Islamic Slaves in the South

Likely Literate

5/23/20231 min read

Albert Rabateau says, in his classic study, Slave Religion: “Clearly there were Muslim slaves in the United States; their number we don't know.”

Another study states: “Muslims . . . represented between 15 percent and 20 percent of the Africans deported to the New World. Muslims . . . could read and write Arabic and Ajami (their own languages using the Arabic alphabet) [. . .]

When the first Africans were deported to the New World, starting in 1501 in the Spanish colonies, Islam had already been present in some parts of West Africa for 500 years. Literacy in Arabic is essential in Islam.”

Sylviane A. Diouf, American Slaves Who Were Readers and Writers, The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, 1999.