Unquestionably, Muslims have made an impact on the evolution of American
society. Historically Muslims have made major contributions, e.g.,
humanities, the sciences, and art. They explored North America 300 years
before the so-called "discovery" of the New World by Christopher Columbus.
They used the Mississippi River as their access route to and from the
continent's interior Here are a few glimpses of Muslim life in American
1178 A Chinese document known as the Sung Document records the voyage of
Muslim sailors to a land known as Mu-Lan-Pi (America). Mention of this
document is contained in the publication, The Khotan Amirs, 1933.
1310 Abu Bakari (Abu Bakar), a Muslim king of the Malian Empire, spearheads
a series of sea voyages to the New World.
1312 African Muslims (Mandinga) arrive in the Gulf of Mexico for exploration
of the American interior using the Mississippi River as their access route.
These Muslim explorers were from Mali and other parts of West Africa.
1513 Piri Reis completes his first world map, including the Americas, after
researching maps from all over the world. The practicality and artistry of
his map surpassed any from his time or before.
1530 African slaves arrive in America. During the slave trade, more than 10
million Africans were uprooted from their homes and brought to American
shores. Many of these slaves were from the Fulas, Fula Jallon, Fula Toro,
and Massina as well as other areas of West Africa. These areas were governed
from their capital, "Timbuctu." These slaves were sent to Mexico, Cuba, and
South America. More than 30 percent of these 10 million slaves were Muslim.
They became the backbone of the American economy.
1539 Estevanico of Azamor, a Muslim from Morocco, lands in Florida with the
ill-fated expedition of Panfilo de Narvaez in 1527. Estevanico remained in
America to become the first of three Americans to cross this continent. At
least two states owe their beginnings to this Muslim, Arizona and New
1732 Ayyub ibn Sulaiman Jallon, a Muslim slave in Maryland, is set free by
James Oglethorpe, founder of Georgia, and provided transportation to
England. He arrived home (Boonda, Galumbo) from England in 1735.
1790 Moors from Spain are reported living in South Carolina and Florida.
1807 United States Congress prohibits the importation of slaves into America
after Jan. 1, 1808. Despite suppression of the slave trade during the next
60 years, slavery reached its peak between 1840-1860. The last Slave ships
to be confiscated by the federal government were Wildfire, Storm King,
Williams, Erie, Echo, Cora, and Binita all of which violated the ban on
1807 Yarrow Mamout, an African Muslim slave, is set free in Washington,
D.C., and later becomes one of the first shareholders of the second
chartered bank in America, the Columbia bank. Yarrow may have lived to be
more than 128 years old, the oldest person in American history. Two
portraits of Yarrow done by well known artists are on public display. The
first, painted by Charles W. Peale in 1819 was done when Yarrow was 100
years old. It hangs in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. A second
portrait completed by James Simpson in 1828, almost a decade later, can be
seen in the Peabody Room at the Georgetown Public Library, Washington D.C.
1809 Al Hajj Umar ibn Sayyid is enslaved in Charleston after running away.
In jail, he is visited by John Owen and taken to Bladen County and placed on
the Owen plantation. John Owen later became Governor of North Carolina. It
has been reported that Umar lived to be 100 years old.
1828 Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori, a former prince from West Africa and now
a slave on a Georgia plantation, is freed by the order of Secretary of State
Henry Clay and President John Quincy Adams. He was known to many during his
lifetime as "The Prince of the Slaves." A drawing of him, done by Henry
Inman, is displayed in the Library of Congress. His life has also been
1839 Sayyid Sa'id, ruler of Oman, orders his ship The Sultana, to set sail
for America on a trade mission. The Sultana touched port in New York, April
30, 1840. Although the voyage was not a commercial success, it marks the
point of successful friendly relations between the two countries that
continue to this day.
1856 The United States cavalry hire a Muslim by the name of Hajji Ali to
experiment with raising camels in Arizona.
1865 The American Civil War ends. During the war, the "scorched earth"
policy of the North destroyed churches, farms, schools, libraries, colleges,
and a great deal of other property. The librarians at the University of
Alabama managed to save one book from the debris of their library buildings.
On the morning of April 4, when Federal troops reached the campus with
orders to destroy the university, Andre Deloffre, a modern language
professor and custodian of the library, appealed to the commanding officer
to spare one of the finest libraries in the South. The officer, being
sympathetic, sent a courier to Gen. Croxton at his headquarters in
Tuscaloosa asking permission to save the Rotunda. The general's reply was
no. The officer reportedly said, "I will save one volume as a memento of
this occasion. The volume selected was a rare copy of the Qur'an.
