thumbnail of BackStory; Islam & the United States
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
this is back story and then there's horse races or spouse that's republican presidential front runner donald trump tried to justify his proposed ban on muslims entering the united states from targeting widely condemned the day we would've had much traction two hundred years ago either veteran american interests first world war with most parents alike today wasn't even an issue they're not going to war i don't think an eating along with his lot because they don't actually know enough of others want to go to war with but today on the show the often overlooked history of islam in america will unearth the legacy of muslim slaves and listen for islamic influences on some of hip hop's early innovators are major funding for backstory is provided by an anonymous donor the university of
virginia the national endowment for the humanities the joseph and robert corell memorial foundation and the arthur vining davis foundation says braun the virginia foundation for the humanities bases back story's best in american history guys back welcome to the show and brian balogh and peter i love and i made errors and we're going to start today near fayetteville north carolina it is they're back and eating ten that escaped slave held a local jail attracted a flurry of attention and what drew curiosity seekers with a strange an unknown characters he had written from right to left on the walls of a cell i can't imagine that act is being very precise but i can imagine that someone eventually was able to look at them and say oh this looks like arabic operators who has written about this man omar even signed omar knew arabic the language of islam because he had been
an islamic scholar in west africa in the years before he was captured and slate after his imprisonment fayetteville omar's return to slavery and eventually sold of the prominent poets family of north carolina in the following years his famous a slave literate in arabic it's steadily grown which is in part why a few decades later he was allowed to write his life story the life of omar even say he'd written by himself was published eighteen thirty one so this is the only extant autobiography with him in arabic by the muslim american slave through it we have access to both his work in a world that is the world he came from a west africa and i met them to negotiate his situation in the us as a state because omar was still in slavery composes narrative it's perhaps not too surprising that his account of life with the owens is it's very critical nor does he say my happy about as a paragon first christianity
but the reyes says that what you see in the document doesn't necessarily what it seems either when it comes to religion or distilled about being alone so one interesting thing about the er matt about his life his autobiography is that he opens it with me granick sure sir as a chapter of the credit goes to as our central idea is that god is the one who has power and ownership of all things and persons and opening your slave narrative doesn't wear out with a text that says that god is the only one who has ownership all things personally it would not be just an accidental feature all his autobiography but a choice that has an organic connection to his position as a slave right in other words he's using this word to kind of negate the very possibility in that one man ken on another man wind
and in his autobiography omar describes how he was taken from the region senegal and quote sold into the hands of a christian man shh this omar was far from alone as many as fifteen percent maybe more of the half million african slaves brought division north america but within a generation islamic faded away in america and that says arrest is what makes this unique doctrine and so do all his autobiography it is not the full story but is he kia example all of the fact that islam and america ad did not just meet on september eleventh two thousand and one and that they had a lengthy complex and more interesting relationship that leads the complex and interesting history is what we'll be
exploring for the rest of the hour today how is this long figured into american history before nine eleven and the state and what has it meant to be a pure and generations past stories about african americans rediscovering the salmon the early twentieth century and a very different forms of religious practice muslim immigrants a few decades later but first let's return to the story the muslims who were enslaved and sent to america these muslims were especially vulnerable to capture in west africa and that's because they were often on the move they journey to mecca on the harsh they traffic goods between cities as traders scholars like oh marty been so it traveled to study and teaching institutions far from their home and as we heard in serried story many these people were highly literate being able to read the qur'an
was and is a central part of muslim religious practice and this helps explain what islam was snuffed out so quickly in the americas omar was the exception for most slaves reading and writing are prohibited literacy was a double edge sword absolutely it was as a strength and a weakness as well this is heavy and you have a historian who has written extensively about this first influx of muslims to america you know the fact that a religion that he's very dependent on the region world all having the koran and being able to read a dog links in our school armed getting teachers all of that of course you know was not going to cede to the passing on of their allegiance you to travel and grandchildren so the children and grandchildren of most of slaves didn't seem able to carry on the forefather trilogy and they were aware of the big you say there's
evidence of that tradition remains what were those traces were to find them id id idea i read in the wpa our interviews are recorded interviews by former slaves they were talking about their parents and grandparents went being muslims in the cia hands and the women were actually making things all right sticks and a regular band to the children have fond of song forgive me all which were some of it isn't in the nineteen forties are talking about pauls rice cakes and tell you know all sweet day where the children around happy weed those and what was fascinating is that the women were saints iraq out when they wear didi ingles cakes and people come and a suit that's iraqi airways cabin africa can work for rice cakes and so it was not it was very clearly the arabic for
