The Iconic Bean Pie

By Sapelo Square

At Sapelo Square, it is always pie season, especially when that pie is bean pie. This month, while everyone gets their bake on, we revisit two videos explaining why the iconic Black Muslim bean pie has always been much more than just an edible treat. In 2016, Narjis Nichole Abdul-Karim (formerly Narjis Nichole Abdul-Majid) profiled filmmaker Hassanah Thomas-Tauhidi’s “Bean Pie, My Brotha?” for Sapelo; and in 2018, then Brooklyn Historical Society Oral Historian (and now Sapelo History Editor) Zaheer Ali introduced the bean pie to Slate.com’s Aymann Ismail.

From Narjis Nichole AbdulMajid:

“If the African American Muslim experience had a symbolic icon, the bean pie would be it. The sweet custard-like pie made from cooked, mashed navy beans has a rich history with the Nation of Islam and an even greater legacy with the African American Muslim population. In the short film called “Bean Pie, My Brotha?” written, directed and produced by the documentary filmmaker Hassanah Thomas-Tauhidi she briefly outlines the history and experience of the bean pie in in the African American Muslim community. Thomas-Tauhidi is also the producer of the D.C. television series “Living Islam in America….”

From Aymann Ismail and Jeffrey Bloomer:

“…In this episode, I travel to Abu’s Bakery in Brooklyn, the only bakery in New York City to make the pie, where the founder and his son tell me why they carry on the legacy. I also stop by the Brooklyn Historical Society, where oral historian Zaheer Ali—the head of an incredible project called Muslims in Brooklyn—explains how a simple pie symbolizes the black Muslim experience in America.”

Featured Image: Still from “How a Pie Tells the Essential Story About Muslims in America,” Slate’s “Who’s Afraid of Aymann Ismail?” Youtube. Uploaded by Slate, 22 July 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWjDBWXzBLQ .

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  • Well done! The bean pie is in my heritage having been a Muslim since 1954. No ma’am, it did not come from the East as one of the baker’s mentioned in the film clip. Good that Herbert Muhammad corrected it. I bear witness that recipe was created and perfected by the Black Muslims of the Nation of Islam. I even mention it and its origin in my book, Impeccable, Remembering Sister Clara Muhammad. Sopelo, continue to keep our history alive. How do I donate?
    Anne Milan Ali

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