Explores modern African-American Islamic thought within the context of Islamic history, giving special attention to questions of universality versus particularity.
Many of the most prominent figures in African-American Islam have been dismissed as Muslim heretics and cultists. Focusing on the works of five of these notable figures—Edward W. Blyden, Noble Drew Ali, Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and Wallace D. Muhammad—author Edward E. Curtis IV examines the origin and development of modern African-American Islamic thought. Curtis notes that intellectual tensions in African-American Islam parallel those of Islam throughout its history—most notably, whether Islam is a religion for a particular group of people or whether it is a religion for all people. In the African-American context, such tensions reflect the struggle for black liberation and the continuing reconstruction of black identity. Ultimately, Curtis argues, the interplay of particular and universal interpretations of the faith can allow African-American Islam a vision that embraces both a specific group of people and all people.
Edward E. Curtis IV is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
"Curtis is able to shed light on black history as an independent topic and at the same time as part of the American cultural sphere. He provides important intellectual history and theoretical insights into continuities and major themes in African-American Muslim thought." — Marcia K. Hermansen, translator of The Conclusive Argument from God: Shah Wali Allah of Delhi's Hujjat Allah Al-Baligha
"The author takes his themes through Islamic history and finds relevant references to make an informative and insightful narrative. The book is intriguing and captivating." — Aminah McCloud, author of African American Islam