Though not a Muslim, Dr. Mia Carey joined Dr. Muhammad Fraser-Abdur Rahim in leading a lively multi-racial, multi-generational, and religiously diverse discussion on the Black Muslim experience in the United States. The discussion, says Carey, unpacked White supremacy “by retelling Black Muslim stories from their own eyes and not that from others.”
As the dialogue unrolled, Amir Muhammed, cofounder of the Islamic American Heritage Museum, which hosted the two-hour discussion, reminded the full room audience that Muslims have been in the what has become the United States even before Estevanico (1500?-1539), the first non-Native American to visit what is now Arizona and New Mexico.
What can be viewed as a twist of historical fate, Carey and Rahim met while conducting an archeological dig at 3324 Dent Place, NW, the site of the former Georgetown, District of Columbia home of Yarrow Mamount (1736-1823). A practicing Muslim, an enslaved Mamount was brought to Maryland, won his freedom, and became perhaps the most prominent African American Washingtonian in the early 1800s.
The archeological exploration was the first of an enslaved African-American Muslim. Currently a $3 million townhome sits on the property, but there are plans to place a plaque on the site to acknowledge Mamount’s place in history and the struggles he lived with in a nation where many consider White people to be supreme.
Muslims, like Mamount, arrived from West Africa up until about 1865.Then says Rahim, there was a “40-60 year gap between African Islam and African-American Islam.”
Islamic hybrid movements such as the Moorish Science Temple developed in the early 1900s and Wallace Fard Muhammad reinvigorated the spread of Islam with the founding of the Nation of Islam (NOI) around 1930. Elijah Muhammad succeeded Fard and descendents of enslaved Africans continued to be the face of Islam in America.
“Southeast Asians are the now the largest block, replacing African-Americans,” says Rahim. “The shift took place around 2015,” he continued.