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Tea and the Hidden History of Islam

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0042235/00001

Material Information

Title: Tea and the Hidden History of Islam
Physical Description: 1 online resource (82 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Dick, Jennifer
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2010

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: islam, north
Religion -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Religion thesis, M.A.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: The history of Islam in America began with the transport of enslaved Africans to the American South. Slavery forced Africans to adapt their material and philosophical traditions to their new context. After centuries of oppression enslaved American populations achieved emancipation, and by the early twentieth century some of the newly freed African Americans migrated to the American North in search of economic prosperity. Since there is little written history concerning the daily lives of enslaved African Muslim populations, this thesis looks to the material link of cure-all tea consumption to grasp the passage of Islam from Africa, to the American South, and onward to American North. We begin with the Prophet?s Tea consumed and distributed by the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA), a black nationalistic Islamic movement that appeared in the early 1900s in Chicago. From the Prophet?s Tea we will look to the larger Islamic material culture of the MSTA and trace potential material cultural continuities from the North to the American South through the consumption of Life Everlasting Tea in the Gullah Sea Islands. It is from Life Everlasting Tea and the Islamic material culture of the Gullah that avenues of continuity link these traditions to Africa and the consumption of Never Die Tea, a botanical cognate to Life Everlasting. In this thesis, tea operates as a thematic device to explore the history of Islam in America.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Jennifer Dick.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2010.
Local: Adviser: Hackett, David G.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2010
System ID: UFE0042235:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0042235/00001

Material Information

Title: Tea and the Hidden History of Islam
Physical Description: 1 online resource (82 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Dick, Jennifer
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2010

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: islam, north
Religion -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Religion thesis, M.A.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: The history of Islam in America began with the transport of enslaved Africans to the American South. Slavery forced Africans to adapt their material and philosophical traditions to their new context. After centuries of oppression enslaved American populations achieved emancipation, and by the early twentieth century some of the newly freed African Americans migrated to the American North in search of economic prosperity. Since there is little written history concerning the daily lives of enslaved African Muslim populations, this thesis looks to the material link of cure-all tea consumption to grasp the passage of Islam from Africa, to the American South, and onward to American North. We begin with the Prophet?s Tea consumed and distributed by the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA), a black nationalistic Islamic movement that appeared in the early 1900s in Chicago. From the Prophet?s Tea we will look to the larger Islamic material culture of the MSTA and trace potential material cultural continuities from the North to the American South through the consumption of Life Everlasting Tea in the Gullah Sea Islands. It is from Life Everlasting Tea and the Islamic material culture of the Gullah that avenues of continuity link these traditions to Africa and the consumption of Never Die Tea, a botanical cognate to Life Everlasting. In this thesis, tea operates as a thematic device to explore the history of Islam in America.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Jennifer Dick.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2010.
Local: Adviser: Hackett, David G.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2010
System ID: UFE0042235:00001


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TEA AND THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF ISLAM


By

JENNIFER DICK















A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2010

































2010 Jennifer Dick



























To my mom, dad, and brother









ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank my family for their love and support throughout this adventure.

I would also like to thank my friends for all of the comfort and help they have provided

me along the years. I am indebted to all of the professors and people who have inspired

me and guided me along my journey. I owe my success to all of your support and

assistance. Sincerely, thank you.









TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

ACKNOW LEDGM ENTS ......................................................... ...... .................. 4

L IS T O F F IG U R E S ....................................................... 6

ABSTRACT ......... .......... ................................. 7

1 ISLAM AND THE MATERIAL RECORD......................................................... 9

The Origins of a Scholastic Debate .................. .............................. .. ............... 9
Tea as a Material Indication of Knowledge .................. ..... ................ ........ 11

2 THE PROPHET'S TEA .................... ........... .................. 18

The Prophet's Tea as an Herbal Cure-all................................................. 18
Brief History of the Moorish Science Temple of America.............................. 19
The Life of Drew Ali ............... ........ ......... ................ ............ 24
The Ben Ishmael Tribe.. ..................................... ........... 25
Intellectual Influences on Drew Ali ................................................ 30
The Prophet's Tea and Moorish Identity ...... .................................. 34

3 LIFE EVERLASTING TEA .............. ............ .............. ............... 36

Life Everlasting as an Herbal Cure-all ...... .... ............................ 36
From Africa to Gullah .......................... ........ ......... 38
Islam in the Material Record ............... ........... ........................ 43
The Life and Legacy of Bilali............................ ...... ..................... 48

4 NEVER DIE TEA ................ ......... ........ ............. 57

Never Die Tea as an Herbal Cure-all ................................................ 57
Islam in Africa ............... ........ .................. 58
A Brief History of Islam in Nigeria ............................. ........................ 60
Nigerian Islam ic Practices.............................. ............... 64

5 CONCLUSION...................... .... ......... 71

LIST OF REFERENCES ......................... ......... ......... 78

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................ ........ ........ ......... 82









