African Muslims in the Americas

Sunday, January 7, 2018: 11:00 AM
Columbia 7 (Washington Hilton)
Michael A. Gomez, New York University
My remarks review the literature on the history and experiences of Muslims who entered the Americas by way of the transatlantic slave trade. Although the U.S. would be the focus, a hemispheric context would be very useful in underscoring their presence as more extensive than possibly imagined, as well as pointing out correspondences in these various spaces. I can certainly discuss individuals as examples, but the more important point would be to emphasize the existence of communities. Their roles/exploitation in agriculture and ranching, the challenges they faced in pursuing their beliefs, their influence on religious practice among the African-descended, their practice of literacy, and the ways in which they impacted the evolution of social relations among the African-descended can all be addressed. Perhaps more importantly, I would stress possible linkages over time with subsequent movements informed by Islam, all of which makes the point that Islam has been in what would become the U.S. long before its founding.
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