sendak out which means free wheel offering and so we're here in the american soft discontinuation of the nice land link trekkies and that continued on the politicians here and now the other thing that's also can be it leads you to the missing he's in music alban goes which is a very very particular kind of music that treaty is no quintessential american music and there is no one particular piece which she's also recorded by alan lomax in opinion century in mississippi in the nineteen thirties really ourselves exactly lack the call to prayer old lynn and then new law
at any minute and then you know when you lisa q r a call to prayer because being recorded in west africa you're listening at these he's absolutely extraordinary a law in the united states country to the rest of the americans who are muslims at a better chance of preserving the singing sky's because stuffing seventeen forty drumming was foggy day in the united states now that that being a result in soft it gets evicted thirty nine ends people had been called to the revolt by dramas and after that
you know the decision was passed against driving so why people you're from central africa read it essentially on drums whatever medicines that not so they could keep on your men saying they're kind of singing would you actually most he'd oversee dishes of the koran and other things why the others could not and that shriek of gave rise to that particular type of music that is far only in the united states sylvia do have to recollect the center of historical analysis of transatlantic slavery and the euro she's the author of servants are in the americas the hole in her from cooperative a professor at hofstra university's tisch he contributed a book a muslim american slave the life of omar deep insights
with us we're going to turn out america's first major encounter with the islamic world on the international stage october eleven seventeen ad for the american ship at sea in a nine man crew were captured by moroccan settlers skinner was the first of many us vessels that would be take a metaphor barbary states with margo these included three provinces of the ottoman empire algeria tumors in tripoli the brand new united states had inherited an old problem margaret leaders demanded that foreign ships pay tribute to guarantee safe passage to the mediterranean a country still the pony up well then things got messy barbary corsair is hell foreign cruz hostage for exorbitant ransoms and sometimes sell them into slavery although which posed a problem for thomas jefferson and john adams both of whom are diplomats in europe at the time adams
is a solution is it's better to pay the money and the dominant like the british do like the french do like the spanish too except for this is historian frank cogliano jefferson says none of this is a point of principle on the point of principles very important as we give ground on the us will end up paying forever it'll cost us more in the long run to pay tribute than i want to wait more but the seventy nine years during the federalist year the united states does negotiate a series of treaties with our report and they basically grit their teeth and pay tribute and enjoy a fairly lucrative trade in the mediterranean one of those trees was the seventy ninety six treaty in tripoli would fall apart as soon as jefferson became president four years later he refused to pay any more tributes and in response tripoli declared war that was actually another negotiating tactic by jefferson took the declaration at face value just a few months into his presidency the us was at war with the barbary states it was america's first conflict in the islamic world since two
thousand and one there's been a spade of scholarship and publications an online commentary pre presenting the barbary war in the first barbary wars says the first wars on terror as the we get the antecedents to our contemporary conflicts there i just don't think that's the case i think although religion is an element of these conflicts as far as the barbary states are concerned this is a this is a financial transaction there she can to raise money in revenue and this is how they do it they're essentially taxing people are ships that pass by the coast and for the united states it's not a conflict of religion as the seventy ninety six treaty with tripoli stipulates and that was negotiated on behalf of john adams the united states was not founded as a christian country and it has no conflict with islam and i think that characterizes most of what's going on in this period this is about trade this is about power not the quote from that treaty ratified by the senate as the government of the united states of america is not in any sense founded on the christian religion
as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws religion or tranquility of mosul mom is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinion show ever produced an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries and it suggests though that the triple you might have thought that there was a religious element and that's why that explicit declaration that religion is not important was made yes that's true it when jefferson and adams hold negotiations with the triple a master in london in seventy eighty six when this issue came up when you know they are so stupid basically what you prosecute us why are you doing this and the two polls an ambassador used religion in part to justify that and said well if our our profit commands this and so to some extent and seventeen ninety six treaty is a deliberate repudiation of that and i think that this is important because all the statement of fact but also it's an aspirational statement seeking