LIST OF FIGURES

Figure page

2-1 Advertisement of the Prophet's Tea................................................ 18









Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts

TEA AND THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF ISLAM

By

Jennifer Dick

August 2010

Chair: David Hackett
Major: Religion

The history of Islam in America began with the transport of enslaved Africans to

the American South. Slavery forced Africans to adapt their material and philosophical

traditions to their new context. After centuries of oppression enslaved American

populations achieved emancipation, and by the early twentieth century some of the

newly freed African Americans migrated to the American North in search of economic

prosperity. Since there is little written history concerning the daily lives of enslaved

African Muslim populations, this thesis looks to the material link of cure-all tea

consumption to grasp the passage of Islam from Africa, to the American South, and

onward to American North. We begin with the Prophet's Tea consumed and distributed

by the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA), a black nationalistic Islamic

movement that appeared in the early 1900s in Chicago. From the Prophet's Tea we will

look to the larger Islamic material culture of the MSTA and trace potential material

cultural continuities from the North to the American South through the consumption of

Life Everlasting Tea in the Gullah Sea Islands. It is from Life Everlasting Tea and the

Islamic material culture of the Gullah that avenues of continuity link these traditions to









Africa and the consumption of Never Die Tea, a botanical cognate to Life Everlasting. In

this thesis, tea operates as a thematic device to explore the history of Islam in America.









CHAPTER 1
ISLAM AND THE MATERIAL RECORD

The Origins of a Scholastic Debate

Islam came to American soil with the onset of transatlantic slavery, where

enslaved African Muslims were wretched from their homelands and forced into bondage

across the Atlantic Ocean. In the Americas enslaved Muslims were subjected to the

same horrific conditions as their non-Muslim African counterparts. Since Islam came

from Africa into a system of bondage that dehumanized the enslaved Muslims, the early

history of Islam in America is largely unknown. Few slaves were literate, and even fewer

were able to write in languages unknown to their slave owners. Arabic documents make

up only a small portion of the larger material culture of African Muslims enslaved in the

Americas. Since there is a small amount of written material concerning the lives of

African Muslim slaves in North America material culture helps to provide insights into

their lives and practices. This thesis turns to material culture to explore the journey of

Islam in North America.

Through material culture we are able to gain insight into the systems of

knowledge that accompany materials. Anthropologist Melville Herskovits was one of the

first scholars to use material culture to look for "Africanisms" or survivalss" of African

artifacts and culture in the material record.1 Similarly, through the examination of the

material culture of the enslaved African populations we can work to shed light on

transformations and continuities of Islam. Although, there is widespread scholarly

consensus that the history of sustained Islamic practices in North America began on


1 Melville Herskovits is credited as the founder of plantation archaeology, which aims to understand the
material life of enslaved Africans and African Americans on American plantations. His seminal work is
The Myth of the Negro Past (1958).









Southern plantations, the implications of this agreed upon beginning are the subject of

debate.2 The relationship between the early African Muslims on the plantations in the

South and the multiple black nationalistic Islamic movements that emerge in the North

in the 1920s is a particularly speculative period of this history.

The speculative nature of this period of history has led to debate about the

lasting influence of Islam in the American South, and questions the role Southern Islam

played in the formation of black nationalistic Islamic movements that emerge in the

North after emancipation. After emancipation in 1865, some former slaves embarked on

a northern migration. The former slaves who migrated believed the South held no

avenues of economic opportunities so they advanced North in search of these

opportunities. Some scholars take issue with the logical extension of this process that

the former slaves would still retain any Islamic knowledge and re-negotiate it under the

context of migration from the tumultuous post-antebellum Jim Crow South to the

prosperous industrialized North.3 However, scholars such as Michael Gomez speculate

the Islam may have been practiced on the Sea Islands into the 1920s.4 While scholars

have yet to reach a consensus, published theories on the matter seem to divide into

three specific camps: there is no connection between the Islam on the plantations and


2 This is first documented by Allen Austin's American Muslims in the Antebellum America: a Source Book
(1984). Scholar such as Robert Dannin (2002); Slyviane Diouf (1998); Michael Gomez (2005); and
Richard Brent Turner (2003) all pay homage to Austin and elaborate on his findings in their respective
works.
3 This debate will be address in more detail in Chapter One.
4 Michael Gomez makes this speculation in The Black Crescent: The Experience and Legacy of African
Muslims in the Americas. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Gomez examines the life of
Harriet Hall Grovner, who was a practicing Muslim until 1866 when she joined the newly assembled First
African Baptist Church. But Grovner's conversion to Christianity is speculative, which will be discussed at
greater length in chapter three, but Gomez believes she may have been a practicing Muslim until her
death in 1922, and uses this to hypothesize that she could represent the continuation of Islam on the Sea
Islands into the twentieth century. (Gomez, 2005:162).









the Islam of the North;5 there is an ideological connection, which is typically attributed to

popularization of Edward Wilmot Blyden's Pan-Africanist ideology;6 or they employ the

ideological connections to indicate a future avenue of materialist analysis.7 Though this

scholarship is conflicted it does suggest that through the examination of material culture

we can come to understand potential connection between the Islam of the South and

the Islam of the North. In order to do this; however, we must step farther back and

examine the material culture of Muslims in Africa.

