Early records[ edit ] One of the earliest accounts of Islam's possible presence in North America dates to , when a Moroccan slave, called Estevanico , was shipwrecked near present-day Galveston, Texas. While enslaved, he became the religious leader and Imam for a slave community numbering approximately eighty Muslim men residing on his plantation. During the War of , Muhammad and the eighty Muslim men under his leadership protected their master's Sapelo Island property from a British attack.
Between and , over a hundred American sailors were held for ransom in Algiers. Several wrote captivity narratives of their experiences that gave most Americans their first view of the Arab World and Muslim ways, and newspapers often commented on them. The views were generally negative. Royall Tyler wrote The Algerine Captive , an early American novel depicting the life of an American doctor employed in the slave trade who himself is captured and enslaved by Barbary pirates.
Finally Presidents Jefferson and Madison sent the American navy to confront the pirates, and ended the threat in during the First Barbary War.
He was later granted a transfer to a military hospital, where he gained some knowledge of medicine. His Army records state that he died in Brownsville, Tennessee, in He would later become a prospector in Arizona. The libraries at the University of Alabama managed to save one book from the debris of their library buildings. On the morning of April 4, , when Federal troops reached the campus with an order to destroy the university, Andre Deloffre, a modern language professor and custodian of the library, appealed to the commanding officer to spare one of the finest libraries in the South.
The officer, being sympathetic, sent a courier to Gen. Croxton at his headquarters in Tuscaloosa asking permission to save the Rotunda, but the general refused to allow this.
The officer reportedly said, "I will save one volume as a memento of this occasion. In , he was the sole representative of Islam at the first Parliament of the World's Religions. Many enslaved peoples brought to America from Africa were Muslims from the predominantly Muslim West African region   Between and , some , Africans arrived in what became the United States.
According to 21st century researchers Donna Meigs-Jaques and R. Kevin Jaques, "[t]hese enslaved Muslims stood out from their compatriots because of their resistance, determination and education. Thus, no less than , came from regions influenced by Islam.
Substantial numbers originated from Senegambia , a region with an established community of Muslim inhabitants extending to the 11th century. Gomez speculated that Muslim slaves may have accounted for "thousands, if not tens of thousands", but does not offer a precise estimate.
He also suggests many non-Muslim slaves were acquainted with some tenets of Islam, due to Muslim trading and proselytizing activities. Some even composed literature such as autobiographies and commentaries on the Quran. Some were provided a private praying area by their owner. Suleiman was brought to America in and returned to Africa in He lived on a 19th Century North Carolina plantation and wrote many Arabic texts while enslaved. Born in the kingdom of Futa Tooro modern Senegal , he arrived in America in , one month before the U.
In , he produced his last known writing on Surah of the Quran. Omar converted to Christianity in , an episode widely used throughout the South to "prove" the benevolence of slavery. However, most scholars believe he continued to be a practicing Muslim, based on dedications to Muhammad written in his Bible. Omar Ibn Said was an Islamic scholar from Senegal. Religious freedom[ edit ] Views of Islam in America affected debates regarding freedom of religion during the drafting of the state constitution of Pennsylvania in Constitutionalists promoted religious toleration while Anticonstitutionalists called for reliance on Protestant values in the formation of the state's republican government.
The former group won out, and inserted a clause for religious liberty in the new state constitution. American views of Islam were influenced by favorable Enlightenment writings from Europe, as well as Europeans who had long warned that Islam was a threat to Christianity and republicanism.
In , George Washington stated a willingness to hire "Mahometans," as well as people of any nation or religion, to work on his private estate at Mount Vernon if they were "good workmen. In , President John Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli , declaring the United States had no "character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen ". Franklin wrote that "even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.
Jefferson explicitly mentioned Muslims when writing about the movement for religious freedom in Virginia. In his autobiography Jefferson wrote "[When] the [Virginia] bill for establishing religious freedom Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word 'Jesus Christ,' so that it should read 'a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion.
Anti-Federalists in the North Carolina ratifying convention opposed the new constitution; one reason was the fear that some day Catholics or Muslims might be elected president. In the course of four or five hundred years, I do not know how it will work. This is most certain, that Papists may occupy that chair, and Mahometans may take it. I see nothing against it. In , Americans held inaccurate and often contradicting views of the Muslim world , and used that in political arguments.
For example, the anti-Federalists compared a strong central government to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and the American army to Turkish Janissaries, arguing against a strong central government. On the other hand, Alexander Hamilton argued that despotism in the Middle East was the result of the Sultan not having enough power to protect his people from oppressive local governors; thus he argued for a stronger central government.
Most of the immigrants, from Arab areas of the Ottoman Empire , came with the purpose of making money and returning to their homeland. However, the economic hardships of 19th-century America prevented them from prospering, and as a result the immigrants settled in the United States permanently. Ross, North Dakota is the site of the first documented mosque and Muslim Cemetery, but it was abandoned and later torn down in the mids.
A new mosque was built in its place in This is the longest lasting incorporated Muslim community in the United States. A Muslim cemetery still exists there. The oldest, still standing, building built specifically to be a mosque is established in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Mosque is where Abdullah Igram a notable Muslim veteran would teach the Quran, Abdullah Igram later wrote a letter to President Eisenhower persuading him to add the M option for Muslims on military dog tags.
Construction of mosques sped up in the s and s, and by , there were over 20 mosques. Eighty-seven percent of mosques in the U. California has more mosques than any other state.