to separate the united states from the traditional diplomacy and stay craft over love europe and the old world which of course was characterized by conflict between islam and christianity and the united states is attempting to distance yourself from that as far as ambassador himself was concerned i think it's an interesting moment because he is using islam to justify going to war with the united states in opening up these negotiations but to some extent he's doing in an answer to a question he's asked and he's perfectly willing to set aside his religious beliefs especially if he's given a sizeable enough time gift from adams and jefferson to negotiate peace and so it seems to me it's more of a justification than anything but the bigger conflict between the two is it really over religion what let's look a little bit further the show is about the american centers on and focus on the founders of people like jefferson and what their religious views were and why they would have been less likely perhaps than modern policymakers to
emphasize religion and their view of foreign policy it's a moment when revealed christianity is not that important to the founding generation i just don't believe it is and as a consequence i think ever talk about jefferson in the way the other founders sought his law i think they're curious about as long i think they can they have some understanding of islam as william jefferson owned a copy of the current but they're not going to war i don't think in at no one with his long because they don't actually know enough about his mom to go to war with islam they saw as an alien faith i don't think they saw as a threatening faith and i think that's the important distinction in part because for men like adams and jefferson religion was something one could believe there were benefits to be derived in terms of the kind of values one could learn from religious nation but it wasn't necessarily something that one should engage in wars over jefferson believe the old world and drenched in blood because of
religious intolerance what's the big deal for you about the barbary wars it's clear you don't think it's really just mentions important what is important well i think what's really important is what it tells us about jacky is that we don't have jefferson he qualified pacifist to wage war here we have a travesty was very comfortable using force and using deadly force to advance american interests we don't have jefferson who's worried about strict construction of the constitution as we all learn in school he's willing to go to war without consulting congress in the first instance and so they're interesting presidents there in terms of what kinds of issues we debate today about presidential power more powers and so on and so it it reveals much to us about jefferson i don't think it reveals as much is someone suggest about a clash of civilizations well how would you summarize your critique of the deployment of retro bird that idea a clash of civilizations
in modern discussions of american engagement in the middle east and north africa well i just don't think it's very helpful because it's the trope is often deployed to justify our contemporary conflicts and we you know the implication is that you know we've always been doing this weekend's clash of civilizations for more than two centuries and it they will continue but only for the next two centuries yes were involved in prolonged conflict yes we have been involved in conflicts and in the islamic world previously in our history but the context really does matter i just don't think we can find the roots of our contemporary conflicts in what happened in north africa i think it's far more useful as far as what it tells us about how the united states makes farm policy and makes decisions and presidents make decisions about the use of force but it is about a war with islam
frank gagliano is a historian university of edinburgh is the author of the liberty thomas jefferson's for impulse he says apple's i notice that frank mentioned jefferson's caron in passing i'll tell you the first time that i heard about jefferson only occur on it was when congressman keith ellison from minnesota ellison was first muslim member of congress took his oath on factory caron peter how did jefferson end up with a copy of the koran in the first place well jefferson head everything in print get it doesn't forgive the mike that is the enlightenment impulse for universal knowledge so what does that mean what is the qur'an in a slavery signify well it signifies that for jefferson it's all grist for the mill it's all part of his effort understands human nature in a way he thinks that
religion is false consciousness christianity as much as anything else is a dentist he believes a natural religion but the superstitions the beliefs of people's these are all understandable we have to see pass them out when i'm like no it is all about so the result of this is notion of universal human nature that means that we have to acknowledge the integrity of each human being and a right to be wrong so in a way for people in jefferson's time addressing cell phone and on the teachings of john locke i'm not in his writings of religious toleration too the most outlandish the most all unlikely candidate one of the patients concept that's right and you know such as thomas jefferson in the battle for religious freedom in virginia it was devout baptists looking to overthrow
many church and have freedom of worship they explicitly included muslims and their account of who should be embraced by this idea of religious freedom so it's kind of a damning with a praise we are so capacious that we will even include muslims and nobody would've anticipated that a congressman from minnesota which didn't exist of course was going to swear on this correction and to proclaim that that scripture from another faith tradition was equal to the christian scripture that is so remote so what's different about our ideas today i think in this is crucial is we begin with the idea that we need in this poor a west texas it to embrace people who are different and to acknowledge the sameness of four jefferson none of that matters what matters is this universal principle of nitrates jefferson believes in the homogeny