Tea as a Material Indication of Knowledge

In this thesis I will employ material analysis to explore the presence and history

of Islam in the American religious arena. More to the point, the heuristic device of cure-

all tea consumption sheds light on material practices and their accompanying

knowledge systems. From this we look at potential Islamic material practices and their

presence in African Islam, Islam in the American South, and Islam in the American

North. Muslims from these areas all practice herbal cure-all tea consumption to alleviate

both physical and spiritual ailments.8 Through the consumption of the Prophet's Tea,



5 Scholars Slyviane Diouf (1998) and Aminah Beverly McCloud (1995) state they believe that the Islam
from the Plantations in the South was eventually no longer transmitted to the slave descendents and over
the generations, Islamic adherence dissipates.
6 Turner (2002) credits that there may be an ideological connection because of the influence of Blyden's
work among the founders of the black nationalist Islamic movements in the North at the turn of the
century.
7 Scholars like Moustafa Bayoumi (1999); Robert Dannin (2002); Edward Curtis and Danielle Brune Sigler
(2009); and Michael Gomez (2005) continue to apply Herskovits' emphasis on material culture as
essential in understanding the lives of slaves and elucidate that further inquiry into this methodology could
illuminate the links between Islam in the American South and Islam in the American North.
8 It is important to note that African Muslims in the Americas were not the only consumers of cure-all teas
or herbal remedies. This was a wide spread practice throughout Africa, and even many of the Native
groups already in the Americas also employed herbs. Also herbal remedies and teas were typically used
in the Americas by all populations that could not afford or chose not to use Western medical doctors, and
herbs still provide a source of remedy for many cultures.









the larger material culture of the Moorish Science Temple of America, and the life of its

founder Noble Drew Ali we will examine the potential transformation and continuities of

Islamic practices in the American North in the early 1900s as former slaves and their

descendents migrated and had to adapt to life in the North.

To gain insights into these possible adaptations and transformations of Islam with

the Moorish Science Temple in the American North we will look to the American South,

via the herbal cure-all Life Everlasting Tea consumed on the Gullah Sea Islands, to

understand the origins of sustained Islamic practice in America. The plantation south, in

particularly the Gullah Sea Islands, was the first American region to document sustained

Islamic practice in America.9 The Sea Islands span the coasts of Northern Florida,

Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The documented Muslim population of

these Islands was a part of many African tribal groupings which later combined to

become the Gullah culture.10 To gain insight into the lives of enslaved African Muslims

and their lasting legacy and impact on Islam in America we will look to the life of Bilali of

Sapelo Island and his legacy on the culture as it is remembered by his descendent

Cornelia Bailey. Bailey recounts her family's consumption of an herbal cure-all tea

called Life Everlasting; this plant most likely has origins from Africa.11

The potential direct material link between African Never Die Tea and Southern

Life Everlasting Tea are due to the fact that the same genus of plant appears in both



9 See Allen Austin (1984) for the detailed lives of enslaved Muslim Africans.
10 In particular, Allen Austin (1984) wrote about several Muslims from the Gullah Sea Island region.

11 Cornelia Bailey, with Christena Bledsoe documents the oral culture and Bailey's memories are of
childhood on the Sea Islands in God, Dr. Buzzard and the Bolitoman (2000). While Scholar William
Pollitzer documents the botanical correlates between Africa and the Sea Islands in depth in his work The
Gullah People and Their African Heritage (1999).









Africa and the American South.12 This link is further enhanced by the employment of

both plants as herbal cure-alls teas.13 This does not only indicate a material connection

but it also reflects a continuity of knowledge most likely grounded in African origins. By

extension we can begin to understand other knowledge systems, such as Islam, as it

appears materially in Africa and materially in the American context. These African

origins can be understood through an examination of: the material culture of African

Muslims; the dual role of the malam as an Islamic scholar and herbal healer; and the

politics of authenticity that contextualize Islam in Northern Nigeria. It is from Africa that

Islam comes to the plantation South via enslaved Africans. Islam then migrates and

transforms on the American continent with the movement of emancipated African

Americans to the North in search of economic prosperity.

