Muslims in America: Examining the Facts by Dr. Craig Considine

“The Facts: Unbeknownst to many Americans today, the United States has never existed without the presence of Muslims. Several studies elaborate on how the history of Muslims in America was immeasurably augmented by the transatlantic slave trade. As many as 15 million West Africans were enslaved by Europeans beginning in the 16th century (Diouf, 1998). Among those West Africans, approximately 10 to 20 percent were Muslim (Austin, 1997). Other scholars have suggested that upward of 30 percent of all enslaved Africans were Muslims (Ahmed, 2003).”

“The Muslims who were enslaved and brought to the Americas are thought to have been mostly well learned and literate. Consistent with the basic teachings of Islam, education was paramount to the West African civilizations. Timbuktu, in modern-day Mali, was one of the great centers of learning in the world, with libraries having up to 700 volumes and numerous schools ( well over 150 during the 16th century) ( Dirks, 2006).”

“Most of the Muslim slaves from West Africa were literate in at least Arabic, and it has been estimated that the percentage of literacy in Arabic among African slaves was actually higher than the percentage of literacy in English among their Christian owners (Dirks, 2006).”

“Al Haj Omar Ibn Said, a notable American Muslim slave with family roots in West Africa, is said to have been born and educated in the modern country of Senegal, where he served as an Islamic scholar of the Fula people. He is known for 14 documents that he wrote in Arabic, including an autobiography that detailed his life as a trader, soldier, and faithful Muslim. Said wrote that he performed the hajj, an Arabic word referring to the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, required by all Muslims (Considine, 2017: 185 ), and studied the Qur’an for 25 years before being sold into slavery in 1807 (The Pluralism Project, n.d. ).”

“Said’s handwritten works are now part of the North Carolina Collection in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Today, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the Omar Ibn Said mosque on Southern Avenue stands as a testament to his legacy. A nearby historical marker notes that Said was a slave, scholar, and African-born author who penned in autobiography in Arabic. Other details of his life on the marker show that he lived in Blady County and worshipped with local Presbyterians. Muslims from the territories of North Africa and the Ottoman Empire are considered to be the second group of Muslims to arrive on U.S. soil.”

“One European Christian, the English sea captain and privateer Sir Francis Drake, commanded 25 to 30 English ships, whose shipmen liberated approximately 500 prisoners at Saint Augustine in Florida between 1585 and 1586. Dirks ( 2006) notes that about 300 or more of these liberated slaves were North African and Turkish galley slaves. North African and Ottoman captives from the Mediterranean region, usually called Moors and Turks, respectively, were needed to perform menial duties for their Spanish overlords in places such a5 Saint Augustine. Further evidence of Muslim galley slaves in the Americas is documented by the Smithsonian, which estimated that many of the Colombian city of Cartagena’s slave population were Muslims.”

In 1586, Drake besieged and captured the town, instructing his men to treat Frenchmen, Turks, and black Africans with respect (Lawler, 201 7). Edward D. Neill, an historian of early American history, wrote in his book The Virginia Carolorum that several shipments of Turkish and Armenian indentured servants, both men and women, were present in the British colony of Jamestown, Virginia, in the early 17th century, meaning that the slaves Drake captured were likely of Turkish and Armenian descent (Neill, 1886).”

“These hypotheses are confirmed in recordings by The Virginia Carolorum, which note that several of the Turks in Jam es town included the names “Mehmet the Turk,” “Ahmad the Turk,” “Joseph the Armenian,” and “Sayyan Turk” (Neill, 1886). A 1652 colonial document also refers to a “Turk” in Virginia, who wrote in the Turkish language. In the same year, Governor William Boyd of Virginia referred to a Turkish merchant in a letter (Dirks, 2006).”

“An obscure group known as the Melungeons also had a presence in precolonial and colonial America. Of mixed racial background, the Melungeons settled in the Appalachian region as early as the 17th century (Dirks, 2006). According to Wayne Winkler (2004), the Melungeons are a hybrid group with African, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean ancestry.”

“A DNA study published in the Journal of Genetic Genealogy in 2012 found that Melungeon families are the offspring of sub-Saharan African men and white women of northern or central European origin. Further details about the ancestry of the Melungeons are provided by Kathy Lyday, a researcher based at Elon University. Lyday claims that a Spanish influence is likely, given that the Southwest and the mountains were explored and settled by Spaniards as far back as Hernando de Soto, a conquistador who marched through the region in 1540 (Neal, 2015 ). These Spaniards likely brought African Muslim slaves with them, and they probably intermarried with Natives.”

Source: Muslims in America: Examining the Facts

The old Moorish City is full of history written in Stones, Archives, and Races

Oran. Negro Village. Grand Mufti. Co 19, 1985 conference.

(Arrived in Oran, February 1985.)

“The old Moorish city is full of history written in stones, archives, and races. It was alternatively the great stronghold of Moors, Turks, and Spaniards, during centuries of expeditions, invasion, warfare, and piracies. Its physiognomy to-day is a composite: Moorish, Spanish, and European, the foreign population predominating over the native, making the aspect of the city much less picturesque, to say nothing of the value of its primitive race. The result of the infinite crossing is certainly not in this present generations at Nature’s best. The pure Arab or Moorish type is unfortunately obliterated among this mottled mixture from every African latitude with that of other continents.”

“It must be explained here that since the conquest of Algeria by the French, the natives: Arabs, Moors, Kabyles, and the conglomerate mass of all other African tribes, as well as Jews, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, etc., who are native-born residents, are all, necessarily, subject; but citizenship is optional, save to the French-born. Mussulmans form the great majority of the inhabitants, there being almost as many French Moslem subjects in Africa as there are citizens in France, i.e., thirty million. Once the oath of citizenship is taken, they must, of course, abide by French law, the Code Napolean; while the Moslem subjects are governed by the laws of Muhammad, the Code of the Koran, of which they are most tenacious, living and dying by it. While the Code of Napolean is based upon the Roman legislature, the Koran is a faithful exponent of Mosaic Law, added to which are rules and regulations by the Prophet concerning the details of life: civil, religious, public and private.¬†There is, therefore, little need for legislation; and this banishes simplicity and unity, as well as peace, to its world. It is the adjustment and reconciliation of the two codes which renders legislation and magistrature very difficult in all the French colonies, and all other Christian nations whose colonies contain follower of Mohammed. Though Moslems are a conquered race throughout the different great and small French colonies in Africa and the Protectorate of Tunis, their religion is scrupulously respected and even provided for by the French government: for instance, all that relates to worship, to the family, marriage, property, etc., is left entirely in the hands of the Cadi (the Moslem Magistrate or judge).¬†Citizenship gives the right of suffrage to the subject and prohibits polygamy, which under French law, of course, is bigamy, and is punished with severity, while Moslem subjects who are not citizens following the patriarchs are free to have from one to four wives if they like. It is with great satisfaction, we state at once, that this great evil-the legacy of our common ancestors and patriarchs is rapidly disappearing throughout Islam, and especially with progressive culture and civilization.”¬†

“France had long been an ally of the Arabs in North Africa against the Turks and Moors, but in 1830 arose the warlike difference between her and the great Arab Emir, Abd-el-Kader, who sought to make Tlemecen his capital, as it was of its ancient sultans.”

Source: Jerusalem through the lands of Islam: among Jews, Christians, and Moslems By Emilie Jane Butterfield Meriman Loyson