Muslims in American History:A Forgotten Legacy

A lecture by Dr. Jerald F. Dirks. Following are some key points from the lecture:

  • There were Muslim expeditions to America much before Columbus. 4 such instances are mentioned by the speaker. There is also evidence that Muslim languages had impact on some native American languages.
  • There were Muslims with Columbus also. There were at least one Muslim and three Moriscos. Moriscos were people who outwardly converted to Christianity from Islam to avoid persecution during Spain Inquisition.
  • Expeditions sent after Columbus also had Muslims playing important role in expeditions.
  • Later Muslims were brought to America as slaves from Africa. About 20 to 30 percent of the slaves were Muslims.
    • Slaves continued to practice Islam. One Hafiz slave wrote entire Quran from memory which is still preserved.
    • Average age of the slaves doing hard labor was 15 years only. There were slaves which were doing supervision or were kept at home, they had a chance to live longer.
    • Slaves were kept in very bad condition during the journey that brought them across Atlantic. In one instance, 30 % of them died on the way.
  • Muslims fought for American independence against British empire.

The purpose of the lecture is to bring home that its perfectly okay being Muslim and American at the same time and Muslims have a long history in America.

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