5 J. Islamic L. & Culture 45 (2000)
Understanding Blacks and Islam

handle is hein.journals/jilc5 and id is 51 raw text is: UNDERSTANDING BLACKS AND ISLAM
Samory Rashid, Ph.D.*
L INTRODUCTION
Recent studies in the literature which document the survival and
expansion of Islam in the Americas are long overdue.' But,
interpretations of the relationship between Islam's survival and its
origin and meaning in the U.S. remain problematical. For example,
Nyang argues that there is no evidence that Islam was consistently
practiced from the time of its first introduction in the Americas to the
present.' Also, Diouf believes it is ironic that black Americans-the
very group that retained the least memory of Islam, has in recent years
experienced the fastest rate of acceptance ofIslam.3 And finally a host
of scholars supporting the Waves of Immigration (WOI) theory
continue to maintain that early Islam in the Americas largely failed to
survive the rigors of slavery. According to this view, Islam in the 20th
century was ultimately revived as a result of the efforts of
Mohammad Alexander Russell Webb, a white American convert who
according to WOI theory founded the first Muslim mosque (masjid)
* Chair of the Political Science Department, Indiana State University, Terre
Haute. Ph.D., M.A. in Political Science, University of Chicago; M.A. and B.A.,
Southern Illinois University.
I See Sylviane Diouf, Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the
Americas (New York: New York University Press, 1998), Richard Brent Turner,
Islam in the African American Experience (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University
Press, 1998), Abdullah Hakim, QuickDeeperRoots: Muslims in theAmericas and
the Caribbean from before Columbus to the Present (London: Ta Ha Publishers,
1996). Amir Nashid Ali Muhammad, Muslims in America: Seven Centuries of
History (1312-1998) Beltsville, MD: Amana Pub., 1998), Michael Gomez,
Exchanging Our country Marks: The Transformation ofAfrican Identities in the
Colonial and Antebellum South (Capel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina
Press, 1998)
2 See Sulayman Nyang, Muslims in the United States ofAmerica (Chicago, IL:
Kazi Pub., 1999): 13.
3 See Diouf.

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