Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Dr. Lee Wilson
Dr. Stephanie Hassell
Dr. Joshua Catalano
Muslims were present in North America before the establishment of the
American/British colonies. The first Muslims in America were not citizens, but
enslaved Africans forced into the slave trade in the eighteenth century. Muslim slaves
in America were much more prevalent than anyone could have imagined and yet, the
religion of these slaves was rarely ever brought to the surface. In this thesis, I argue
that Muslim slaves not only existed in America but most of them were literate in
multiple languages, well-educated, and were capable of holding on to a set of beliefs.
History books and previous literature have overlooked the existence and lived
experiences of Muslim slaves in the United States during the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries. I explore the lives of numerous Muslims, predominantly
enslaved Muslims, over the course of 130 years, and I analyze the writings of
numerous Founding Fathers and their position within the debate of religious freedom
for non-Christians. The individuals, events, and documents discussed in this thesis
are just a few selected insights from a much larger, complex history that has yet to be
fully explored. From these insights, historians can begin to draw a deeper and more
complete understanding of this nation's history - a history that fully incorporates
Muslims’ influence and presence in America.
Altwam, Amani, "The Forgotten Faith: The Experiences of Enslaved Muslims and the Influence of Islam in the United States from 1730-1864" (2022). All Theses. 3888.