1870 The Reverend Norman, a Methodist missionary, converts to Islam.
1889 Edward W. Blyden, noted scholar and social activist, traveled
throughout the eastern and southern parts of the United States proclaiming
Islam. In a speech before the Colonization Society of Chicago Blyden told
his audience that the reasons Africans choose Islam over Christianity is
that, "the Qur'an protected the black man from self-depreciation in the
presence of Arabs or Europeans.
1893 The American Islamic Propaganda Movement is founded by Mohammed
Alexander Russell Webb. He is regarded as one of the earliest white American
converts. In that same year on Sept. 20 and 21, M. A. Webb appeared at the
First World Congress of Religions and delivered two lectures: "The Spirit of
Islam," and "The Influence of Islam on Social Conditions."
1908 Muslim immigrants from the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire, Syria,
Lebanon, Jordan, etc., arrive in North America. They are mainly Turks,
Kurds, Albanians, and Arabs.
1913 Timothy Drew (Noble Drew Ali) establishes an organization in Newark, NJ
, known as the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA). Drew Ali reportedly
was commissioned by the Sultan of Morocco to teach Islam to Negroes in the
United States. The MSTA is also responsible for many of today's
African-American converts to Islam.
1915 Albanian Muslims build a Masjid in Maine and establish an Islamic
association. By 1919, they had established another Masjid in Connecticut.
Theirs was one of the first associations for Muslims in the United States.
1920 The Red Crescent, a Muslim charity modeled after the International Red
Cross, is established in Detroit.
1921 A branch of the Ahmadiyya Movement is founded in Chicago by Dr. Mufti
Muhammad Sadiq. This movement converted many African-Americans to Islam.
1926 Duse Muhammad Ali, mentor of Marcus Garvey and the person who had a
considerable impact upon Garvey's movement, establishes an organization in
Detroit known as the Universal Islamic Society. Its motto was "One God, One
Aim, One Destiny."
1926 Polish-speaking Tatars build a mosque in Brooklyn, NY, which is still
1930 African American Muslims establish First Muslim Mosque in Piftsburg,
1933 The Nation of Islam (NOI), one of the most significant organizations in
American Muslim history, is founded. It is responsible for converting a high
percentage of African-Americans to Islam. It was also effective in
highlighting American Christians' difficulties combating the effects of
slavery and racism among African-Americans. The NOI's philosophy was
introduced in the United States by Fard Muhammad (Wallace Ford), a Muslim
mystic who disappeared in 1933. The late, Elijah Mohammed, who succeeded
Fard in 1933, built the organization into a strong ethnic movement
advocating Islam as way of life. Two of the most famous African-Americans,
Muhammad Ali and Al Hajj Malik al-Shabazz (Malcolm X), were early adherents
of this movement. Both later embraced the broader multiethnic concepts of
1934 The Lebanese community of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, opens its Masjid.
1939 The Islamic Mission Society is founded in New York by Sheikh Dawood. It
publishes a magazine entitled, "Muslim Sunrise".
1952 Muslims in the armed services sue the federal government to be allowed
to identify themselves as Muslims. Until then Islam was not recognized as a
1955 The State Street Masjid in New York City is established by Sheikh
Dawood Ahmed Faisal. It is still in use today and represents a special point
in the development of the American Muslim community From this Masjid was
born the Dar-ul-Islam movement.
1960 The NOI's University of Islam schools flourished and drew the attention
of the American media. Coverage focused upon the Black Muslims' self-help
programs for Blacks, but considered them a "threat" to the white
1962 The Dar-ul-Islam movement, another important group among the
African-American Muslim community, is born. Until its disappearance in
1982-1983, it made a serious impact upon the development and practice of
traditional Islam in America.
1962 The newspaper Muhammad Speaks is launched. It later becomes the largest
minority weekly publication in the country and reached 800,000 readers at
its peak. In subsequent years, it underwent some name changes, and the NOI
itself underwent various transformations. It has also been known as Bilalian
News, The A.M. Journal and, currently The Muslim Journal.
