Cover

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Title Page, About the Series, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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p. vii

ILLUSTRATIONS

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p. ix

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiii

Bernice Murray watched her grandson Brad Gaskins “strut inside New Hope Baptist Church” in East Orange, New Jersey, wearing his new green uniform. The army recruiter told him the military offered a career, a chance to help his family, and an opportunity to “serve his country.” Assigned to the 10th Mountain Division, 2nd Brigade, Gaskins left for Kosovo in 1999. By April 2003, newly promoted...

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1 Introduction

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pp. 1-20

After a band of Muhammad’s followers left Mecca in 622 C.E. for the Arabian town that would come to be known as Medina, the city of the Prophet, the community of Muslims grew to include not only the Prophet’s followers from Mecca but many from Medina as well. These Muslims would gather at the appointed times...

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2 The Heirs of Bilal in North Africa and the Middle East: Healing, Spirit Possession, and Islam in the Village

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pp. 21-52

In contemporary Essaouira, Morocco, Muslim members of the Gnawa, a spiritual and ethnic community associated in Moroccan history with Sudanic or black African culture, experience trance, healing, joy, and sadness in night ceremonies called lila. These rituals are conducted in a zawiya, or lodge, named after Bilal ibn Rabah.1 Many Gnawa trace their Islamic identity to the very origins of Islam via their...

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3 African Muslims in Europe: Mandinga, Murids, and British Black Muslims

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pp. 53-84

Toward the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, Londonbased hip-hop group Mecca2Medina, founded by British rappers Rakin and Ismael, recorded a song about Bilal ibn Rabah. “Descendants of Bilal” draws from the traditions of both Afrocentric historiography and Islamic piety to proclaim pride in both Muslim and African diasporic identities. One section of the...

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4 Siddis and Habshis in South Asia: Shrines of the African Saints and Life-Cycle Rituals in the Village

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pp. 85-110

Sufi Muslims of African descent in Gujarat, a state in western India, are known for their abilities to perform dhikr (jikr in Gujarati). Literally meaning “remembrance,” an Islamic dhikr is spoken or sung to meditate on the presence of God, to praise the Prophet Muhammad, and, for some Muslims, to evoke the blessings of Muslim saints or the family of the Prophet. In the Qurʾan, God directs human...

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5 Islamic Jihad or Just Revolt?: African Muslims in Latin America and the Caribbean

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pp. 111-134

Pacífico Licutan, a Malê or Muslim religious teacher of Yoruban descent, was a beloved figure in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. Muslims from his community had twice attempted to purchase his freedom from Antônio Pinto de Mesquita Varella, a physician who made money from Licutan’s work as a tobacco roller on Dourado Wharf in Salvador. Varella refused, and when the doctor could...

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6 African American Muslims in the United States: Making Physical and Metaphysical Homelands

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pp. 135-166

The answer is Bilal. For a period of time in the 1970s, Bilal ibn Rabah not only was the object of historical pride among members of the Nation of Islam but also was seen as a moral exemplar whose name might provide a new ethnic label for people of African descent. When W. D. Mohammed took the reins of the Nation of Islam from his father, Elijah Muhammad, in February 1975, he sought...

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Conclusion: Echoes of Bilal across the African Diaspora

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pp. 167-176

Bilal’s adhan, or call to prayer, and the sound of his footsteps in heaven, first heard by the Prophet Muhammad in one of his dreams, still resonate across Africa and the African diaspora. In Essaouira, Morocco, Gnawa practitioners, the “children of Bilal,” play a musical instrument, made from the soles of shoes, to evoke his presence in their night ceremonies. In London, the hip-hop group...

Notes

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pp. 177-192

Bibliography

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pp. 193-208

Index

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pp. 209-228

Other Works in the Series

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pp. 229-229