100 years
old. It hangs in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. A second portrait completed by
James Simpson in 1828, almost a decade later, can be seen in the Peabody Room at the
Georgetown Public Library, Washington DC.
||Al Haj Umar ibn Sayyid is enslaved in Charleston after running away. In
jail, he is visited by John Owen and taken to Blade County and placed on the Owen
plantation. John Owen later became Governor of North Carolina. It has been reported that
Umar lived to be 100 years old.
||Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori, a former prince from West Africa and now a
salve on a Georgia plantation, is freed by the order of Secretary of State Henry Clay and
President John Quincy Adams. He was known to many during his lifetime as "The Prince
of Slaves." A drawing of him, done by Henry Inman, is displayed in the Library of
Congress. His life has also been well-documented.
||Sayyid Sa'id, ruler of Oman, orders his ship The Sultana to set sail for
America on a trade mission. The Sultana touched port in New York, April 30, 1840. Although
the voyage was not a commercial success, it marks the point of successful friendly
relations between the two countries that continue to this day.
||The United States cavalry hire a Muslim by the name of Hajji Ali to
experiment with raising camels in Arizona.
||The American Civil War ends. During the war, the "scorched
earth" policy of the North destroyed churches, farms, schools, libraries, colleges,
and a great deal of other property. The libraries at the University of Alabama managed to
save one book from the debris of their library buildings. On the morning of April 4, when
Federal troops reached the campus with order to destroy the university, Andre Deloffre, a
modern language professor and custodian of the library, appealed to the commanding officer
to spare one of the finest libraries in the South. The officer, being sympathetic, sent a
courier to Gen. Croxton at his headquarters in Tuscaloosa asking permission to save the
Rotunda. The general's reply was no. The officer reportedly said, "I will save one
volume as a memento of this occasion. The volume selected was a rare copy of the
||The Reverend Norman, a Methodist missionary, converts to Islam.
||Edward W. Blyden, noted scholar and social activist, traveled throughout
the eastern and southern parts of the United States, proclaiming Islam. In a speech before
the Colonization Society of Chicago, Blyden told his audience that the reasons Africans
choose Islam over Christianity is that, "the Qur'an protected the Black man from
self-depreciation in the presence of Arabs or Europeans."
||Muslim immigrants from the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire, Syria,
Lebanon, Jordan, etc. arrive in North America. They are mainly Turks, Kurds, Albanians,
||Timothy Drew (Noble Drew Ali) establishes an organization in Newark, NJ,
known as the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA). Drew Ali reportedly was
commissioned by the Sultan of Morocco to teach Islam to Negroes in the United States. The
MSTA is also responsible for many of today's African-American converts to Islam.
||Albanian Muslims build a Masjid in Maine and establish an Islamic
association. By 1919, they had established another Masjid in Connecticut. Theirs was one
of the first associations for Muslims in the United States.
||The Red Crescent, a Muslim charity modeled after the International Red
Cross, is established in Detroit.
||A branch of the Ahmadiyya Movement is founded in Chicago by Dr. Mufti
Muhammad Sadiq. This movement converted many African Americans to their
deviant brand of Islam.
||Duse Muhammad Ali, mentor of Marcus Garvey and the person who had a
considerable impact upon Garvey's movement, establishes an organization in Detroit known
as the Universal Islamic Society. Its motto was: "One God, One Aim, One
||Polish-speaking Tatars build a mosque in Brooklyn, NY which is still in
||African American Muslims establish the First Muslim Mosque in Pittsburgh,
||The Nation of Islam (NOI), one of the most significant organizations in
American Muslim history, is founded. A high percentage of
African Americans who were members of Nation of Islam later converted to
Islam. NOI was also effective in highlighting American Christians'
difficulties combating the effects of slavery and racism among African Americans. The NOI's philosophy was introduced in the United States by Fard Muhammad (Wallace Ford), a
mystic who disappeared in 1933. The late Elijah Mohammed, who succeeded Fard in
1933, helped build the organization into a strong ethnic movement advocating
a deviant brand of Islam as a
way of life. Two of the most famous African Americans, Muhammad Ali, and Al Hajj Malik
al-Shabazz (Malcolm X), were early adherents of this movement. Both later embraced the
||The Lebanese Community of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, opens its first
||The Islamic Mission Society is founded in New York City by Sheikh Dawood.
