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Black Pilgrimage to Islam Paperback – September 15, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (September 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195300246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195300246
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 1.2 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,230,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The term black Muslim generally conjures up images of the Nation of Islam and Elijah Muhammad. But the appeal of Islam dates back to slavery, when many Africans retained their religion, defying attempts to Christianize them. Dannin traces the evolution of the practice of Islam by blacks in the U.S. from slavery through the more orthodox, globalized Islam. The first half of the book recounts the history of Islam among American blacks, the linkage to secret lodge societies, and the rise of black nationalism. Islamic missionaries brought more formal pedagogy but often stirred conflict with their disregard for the historic context of Islam in an oppressed black America. In his conversion to orthodox Islam, El-Hajj Malik Shabazz, better known as Malcolm X, elevated the status of Islam as a powerful alternative to the spiritual monopoly of Christianity in liberating black Americans from the strictures of racism. The second half of this fascinating book recounts individual experiences of conversion and the difficulties of being a double minority in terms of race and religion. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"an important and ground-breaking book"-- Journal of African American History

"I highly recommend this text for those interested in Islam in America, black religion, and American religious ethnography."-- The Journal of Religion

"A welcome and important work.this book is an essential acquisition for any student of African American Islam and could be incorporated successfully into courses on wither African American religion or modern Islam."-- The Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"[An] effort to promote cross-cultural understanding and to give an image and voice to thousands of African Americans. He succeeds admirably. Among the book's greatest strengths are the Muslims' testimonies of conversion, presented in their own words."--Sonsyrea Tate,The Washington Post Book World

"In Black Pilgrimage to Islam, Robert Dannin gives us a rare and fascinating insight into the minds and sensibilities of black Americans who have embraced Islam. His research is impeccable, his judgements are acute, and his prose is uncommonly graceful. This book is an important contribution to American social history." -- Howard Zinn, Author of A People's History of the United States

"This book provides a major contribution to our understanding of the process of conversion and its liberating influences in general and of the power of Islamic ideas in transforming rural former African American slaves into urban activists seeking the redemption of society." --Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University

"Robert Dannin provides a very informative and useful contribution to the study of African American Islam. He has investigated a great range of sources, through research and personal interviews, and in this work he allows his subjects to speak first-hand about their experiences and beliefs. The result is a work that is unique both in its presentation and in its range." --Jane I. Smith, Author of Islam in America


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Lina Fairchild on November 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Fifteen years of research have gone into the most comprehensive, candid and well-written social history of African American Islam to date. The author's experience as a journalist and, more recently, teacher of urban anthropology at New York University show as he brings facts and personalities to life. From the working-class and depressed urban neighborhoods to college campuses, community organizations and prisons, Dan-nin investigates the surprising range of expressions that Islam has taken, all the while inquiring how Islam has aided people seeking to overcome a legacy of slavery and ra-cial oppression. His travels, conversations and readings show that the Nation of Islam, which commands a disproportionate share of national media attention, is but a thread in a much larger design, which is itself a rich element in the social tapestry of the United States. DD
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Sherman on September 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is a must read for understanding Islam as it has been practiced and embraced by descendants of African slaves in America. Get out your dictionary, highlighter and laptop as it will inspire you to learn, blog and think.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Abu Maryam on October 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book is a must read for anyone interested in the early history of Islam in Black America and some of the challenges facing African-American Muslims and Muslim converts in general. The best and most interesting parts of this book are in the first few chapters. Here we learn the forgotten history of Islam in the early 20th century up to the 60's and 70's. There are stories in this section that will make you laugh, cry, and people and events that blew my mind. Reading these sections about the struggles and challenges faced by some of those early Muslim "pioneers", their creativity and drive, was very inspiring. I also found the ideological (and at times physical) battles between Sunni Muslims and groups like the Nation of Islam and the Moorish Science Temple was fascinating. I felt truly educated after reading the first half of the book.

The second half of the book was ok, but a little slow and certainly less compelling. I felt like a whole chapter on women in polygamous relationships was a little much. This is not the typical experience for most African-American Muslims, and it seemed like the chapter became redundant after a while. I think the author could have fit this into a larger discussion of women's issues in general.

Besides losing some steam towards the middle and end, I would still highly recommend this book to anyone interested in religion and/or history. The author has compiled stories and biographies that ran the risk of being otherwise lost forever. As an outsider, he was able to deal with sensitive subject matter in a surprisingly respectful way.
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