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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Islamic identities in Africans in North America in the days of slavery (1731-1865)
Author:Austin, AllanISNI
Periodical:Islam et sociétés au Sud du Sahara
Geographic terms:Subsaharan Africa
United States
African Americans
Abstract:In the nineteenth century, before the American Civil War, American folklorists and litterateurs barely recognized any African Muslims. This paper examines statements made by African Muslims in North America themselves between 1731 and 1867 about their Islamic identities and their struggles to maintain them after the trauma of slavery in the New World, the blandishments of Christian missionaries and continued separation from communities of coreligionists. Referring to the (auto)biographical stories of African Muslims from sub-Saharan West Africa collected in his 'African Muslims in antebellum America: a sourcebook' (1983), the author divides their responses into four groups: 1. Those who tried to combine Islam and Christianity; 2. Those who didn't care much about religion but who strongly identified with their homelands; 3. Those who said they had converted to Christianity in order to be able to live more comfortably in their new communities; 4. Those who persistently adhered to Islam. The evidence indicates that the Muslim presence in the European and American trade in Africans was substantial. African Muslims usually maintained their religious identities through prayer, dietary practices, dress, and reading and writing in Arabic where possible. Several attempted to return to Africa, and some were able to create, or take part in, their own New World Muslim societies. Notes, ref.