Skip to Gallatin Navigation Skip to Gallatin Main Content

Islam and Race in the United States

Semester and Year FA 2016
Course Number IDSEM-UG1914
Section 001
Instructor Sophia Azeb
Days TR
Time 9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   HUM



What has been the role of Islam and Muslim Americans in the culture and politics of the United States? This course will explore the history, culture and politics of American Islam from Malcolm X and the Five-Percent Nation to A Tribe Called Quest and Muslimah feminisms. Islam first arrived in the Americas in the holds of the earliest slave ships and has been here ever since. But over the course of the 20th century, millions more Muslims came to the United States from all parts of the globe, bringing with them numerous theological and cultural interpretations of the faith. While Islam has historically appealed to people of color in the U.S. and elsewhere due to its theological emphasis on universality, or the transcendence of racial difference, it has also been strategically deployed by African Americans in the U.S. to identify and confront racism within both American society at large as well as within the multifaceted American Muslim community. This course examines these complex histories and relationships--looking especially closely at the tensions between Black Muslims and the many Muslim immigrants who came to the United States in the 20th century--in order to identify how variations of American Muslim expression emerge alongside the realities of a specifically American racial framework. Understanding the relationship between race and Islam in America is especially important today, as political rhetoric tied to the “War on Terror” often conflates race and religion, to the detriment of Muslim and Muslim-adjacent (or “perceived Muslim”) communities at home and abroad. Through close readings of historical and cultural texts, such as the scholarly work of Edward E. Curtis and the fictional writings of Michael Muhammad Knight, music, film, and other graphic materials; students in this course will study the plurality of American Islam(s) and the role American Muslims play in the pursuit of civil rights and social justice in our society.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)