140434Re: [Revlist] Black Muslims in American Revolution.
- Dec 8, 2013
A few additional notes on the subject: at the time of the Revolution, George Sale's translation of the Koran in 2 volumes was still being sold in bookshops- in 1768 the edition began to be advertised in American newspapers. Another significant edition was produced by Isaiah Thomas in 1806, translated from Andre de Ryer's French translation of 1647.
Of course these translations would not be available to slaves.
"American Christians and Islam: Evangelical Culture and Muslims from the Colonial Period to the Age of Terrorism" by Thomas Kidd, is a reasonably detailed study that includes early America opinions concerning Islam (universally disparaging, and generally in reference to the Turkish government). As mentioned in my original post, Montesquieu was frequently cited in such discussions.
Although there is suggestive evidence that there were Muslim slaves who fought in the American Revolution, the specific names cited are dubious and based on inferences, such as the name Muhammed, or an Arab origin. There is no proof they were Muslims.
Muslim prohibitions against enslavement of other Muslims did not prevent the widespread use of slavery in Islam, regardless of the faith of the enslaved.
Unfortunately the topic is politically charged and anyone trying to "prove a point" is most likely to make serious historical errors (as is typical in such debates) There is the case of James Hutson (Ph. D., Yale University), who was requested, as an historian at the Library of Congress, to produce a study of Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptists, which appeared in William & Mary Quarterly ["Thomas Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptists: A Controversy Rejoined" by James H. Hutson (The William and Mary Quarterly Third Series, Vol. 56, No. 4 (Oct., 1999), pp. 775-790)]. When Hutson's study did not conform to what many people believed was Jefferson's meaning of Separation of Church and State, he was subjected to ad hominem attacks. (Needless to add, the study was very well done and superbly accurate).
~ William Myers, independent historian.
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