The Islamic Influence in (Pre-)Colonial and Early America: A Historico-Legal Snapshot
Seattle Journal for Social Justice, Vol. 12: Iss. 3, Article 7, p. 913 (2014)
34 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2014
Date Written: October 1, 2014
Islam only became a focal point of the national conversation post-9/11 despite being a force in the New World for 500 years. The Muslim presence in the Americas began at least since Cristóbal Colón’s maiden sea voyage, in which many Moors accompanied him in 1492. This article will consider how Islam impacted slave and indigenous populations along with European explorers and later settlers.
Synthesizing the development of Islam and Muslims in the interplay of these relationships will illustrate how threads of Islamic thought and culture streamed into early American legal and cultural norms. Scant research on Islam in pre-US Constitution America exists, but, given the current influx of anti-Muslim sentiment, a look at this hidden history will elucidate the Islamic and Muslim influence on early American law, policy, and culture as a historico-legal counter-narrative. This article asserts a paradigmatic shift so that Islam is seen less as a foreign, marauding force and more as an early collaborator in the shaping of American notions of justice, democracy, and freedom and as a harbinger for the call to American independence, slave resistance, and revolt. The LatCrit analytical modalities offer a means for reassessing this hidden history and realigning critical Islamic legal analysis into a broader theoretical framework for coalition-building.
Keywords: Islamic Law, Sharia, Shariah, Early America, Pre-Colonial America, American History, Constitutional Law, LatCrit
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