The first chapter begins with an examination of the Prophet's Tea and the

Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA). The MSTA was one of the earliest black

nationalist Islamic groups to appear in the North at the turn of the century.14 This group

consumed a cure-all tea known as the Prophet's Tea, also known as Moorish Body

Builder and Blood Purifier; the tea was employed as a remedy for ailments that

including the improvement of lung function to the loss of manhood.15 The Prophet's Tea

was sold and distributed by the MSTA's economic arm, the Moorish Manufacturing

Corporation (MMC). The goal of the MMC was to provide economic uplift to MSTA


12 Pollitzer (1999).
13 See again Bailey (2000) and Pollitzer (1999).
14 Officially, the Moorish Science Temple of America began in 1926 in Chicago, but the founder of the
MSTA, Noble Drew Ali, also founded several movements before this beginning in 1913 with the
Canaanote Temple and including the 1916 Holy Moabite Temple of the World. (Gomez, 2005:215).
15 Gomez (2005:262-263).









members and ultimately sought to raise funds to create an autonomous Moorish Village

on American soil. The material culture of this group is largely understood and

contextualized through examination of the group's founder Noble Drew Ali. Drew Ali's

history is rather mysterious, but his ideological influences and contributions to the

material culture of the MSTA hints to lines of continuity between the Islamic practices in

the American North enacted by the MSTA and the Islamic practices of slaves in the

South.

The second chapter traces the material culture of the MSTA to the South via Life

Everlasting Tea and the Gullah culture of the Sea Islands. They were the consumers of

an herbal cure-all tea from a plant referred to as Life Everlasting. 16 This plant was

believed to have the ability to relieve ailments from asthma to diseased bowls.17 This

tea is part of the herbal medicine cabinet of the Gullah culture and is reflective of the

knowledge of the herbal cure-all tradition. The breadth of the Gullah material culture is

largely un-documented because of the context of slavery and illiteracy of the people.

This lack of scholarship has led to debates concerning the extent of the legacy of Islam

in the region.18 But the voices of the enslaved populations can be understood through

their material culture and their orally transmitted family histories. To understand some of

the potential strands of continuity between the MSTA and the Gullah Islands, and then

ultimately the strands that led back to Africa, this chapter examines the life and legacy

of Bilali, a Muslim slave from Sapelo Island, part of the Sea Island chain. Bilali was the


16Use documented by both Bailey with Bledsoe (2000) and Pollitzer (1999).
17 Pollitzer (1999:99).
18 As previously stated, Diouf believes that there is no material connection between the Islam in the North
and South as stated in her book Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas (1998).









literate and a well trusted slave of Thomas Spaulding; he left Arabic documents, was

known to pray facing the East several times a day, and even adorned himself with a

Fez. 19 One of his descendents Cornelia Bailey (believed to a modification of Bilali) has

written an explicit history of her life growing up on Sapelo Island and tried to incorporate

all of her knowledge of the island and the Gullah culture into a written document

because she believes her culture to be dying.20 It is in her memories that Life

Everlasting Tea appears in the context of Sapelo Island. The connection of the MSTA's

material culture to the Gullah material culture through the consumption of cure-all teas

will provide the anchor to support evidence of cultural connections linking the American

North and South to each other and to Africa.

The third chapter argues for the direct material connection of Life Everlasting Tea

from the Sea Islands to Nigeria, where the tea is called Never Die.21 The exact

application of Never Die Tea is less clear than its American counterpart, but the

consumption of the plant as a tea originating in Africa demonstrates heuristically cultural

continuities between the two geographies. The use of plants for healing purposes has a

long history in Africa and is also practiced by non-Muslim populations across Africa.

This chapter speaks broadly about Islamic practices in Africa, but specifically focuses

on the use of herbs by Muslims in Nigeria. The employment of herbal remedies by

Muslims in Nigeria can be understood through the role of the malam, a Quranic scholar



19 Works Progress Administration (WPA) Georgia Writer's Project interviewed the descendents of Bilali in
the late 1930s and was published as Drums and Shadows: Costal Studies Among The Georgia Coastal
Negros (1940) [reprint 1986].
20 Bailey with Bledsoe (2000) explicitly states this fear in the closing few chapters of the book.
21 As stated by Bailey's documentation of a Nigeria man who indicates the connection (2000:327).









and herbal healer.22 It is this combination of traditional healing methods and Islamic

sciences in Nigeria centers the question of authentic practice concerning the integration

of African cultural practices into Islam and contributes to an attitude that equates Islam

as the superior religion for Africans. These politics are part of the heritage of African

American Islam and questions of authenticity plague hybrid Islamic practices throughout

history. These questions concerning authentic Islamic practices appear in Nigeria in the

form of religio-political campaigns initiated by Usman dan Fodio to "purify" Nigerian

Islam from African based innovations, such as herbal healing.23 This context is

important in the comprehension of the influence of African origins on the material

practice and biases of African Muslims in America. The use of herbs for medicinal

purposes heuristically demonstrates plausible material and cultural continuities between

Africans and African Americans.

The application of the term Islam to the MSTA is contentious since some

scholars debate the legitimacy of the Moorish Science Temple of America as an Islamic

group for a number of reasons including: their reliance on the Circle Seven Koran24

instead of the Holy Quran revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in seventh century

Arabia as a guiding text, their unique appearance, and their seemingly secular focus on

"social uplift" as some believe this to be a reimagining of the Islam of the plantation





22 Scholar Ismail Abdalla (1985) explores the role of the malam in his medical analysis of nineteenth
century Nigeria.
23 Scholar Frank Salamone (1991) discusses the circumstances that connect religion to ethnic identities
and the creation of the Fulani identity as a result of dan Fodio'sjihad.
24 This book was written by the MSTA founder Noble Drew Ali and was used by the group in 1927 as their
primary religious text (Gomez, 2005:215). This text is discussed in further detail in chapter two.