of universal principles what what he's saying essentially is it doesn't matter what you believe now we know it doesn't matter what you believe it's central to people's identity and somehow we have to accommodate them sir earlier in the show we heard about the prevalence of islam among african slaves in the new world and it traces the religion and culture left behind that you probably heard how in the mid twentieth century islam became important again for african americans the most influential black muslim group the nation of islam preached that instead of focusing on integration black people should work within their own communities to empower themselves under such leaders as elijah muhammad and charismatic malcolm x the nation of islam inspired followers to reclaim the past tried not to slavery but to what they call a
superior culture and higher civilization with north african roots when they felt slavery had tried to erase by the nineteen sixties the nation of islam was the wealthiest organization in african american history this is historian richard turner they accumulate at that wealth by selling newspapers you know buying real estate establishing small businesses grocery stores and restaurants in major american cities it turns out this model wasn't knew the nation of islam and a lot of its economic practices as welles is religious and cultural principles to an earlier organization called the moorish science temple into its founder who went by the name noble drew ali ali was born in north carolina at eighty six and was one of the more than one million african americans who left the south for cities in the north in the nineteen teens and twenties
alley set up his temple in newark but later moved it to chicago with the group became an influential voting bloc in local elections its followers worship one god and called him off the red from the circle seven car on a version that ali himself compiled from different sources the men dressed in fences or turbans and the women in long dresses and sometimes have jobs they prayed on fridays and followed muslim dietary rules by the nineteen twenties the group had upwards of thirty thousand followers i asked her to tell me about elly in about a philosophy of the more ish science temple he pointedly a profit of his on for african americans and this is one of the reasons we're not literally is very important because he is the first major figure in us history whose signals the reemergence of islam in the united states after reconstruction what is the word science mean take us back a hundred years and explain to me
i get the more irish and jewish i get temple what science mean you know the answer and one to one pass my thinking on this is that he was attempting to look at the history of people of african descent in the united states drew an objective scientific lens rather than true in other non scientific lens of institutional racism because i'm not literally believed that racial categories were not essential categories that they were socially and politically constructed categories ahead of its time in that regard he was way ahead of this time in that regard he truly believe that people of african descent who had been enslaved and the americans should not call themselves negro or colored that instead they shoot a claim a connection to a nation and for no drama league be an important nation was morocco or there'd been a
great ancient islamic civilization why would aig thirty thousand in nurse so african americans need to embrace something as foreign seeming as the more science temple first of all they made a critical decision that christians more involved in the around thousands of lynchings and i'm burning so what people at the state show that are taking place drought the south and the midwest in the early twentieth century you know they were moving away from that racist element of christianity of course which had also supported to enslavement and i think they're in as people moved to the north and the midwest and some people are moving to california are also they were open two new religious messages and i'm political messages as they were there they felt they were free have some of
this made sense to people because we do know that there were african american to remember about muslims who were part of their family heritage from the period of enslavement they remembered as sisters sued freight for and you know at sunrise on a map every day and to fast it and that particular times of the year and he wore veils and so there were these memories of others on did noble drew riley have in mind is a melting pot model that some americans held dear was he looking at though wade let's say italians in polls and and jews were being treated and noting that they were nationalities in many instances this is a conscious move on his part too
trump race and hope that it is his followers would be treated like some of these white ethnicity and i think that may have been one of his motivations not literally was trying to claim respectability for african americans by getting rid of the stereotypes people of african descent by getting rid of the mammy and divert jazz ago assemble the picking many of the brute searle types of african americans that were invented to impress people and then in a reclaiming a whole different history and looking to the islamic world for inspiration for our people would have nation of them cried oh thank you for joining us today on backstory my pleasure
richard brent turner is a professor of religious history at the university of one friday in nineteen seventy six a group of men broke into a mosque in dearborn michigan that anwar vandalize it all they wanted to do was pray for the mosque members it was a regular work day but friday is the holy day in islam of these men recent immigrants from yemen and palestine were shocked at the mosque was closed it was the opening salvo of struggle to control not only the building but how a song there would be practiced the mosque in dearborn was called the decks that's the ix mosque and was one of just a couple an area it had been built in the nineteen thirties by lebanese immigrants who came to work at the local ford factory like many muslim communities michigan dearborn congregation had developed a religious practice well that was pretty different
