We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Servants of Allah

African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas, 15th Anniversary Edition

Sylviane A. Diouf

Publication Year: 2013

Servants of Allah presents a history of African Muslims, following them from West Africa to the Americas. Although many assume that what Muslim faith they brought with them to the Americas was quickly absorbed into the new Christian milieu, as Sylviane A. Diouf demonstrates in this meticulously-researched, groundbreaking volume, Islam flourished during slavery on a large scale. She details how, even while enslaved, many Muslims managed to follow most of the precepts of their religion. Literate, urban, and well-traveled, they drew on their organization, solidarity and the strength of their beliefs to play a major part in the most well-known slave uprisings. But for all their accomplishments and contributions to the history and cultures of the African Diaspora, the Muslims have been largely ignored.
Servants of Allah—a Choice 1999 Outstanding Academic Title—illuminates the role of Islam in the lives of both individual practitioners and communities, and shows that though the religion did not survive in the Americas in its orthodox form, its mark can be found in certain religions, traditions, and artistic creations of people of African descent. 
This 15th anniversary edition has been updated to include new materials and analysis, a review of developments in the field, prospects for new research, and new illustrations.
Sylviane A. Diouf is an award-winning historian specializing in the history of the African Diaspora, African Muslims, the slave trade and slavery. She is the author of Slavery’s Exiles: The Story of the American Maroons (NYU Press 2013) and Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America, and the editor of Fighting The Slave Trade: West African Strategies.

Published by: NYU Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (93.0 KB)
p. C-C

Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (81.2 KB)
pp. i-vi


pdf iconDownload PDF (83.1 KB)
pp. vii-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (64.9 KB)
pp. ix-x

Researching and writing Servants of Allah was a singularly solitary endeavor. But once I emerged from the libraries, I immediately received the enthusiastic support of Niko Pfund, then director of NYU Press, and Jennifer Hammer, my attentive and brilliant editor. I am deeply thankful to both of them for the first edition and to NYU Press director Steve ...

read more

Introduction to the 15th Anniversary Edition

pdf iconDownload PDF (136.2 KB)
pp. 1-19

In 1998, when Servants of Allah was first published, I could not have imagined that I would be writing a new introduction to the volume fifteen years later. Three years earlier, I could not even imagine this book would ever exist. I had started writing it in French, certain I would find a receptive publisher in Paris. Only when, to my utter surprise, no one ...

read more

1 African Muslims, Christian Europeans, and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

pdf iconDownload PDF (276.0 KB)
pp. 20-70

When the first Africans were deported to the New World, beginning in 1501, Islam was already well established in West Africa. The religion revealed to the Arabian trader Muhammad between 609 and 632 C.E. had been introduced to North Africa as early as 660. South of the Sahara it had been known since the eighth century through contacts with ...

read more

2 Upholding the Five Pillars of Islam in a Hostile World

pdf iconDownload PDF (182.0 KB)
pp. 71-98

Scattered across every region of the Americas, the Muslims entered a hostile world — a world that enslaved free Muslim men and women; a white Christian world determined to wipe out any trace of “paganism” or “Mohammadanism” in the newly arrived Africans....

read more

3 The Muslim Community

pdf iconDownload PDF (246.7 KB)
pp. 99-142

Muslims strove hard to keep their religion alive, in both the enslaved community and the larger Christian society. But to be a Muslim was more than just respecting the Five Pillars of Islam. It implied a distinctive lifestyle. Especially for West Africans, with their community-based traditions, Islam is a highly communal, public, and visible religion. It ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (1.4 MB)
pp. 143-158

read more

4 Literacy: A Distinction and a Danger

pdf iconDownload PDF (282.7 KB)
pp. 159-209

Th e Muslims’ literacy set them apart and became as distinctive as a physical trait. A slaveholder was so impressed with literate Sambo, for example, that he mentioned only this characteristic when he put a notice in the Charleston Courier of February 7, 1805, to advertise him as a run-away. Th e thirty-year-old man was a “new negro” (a recently arrived ...

read more

5 Resistance, Revolts, and Returns to Africa

pdf iconDownload PDF (227.5 KB)
pp. 210-250

Frugal, serious, and for some dedicated to hard work in order to get their freedom or reach the upper echelons of the slave structure, the African Muslims may have appeared, at first glance, to be “model slaves.” These characteristics, however, represent only one facet of their experience in the Americas, that which drew on their education and discipline ...

read more

6 The Muslim Legacy

pdf iconDownload PDF (214.4 KB)
pp. 251-284

With a documented presence of five hundred years, Islam was, aft er Catholicism, the second monotheist religion introduced into the post-1492 Americas. It preceded Lutheranism, Methodism, Baptism, Calvin-ism, Santeria, Candomble, and Vodun to name a few. All these religions are alive today and are followed by the vast majority of the Africans’ ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (207.1 KB)
pp. 285-314

Select Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF (132.8 KB)
pp. 315-326


pdf iconDownload PDF (839.3 KB)
pp. 327-340

About the Author

pdf iconDownload PDF (62.8 KB)
p. 341-341

E-ISBN-13: 9781479844470
Print-ISBN-13: 9781479847112
Print-ISBN-10: 1479847119

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2013