South and not an extension of Islamic tradition.25 However, when we turn to the material

cultures of African and African American Islam we are able to explore the potential

legacy of adaptation and change Islam has endured from Africa to the US, and then

through the American South and North to new contexts. Much in the same light that

Herskovits was novel in his attempts to find Africanisms that linked the material culture

of Southern slaves to their African heritages; this thesis argues that we can use material

culture to link Islam as it transitions from Africa to the South, and then prospectively to

the North. We know that Islamic beliefs and practices endured what is often called the

Middle Passage, so to believe that it dead ends with plantations in the South is short

sighted. The history is difficult to uncover and is at times built on tentative links, such as

Harriet Hall Grovner's potential practice of Islam into the 1920s. The use of cure-all teas

heuristically evidences the potential for other, namely Islamic, material and cultural

continuities which helps to illuminate the hidden historiography of Muslim Americans.


















25 Herbert Berg's "Mythmaking in the African American Muslim Context: The Moorish Science Temple, the
Nation of Islam and the American Society of Muslims." Journal of the American Academy of Religion 73/3
(2005):685-703. Berg assumes in this essay that there are not actually any material connections between
Islamic movements from the Antebellum South to the North at the turn of the century, that instead the
process of creating mythic origins and cultivates credibility as a re-envisioning or the Islam from Africa
and the American South.











CHAPTER 2
THE PROPHET'S TEA

The Prophet's Tea as an Herbal Cure-all

The Prophet's Tea, also known as Moorish Body Builder and Blood Purifier, first


appeared on the Chicago market in the early 1900s as an herbal cure-all.1 In Chicago


the tea became identified with the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA), an


African American religious community that heralds Islam and Africa as the sources of


their religious identity. As a material manifestation of the cultural continuity of African


American thought, the tale of Prophet's Tea contributes to our understanding of the


spread of Islam from Africa to the American South and then to the North.

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Figure 2-1. Adverstisement of the Prophet's Tea, also known as Moorish Body Builder
and Blood Purifier. Image taken from Moorish Guide achieved by the
Historical Society of Islam.






1 Michael Gomez provides a thorough analysis of the Moorish Science Temple's material culture in The
Black Crescent (2005:262-263).









Brief History of the Moorish Science Temple of America

The Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA) was officially established in

1926 in Chicago.2 The founding members of the group were African American

emigrants searching for economic opportunity in the North in the early 1920s. The

creation of the MSTA reflects the historical context and charged racial attitudes of the

early twentieth century. According to the Moorish Guide, the self-published newspaper

of the MSTA, "The aim of the Moorish Science Temple of America is to promulgate the

Mohammedan religion and give to all Moorish Americans their national free name."3

Members of the MSTA saw themselves not as African Americans but as Moorish

Americans as they identified with a Moroccan and Islamic historical past. By

disassociating themselves from an identity tarnished by racism, they sought to create a

space for "the uplifting of humanity," which would be achieved through participation in

the life of the Temple and an appropriation of an Islamic identity.4

As part of this adaption the MSTA did not use the traditional Muslim scriptures of

the Quran and Hadith, but instead employed the Circle Seven Koran.5 The Circle Seven

Koran is a text comprised of two sections; the first part appears to have been heavily




2 Gomez (2005:215). It is important to note that MSTA members refer to themselves as Moors and
Moorish Americans and these terms will be employed when referring to the members.
3 The MSTA's newspaper from October 26, 1928, as documented in the Moorish Minutes (2010).
Compiled by Muurish Gansul available through hppt://muurishgansul.com. The Moorish Guide is also
referenced by Gomez (2005:262-263).
4 See McCloud (1995:14).
5 The scripture used by the MSTA is described in detail to varying degrees in the works of Gomez (2005);
Turner (2003); Nance (2002); and Dannin (2002). Gomez indicates the original full title of the book is The
Holy Koran of the Moorish Holy Temple of Science 7, Know Yourself and Your Father God-Allah That
You Learn to Love Instead of Hate. Everyman Need to Worship Under His Own Vine and Fig Tree. The
Uniting of Asia and was originally printed in 1927 (2005:217).









plagiarized from Levi Dowling's The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ.6 Dowling's book

came from "a long tradition of apocrypha describing Jesus as a mystical figure, only one

of a number of 'Christs' in world history."7 Through the appropriation of Dowling's belief

in continued revelation and multiple avatars of prophecy the Circle Seven Koran was

interpreted by its Moorish Temple followers as a religious text in the tradition of the

Abrahamic faiths. Unlike the Quran of the ancient Middle East, the Circle Seven Koran

acknowledges the prophecy of various traditional figures including Buddha, Moses,

