Editorial Introduction

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Sulayman S. Nyang



The arrival of Islam in the United States ofAmerica has been dated back
to the coming of slaves fromAfrica. During this unfortunate trade in human
cargo from the African mainland, many Muslim men and women came to
these shores. Some of these men and women were more visible than others;
some were more literate in Arabic than the others; and some were better
remembered by their generations than the others. Despite these multiple differences
between the Muslim slaves and their brethren from various parts of
theAfrican continent, the fact still remains that their Islam and their self-confidence
did not save them from the oppressive chains of slave masters. The
religion of Islam survived only during the lifetime of individual believers
who tried desperately to maintain their Islamic way of life. Among the
Muslims who came in ante bellum times intoAmerica one can include Yorro
Mahmud (erroneously anglicized as Yarrow Mamout), Ayub Ibn Sulayman
Diallo (known to Anglo-Saxons as Job ben Solomon), Abdul Rahman
(known as Abdul Rahahman in the Western sources) and countless others
whose Islamic ritual practices were prevented from surfacing in public.1
Besides these Muslim slaves of ante bellumAmerica, there were others
who came to these shores without the handicap of slavery. They came from
Southern Europe, the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent. TheseMuslims
were immigrants to America at the end of the Nineteenth Century and
the beginning of the Twentieth Century. Motivated by the desire to come to
a land of opportunity and strike it rich, many of these men and women later
found out that the United States ofAmerica was destined to be their permanent
homeland. In the search for identity and cultural security in their new
environment, these Muslim immigrants began to consolidate their cultural
resources by building mosques and organizing national and local groups for
the purpose of social welfare and solidarity. These developments among the
Muslims contributed to the emergence of various cultural and religious ...

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