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History of Islam in America
Ustadh Larry Yunus Anthony
[email protected]
Course Information:
Title: History of Islam in America
Class Meetings: Saturdays 3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Course Description:
With the recent rise of Islamophobia, Islam has been looked upon as a foreign religion in the United States and the
Americas. Talking heads are constantly stating that Islam is in contrast to the American way of life and not part of
the rich fabric of American history. This could not be further from the truth. Before the advent of the United States
of America, Muslims had made the voyage from the Old World to the New. From Al Andalusia, the Mandinkas
from West Africa to the Ottoman Empire, Muslims had settled in the new land and traded with the indigenous
natives. The Founding Fathers of the United States made mention of Islam’s influence on American values and
formation of the new nation. The Trans Atlantic Slave trade contributed to the transplanting of African Muslims to
both North and South America. The African American experience brought Islam mainstream as descendants of
African slaves looked to recapture their lost heritage. The waves of immigrant Muslims during the 60’s and 70’s
contributed to the tech boom. The conversion rate before and after September 11, 2001, continues to boggle
intellectuals not just in North America among Caucasian and African Americans, but the Latin/Hispanic community
in both continents. Islam not only has a place in the long history of the Americas but is shaping its future.
The History of Islam in America will objectively look at the phenomena of Islam in the Americas. The course will
analyze the key episodes of history that Muslims and Islam contributed in shaping the American society. The
research on this history is recent and ongoing, so the sources used will be varied and dynamic. The instruction of
the class will be utilized by different media, conventional reading and others, but it will be the students who will be
moving the class through material over the course of the semester. The class is less formal and meant to be more
engaging for the students. Discussions will be guided by the instructor, but left to the students to facilitate.
The History of Islam is the flagship History course in a series looking to delve deep into the major contributions of
Islamic civilization and society across the world. This course will span over two semesters. The Fall semester will
analyze the Pre-Colonial Period in America before and during the Age of Discovery. Then followed by the
Founding Fathers and the the ideas of establishing a true pluralistic society through their early writings and the
drafting of the Constitution. The first part of the course will end with the Antebellum Period to the Civil War. The
class will also take a hard look at the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the African Muslims that were brought with it, and
its institutions.
Prerequisites or Co-Requisites:
There are no prerequisites for the class.
Textbooks and Materials:
Muslims in America: The Forgotten Legacy by Jerald Dirks
Thomas Jefferson's Quran: Islam and the Founding Fathers by Denise A. Spellberg
Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas by Sylvan A. Diouf
Assorted articles
Grading Procedures:
Attendance/Participation 10%
Reflection Papers 30% (3 papers - 10% each)
Short Answer Quizzes 20%
Final Paper 40%
Student Outcome:
Students will be able to critically analyze primary and secondary sources regarding early American history
particularly related to Islam's influence in the American continents. Students should become acquainted with the
events and figures during the early Muslim voyages to the Americas prior to Christopher Columbus and during the
Age of Discovery that followed 1492. Students will be able to critically analyze and discuss the Trans- Atlantic
Slave Trade to the Founding Fathers’ vision of the inclusion of Muslims in a true pluralistic society.
Course Policies:
Promptness is expected and tardiness without a valid reason leads to interruptions in the class. Absences will only
hurt the student’s overall grade. If a student anticipates that he or she will be have excessive absences due to
business trips or family issues, he or she most notify the instructor. Please have a valid reason for not attending
class. You have invested time and money in taking this course so please take it seriously.
Manners of Students of Knowledge:
The goal in seeking knowledge is to become closer to Allah (subhanah wa ta ala). Make sure you come to class with
the right intention. Be mindful of your conduct and attitude. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not leave any
monetary inheritance. His inheritance is knowledge, thus, we are following in that chain and are responsible for
carrying on that legacy. Please come to class with that in mind. Jazakallah Khair.
Course Topics:
List the topics covered in the class by week.
Sept. 3
• The Lost Science (Why Study History?)
• Course Overview
• Introduce students to course objectives including learning the
importance of history particularly Islamic history.
• The Father of Histiography: Ibn Khaldun
Sept 10
Introduction of Sources
• What is primary sources?
• What is secondary sources?
• What is circumstantial evidence?
• Discuss the sources and historians
SEPT 13 -16
Sept. 24
The Pre-Colonial Period
• The Earth is Round
• Al Andalus and America
• African Muslims in America
• Ottomans in America
Oct. 1
•Settlers in America
The Columbus Voyages: The Moriscos • The Settlers
Oct. 8
Oct. 15
• Prince Among Slaves
Oct. 22
• The Slave Trade (cont.)
• Select Biographies
Oct. 29
Muslims and the Native Americans
Nov. 5
Islam and the Founding Fathers
• A True Pluralistic Society
Nov. 12
Islam and the Founding Fathers (cont.)
Nov. 19
• Documentary on Islam in America
The Slave Trade
The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade: What is It?
Muslim Slaves in America
The Muslim Slave Revolts
NOV. 21-25
Dec. 3
• Writing Conferences
Dec. 10
• Paper Turn-In