Zoroaster, Muhammad, and Confucius, while emphasizing the life of Jesus Christ.8 The

second part of the Circle Seven Koran is proscriptive containing rules and self-help

messages pertaining to: daily practices; food taboos; relationships between friends,

family, employers, and politicians; and the instruction to face east while in recitation of

prayer.9 This is similar to the proscriptive aspects of the Hadith, the written compilation

of the custom, usual procedure, or ways of acting of the Prophet Mohammad, but the

Circle Seven Koran is still not considered by any of the larger Muslim world as orthodox

Islam.10 It is this reliance on doctrines outside of the traditionally accepted Islamic

cannon of Hadith and Quran as law and theology that is the foremost reason the

authenticity of the MSTA's vision of Islam has been challenged.

Though often considered a decided variant of Islam, some of the MSTA's

practices are consistent with Sunni and Sufi Islam. These practices include: the

6 Dowling (1907) [reprinted 1972]. For detailed analysis on the Circle Seven Koran see Susan Nance
(Summer 2002:127).
7 Nance (Summer 2002:127).
8 Dannin (2002:27).

9 Nance (Summer 2002:131).
10 Used as defined by Frederick Mathewson Denny in An Introduction to Islam. Third Edition. (2006:404).









celebration of Friday as a holy day, sex-segregated seating in the Temple, and the

Eastern direction of prayer.11 Food taboos such as the Moors' abstinence from pork and

intoxicants are also consistent as a widespread Muslim practice. Nevertheless, the use

of the Holy Koran instead of the Quran has led to disputes over which represents the

"true" Islam. More pointedly, critics argue that the Circle Seven Koran's incorporation of

multiple prophets from various religious traditions and its emphasis on Jesus Christ, as

well as their belief in continued prophecy disqualifies their claim to being Muslims. This

"politics of authenticity" debate permeates scholarship that negates the validity of

MSTA's claims to Islam.

The politics of authenticity are part of the heritage of Islam in Africa, and

continues to be a point of contention between so-called orthodox Islam and African

American Islamic movements. From the first spread of Islamic knowledge across Africa

the religion had to adapt to the African context. Despite attempts to retain African

Islamic practices, Islam faced new contextual challenges in the American South; and

then when Islam transitions to the North, there is a third contextual transformation of

Islam. As people are faced with new challenges they negotiate new avenues to achieve

a solution. The unique circumstances of racism in the North shaped the development of

the Moorish Science Temple of America. The MSTA, like other African American

Muslim movements emerging at the beginning of the twentieth century had to deal with

racism, and the MSTA did so by calling themselves Moors.

The MSTA's religious implications are often overshadowed in scholarship by a

focus on their communal improvement programs. This focus was set into place because


11 McCloud (1995:14) denotes these practices.









of northern whites' racial attitudes, and a need for not only religious but economic

support networks form African Americans migrating from the South. While these aid

programs may have a so-called secular focus, it is important to keep in mind that the

MSTA identified foremost as Muslims, and displayed some so-called orthodox Muslim

practices.

One of the practices of the MSTA and the larger Muslim world is known as one of

the pillars of Islam: zakat, or giving alms.12 The MSTA's focus on social outreach

through economics is reflective of this mandate to help those in need. This larger

practice embeds Muslims into their communities through religious mandate.

Nevertheless, Sherman Jackson, who is a professor of Arabic and Islamic studies,

states that, "It is important to recognize that these men were not so much interpreting

Islam as they were appropriating it."13 The men Jackson refers to are the prophetic

founders of the emergent African American Muslim movements, including the MSTA, of

the early twentieth century. Jackson seeks to disassociate these movements with what

he contends to be Islam. He further elaborates, "Black Religion functioned as the core,

with the trappings (namely vocabulary) of Islam serving as the outer shell."14 This

example is characteristic of a larger scholarly debate over the depiction of the MSTA as

a secular socially oriented group. 15



12 Used as defined by Fredrick Denny (2006:411).
13 Jackson (2005:43). Sherman Jackson, Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Forward the Third
Resurrection (2005) seeks to disassociate the terms Black Religion and Islam.
14 Jackson (2005:44).
15 For more contributions to the discussion see Austin (1984); Berg (2005); Dannin (2002); Diouf (1998);
Gomez (2005); McCloud (1998); Turner (2003); and Amina Wadud "American Muslim identity: race and
ethnicity in progressive Islam," Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism. Omid Sadie ed.
(2003):270-285. She even states that "the first [Islamic] movements among African-Americans to combat









The racial attitudes of the North influenced the MSTA members to relocate their

identity from Negroes to Moorish American.16 Part of this new identity was the specific

appearance that was expected of members. Scholar Susan Nance holds that, "The

Moors claimed royal descent; they donned fezzes, colorful gowns, and turbans and

identified themselves as 'Moslem' in order to divorce black identity from black southern

culture and the ostensible lawlessness, laziness, and immorality typically associated

with it."17 The MSTA frequently paraded around their temples in this distinctive apparel

in an effort to both publicize their movement and attract others interest in the "uplift" of

African Americans migrants from the Old South. Further, the MSTA issued Moroccan

identity cards to physically demonstrate a non-Negro identity. 18 The elaborate attire and

identity cards are part of the material culture of the MSTA through which they

demonstrate a distinction between their old identity and their new one.

