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140436Re: Black Muslims in American Revolution.

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  • Martha Katz-Hyman
    Dec 8, 2013

      Although the following is somewhat tangential to whether or not there were Muslims who fought in the Revolution, I am adding part of the entry on the Koran from World of a Slave: Encyclopedia of the Material Lives of Slaves in the United States, which was edited by Kym Rice (director of the museums studies program at The George Washington University) and me, and published in 2011. We included the Koran precisely because of the presences of literate Muslims in this country who knew the Koran and could quote it. The entry was written by Daniel Dillard, a doctoral candidate in religion at Florida State University (http://danielcdillard.wordpress.com/).

      "Compared with non-Muslim slaves, enslaved Muslims tended to be literate when

      they arrived in North America and some of them transcribed portions or even entire

      reproductions of the Koran in Arabic, a few of which still exist. For example, Job Ben

      Solomon Jallo (1701–1773), also known as Ayuba Suleiman Diallo, a Senegalese

      Muslim of aristocratic birth enslaved for a brief period in Maryland, composed three

      separate copies of the Koran solely from memory. Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori

      (1762–1829), also known as Abd ar-Rahman, the famous West African prince

      enslaved for 40 years in Mississippi, occasionally delighted audiences by telling them

      he was writing out ‘‘The Lord’s Prayer’’ in Arabic, when in actuality he had transcribed

      the first sura, or chapter, of the Koran, known as the fatiha. Omar Ibn Said

      (1770–1864), a Muslim scholar from Senegal enslaved in the Carolinas until his

      death in his mid-90s, recorded in Arabic many passages and prayers from the Koran as

      well as excerpts from the Christian Bible that include invocations to Allah and the

      Prophet Muhammad. Bilali Mohammed (ca. 1770–1857), a Georgian slave originally

      from Timbo, Fouta Djallon (Guinea, West Africa), where he may have been an imam,

      or religious leader, was buried with his own copy of the Koran.


      "Although Islamic law and tradition allowed for limited forms of slavery—Muhammad

      and his companions owned slaves, for example—the Koran’s verses dealing with slavery

      tend to emphasize the humanity of the enslaved and grant them legal rights."

      I don't know whether this is useful for this discussion, but I did want to add some information for those who wanted to know more.

      Martha Katz-Hyman


      Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation

      Williamsburg, VA

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