ISNA Traces Islam History in
By Fahad Faruqui, IOL Correspondent
"At least 10 percent of enslaved African Americans were Muslims," Bagsby told his enchanted ISNA audience.
WASHINGTOIN – The thousands of Muslims who devoted their
Fourth of July weekend to attend the annual Islamic Society of North American
(ISNA) convention got a rare chance to hear about the 7-century history of
their faith in the
"At least 10 percent of enslaved African Americans were Muslims," Ihsan Bagsby, an African American covert, told his enchanted ISNA audience.
In a session themed Legacy of Islam in
Bagsby said the first generation of Muslims were the
enslaved African Americans who came from the
"Blues is really a product of Senegambian culture, which most musicologists would agree with."
Senegambia refers to the African region that includes the Senegal River, the Cap-Vert region and the Gambia River.
The region, colonized by both
Bagsby noted that by the 1920s came the second wave of Islam in the history African Americans, which he called "the rediscovery of Islam".
"Among the many enslaved African American Muslims you have no traces of Islam after the Civil War and undoubtedly it is the result of the passing of generations, where we see the loss of Islam in the enslaved African Americans."
The third stage of Islam in
Though there are no official figures, the
For many African Americans, Islam has always been a beacon of light that allowed them to resist endemic racism.
Bagsby did talk about the history of African American Muslims, but what was more important is the predominant theme within that community that he brought to light.
"The major theme that resonates throughout African American Muslim history is resistance," he said.
"Islam among African Americans has always represented resistance to the endemic racism of this country. A resistance [and] rejection of White stereotypes of black people."
Within African American communities throughout the history
It helped the African Americans to reject the White molds of thinking, dressing and culture in order to be assimilated, which was a notion the black church supported.
But Islam also played a vital role in the rejection of the isolation African Americans endured in the White world.
"Islam, amongst African Americans, has represented a vehicle for the uplift of the African American people — morally, spiritually, economically, and politically —both as individuals and as communities."
The first person to grasp the idea of Islam and resistance
was Drew Ali Timothy, also known as Noble Drew Ali, who founded the Moorish
Science Temple of America in
"He tried to build in his own lifetime an activist community, not an arc community. He actually tried to build a community that influences the wider communities," said Bagsby.
"This is a topic that should be included in US history courses," Hussein [in glasses] told IOL through a sign language interpreter.
Aisha al-Adawiyya, a Muslim activist, said that a packed audience speaks a great deal about the growing awareness and interest in the subject.
The young want to trace back their roots and "go beyond the media projection of Muslims in American and get some historical background."
Bagsby's talk was an eye-opener for many of the audience.
Zahra Hussein, a doctoral student who followed his talk through a deaf interpreter, was pleased to learn about the history and the role Islam played in African American communities for generations.
"It was an interesting introduction into the beginning of American history that includes Muslim culture and religion," she said through an interpreter.
The legacy of Islam in
"This is a topic that should be included in US history courses, because this is something the students are missing out on," she said.
"There is such a strong Muslim foundation to the
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