from islam practiced in other parts of the world so you can understand why the newcomers were confounded now beal abraham grew up attending the dicks mosque in the nineteen fifties and sixties and he's written about the struggle they're not real welcome the backstory close to be her now before we get into the struggle that you've written about in the dix mosque of the nineteen seventies want to give our listeners a look into what it was like attending the mosque when you were a kid well it was really an an evolving mosque i didn't realize it at the time but we were really like a protestant church nobody wore a headscarf you know instead of friday prayers which is the thing that most and so around the world we had sunday prayers with sunday school the basement floor you might say that was where all the socializing occurred their weddings and i remember them
and as we pass anywhere easier for people from my father's village and there would be a follow the sword that always caught my attention is a sword comes out of nowhere says he's afraid the show yet and going in a like bizarre but the greek debt already on us where people moving in gyrating dancing and did you have any sense that that was unusual art you might be violating the religious mores of other worshipers oh no no toss it was completely seemed normal because we didn't have as a community we don't have any other places and it was the life the center of life for or a small group of mostly lebanese said some palestinian and a few other miscellaneous muslims must was accommodate itself to life in america and had been doing so for a while there was a women's auxiliary that seemed to be a little bit more modern or or progressive up into
those women have much of a say in the mosque they did because they were raising funds and they were pushing for arabic language instruction religious instruction and dave we're the ones that i found out later through my research were the ones who were you know saying hey we're losing our young people to our marriages or moving away for keeping in the community but the whole time as i understand it even before the new immigrants came in the seventies here are these older directors co working in the background and they already had a lot of issues with those more progress of women sat right yes there are the old men the old men had a hand in building this mosque and steering it and they were right way naylor let's put a crusty ok but the guys who are coming in from yemen to new immigrants were looking at the whole picture is saying this is not authentic annual country where we just came from mosques didn't look like that
was that they were all put on friday's one amend their praying it was with the women running around without headscarves what what's with them having of the repeal raising their voices and in the end and dictating policy are attempting to what's with these parties going on and the old men were looking at these new guys are saying what we use them we can use them to block the women and put them back into place so this new blood cut his new blood comes and ended in some ways serves the purposes of these older guys yeah does that why does that work out well worked out very badly for them and they were told that by the women they said you know you think you're get these guys are your allies are going to have your lunch in the future and it's the world you know we're in charge and we have the legal documents et cetera but they had one was called weakness that they had elections so was there one was there one key election where the
new guys took over the us there was what happened is they all voted for the bow of the old timers took over the board and so it took possession of the bank account of the mosque and they start making policy and they brought in a memoir shade from yemen a real hard rigid follow a puritanical guy the first thing that i did is told the women that you are or you know maybe you're not welcome here to what he used to do you can use a side entrance while we put up a curtain is going to be gender segregation in a garage are voices in here well that didn't take care law for the women to feel they did this was that they were welcomed that's when they went in and started their own group and the old man of fall of them eventually and they say now i know what why did those old man followed the women if they just tried to get rid of they realize that they would have to sit in the back bensch
so speak laura or leave and eventually they left and joined with the women perform added the women treat them when he arrived with their tail between their legs is humiliated and they say we told you so this is important point the women put together this new islamic center they put up the money because their purse their treasury remain in their hands where is the men came penniless that they they made a false the embargo and lost what's what's the scene today in dearborn what what is the nature of the islamic community if you could make a big generalization well there's an enormous diversity first off to answer part of that question what has happened is has been this enormous marshall wing of mosques banquet halls schools every procure schools muslim schools a low with
this enormous influx of more yemeni is more a rock at a rocky support president at that time more lebanese in the suburbs you would find among the pakistani professional class of arabs say syrians palestinians you will find less traditional islam or ball i mean they may start showing no no we are traditional to say yes we love want do it until a website that we'll lose an enormous diversity so today muslims and islam are part of than the norm and people who don't agree with bold philosophical i'm going to go to another mosque and how is that different the deal than the standard story of religion throughout american history of congregations fighting over differences of practice sen finely part of a congregation is sent packing base form their own church in this case and turned up
