Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas

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NYU Press, 1998 - Social Science - 254 pages

Despite the explosion in work on African American and religious history, little is known about Black Muslims who came to America as slaves. Most assume that what Muslim faith any Africans did bring with them was quickly absorbed into the new Christian milieu. But, surprisingly, as Sylviane Diouf shows in this new, meticulously researched volume, Islam flourished during slavery on a large scale.

Servants of Allah presents a history of African Muslim slaves, following them from Africa to the Americas. It details how, even while enslaved many Black Muslims managed to follow most of the precepts of their religion. Literate, urban, and well traveled, Black Muslims drew on their organization and the strength of their beliefs to play a major part in the most well known slave uprisings. Though Islam did not survive in the Americas in its orthodox form, its mark can be found in certain religions, traditions, and artistic creations of people of African descent.

But for all their accomplishments and contributions to the cultures of the African Diaspora, the Muslim slaves have been largely ignored. Servants of Allah is the first book to examine the role of Islam in the lives of both individual practitioners and in the American slave community as a whole, while also shedding light on the legacy of Islam in today's American and Caribbean cultures.

Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 1999.


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User Review  - SharonBey - LibraryThing

"Thoroughly researched"- has some suppositions /hypothesis. Made me wonder abut the author's ethnicity. Made a typically racially biased statement on page 13 (eg. 'some of my best friends are black...'). Read full review

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User Review  - heina - LibraryThing

Definitely quite interesting, considering its often-overlooked subject matter. Some of its facts seem more like conjecture, but considering the lack of resources, it's understandable. Read full review


Acknowledgments ix
African Muslims Christian Europeans and
2 Upholding the Five Pillars of Islam in a Hostile World
The Muslim Community
A Distinction and a Danger
Resistance Revolts and Returns to Africa
The Muslim Legacy

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About the author (1998)

Sylviane A. Diouf is an award-winning historian of the African Diaspora. She is the author of Slavery’s Exiles: The Story of the American Maroons and Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas—named Choice Outstanding Academic Book in 1999—both with NYU Press. Her book Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America received the 2007 Wesley-Logan Prize of the American Historical Association, the 2009 Sulzby Award of the Alabama Historical Association and was a finalist for the 2008 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. She is the editor of Fighting the Slave Trade: West African Strategies and the co-editor of In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience. A recipient of the Rosa Parks Award, the Dr. Betty Shabazz Achievement Award, and the Pen and Brush Achievement Award, Diouf is a Curator at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library.

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