Muslims in America A Short History by Edward E. Curtis IV (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. 144 pages.)

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Shadaab Rahemtulla



Muslims in America: A Short History is an accessible, succinct, and
informative historical survey of Muslim American communities. This popular
book has two key objectives: to increase non-Muslim Americans’
understanding of Muslims in the United States and to foreground to Muslim Americans themselves their own religious, ethnic, and cultural diversity (p. xi).
The story of Muslim America begins in the eighteenth century. Chapter
1, “Across the Black Atlantic: The First Muslims in North America,”
sketches the lives of several West African Muslims, many of them highly literate
and schooled in the Islamic sciences, who were enslaved and shipped
to the United States, such as Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (Job Ben Solomon),
Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima, and Omar ibn Sayyid. The second chapter, “The
First American Converts to Islam,” moves into the late-nineteenth and earlytwentieth
centuries. Here Curtis provides an array of highly diverse Muslim
missionary activities, from the rather unsuccessful proselytization work of
White American convert Alexander Russell Webb, to the steady spread of
mystical Islamic teachings spearheaded by such preachers as Indian Sufi
master Inayat Khan, to the Nation of Islam’s ascendance as a mass-based
Black liberation movement ...

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