While the MSTA sought to create a new and distinct image, their material culture

demonstrates continuities to the very heritage they sought to obfuscate. This can be

understood through the creation and consumption of the Prophet's Tea, a cure-all tea

marketed by the MSTA's economic arm the Moorish Manufacturing Company (MMC).

The Prophet's Tea and other herbal products were advertised and sold through the


experiences of racism in American were primarily nationalist and pan-Africanist," furthermore, "they were
quite secular in nature." (2003:275).
16 At this time all people perceived to be black were referred to as Negroes with no particular identity to a
specific land mass or geographic region.
17 Susan Nance, "Respectability and Representation: The Moorish Science Temple, Morocco, and Black
Public Culture in 1920s Chicago." American Quarterly 54/4 (Dec 2002:624). It is in this essay that Nance
provides key insights into the identity politics of the Moorish Science Temple, but does so with regard to
the religious implications as well.
18 The Moorish identity cards stated, "I do hereby declare that you are a Moslem under the Divine Laws
on the Holy Koran of Mecca. Love Truth Peace Freedom and Justice. 'I AM A CITIZEN OF THE U.S.A.'"
as documented by Dannin (2002:27).









Moorish Guide and other newspapers in ads place by the MMC to anyone who could

afford them.19 Another product was Moorish Mineral and Healing Oil, which claimed to

remedy rheumatism, sore and tired feet, indigestion, stiff joints, and neuralgia.20 One

testimonial by a female stated the oil alleviated her throat problems to the point that she

felt "like a young girl."21 But the healing oil had a special application for males.

According to historian Michael Gomez, the oil was to be applied 'to the spine' as well as

the 'lower parts of the stomach' twice daily to treat 'loss of manhood.'22 The MMC also

marketed and sold a Moorish Antiseptic Bath Compound that alleviated the same

general pains of rheumatism and stiff joints, but also claimed to be beneficial to the

complexion when used daily as a face wash.23 All of these herbal concoctions were said

to be remedies created from traditional herbal medicinal knowledge possessed by

MSTA's mysterious founder Noble Drew Ali.

The Life of Drew Ali

The early history of the man known as Noble Drew Ali is shrouded in mystery.

Before becoming the prophetic founder of the Moorish Science Temple of America, he

was born Timothy Drew on January 8, 1886 in North Carolina.24 It is believed that his

mother was a Cherokee, and his father was a runaway slave, but there is a larger than

19 The 1927 prices ranged from fifty cents to one dollar. These goods can currently be purchased online,
but they now cost seven to ten dollars plus shipping and handling from the
www.moorishsciencetempleofamericainc.org.
20 See Gomez (2005:263).
21 Gomez (2005:263).
22 Gomez (2005:263). Gomez does note that most of the testimonials were actually from women (eight
out of ten), which is interesting given that these goods have male specific healing claims.
23 Advertisements from the Moorish Guide as compiled by thehistoricalsocietyofislam.com
24 Gomez (2005). Gomez does note however, that mythology states Ali was born in Simpsonbuck County,
but this is place that does not and seems to never have historically existed (2005:203).









life mythology that surrounds the MSTA's narrative of Ali's life.25 Scholar Richard Brent

Turner offers another hypothesis that Drew Ali "was a descendent of 'Bilali Mohammet,'

the famous African Muslim slave who inhabited Sapelo Island in the nineteenth

century."26 This connection is based on speculative evidence linking Ali and Bilali by

geographic location. Still, it is clear that Drew Ali spent some of his early life in the

South, in particular in the Carolinas, where it is believed he learned root work and the

recipes for all of the MMC concoctions, including the Prophet's Tea. Through the life of

Drew Ali we can understand the foundations of the MSTA and are then able to highlight

potential continuities between material practices of Islam in the North and South.

It is unknown how long Ali continued to reside in the Carolinas or if he migrated

around the South. Some of the MSTA lore believes that he may have even gone to

Egypt. This belief is used to further connect Ali to a Moorish identity and authentic

Quranic training.27 Ali's next documented move was to Newark, New Jersey where in

1913 he established the Canaanite Temple. While Drew Ali's life history is unclear there

are several avenues of influence that are believed to have contributed to his unique

understanding of Africa, Islam, and Moorish heritage.

