The Essential Black Muslim Reading List


The Essential Black Muslim Reading List
Black Muslims are not lost in history, even if their history has been disregarded.

In 2018, the Council on American-Islamic Relations reported that anti-Muslim bias incidents and hate crimes had increased 83 and 21%respectively from April 1 to June 30 of that year compared to the first quarter. Alarmingly, the report found that incidents involving government agencies such as the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, including incidents that involved the denial of religious accommodations, rose by 60% in the same time period.

It’s tempting to blame the presence of Islamophobia in the United States on the Trump administration, or to trace its systemic origins to anti-Muslim sentiment that grew across the nation following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Both are contributing factors, but neither fully laid the groundwork for violence we see today.

The history of Muslims in America extends beyond the creation of an assimilatory “Muslim American” identity or the racialization of Muslims as only non-Black. Enslaved African Muslims fostered revolts throughout the colonies, such as Haiti, and the 1959 documentary The Hate That Hate Produced introduced the Nation of Islam as a domestic threat to the country.

Presently, Black Muslims make up about a fifth of the American Muslim population. About half of those Black Muslims are converts to Islam. Black Muslims are not lost in history, even if their history has been disregarded. Understanding Black Muslims in the U.S. is essential not only to understanding America’s Islamophobia but to understanding pop culture, racial capitalism, surveillance, and more. Black Muslims have existed in the U.S. for centuries and folded themselves into every aspect of resistance within it. If you’re interested in learning more about these identities and experiences, I’ve put together the essential Black Muslim reading list.