Al-Islam in the African American Experience

Photo Essay

Islam first appeared in the Americas due to the capture and enslavement of Africans in the sixteenth century. As a result, much of its early history is difficult to trace, and only a handful of prominent African Muslims appear in the historical record. However, there remain important examples of African Muslims helping to build what would become the United States. Though Islam had virtually disappeared among the enslaved African Americans and their ancestors by the late 19th century, the religion experienced a revival by the early 20th. Since the 1920s, the Sunni sect of Islam and the Nation of Islam have both achieved immense popularity. Thanks to its position at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement, the Nation of Islam in particular helped to shape the national imagination regarding social justice and resistance. In 2017, the Pew Research Center said that approximately 20% of Muslims in America were African American. 


  • Abdul Hafeez Waheed
  • Khadijah Salaam
  • Ronald B. Shaheed
  • Bilal Muhammed
  • Dawud Iman
  • Aqueelah Nafeesah Rasheed
  • Luqman S. Rasheed, II

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