In the late 1920s, Black American-led Muslim congregations and organizations began to emerge around New York City. By the 1970s, the city was home to a Black Muslim community that was culturally rich and ideologically diverse. Fueled by an enduring interest in African Muslim Diasporic pasts, some of the city’s Black American Sunni Muslims sought to cultivate tangible relationships with African Muslims and lineages of African Islamic scholarship.
This resulted in the creation of new congregations whose members participated in global networks associated with a handful of African Sufi orders. The Black American Muslims who joined these orders often lived transnationally, splitting their time between New York City and the African continent.
This talk by Rasul Miller (UC Irvine) explores the emergence of two of the city’s oldest and largest Black American Muslim communities affiliated with African Sufi orders – the Senegalese-based Tijani order and the Sudanese- based Burhani order. It considers how African immigration to the United States impacted Black American Muslims’ understandings of Islam in Africa and interrogates the intro-communal tensions that arose as Black American Muslims debated the merits of orthodox Muslim universalism and cultural particularism.