Cover image for Servants of Allah : African Muslims enslaved in the Americas
Servants of Allah : African Muslims enslaved in the Americas
Diouf, Sylviane A. (Sylviane Anna), 1952-
Publication Information:
New York : New York University Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
ix, 254 pages ; 23 cm
Introduction: an understudied presence and legacy -- African Muslims, Christian Europeans, and the Atlantic slave trade -- Upholding the Five Pillars of Islam in a hostile world -- The Muslim community -- Literacy: a distinction and a danger -- Resistance, revolts, and returns to Africa -- The Muslim legacy.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E443 .D56 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
E443 .D56 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
E443 .D56 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ

On Order



Despite the explosion in work on African American and religious history, little is known about Black Muslims who came to America as slaves. Most assume that what Muslim faith any Africans did bring with them was quickly absorbed into the new Christian milieu. But, surprisingly, as Sylviane Diouf shows in this new, meticulously researched volume, Islam flourished during slavery on a large scale.

Servants of Allah presents a history of African Muslim slaves, following them from Africa to the Americas. It details how, even while enslaved many Black Muslims managed to follow most of the precepts of their religion. Literate, urban, and well traveled, Black Muslims drew on their organization and the strength of their beliefs to play a major part in the most well known slave uprisings. Though Islam 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.

But for all their accomplishments and contributions to the cultures of the African Diaspora, the Muslim slaves have been largely ignored. Servants of Allah is the first book to examine the role of Islam in the lives of both individual practitioners and in the American slave community as a whole, while also shedding light on the legacy of Islam in today's American and Caribbean cultures.

Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 1999.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Diouf has written one of the few works that not only chronicles the history of Muslim men, women, and children during the Atlantic slave trade and American slavery, but also provides illustrated examples of how African Muslims preserved their faith and maintained their religious lifestyle in the midst of a hostile environment. Diouf asserts that although they left a mark on the religious and cultural landscape of African America, the Muslims have disappeared from the African American collective consciousness and have been overlooked by scholarly research. Organized in six chapters, Diouf's book discusses African Muslims, Christian Europeans and the Atlantic Slave Trade, and the challenges Muslims faced in upholding the five pillars of Islam in the New World. There is also detailed analysis of the customs and cultures developed in the Muslim slave community; the dangers of preserving literacy in servitude; acts of resistance; and Islamic survivals in contemporary African American religions. Replete with examples from the personal narratives and correspondence of the Muslims during this time period, Diouf's study demonstrates how enslaved Muslims served as agents in history, making this work a necessary addition to history and African studies collections. Highly recommended. All levels. B. L. Robinson-Jones; Ohio University