AFRICAN MUSLIMS IN AMERICA – Part Two - Slave
This paper was delivered during the
First Conference of the Ahle Baite, held in Tehran Iran in 1990.
Perhaps one of the
most learned of the Muslim slaves we have on record was Ayyuub Ibn
Suleiman Ibrahima Diallo. The name Diallo clearly identifies him as
a Fulani from Futa Djallo sometimes spelled Jalloh or Jallon. There
are several Futa’s or “Homelands” of the Fulani, the largest being
Futa Toro. According to his biography he was born in 1701 or 1702 in
the Kingdom of Futa Jallon near the Gambia River.
The biography records
that Ayyub was sent to the coast by his father to trade with the
English, he was captured in the year 1730 by other Africans and sold
to the very ships Captain with whom he was supposed to trade. Those
of you who are familiar with Alex Hailey’s book “Roots” will find a
The ship sailed for
America and Ayyub landed in the State of Maryland where he worked on
tobacco plantations until he escaped and was eventually jailed. As
his misfortune became known, offers of help poured in.
His passage to England
was arranged, and there, as in America he favorably impressed
everyone he met by his excellent appearance, dignity, and learning.
He was a Hafiz of The Quran, and as such he had memorized the Qur`an
in its entirety in his youth. His biography reveals that he wrote
out three copies of the Qur`an while enroute to England without once
looking at a copy. There are some scholars who claim that the
Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. owns one of the copies.
The biography goes on to state that while he was in England Ayyub
met with royalty and had even met with the Royal family.
acquaintances was the collector and physician Sir Hans Sloane, who
was the president of The Royal Society for whom Ayyub translated
Arabic inscriptions of several types that had been obtained during
Ayyub finally arrived at
his African home in 1735 or 1736; he eventually turned to commerce,
having suggested to the English that he could supply them directly
with the gum Arabic they were buying from the French.
This is but one of
many accounts of African Muslim captives in America. One Black
American Scholar, Mr. Allen D. Austin deserves special recognition
for his most excellent book: African Muslims in Ante Bellum
America, in which he gives an account of many African Muslims
and their experiences as captives in the America’s. (10)
According to Mr. Austin,
despite the laws in America that forbade the practice of African
religions and the practice of strict separation of Muslim captives,
a few Muslims were able to maintain contact with each other.
As a matter of
fact in most instances the slave masters would keep any two Africans
that spoke the same language separate and apart from one another. It
was customary to pair groups of Africans together who did not speak
the same language thereby minimizing communication and the exchange
of information. As I had mentioned in the introduction, drums were
also forbidden to the African captive. (11)
scholar has commented recently that in light of his extensive
research into the history of slavery in Islam that: “Successful
slavery depends on the total destruction and redirection of the
Nafs, (desires, wishes, hopes, dreams –or soul, spirit,
mind or consciousness, depending on the context). To deny the slave
every human consideration, and to render him totally helpless and
The accusation by the
West, that Islam was spread by the sword and bathed in blood has an
element of truth in it – but it is however a projection of their own
history. All one has to do is to take a close look at the history of
the Ottoman Empire (Othmaniyyah) and the damage that was done
worldwide by the Turks, with their lack of compassion and gross
misuse of the Institution of The Caliphate. The damage that they and
their predecessors the Bani Umayyah (Umayyad Dynasty) has done in
the name of Islam is still reverberating throughout the world. The
claims made by the Armenian Community and much of what we are
witnessing in the Balkans including Serbia & Bosnia is undeniable
evidence of what far-reaching effects can be brought about by a
It was no accident that
the Turkish Empire fell in 1918. The so-called history of Islam,
which now exceeds fourteen hundred years has been for the most part
made up of decadent leaders and corrupt non-Islamic governments.
This history should not be held to be representative of the pure
Islam as taught by the Holy prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him and
his family), nor should the few cultural and scientific achievements
gained during the Ottoman period be confused with the period of
Islamic History called “The Golden Age Of Islam”, which preceded the
Ottomans by several centuries.
scrutiny the so-called Golden Age of islam was not so Golden after
all, once you take into consideration the tyranny and cruelty
exhibited by the Caliph Haroon al-Rashid, Mamoon, and the successors
of the throne of Baghdad toward the general Muslim populace of the
What took the Turks six
hundred years to achieve during their reign of terror under the
banner of a greatly diluted Islam, is comparable in many ways to
what the European adventurers and their successors accomplished in
the 400 years between the march of the Conquistadors to the end of
the American Civil War to both the indigenous peoples of the
Americas (Indians) and the African.