It publishes a magazine entitled "Muslim Sunrise."
||Muslims in the Armed Services sue the federal government to be allowed to
identify themselves as Muslims. Until then, Islam was not recognized as a legitimate
||The State Street Masjid in New York City is established by Sheikh Dawood
Ahmed Faisal. It is still in use today and represents a special point in the development
of the American Muslim community. From this Masjid was born the Dar-ul-Islam
||The NOI's University of Islam schools flourished and drew the attention of
the American media. Coverage focuses upon the Black Muslims' self-help programs for
Blacks, but considered them a "threat" to the white establishment.
||The Dar-ul-Islam movement, another important groups among the African
American Muslim community is born. Until its disappearance in 1982-1983, it made a serious
impact upon the development and practice of traditional Islam in America.
||The newspaper Muhammad Speaks is launched. It later becomes the largest
minority weekly publication in the country and reached 800,000 readers at its peak. In
subsequent years, it underwent some name changes, and the NOI itself underwent various
transformations. It has also been know as Bilalian News the A.M. Journal and
currently, the Muslim Journal.
||The Muslim Students Association (MSA) is established as an organization to
aid foreign Muslims students attending schools in the United States. MSA now has more than
100 branches nationwide. In the 1970s, it gave birth to the Islamic Medical Association
(IMA), The Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS), and the Association of Muslim
Scientists and Engineers (AMSE).
||Al Hajj Malik al-Shabazz (Malcolm X) is assassinated in New York . He was
one of the most outstanding Muslims in American history as well as a dedicated fighter for
justice and equality for African Americans and other oppressed people.
||The Hanafi Movement is founded by Hamas Abdul Khaalis. The Hanafi Madh-hab
Center was established in New York, but later moved to Washington DC. This movement had a
membership of more than 1000 in the United States. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a famous basketball
player, is one of the Muslims who first came into contact with Islam through this
movement. In 1977, Khaalis and some of his followers seized control of three District of
Columbia buildings, holding hostages for more than 30 hours. One man was killed. Khaalis
is now incarcerated in Washington DC, serving a sentence of 41 to 120 years. This movement
marks a challenging period in American Muslim History.
||The Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers is established.
||The Association of Muslim Scientists is launched.
||Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam, dies and is succeed by his
son Warith Deen Mohammed, who has been credited with moving the NOI toward the broader
universal concepts of Islam. He is now regarded as one of the leading Muslim spokesmen in
the United States.
||The first American Islamic library is established in Plainfield,
||The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is established in Plainfield,
IN. ISNA is now an umbrella organization for many active Islamic groups seeking to further
the cause of Islam in the United States.
||Dr. Isma'il R. Al-Faruqi and his wife are murdered in their home outside
Philadelphia. Dr. and Mrs. Faruqi are the authors of the Cultural Atlas of Islam as well
as many other books and research papers. Dr. Faruqi is the founder of AMSS and the
International Institute of Islamic Thought, located in Northern Virginia. This truly
remarkable Muslim family is responsible for some of the most constructive programs to
promote Islam in the United States.
||Muslims hold the first solidarity conference called "Muslims Against
Apartheid." This was the first conference of its kind in support of Muslims for the
struggle against apartheid in South Africa. The conference was organized by the American
||Imam Siraj Wahhaj offers an invocation (opening prayer) to the United
States House of Representatives. He was the first Muslim to do so.
||The Muslim Members of the Military (MMM) organization hold their first
"Unity in Uniform" conference. The conference took place at Bolling Air Force
Base in Washington DC. According to the Untied States Department of Defense, there are
more than 5000 Muslims in uniform on active duty in the military.
||Charles Bilal, Kountze, TX becomes the nation's first mayor in an American
||Imam Warith Deen Mohammed gives the invocation in the Senate.
||The University of Alabama, A Pictorial History by Suzanne Rau Wolfe
History of the First Muslim Mosque of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by Jameelah A.
Hakim, 1989 |
||African Presence in Early America by Ivan Van Sertima, 1987|
||Deeper Roots by Abdullah Hakim Quick, 1990|
||Arab America Today (A Demographic Profile of Arab Americans) By
John Zogby, 1990|
||A Survey of North American Muslims by El Tigani A. Abugideiri,
||A Century of Islam in America by Yvonne Y. Haddad, 1986|
||Ethnic Distribution of American Muslims and selected Socio
Economic Characteristics by Arif Ghayrur, 1984|
||The Demography of Islamic Nations by John Weeks, 1988|
||Islam in the United States: Review of Sources by Dr. Sulayman S.
||Demographic Consequences of Minority Consciousness: An analysis By
Salaha M. Abedin, 1980|
||World Population Data Sheet Population Reference Bureau, Inc.
Washington DC, 1990|
||Statistical Abstract of the United States U.S. Department of
Commerce Bureau of the Census, 1990|
||Muslim Peoples , A World Ethnographic Survey Edited by Richard V.
Weeks, 1984, vol. II|
||Muslim Peoples, a World Ethnographic Survey by Richard V. Weeks,
||The 1991 Almanac 44th Edition , by Houghnton Mifflin Company, 1991|
||The Islamic Society of North America Directory of Islamic Centers,
Schools, Masjids, and MSA Chapters 1989 Revised Edition|
||The Islamic Struggle in America by Hijrah Magazine, Oct./Nov. 1985|
||Seven Muslim Slaves by Abdul Hakim Muhammad 1983|
||Prince Among Slaves by Terry Alford, 1977|
||Nature Knows no Color Line by J.A. Rogers, 1952|
||African Muslims in Antebellum American by Allen Austin, 1984|
||The Arab World Published by the Arab-American Press, 1945|
||The United States and the Sultanate of Oman Produce by the Sultan
Qaboos Center, The Middle East Institute Washington DC, 1990|
Reference: American Muslim Council (AMC)