1963 The Muslim Students Association (MSA) is established as an organization
to aid foreign Muslim students attending schools in the United States. MSA
now has more than 100 branches nationwide. In the 1970's it gave birth to
the Islamic Medical Association (IMA), the Association of Muslim Social
Scientist (AMSS), and the Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers
1965 AI Hajj Malik al-Shabazz (Malcolm X) is assassinated in New York. He
was one of the most outstanding Muslims in American history as well as a
dedicated fighter for justice and equality for African-Americans and other
1968 The Hanafi Movement is founded by Hamas Abdul Khaalis. The Hanafi
Madhab Center was established in New York but later moved to Washington,
D.C. This movement had a membership of more than 1000 in the United States.
Kareem Abdul Jabbar, a famous basketball player, is one of the Muslims who
first came into contact with Islam through this movement. In 1977, Khaalis
and some of his followers seized control of three District of Columbia
buildings, holding hostages for more than 30 hours. One man was killed.
Khaalis is now incarcerated in Washington, D.C., and is serving a sentence
of 41 to 120 years. This movement marks a challenging period in American
1971 The Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers is established.
1972 The Association of Muslim Social Scientists, is launched.
1975 Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam, dies and is succeeded
by his son Warith Deen Mohammed, who has been credited with moving the NOI
toward the broader universal concepts of Islam. He is now regarded as one of
the leading Muslim spokesmen in the United States.
1981 The first American Islamic library is established in Plainfield,
1982 The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is established in
Plainfield, IN. ISNA is now an umbrella organization for many active Islamic
groups seeking to further the cause of Islam in the United States.
1986 Dr. Isma'il R. a]-Faruqi and his wife are murdered in their home
outside Philadelphia. Dr. and Mrs. Faruqi are the authors of The Cultural
Atlas of Islam as well as many other books and research papers. Dr. Faruqi
is the founder of AMSS and the International Institute of Islamic Thought,
which is located in Northern Virginia. This truly remarkable Muslim family
is responsible for some of the most constructive programs to promote Islam
in the United States.
1990 Muslims hold the first solidarity conference called "Muslims Against
Apartheid." This was the first conference of its kind in support of Muslims
for the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. The conference was
organized by the American Muslim Council.
1991 Imam Siraj Wahaj offers an invocation (opening prayer) to the United
States House of Representatives. He was the first Muslim to do so.
1991 The Muslim Members in the Military (MMM) organization hold their first
"Unity in Uniform" conference. The conference took place at Boiling Air
force Base in Washington, D.C. According to the United States Department of
Defense, there are more than 5000 Muslims in uniform on active duty in the
military. However, there are no Muslim Chaplains on active duty in any
branch of service.
1991 Charles Bilal, Kountze, Texas, becomes the nation's first Muslim mayor
in an American city.
1992 Imam Warith Deen Mohammed gives the invocation in the Senate.
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Deeper Roots by Abdullah Hakim Quick, 1990
Arab America Today (A Demographic Profile of Arab Americans) by John
A Survey of North American Muslims by El Tigani A. Abugideiri, June
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Ethnic Distribution of American Muslims and Selected Socio-Economic
Characteristics by Arif Ghaytir, 1984
The Demography of Islamic Nations by John Weeks, 1988
Islam In the United States: Review of Sources by Dr. Sulayman S.
Demographic Consequences of Minority Consciousness.- An Analysis by
Salaha M. Abedin, 1980
World Population Data Sheet Population Reference Bureau, Inc.
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Department of Commerce Bureau of the Census, 1990
Muslim Peoples (A World Ethnographlc Survey) Edited by Richard V
Weeks, 1984, Vol. 11
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The 1991 Almanac 44th Edition, by Houghton Mifflin Company, 1991
The Islamic Society of North America Directory of Islamic Centers,
Schools, Masjids and MSA Chapters, 1989 Revised Edition
The Islamic Struggle in America by Hijrah Magazine, Oct./Nov 1985
Seven Muslim Slaves by Abdul Hakim Muhammad, 1983
Prince Among Slaves by Terry Alford, 1977
Nature Knom No Color Line by J.A.Rogers, 1952
African Muslims in Antebellum American by Allen Austin, 1984
The Arab World Published by The Arab-American Press 1945
The United States and the Sultanate of Oman Produced by Sultan
Qaboos Center The Middle East Institute, Washington, D.C. 1990
The University of Alabama, A Pictorial History by Suzanne Rau Wolfe
History of the First Muslim Mosque of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania by
Jameela A. Hakim, 1989