6 African Muslims Who Brought Islam To America You Should Know

Assalamu aleikum, please read an article I wrote for MVSLIM here or below. #Alhamdullilah
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america

As a Muslim of West African origin living in the United States, my Muslim-ness is always contested by Europeans, Americans, and even clueless Africans. They ask me questions like:

“Are you Muslim?” and “Were you born Muslim?”

I get asked these questions a lot by Americans because Islam is something that was made to sound foreign to them.

“I’ve never seen a Muslim from that country wear Hijab.”

Believe it or not, many Africans ask this question as if they are well-travelled.

Is your country predominantly Muslim?”

I get this question from European Muslims as if they had just discovered ‘water on Mars’. In their minds, Black Muslims are an oddity. Because I have been around many of them, I now know the reasoning behind asking such questions. They have the idea that All of Africa is uncivilized and only non-Muslims live there.

The strange thing is many of them have heard of Mansa Musa, the Malian Muslim King. Why they won’t add two and two together to infer that Islam has always been an old religion in Africa and in the USA, I don’t know. In addition, the US census has a record of approximately 300 slaves that had a Muslim surname who fought during the Civil War for freedom.

Throughout all these irritating questions, I try to keep my cool. I keep the frustrated comments, I want to utter, in my head, smile, and move on. However, what I want to tell them is Islam came to West Africa not too long after the 10th century. My ancestors were traders and this was how Islam came to us Mandinga. Islam has always been a religion of business. Furthermore, this also means that many West Africans were exposed to Islam before it was spread to Europe during the Ottoman empire and America via the Moriscos and the Transatlantic slaves.

According to Lost Islamic History, one example of an African Muslim who brought Islam to America is Bilali Muhammad. There are also others like Ayub Job Djallo, Yarrow Mamood, Ibrahim Abdulrahman ibn Sori,  Ummar ibn Sayyid,   (Omar ibn Said) and Sali Bilali.

Bilali Muhammad

Born around 1770 in the area of Africa which are known as Guinea and Sierra Leone today, Bilali Muhammad was an elite of the Fulani tribe. He knew Arabic and was knowledgeable in hadith, tafsir, and shariah matters. Because he was educated, he was allowed to rise in status in the slave community. Bilali Muhammad even wrote a 13 page manuscript on Islamic law from the Maliki Madhab called the Bilali Document that he gifted to his friend before his death. The manuscript was thought to be a diary until it was deciphered at al-Azhar university in Cairo. His manuscript is also known as Ben Ali Diary or Ben Ali Journal. Read more here.

Ayuba Suleiman Diallo

Ayub Job Djallo was born in Senegal from a respected Fulbe Muslim family. He was also known as Job Ben Solomon. He wrote some memoirs and was a slave in Maryland for a couple years. Sold into slavery as a result of a confusion, he eventually returned home in Senegal to his aristocratic roots still a Muslim. You can read more on him here.

Yarrow Mamout

Born in Guinea, Yarrow Mamood was born in 1736 and died in 1823 a free man. He arrived at the age of 14 years old in Maryland with his sister. Knowledgeable in Arabic, he practiced Islam openly until his death. Read more on him here.

Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori

abdulrahman

Ibrahim Abdulrahman ibn Sori was born in Guinea. He was also known as The Prince Amonsgt Slaves. Son of King Sori from the village of Timbo, Abdulrahman was a military leader. He became a slave as a result of an ambush and sold to a slave owner by the name of Thomas Foster in Mississipi. Ibn Sori got married and had children. Abdulrahman worked for 40 years before his release. He died during his trip back. He had even wrote a letter to his family in West Africa in Arabic which was read by the Sultan of Morocco Abderrahmane who found it deeply touching and petitioned U.S. President John Quincy Adams to release him.

Omar ibn Said

Ummar ibn Sayyid was born in Fuuta Toro, Senegal in 1770. Captured in 1807, he became known as Omar Moreau and Prince Omeroh according to Muslimofusa.Though there are reports that say he converted to Christianity later in his life, many sources say that there was more than met the eye in his situation. Nevertheless, he was known to be an Islamic scholar, knowledgeable in many fields from arithmetic to theology who wrote several Arabic texts.

