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10 Important Books To Read On Black Muslims in the Americas

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It’s time to celebrate, understand, and appreciate the histories and lives that make up the Black Muslim experience in the Americas. Happy reading!

Seeking knowledge and reading is imperative on all Muslims – and understanding the different cultures, histories, and experiences that make up the Muslim experience is essential to understanding our world today.

In an effort to help expand our world views and understanding of what it means to be Muslim, here are just 10 of some of the best books on Black Muslim history, experience, and lives in the Americas – from Malcolm X to the first African Muslim slaves brought to the US to the slave rebellion in Brazil, here are 10 essential reads:

1. Black Crescent: The Experience and Legacy of African Muslims in the Americas by Michael A. Gomez

First published in 2005, this book is a social history of the experiences of African Muslims brought to the Americas through slavery up until the 21st century. Starting in Latin America in the 1400s, this book goes into great historical detail throughout the region – including the Caribbean, Brazil, and Central America – finishing with the movements and lives of people like Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X in the United States.

You can find the book on Amazon here.

2. Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas by Sylviane A. Diouf

This book closely follows the history of African Muslims from West Africa to the Americas, and details the lives of many who continued to practice their faith in a heavily Christian-dominated new world. Written with incredible detail and scope, the book looks into the different ways Islam played into the lives of African slaves in the United States and the Americas – including its influence in the many slave rebellions that shook the ruling elite at the time. The many influences Islam had on the African American populations are still seen today – and the author expertly brings it together in a wider look at the Black Muslim experience in the US today.

You can find the book on Amazon here.

3. A Muslim American Slave: The Life of Omar Ibn Said by Omar ibn Said and Ala Alryyes

The life of Omar Ibn Said remains incredibly powerful – abducted and sold into slavery in the late 1700s, Ibn Said was sold to a wealthy family in North Carolina in the US. Highly literate and religious, the life of Ibn Said was as inspirational during his lifetime as it remains today. Writing down his life story in the early 1800s, his book became the only known surviving American slave narrative written in Arabic. In this translation, his incredible life, as well as the lives of the many African Muslim slaves brought to the US, are remembered and discussed in detail – helping us better understand just how important and powerful their lives and experiences were in shaping the history of the United States.

You can find the book on Amazon here.

4. Slave Rebellion in Brazil: The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia by João José Reis

This book delves into the little-known but incredible history of the Black Muslim slave rebellion of 1835 in Brazil. Regarded as one of if not the most important slave rebellion in the history of the Americas, the contribution of African Muslims as well as their faith cannot go unnoticed. Bringing together hundreds of police and trial records, the author is able to take a deep look into the lives, culture, religion, and strength of the slaves who dedicated their lives to the rebellion.

You can find this book on Amazon here.

5. Crescent over Another Horizon: Islam in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latino USA by Maria del Mar Logroño Narbona (Editor), Paulo G. Pinto (Editor), and John Tofik Karam (Editor)

Coming from a largely Latin American perspective, this fascinating book looks at the more than 500-year history of Islam in the Americas first brought over by African slaves. Looking specifically at the over-simplification often used to describe minorities in the Americas, this book looks at just how large-scale and important Islam and Black Muslims were to the building of the New World. With a heavy focus on the Caribbean and Central America in places like Trinidad, Mexico, and Suriname to Latin America in places like Argentina and Brazil, this book does an incredible service to the history and lives of Black and Latino/a Muslims.

You can find the book on Amazon here.

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6. Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Toward the Third Resurrection by Sherman A. Jackson

In this book, the author takes a deep and sweeping view on the history and experiences of Black Muslims in the United States. Coining the word “Blackamericans”, the author looks into the particular spread of Islam with the Black community, and why it retained such deep importance that pales in comparison to the spread of Islam within other groups, such as white Americans or Hispanic Americans. Exploring black nationalist movements alongside the power of Islam within Black communities, this book discusses the particularly American phenomenon of “Black Religion” – and how Islam for Black Muslims should not only be about defeating white supremacy today but about deeper, more personal paths of spirituality.

You can find the book on Amazon here.

7. The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley by Malcolm X and Alex Haley

One of the most well-known and powerful Black Muslim Americans, Malcolm X changed the course of American history – and left a powerful legacy for Black Muslims in the United States to follow even up until today. In this incredibly powerful account, Malcolm X writes of his journey from a prison cell to his pilgrimage to Mecca – and how his conversion to the religion of Islam changed his life forever. This remains a must-read for not only every Muslim around the world, but for any humanist or human rights activist.

You can find this book on Amazon here.

8. The Greatest: My Own Story by Muhammad Ali and Richard Durham

Muhammad Ali, the US’ greatest boxer and a powerful figure of Black Islam in the US, worked for six years on this book with Richard Durham – and the result is a powerful, witty, and incredibly deep look into the life and thinking of Ali. With his powerful stance against US imperialism, public devotion to Islam, and proud sportsmanship, Muhammad Ali will always remain as one of the greatest examples of the power of faith in changing a person’s life.

You can find the book on Amazon here.

9. Muslim Cool: Race, Religion, and Hip Hop in the United States by Su’ad Abdul Khabeer

This book is groundbreaking on various different levels – its insight into the study of race, religion, and pop culture produces a one-of-a-kind look into challenging the stereotypes and rampant racism in the US towards Black Muslim Americans. Looking in particular at the experiences of young and multi-ethnic Muslims to discuss what “Blackness” or “Muslimness” means, this book also looks into the history of hip-hop and Islam – and the interwoven link of Blackness between them both.

You can find the book on Amazon here.

10. African American Islam by Aminah Beverly McCloud

First written in the 1990s, this book was one of the first to delve into the diverse lives of the numerous Black Muslim communities across the United States – and offers and deep and detailed look into the power of social protest in Black communities within the context of Islam. Linking together the strength of faith with the struggle against deep-seated racism, this book details the incredible struggle Black Americans and Black Muslims have stood up against in the face of systematic racism.

You can find this book on Amazon here.

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