Muslims are neither new nor foreign to the United States. They have been a vital presence in North America since the 16th century. Muslims in America unearths their history, documenting the lives of African, Middle Eastern, South Asian, European, black, white, Hispanic and other Americans who have been followers of Islam.
The book begins with the tale of Job Ben Solomon, a 18th century African American Muslim slave, and goes on to chart the stories of sodbusters in North Dakota, African American converts to Islam in the 1920s, Muslim barkeepers in Toledo, the post-1965 wave of professional immigrants from Asia and Africa, and Muslim Americans after 9/11. The book reveals the richness of Sunni, Shi'a, Sufi and other forms of Islamic theology, ethics, and rituals in the United States by illustrating the way Islamic faith has been imagined and practiced in the everyday lives of individuals. Muslims in America recovers the place of Muslims in the larger American story, too. Showing how Muslim American men and women participated in each era of U.S. history, the book explores how they have both shaped and have been shaped by larger historical trends such as the abolition movement, Gilded Age immigration, the Great Migration of African Americans, urbanization, religious revivalism, the feminist movement, and the current war on terror. It also shows how, from the very beginning of American history, Muslim Americans have been at once a part of their local communities, their nation, and the worldwide community of Muslims.
The first single-author history of Muslims in America from colonial times to the present, this book fills a huge gap and provides invaluable background on one of the most poorly understood groups in the United States.
Curtis, a religious studies professor and authority on Islam in America, has authored a fine and succinct history that spans centuries. He hits all the major chronological points and historical details of Muslims living in North America, including notable tales of African slaves who maintained their religion despite great hardship. Curtis has literally combed through every record imaginable, including, for example, a 1939 Works Progress Administration–funded interview of Mrs. Mary Juma, a Syrian homesteader in North Dakota, in assembling this very readable history. Unmatched for its breadth of sources, this is also one of the few books in the field to cover both immigrant and indigenous (African-American) American Muslims. One of the strongest sections chronicles American Muslim condemnation of terrorism after 9/11, a condemnation largely unnoticed by the greater American community. Although geared toward non-Muslims, American Muslims would also learn a great deal from reading about their own history. Photographs, chronology, edited selections from chosen narratives, and a Further Reading Section provide useful jumping-off points for the reader, who will undoubtedly be intrigued by Curtis's compelling little read. (Oct.)