Here is a brief
summation: The complete and total annihilation of several races of
people in Central and South America. Coupled with the forced
migration and cultural annihilation of countless millions of
Africans – and the ongoing genocide of the Native American
History will one day
record how the perpetrators of these crimes were dealt with.
With the arrival of our
long awaited savior Al Mahdi, (Imam Zaman), Insha-Allah all
wrongs will be righted.
America has been unable
to reverse the trends that were set in motion during its inception,
and as we have seen demonstrated year after year how these trends
have gained momentum. All of this materialistic madness under the
banner of Manifest Destiny, now known as “The New World Order”.
The insatiable desire to
possess and control the vast untamed lands of the Americas and the
seas beyond, have ultimately led the American Government to unleash
a flood tide of carnage and empty promises worldwide. This
supposedly God-Inspired rationale (manifest destiny) has inspired
many American leaders in the past, and in the present to unlicensed
barbarism on the world, particularly those areas that have been
designated as “underdeveloped”.
By wielding the
SWORD of political and social oppression over the heads of the
people of color world wide, they have caused untold damage to the
collective psyche of the greater portion of mankind. Democracy has
promised much and delivered little that could possibly heal and
restore the millions of broken hearts, damaged souls, and defective
memories that abound in the world today.
The result of this
psychological terrorism has produced what I have come to call The
Amnesiac, the subject of my third category.
The definition of
Amnesia is: “partial or total loss of memory caused by brain
injury or by shock or repression”. Unfortunately this condition is
experienced by many (if not most) of our Black and Red brothers and
sisters in America.
They have no conscious
memory of their original culture.
One of the key
indicators of this loss is the almost total lack of positive
direction in their lives. They have no expectations or visions of a
future. A people with no vision or no dreams are both blind and
lost. Culture serves as a positive force in ones life – it provides
the Direction (compass) and the Balance (gyroscope) one needs to
move forward and progress.
Since 1862 and the
issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, Black folks have been led
around in circles. A Civil War was already under way the year before
and the Proclamation was part of a strategy that was devised to
solve two of the main problems that the Federal Government
(Northern) America was faced with. (1.) The eradication of slavery
which had become a nagging humiliation, particularly in light of
England’s earlier ban on slavery in 1807. (2.) A plan that would
greatly immobilize the Southern war machine and the economy of the
Confederacy, both of which were dependent on the institution of
The slave had served as
a pawn in the hands of both the North and the south, but after the
War Between the States ended he became a guinea pig for the north
and a scapegoat for the South in Americas bungling attempts at
Reconstruction. In trying to figure out what to do with the Black
man, the government began to develop programs to “rehabilitate” the
former slave –many of these programs encouraged the former slaves to
pursue unattainable goals –both Integration and Civil Rights have
proven to have been a great waste of the peoples time. They were in
fact the carrots that were dangled in front of the Black mans face
to entice him to walk for one hundred and thirty years down a long
road that ended nowhere.
The Civil Rights
struggle of the 1960’s has been dubbed “The Second Reconstruction”
and the third attempt at Reconstruction has now been under way since
the Viet Nam conflict, and yet we see more and more casualties lost
on the battlefields of urban and rural America.
Amnesia also manifests
as a loss of direction and a loss of equilibrium both brought by
shock and depression.
There happens to be more
Black men in the prisons of America than any other ethnic group.
Black on Black crime by definition describes a self-destruct
situation. A turning inward, very much like a malignant cancer cell,
devouring itself and everything in its immediate environment.
As a result of this
Black genocide, many social scientists have prophesized that the
Black male is a dying species, and some have classified him as an
Alcoholism and drug
addiction have devastated the Black Community as well as the Indian
reservation. Both alcohol and drugs have brought about a moral and
social disintegration in what were traditionally morally balanced
Having mentioned all of
this extreme negativity one might think that the case for the Black
Man in America is hopeless. It would appear that nothing
could lift him out of this impossible situation, but strangely
enough in the midst of this madness a unique phenomenon had been
taking place slowly, gradually –almost imperceptibly, and this was
the re-awakening of the African memory. As Allah has promised in the
Qur`an: “And after constriction and hardship comes ease”!