protestant nineteenth century and you know eventually there's just as proliferation churches you really hit the nail and had its part of that trend it is the americanization of islam in america that they're following in the same steps for joy as the christian churches and i can probably a good shtick institutions and the bailout wanna thank you for joining us on backstory my pleasure and not bail abraham is professor emeritus of anthropology at henry ford to the college in dearborn it's bliss peter day i listen to that last piece it strikes me as the story of progress
a dearborn seen diversification in the emergence of different mosque that sounds very much like the story of christianity and judaism in america but of course on the other hand you've got profiling of muslim americans after nine eleven a man of course the events of recent weeks where donald trump called for a ban on muslims entering the united states is so look we got eighteen to nineteen century guys around here to tell us about the long history is is a longstanding pattern in the way americans deal with religion they're absolutely that is the american story now give me one example we ought to think that white protestant some bacon past all day you bought religious freedom but take the quakers of pennsylvania in the american revolution this was not only an accepted group it was the dominant group it was a quaker province yet because of their testimony against war and because of their loyalty to their
kid king george the third that is they were good british subjects of all americans were supposedly before the american revolution then they were tempted they were there was a suspension and because of this war was a war and so this was just vague sentiments and i don't trust quakers or if it elsewhere and the just affirmed kicking out the board know that they were sent to a kind of internment camp western virginia pennsylvania out of harm's way and at the same time peter and brian you had a story running backwards statute of religious freedom in virginia is generally created to protect people we now think of as being the dominant religious southern out that those areas are still well there are sold for an hour or so in the late eighteenth century baptist were jailed for threatening the established political order but then it is a revolution which the quakers were pushed aside the baptists or embrace because they need the minority defeat the british so there you have a case of suddenly and
ostracize group becoming a mainstream group that the day is the most mainstream of all so it was different directions and that you were talking about a view about the way the extra with glaciers can suddenly switch lives a few feet would think about agreed to seem to have a neighbor who'd really kind of figured out the american story and that was waiting in every way you nothing i'd german americans as the nineteen fifties and they're ostracized so are we are struck by the fact that there is always this threat that peters talking about whether there's always this possibility of inclusion of your talk about brian i tend to be an optimist on these kinds of things and i guess i think of the progress that american catholics had made especially on the patriotic front i do think they're rough moments but we tend to overcome them i think the point is brian in times of crisis existential crisis when the very survival of the nation seems to be hanging in
the balance then there's a lot of pressure against a multiple legion says a loyalty lives and identities you gotta be an american first and that claim that everything is to give way to your picture of identification with this country is one that can be and has been turned against many different groups and i i think the answer to that and the us they were talking about here is to ideas of what america's all about if you can't be the person who has multiple identities you can't pursue your own happiness can worship your own god then is this america to gaza strikes me that sort of the greatest strength of the united states it'll duplicity in moments of crisis is tested to say that actually become what our greatest weaknesses and i think the point is that any group could be identified as a potential threat nobody's safe from that i think that's the story we get looking back in american history
every group is vulnerable and i refer to the case of the quakers you'd think that they'd be comfortable have only wealthy and prosperous so as they're called a pennsylvania pen's words yet to the world changed during the american revolution war world just constantly changing and who knows what groups really vulnerable to this kind of criticisms come and attack this kind of threat in the future throughout much of the twentieth century a story of islam in america has been a story of two main constituency is on the one hand they're the immigrants and the children we heard about the last story but they're also the african american muslims identify the groups like the nation of islam and before that the moorish science temple our next story concerns the sometimes as tense relationship between the two communities and the
ways in which hit pop culture opened up a space for them to coexist backstory producer kelly jones is going to take it from here in africa bombard of the founding the days of hip hop culture with punk legend james brown in nineteen eighty like a lot of his peers and i was raised on friday he also grew up hearing household debate about afro centric politics for the nation as a lot of political influences increased universal's the nation's designed to combat street violence by diverting against foreign energy into socially conscious hip hop ha ha universal zulu nation wasn't explicitly muslim but it's a desire to create a positive
afro centric culture was inspired by the black muslim organizations that fund but i was hearing about oh so hip hop is encouraging but at the very same time in these very same community as you have i'm by grant an active african american cities say that was born in that energy this is so abdul kabir an anthropologist who studies the intersections of islam and hip hop she's says that these islamic influences only grew stronger over the next few years and points out that by nineteen eighty eight public enemy was explicitly referencing nation of islam leader louis farrakhan on tracks like don't believe that during arguably have cut more than any references to his mom as a positive force in the black community are everywhere from from wu tang clan top ice cube to you being like him like him so bats pour it sees as a tribe called quest mos def tao collie i mean is that some
