Islam and Africanity in the United States: the Islamic Mission of America

April 26, 2021

By Meredith Watkins

In a Wednesdays at the Center virtual event, Rasul Miller, Assistant Professor of History at the University of California Irvine, spoke about the lives and legacies of Shaykh Daoud Faisal and Mother Khadijah Faisal, the founders of the Islamic Mission of America, one of New York City’s oldest mosques.

The event, titled “Black Muslims and the World: The Ideological Eclecticism of Black American Sunni Islam,” was introduced and officiated by Youssef Carter, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  

In his lecture, Miller discussed how Shaykh Daoud and Mother Khadijah’s influence, including their engagement with cultural pan-Africanism and pan-Islamism, as well as their widespread support for Black and African artists, helped to cultivate a strong culture and community for Black Muslims in New York City.

Miller noted that the Islamic Mission of America, once the most visible Muslim mosque in New York City, served as a "cultural and intellectual base for this community of Black American and Afro-Caribbean Muslims and artists.” This base, and the work of Shaykh Daoud and Mother Khadijah, helped to establish a clear connection between Islam and Africanity in the United States, and has influenced subsequent Muslim communities all across the country.

Despite their widespread influence, Miller believes Shaykh Daoud and Mother Khadijah are underrepresented in the literature on Islam in America and has been working to document information, particularly on their early lives, through researching in newspapers and recording oral histories of early members of the mosque.

This event was cosponsored by the John Hope Franklin Center, the Duke Islamic Studies Center, and the Duke University Center for International and Global Studies.

Watch the event online: