Islam in Black America

Identity, Liberation, and Difference in African-American Islamic Thought

By Edward E. Curtis IV

Subjects: American History
Paperback : 9780791453704, 186 pages, April 2002
Hardcover : 9780791453698, 186 pages, May 2002

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents



1. Introduction

2. Edward Wilmot Blyden (1832–1912) and the Paradox of Islam

3. Noble Drew Ali (1886–1929) and the Establishment of Black Particularistic Islam

4. Elijah Muhammad (1897–1975) and the Absolutism of Black Particularistic Islam

5. Islamic Universalism, Black Particularism, and the Dual Identity of Malcolm X (1925–1965)

6. Wallace D. Muhammad (b. 1933), Sunni Islamic Reform, and the Continuing Problem of Particularism

7. Toward an Islam for One People and Many


Selected Bibliography


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