As I noted in a chapter on Islam which I contributed to Daniel Dreisbach and Mark David Hall’s book Faith and the Founders of the American Republic,
There were actual Muslims living in America during the Founding period, but the vast majority of them were toiling as slaves in the South. Of course, Muslim traders and sailors also passed through American ports on occasion, but most American Muslims were Africans forcibly imported to work on American plantations. The exact number of Muslims, of course, is hard to discern, but historian Michael Gomez has estimated that perhaps 200,000 slaves came from African regions with significant Muslim influences. This does not mean that all of these were Muslims, but it does suggest that hundreds of thousands of slaves may have been at least marginally familiar with Muslim beliefs.
Friday, March 06, 2015
Kidd: “'Woven into the fabric of our country'? Islam in Early America"
Check out Thomas Kidd's argument here. A taste: