Servants of Allah
African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas
Illuminates how African Muslims drew on Islam while enslaved, and how their faith ultimately played a role in the African Disapora 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 of the African Diaspora. She is the author of Slavery's Exiles: The Story of the American Maroons and Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas-named Choice Outstanding Academic Book in 1999-both with NYU Press. Her book Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America received the 2007 Wesley-Logan Prize of the American Historical Association, the 2009 Sulzby Award of the Alabama Historical Association and was a finalist for the 2008 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. She is the editor of Fighting the Slave Trade: West African Strategies and the co-editor of In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience. A recipient of the Rosa Parks Award, the Dr. Betty Shabazz Achievement Award, and the Pen and Brush Achievement Award, Diouf is a Curator at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library.
"A must read for anyone interested in the early history of Islam in the African American community. Diouf goes beyond generalities and sheds light on the lives of transplanted Muslims who have become an important block in the rewriting of the history of Islam in the United States, providing heroic examples of adjustment and survival in a hostile environment." -Yvonne Haddad, Georgetown University "Servants of Allah remains an important scholarly work, significant in retrieving historical memory and as a testament of religious endurance under dislocation, separation, and enslavement. Beyond the familiar assumptions of struggle, survival, and liberation, the book points to the vigorous intellectual life of Islam in which New World Muslim Africans participated. Diouf has put her finger on a critical impulse when she draws out the transnational dimensions of Islamic scholarship that sustained learning and practice among the besieged Muslim Africans, which makes the irony of the decline of Muslim life during slavery in the Americas all the more striking." -Lamin Sanneh, Yale University