people are more fun some of them are but all of them how references to follow tradition in the news all of her references to this kind of black muslim ethnic around community empowerment and self determination in alleviating suffering busta rhymes the fuji is a tribe called quest they'll came together in nineteen ninety six the rumble in the jungle it's a song that invokes the five percent nation a nation of islam offshoot steve dooley morality with references to former nation of islam member malcolm x in references to muhammad the prophet in the box or take sunni artist yes and they formerly known as mos def
is nineteen ninety nine sound cool says is the arabic words for mother's father to encourage self respect yeah you know as the hip hop generation has come of age so have second and third generations of immigrant muslims one pretty easy way to fit in is to define yourself by when you're not see wild says for arab and south asian immigrants to america that means defining yourself as not black this of course for most americans the challenge right because when you first come to the country you find there are muslims who are here and wilson center here are the very people you have that you've been implicitly totty she stay away from it and it becomes a source of tension right and america most intimate you have people who are sort of like you know now i'm like hell no we're not doing this is the cost of this is not a smart right on the other hand there are many
american muslims most of them young who aren't black but who do embrace the pop culture hip hop speaks to them because it references familiar beliefs about the world so lauren hill on her first solo album with education issues a song called that name right and he's like hey you're more flemish christian today the arabic term write that for adults called the little devil that the ball when you say we call them right now you know like thirteen fourteen fifteen sixteen seventeen whenever you young american muslims and this is on the radio right because we win the suffocating came out with one hill was does on the radio is like top forty right will that really have a profound effect on who you see yourself to be because it has on the regular school is how if so what is talking about where you know what's your mother's talk about it now have home and on the radio hey that's cool you are cool too but it's not just about passive
listening says what she's noticed that a lot of young muslims in chicago many of whom are black are also energized by pop culture to get actively involved so they were just sort of consuming music passive leaders are in their bedrooms you know writing down lyrics and buy new sneakers they're also sort of like doing some of marches or you know sort of tried organizing people or sausage candle right susan levy and to sort of deal with the realities of a black life is to you and it's the relationship between islam and hip hop that gives muslim communities in chicago common ground it's common ground that extends beyond race or ethnicity they really challenges this idea that the only way you can really be sort of corn and authentically more fodder as if you're sort of doing things the way people do elsewhere so whatever they do some place else that's a song you should do that like if you don't like that it's not authentic to what he says on hip hop but their relationship now that the civil
no right to his real slump we've been doing this for a while we have the same kind of like moral priorities were anxious in the same sort of things they were doing it as more songs they were doing it not be some practices elsewhere based on a tradition essman establishing developed here and yet states but i don't think there's another site that does that like hip hop does from a something that sits by that high with help from throughout the universe let's listen
thank you we're also on twitter ernest andrew carson kelly jones or staff also include harvey and can we get our digital producer julia barton and jamal moment we have to tell them call it alive and special thanks this week mr lee nature's afford the baxter is provided by the anonymous donor at the national endowment for the humanities the joseph royal foundation and the author of finding
Islam & the United States
Producing Organization
Contributing Organization
BackStory (Charlottesville, Virginia)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip-532-183416v447).
Episode Description
The fastest growing major religion in the world today, Islam has some 1.6 billion followers practicing a wide array of religious traditions and speaking hundreds of different languages. And yet, even as more and more Americans convert to the faith and foreigners emigrate to the U.S. from all over the Islamic world, Muslims are still often caricatured in the American imagination. This time on BackStory, we look at the longer history of America's relationship with Islam, from the Barbary Wars and the narratives of Muslim slaves in the New World, to the Nation of Islam and the Black Power movement of the 1960s. What has it meant to be Muslim in America - and how has the idea of Islam in the U.S. changed over time?
Broadcast Date
Asset type
Copyright Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy. With the exception of third party-owned material that may be contained within this program, this content islicensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 InternationalLicense (
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: BackStory
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: cpb-aacip-0a6372cab64 (Filename)
Format: Hard Drive
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “BackStory; Islam & the United States,” 2014, BackStory, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 25, 2022,
MLA: “BackStory; Islam & the United States.” 2014. BackStory, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 25, 2022. <>.
APA: BackStory; Islam & the United States. Boston, MA: BackStory, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from