Prayer rug used by Imam Derrick Amin, 1970s

Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Imam Derrick Amin

Since its inception, in the spirit of Carter G. Woodson, Sapelo Square has commemorated Black History Month with daily Black Muslim History facts. This year, Sapelo Square is exploring the Muslim collection at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). During Black History Month, we will display a different object each day from the collection, showing how the objects help tell the rich histories of Muslims of African descent in the United States. View the entire series at our dedicated Black History Month 2021 page.

Baltimore-based imam and musician Derrick Amin owned this prayer rug in the 1970s. Its rectangular shape, geometric patterns, and fringe edges are standard design elements of prayer rugs commonly found in Muslim homes and worship places. In the mid-1970s, Amin formed a collective of Muslim musicians named Kalima, that went on to record “(Where Is The) Sunshine?” in 1981. Arabic for “word,” the band’s name took its inspiration from a quote by Imam W. D. Mohammed about the power of words; and the song similarly reflected the group’s spiritual orientation.

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