Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas

Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas

Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas

Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas

Synopsis

Servants of Allah presents a history of African Muslims, following them from West Africa to the Americas. Although many assume that what Muslim faith they brought with them to the Americas was quickly absorbed into the new Christian milieu, as Sylviane A. Diouf demonstrates in this meticulously-researched, groundbreaking volume, Islam flourished during slavery on a large scale. She details how, even while enslaved, many Muslims managed to follow most of the precepts of their religion. Literate, urban, and well-traveled, they drew on their organization, solidarity and the strength of their beliefs to play a major part in the most well-known slave uprisings. But for all their accomplishments and contributions to the history and cultures of the African Diaspora, the Muslims have been largely ignored. Servants of Allah- a Choice 1999 Outstanding Academic Title- illuminates the role of Islam in the lives of both individual practitioners and communities, and shows that though the religion 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. This 15th anniversary edition has been updated to include new materials and analysis, a review of developments in the field, prospects for new research, and new illustrations. Sylviane A. Diouf is an award-winning historian specializing in the history of the African Diaspora, African Muslims, the slave trade and slavery. She is the author of Slavery's Exiles: The Story of the American Maroons (NYU Press 2013) and Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America, and the editor of Fighting The Slave Trade: West African Strategies.

Excerpt

In 1998, when Servants of Allah was first published, I could not have imagined that I would be writing a new introduction to the volume fifteen years later. Three years earlier, I could not even imagine this book would ever exist. I had started writing it in French, certain I would find a receptive publisher in Paris. Only when, to my utter surprise, no one shared my enthusiasm — to say the least — did I decide to start all over. Fifteen years later, Servants of Allah is still here, and Allah’in Kullari — its Turkish version — has gone into two editions. As for Serviteurs d’Allah, it has yet to exist; nothing has changed there.

But change there has been, and plenty of it, between 1998, the end of the twentieth century, and today, roughly a decade and a half into the twenty-first. A new political, religious, and social reality unexpectedly transformed a book on a hitherto obscure part of slavery history into what its publisher has deemed “a surprise bestseller.” Sadly, it took a tragedy to alter the landscape, literally and figuratively.

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