African-American studies were introduced in most American
Universities during the hectic Civil Rights days of the 1960’s to
pacify the roar of unhappy Blacks searching for a positive identity,
you began to see the introduction of African clothes particularly
the “Dashiki” and the “Afro” hairstyle were becoming ever more
visible in the Black Community. But we should not be misled by these
outer trappings into thinking that this apparent awakening was a
phenomenon of the sixties – a close study of activities in the Black
Community since the turn of the century will reveal an ongoing surge
toward the reclamation of African identity, particularly the
re-introduction of Islam.
Contrary to accepted
public opinion there has always been a movement (movements) among
the Black in America to re-connect with Africa. All through the
slavery experience there were those who advocated a return to
African traditions. Although former slaves like Frederick Douglass
and Booker T. Washington did not identify with Africa, and actually
discouraged the use of the word African to identify the Black in
America. They discouraged African identity in preference for a Negro
identity – they argued persistently that they were no longer
Africans they were American Negroes.
Men like Cinque of The
Amistad Mutiny, Ayyub Diallo, Martin Delaney, Nat Turner and many
others dedicated their lives to the pursuit of freedom and a return
to Mother Africa. They knew too well the value of freedom and
culture and became self-styled adaptations of the compass and the
gyroscope providing direction and balance for those who would
A greater resurgence of
African cultural awareness increased in America at the turn of the
century during the early days of the 20th century with
the appearance of W. E. B. Dubois, Marcus Garvey and Noble Drew Ali
the founder of the Moorish Science Temple.
Pan-Africanism took into
consideration all aspects of the African experience, and as books
and lecturers became available in the Black Community people began
to gravitate intuitively to “What felt Right” for them.
This resurgence of
African awareness spread throughout the world and with it we have
seen an increase in the conversion rate of Blacks and Whites to
Islam and traditional African belief systems. An intuitive
gravitation towards spiritual light, while in the midst of social
This phenomenon is not
based solely on the presence of an amorphous Muslim Memory. The
African Memory needed a catalyst to jar it loose from the quiescent
confines of oblivion and the Pan African leadership served that
But there is another
side to this picture and the other side reveals the little know fact
that Islam in the context of a viable Muslim Community was never
completely eradicated in the midst of the developing
African/American Negro community in the south.
During the Great
Depression (1929-1942) the United States Government initiated a
program called The Works Progress Administration, (WPA). As
part of this program groups of unemployed writers and historians
(many academic disciplines) were sent out into the urban areas of
this country to gather census data, and to accumulate information
about American folklore that had been deposited by the ongoing surge
of immigrants, and had been overlooked in the past due primarily
because of the remoteness of the regions.
In 1938 and 1939
The Savannah Unit of the Georgia Writers (WPA) visited the coastal
areas of Georgia and the Carolina’s including the Sea Islands and
uncovered the descendants of African Muslims. It was discovered that
many Muslim families had survived intact from the early days of
slavery well into the twentieth century due primarily to the
inaccessibility of these islands from the mainland, and the
remoteness of these communities. (15)
These families were the
descendants of slave parents and had lived in virtual isolation for
most of their lives. As a result of this discovery several
hypotheses have been drawn:
That Islam has been present in
America for as long as Africans have sojourned there, and Islam
has remained intact (in one form or another) for that
length of time.
That Noble Drew Ali the founder
of The Moorish Science Temple who was born in the Carolina’s
around 1866 could have been a product of this original Muslim
community, either directly or indirectly. (16)
That Elijah Mohammad the
founder of The Nation of Islam in America, who was born in Georgia
at the turn of the Century could have also been a product directly
or indirectly of this early Muslim Community.
There is a possibility that Mr.
Fard Muhammad; the mysterious teacher of Elijah Muhammad may have
also evolved from this original community. (18)
The deeper we probe into
the questions concerning the survival of Africanism’s in America the
more we uncover.
