One of the questions frequently asked by European Muslims to Muslims of African descent is, in the words of a black Muslim, “Questions about where and how our ancestors converted to Islam”. These questions can sometimes be about whether the families of black Muslims living in the USA are immigrants or people who later converted to Islam. Many Europeans, or in other words “non-black” Muslims, perceive the entire African continent as a place that has no ties to civilization and has never embraced monotheistic religions. When prejudices on this matter are combined with ignorance, strange sights emerge. It is also interesting that those who asked questions about African-American Muslims had heard a little bit about Mansa Musa, the King of Mali. Another curiosity is that 300 warrior slaves with the surnames used by Muslims in the Freedom Wars in America were recorded.
Within the framework of all these, we can say that the religion of Islam reached the American continent at the hand of African Muslims and earlier than expected. As we know, it is possible that Islam, which has a trade and cultural mission among peoples, reached the continent through these channels. In addition, West Africans were able to expand into Europe thanks to the conquests during the Ottoman Empire. Especially if we consider the Andalusian Muslims who migrated from North Africa and are called Morisco in the medieval period (for the West), it is possible to talk about Islam, a religion that extends beyond the Atlantic. However, it should not be forgotten that there is a spread mostly due to the slave movement.
According to some sources (see: Lost Islamic History), Bilali Muhammad is the most well-known of the African Muslims who brought Islam to America. Just like Muhammad, Ayub Job Djallo, Yarrow Mamood, Ibrahim Abdulrahman ibn Sori, Ummar ibn Sayyid (Omar ibn Said), and Salih Bilali are also black Muslims who brought Islam to America.
He was born in the 1770s in what is now known as Guinea and Sierra Leone in Africa. He was one of the leading elites of the Fulani Tribe. Bilal Muhammad knew Islamic Sciences such as Islamic Law, Hadith and Tafsir, and Arabic very well. Because of his education, his status among the slaves was allowed to rise and he was placed in a privileged position. Just before his death, he left his 13-page manuscript on Islamic Law, which was prepared by the Maliki School according to the fiqh provisions, to his friend. These texts are also called ‘Bilali’s Manuscripts’. These manuscripts were intended as a diary until they were deciphered at Al-Azhar University. In addition, other known names of the work are names such as “Ben Ali Diary ” or “Ben Ali treatise”. After being deciphered, it was revealed that these manuscripts were works of jurisprudence.
Ayuba Suleiman Diallo
Ayub (Eyyub) Jon Djallo was born in Senegal. His family was the Muslim Fulbe family, a highly respected family. He was also known as Job Ben Solomon. He wrote a memoir in which he told about his memories in Maryland, where he was a slave for many years, and presented sections from his own life. Sold into slavery as a result of a disturbance, Ayub eventually managed to return to his native Senegal.
He was born in Guinea in 1736 as a free man. He died in 1823 as well. He was 14 when he arrived in Maryland with his sister. He was fluent in Arabic. Until his death, he lived openly in Islam and did not hide his worship.
Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori
Ibrahim Abdulrahman Ibn Sori was born in Guinea. Ibn Sori is also known for the documentary film “The Prince Among Slaves” made about him. Ibn Sori, the son of King Sori from the village of Timbo, was also the leader of the army. He was captured and enslaved in an ambush and sold to a man named Thomas Foster in Mississippi. Ibn Sori got married and had children. He worked for 40 years until he got his freedom. He died on the way back to his hometown. He wrote a letter in Arabic to his family in West Africa. The aforementioned letter was read by the Moroccan King Sultan Abdurrahman and found quite impressive. Ibn Sori also demanded his release from the US President Quincy Adams.
Ummar ibn Sayyid
Ummar ibn Sayyid was born in Fuuta Toro in 1770. Ibn Sayyid, who was kidnapped in 1807, began to be known as Omar Moreau and Prince Omeroh after this date, according to some sources.
Although there are allegations that he later adopted Christianity, many sources say that there was more to Ibn Sayyid than we saw. However, Ibn Sayyid was also known as an Islamic scholar. He was a knowledgeable person in many fields from arithmetic to theology. He also wrote Arabic texts.
Salih Bilali was born in Mali. He was captured in 1782. It was recorded that Salih Bilali’s last words before he died were martyrdom.
As a result, Muslims from all continents, including Africa, contributed to the spread of Islam. Considering all the difficulties and obstacles they have experienced, is it possible to say that all these people with the “Spirit of Conquest” are not heroes?
Islam does not have blacks and whites. Islam does not need black and white. The black and white division has been around since Islam.
Blessed are the Musabs of the karakita who have a good heart…