On Our Name

Sapelo_Island_19151934__Young_woman_with_group_of_children_on_Sapelo__Probably_descendants_of_Thomas_Spaldings_slaves

 

Founded in the early 1800s, one of the first communities of African Muslims in the United States was located on Sapelo Island, off the coast of Georgia, where enslaved African Muslims struggled to hold onto their Islamic roots amidst the dehumanizing institution of slavery. Led by Muhammadu Bilali–a Muslim cleric and skilled agriculturist, the community at Sapelo preserved their Islamic heritage through surnames like Bailey, an Anglicized version of the name “Bilali”, common among the descendants of Sapelo’s Muslims, who often recall the religious piety of their ancestors. Additionally, churches facing east toward Mecca, and the existence of a handwritten Arabic manuscript on Islamic law, authored by Muhammad Bilali himself, are testimony to the persistence of Sapelo’s Islamic heritage. Sapelo, then, was historically a place whose people were at once African, American, and Muslim.

Our use of the term “square” is in reference to the broad notion of a town square as a communal place of gathering, marketplace, and cultural hub for African-descended people. Like these historic sites, “Sapelo Square: An Online Resource for Black Muslims in the United States,” seeks to be a gathering space in the long tradition of Islam in Black America, and an online presence that reflects the vitality of Black Muslim Life.

2 Comments

  1. turiya s.a. raheem (author and educator) April 10, 2016 at 9:12 am

    Loving this site!!! It is sooo important, especially in these times, to make our presence and voices heard, because we are not usually seen in the mass media as representative of worldwide Islam. Though we sympathize/empathize with our Arab, Asian, even African immigrant brothers and sisters who are more often targeted as “terrorists” and “extremists”, we know that they have not always recognized or appreciated our inclusion in the worldwide ummah of Muhammad (SAW). Sadly, in our racist nation, even white American Muslim scholars, male and female, are called upon more as “experts” than African-American Muslims. Masha’Allah. Surely, Allah has power over all things.

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  2. Alhamdulillah ❤ We must articulate and preserve American history and our role in early American life as practicing Muslims. We have a point of view both scholarly and communally that contributes greatly to the Worldview of Islam and current issues affecting the West. This work must be "our work". May Allah reward you and protect you ❤

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