I hope that many of you
in attendance today will retain an interest in this rather obscure
aspect of the Muslim Ummat. It was the purpose of this paper to
inform the Muslim World via this conference of the existence of
millions of African Muslims in America, and to provide an overview
of their history.
We are reminded that
less than fourteen percent (14%) of the total African population
taken away forcefully were brought to the North America, the
question should automatically be asked about the remaining eighty
six percent. And of course the answer to that question is the
Caribbean including Central and South America, and beyond.
Since it is important to
our paper to theorize about the percentage of captives who were
Muslim and now that we have established the whereabouts of the
missing eighty five percent, the prospects increase for uncovering a
myriad of extant Muslims.
I will conclude by
sharing with you a story I heard as a young boy some sixty years ago
in Boston. A story whose evolvement I have witnessed first
The story concerns
Juj wa Juj (Gog and Magog) it can be found in Chapter eighteen of
the Qur`an entitled Al Kahf (The Cave).
The Ahmadiyyah scholar
Maulana Mohammad Ali, who had also translated the Qur`an into
English, wrote the particular version of this story that I heard and
then read many times as a young boy.
Who or what were Juj
wa Juj? This has been a point of conjecture in the Muslim as
well as the Christian world for some time. According to Maulana
Mohammad Ali, the story of Juj wa Juj involved a prophecy of
things to come. World events that were developing during the time of
his writing (1920’s & 30’s). He interpreted them as being symbolic
of Russia and the United States.
Juj wa Juj were
twins that were born to a mother that comes to be symbolic of both
Europe and Christendom. One statue in London depicting Gog and Magog
resembles the famous statue of Remus and Romulus being suckled by a
The twins grew to be
great giants, which eventually became separated by a great body of
water (Atlantic/Pacific?). In time, Gog and Magog began to threaten
each other across this great body of water –raising quite a
commotion worldwide. While this arguing was going on in a thunderous
fashion – Islam would begin to wake up from its long slumber and
eventually rise up between these two giants for a final
As the fragmented
Muslim World began to wake up and unite – Gog and Magog would do
likewise. It was also mentioned in this story that a strange
phenomenon would precede this final confrontation between Gog and
Magog and Islam, and that was The Sun of
Islam Would Rise in The West. (20)
As mentioned earlier, I
have seen the emergence of the Muslim countries, one by one. I saw
each nation emerge as if out of a very deep sleep, and as I watched
the liberation of each country I celebrated their fleeting moments
of glory –only to see them relapse into a semi-state of
consciousness, which was the result of updated versions of
Nations emerged, but
Islam did not. Countries have been liberated, but Islam remains the
worlds best kept secret – Islam remains a prisoner. Oddly enough
The Muslim World has now become its own captive.
Through some trick of
fate we find the Muslim World in a situation quite similar in many
ways to the Africans under discussion, some free, some slave, and
many more amnesiac.
The Ummat is now
experiencing the long dark night that precedes the dawn of a new
era, in anticipation of the inevitable Final Confrontation.
And as this final confrontation looms heavily on the horizon, the
Ummat is encountering turmoil never experienced before. Continuous
genocide, bolstered by economic sanctions and ethnic cleansing. The
constant repetition of betrayal within the ranks, including the
defection of many educated and skilled Muslims to the lands of the
enemies, are all signs of the terrible times predicted in the Qur`an
and the books of Hadith.
But in light of the
information that I have provided in this very brief paper, I would
like to remind all of you that with the advent of the Pan
Africanist’s that I have mentioned earlier, which included Noble
Drew Ali, Elijah Muhammad and our first universally recognized
African/American Muslim Martyr: El Hajj Malik al Shabazz (Malcolm X)
it is apparent to all that have eyes, that The Sun of Islam has
already begun to rise in the West.
The most popular person
in the WORLD in 2002 is an American Muslim by the name of Mohammad
It is also apparent that
the final confrontation will be one between the forces of evil and
the forces of good, which is inclusive of ALL of the good people on
the earth which includes many non-Muslims, and the masses of
innocent and oppressed people of the world (Mostadafan).
I remind you as I remind
myself that Allah (Subhanna hu wata Allah) speaks to us in
the Qur`an – reminding US that we have a duty to the oppressed
people of the world.
It is on this thought
that I bring my talk to a close. Thank you and Assallamo Aleikum!