The Islamic Post Blog

Reflections on African American History by ipinfo2
March 25, 2009, 5:47 am
Filed under: March Volume 2009, National | Tags:

Muslims Brought as Slaves to America

By Umm Abdul Malik
Islamic Post Staff Writer

The month of February has been designated as that time during which the national cultural focus turns toward the commemoration of the lives and works of those Americans whose ancestors arrived on North American shores from the African continent. History reveals, through the exhaustive research and documentation of an array of historians, that great numbers, (if not the majority) of the Africans who were brought to the western hemisphere as stolen, traded, and subsequently, purchased human property  were Muslims who practiced Al-Islam as their way of life.
Moreover, historians have verified the fact that even before Christopher Columbus ventured into the oceans of the western hemisphere, Muslims from Africa and Spain set their feet on North American and Caribbean soil. In 1996, Muslim historian and scientist, Dr. Youssef Mroueh, published an article to commemorate a millennium of Muslim presence in the Americas. Dr. Mroueh’s research  asserts that African Muslims lived in the western hemisphere centuries before Columbus, and contains citations from a work written by Dr. Barry Fell, of Harvard University, entitled Saga America (1980),  which documents extensive archeological evidences of the Muslim presence in pre-Columbian North America.  Dr. Fell, in his book, also “… draws parallels between West African peoples and Native Americans in the southwest, including cultural and linguistic similarities, and the existence of Islamic petro glyphs in the southwestern region. In particular, Fell mentioned a carving that he believed was done centuries before Columbus that states in Arabic: “Yasus bin Maria” (Jesus son of Mary), a phrase commonly found in the Koran.”
Dr. Mroueh states that, “anthropologists have proven that the Mandinkas (people of West Africa) during the 13th century AD, under the instruction of Emperor Mansa Musa of Timbuktu, explored many parts of North America via the Mississippi, and other river systems.  At Four Corners, Arizona; writings show that they even brought elephants from Africa to the area,” and that “…ruins of mosques and minarets with inscriptions of Qur’anic verses have been discovered in Cuba, Mexico, Texas, and Nevada.  In addition, Dr. Fell published conclusive evidence in his book of the existence of Muslim schools at five sites in Nevada, Colorado,  New Mexico, and Tipper Canoe, Indiana, that date back to 700-800 CE.  Engraved on the rocks in the old western U.S., he found texts, diagrams, and charts’ representing the last surviving fragments of what was once a system of schools– at both the elementary and higher levels.  The language of instruction was North African Arabic written with old Kufic Arabic script.  The subjects… included writing, reading, religion, history, geography, mathematics, astronomy, and sea navigation.”
As for the West African Muslims who arrived in North America and the Caribbean as slaves,  detailed records kept in private and government archives afforded written documentation of the sale and movements of many.  Author Alex Haley was able to utilize these historical records, and other sources, to trace his ancestors back four generations finding the origin of his family in Senegambia, and that his forebears were in fact, Muslims.  Professor Terry Alford conducted extensive historical research over many years, which culminated in his book Prince Among Slaves, an engaging and highly descriptive account of an young African Muslim who became a prisoner of war in his homeland, and was subsequently sold by the victors to slavers bound for the Americas – Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahima, son of an African Muslim monarch of Futa Jallon (near modern-day Guinea), Africa. So not only did slavery mark a bittersweet return of African people to North America; so too – the return of Islam.


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