Salih Bilali

saligh_2

Salih Bilali was born in Mali and captured in 1782. It was reported that his last words on his death bead were the shahada according to the Abolition Institute. Robert Abbot, founder of the Chicago Defender, is his descendant.

In conclusion, all the continents contributed to the spread of Islam, Africa included. So how can they deny such a legacy?

Jazakh’Allah khair for reading,

Papatya*

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About Papatia

Papatia Feauxzar is an Author and Muslim Publisher who holds a Master degree in Accounting with a concentration in Personal Finance. She now works from home alhamdullilah. You can visit her website at www.djarabikitabs.com or her sister's website www.fofkys.com
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24 Responses to 6 African Muslims Who Brought Islam To America You Should Know

  1. Pingback: 6 African Muslims Who Brought Islam To America You Should Know — Between Sisters, SVP! | Mindworks Publishing

  2. Honestly when I hear people being willfully ignorant about Africa, I tend to give them the side eye and say: “Google is your friend, use it.” I’m from East Africa and as a fellow child of the continent, I just can’t stand that type of nonsense. Africa is not located on some inaccessible black hole somewhere on a backwater planet on a far corner of the universe. So the whole “Oh, I don’t know much about Africa. So let me ask my less than thoughtful questions to the first African I get a hold of” attitude irks me to no end. Pick up a book, or better yet do a quick google search. And please don’t get me started on folks who refer to the entire continent when talking about a single country. “I’ve been to Africa.” Oh really? So you visited 50+ country in a 7 day trip? Were you travelling at the speed of light? Are you able to fold space and time? Because that is literally the only way you could visit the whole continent in 7 days.

    I’ll stop my rant there before my blood pressure hikes up even more looool.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. A writer from the East says:

    Thanks for writing this post, and hoping people are reading with open eyes and attentive brains. These are some very important African Muslims and the Afro-Islamic connection is probably UNKNOWN to europeans and westerners alike.
    They have all these strange ideas about Africa and it makes blood boil, so I understand what you mean. Also where you say, “I get this question from European Muslims as if they had just discovered ‘water on Mars’. In their minds, Black Muslims are an oddity. Because I have been around many of them, I now know the reasoning behind asking such questions. They have the idea that All of Africa is uncivilized and only non-Muslims live there” – I agree with you on all points raised and will just add that on other hand for many Europeans being Muslim is uncivilized and in their eyes equal to Africa and Asia.
    I have a special love for Africa because my parents lived and worked ( they also learned local dialects) and my siblings were born there, we hold the continent in our hearts. I would give anything to return to Africa, but haven’t had luck in the my job applications! Sorry for the long comment, sister I salute you on this article! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Um Ibrahim says:

    I loved this! I hope you’ve educated many people. Also, wanted to add, wasn’t Kinta Kunte Muslim as well? He was originally from Gambia, a majority Muslim country.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Papatia says:

      Thank you! 🙂 I hope so too insha’Allah. About your question, I think the character in Roots is fictional but based on real people. There is a controversy though that the author Alex Haley copied and extended the story ‘The African’ by Harold Courtlander. Having said all that, there is a good chance that the original person Kinta Kunte must have been Muslim because it would make sense based on the country of origin.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. khansana1000 says:

    Such a great post ! Loved it and all the comments too ..Indeed people are ignorant of rich cultural heritage of Africa and their contribution in world history ,for them Africa is just one big country instead of continent, all are uneducated, poor and majority non muslims. People need to read and study more before making up an opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Papatia says:

      Thank you hun! For sure, people need to read more and educate themselves! And like Saadia also said, their ignorance is extended to Asia sadly. Thanks for reading and commenting dear 🙂 xx.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Muslim Children's Literature says:

    I wish African Americans were more aware of the Islamic heritage of a sizeable portion of the slaves. Great post sis, jazakAllahu khair.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Diana says:

    Wonderful, informative post. I agree about most people being ignorant about Africa and not just on issues of religion. Unfortunately, Africa literature is also not so widely accepted so the ignorance prevails. I enjoyed reading this post and also the comments especially the one on Kunta Kinte since I didn’t know much about the character.

    Liked by 1 person

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  9. oldpoet56 says:

    Great article ma’am, lots of good information. I appreciate you posting it for the rest of us to get to read. I am going to reblog this one for you.

    Liked by 1 person

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