The Ben Ishmael Tribe

One of these groups that scholars believe influenced Drew Ali's emphasis on a

Moorish identity was the Ben Ishmael Tribe.28 The extent of this early connection is


25 This is the common belief about Ali's origins, documented by Tuner (2005); Dannin (2002); and Gomez
(2005).
26 Turner (1999:90). I have found no other information that makes this claim about Ali. The life and legacy
of Bilali Mohammet will be later discussed in more detail in the following chapter.
27 See Turner (1999:92).
28 The Ben Ishmael Tribe is one of two groups chronicled by Michael Gomez's "Interlude." The other
group is the Melungeons, a mysterious multi-racial group documented as early as 1674 in Tennessee,









shrouded in even more mystery than the life of Ali, but there are similarities between the

marginalization experienced by both the MSTA and the Ben Ishmael Tribe. Further

similarities are indicated by the religious nationalistic focuses of the groups which led to

questions about this Islamic "authenticity." Both the Moorish Science Temple and the

Ben Ishmael Tribe claimed a specifically Moorish heritage.29 The mysterious Ben

Ishmael Tribe appears in historical records as early as 1790 in Noble County,

Kentucky.30 They referred to themselves as Ishmaelites, abstained from alcohol, and

boasted an estimated membership of 10,000 members before the end of the nineteenth

century.31 Their origins are relatively unknown, but scholar Michael Gomez believes

they were a Muslim maroon or guerilla group comprised of a "triracial model of descent

from African, Native American, and 'poor white."'32

They lived as an isolated group with a triangular semi-nomadic migration pattern

through Mahomet, Illinois; Morocco, Indiana; and Mecca, Indiana.33 Historian Hugo

Leaming finds this migratory pattern to be parallel to the Fulani, "one of the few

migratory peoples of West Africa and at the same time the most militant missionaries of



Kentucky, and Virginia (Gomez, 2005:187). The history of this group is largely unknown but Gomez
indicates that they identified as Moorish, as did the Ben Ishmael Tribe.
29 See Gomez (2005:200).
30 Hugo Leaming, "The Ben Ishmael Tribe: A Fugitive 'Nation' of the Old Northwest," The Ethnic Frontier:
Essays in the History of Group Survival in Chicago and the Midwest. Ed. By Melvin G. Holli and Peter d'A
Jones. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company,1977:98.
31See Leaming (1977:127) and Gomez (2005) "Interlude". Gomez also notes that into the late nineteenth
century the tribe had difficulty conforming to the encroaching settlements, and as a consequence he
quotes "three-quarters of the patients in the Indianapolis City Hospital were from the Tribe of Ishmael," a
large portion of the Tribe was also plagued with other health problems due to poverty conditions, and
were heavily persecuted in the early 1900s (2005:97).
32 Gomez (2005:196).

33 See Leaming (1977:136).









Islam in that region during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries."34 The names

of these cities also support the belief that there was a Muslim population, or minimally a

presence, who knew Arabic names in the Midwest. The appropriation of Arabic words is

present in the family names of residents in the outlying areas of the tribe's nomadic

trade route. According to Leaming, names such as Aimen, Booromer, Sherfy, Pusha,

and Osman appeared on rural directories in 1870, these names bear appearances to

Islamic names or words respectively: Ameen, Omar, Sharrieff, Pasha, and Osman,35

which was also "a name given to the leader of the Fulani holy war."36 This further

extends the potential that the Ben Ishmael tribe is likely connected to African Islam, and

this will later be linked to the MSTA.

The evidence of a connection between African Islam and the Ben Ishmael Tribe

is supported further by the Islamic flare to architecture along their migration routes. It is

said this unique architecture had been "constructed as if the builders had heard of

Moorish architecture but had not seen a picture, and not realizing that the dome rises

from a squared base, constructed elongated roofs that are all dome." This use of

Moorish architecture may reflect a material link to the Moorish identity claimed by the

Ben Ishmael Tribe. The Ishmaelites, much like the MSTA, appropriated a Moorish

identity, but it is likely, according to Leaming, that this identity was based on a racialized

understanding of the Moorish identity and its connection to Islam.37



34 Leading (1977:136).
35 Usman and Uthman are also alternate spellings of this name.
36 Leading (1977:138). Chapter three contains more information on Usman dan Fodio, the leader of the
Fulani holy war in Northern Nigeria, and the Islamic Fulani identity.
37 See Leaming (1977:138).









The Ben Ishmael Tribe was subject to much persecution, the most brutal of

which was racially motivated. They became the object of Reverend Oscar McCulloch's

1880 study of heredity and genetics, which was the foundation of McCulloch's social

degradation theory.38 This theory emerges almost simultaneously with the creation of

the field of anthropology. Some anthropologists believe that "Modern anthropology's

roots lie in the 1 9th-century European natural history traditions, with their focus on the

classification and comparison of human populations and their search for indicators of

'mental capacity."'39 The establishment of eugenic sciences drastically affected this

group and further heightened their marginalized status. Scholar Hugo Leaming adds

that McCulloch's research on the Ben Ishmael Tribe "was to retain a respected place in

the growing literature of eugenics for sixty years, until the movement's collapse."40 The

Ben Ishmael Tribe was one of the first groups in the United States to be subjected to

eugenic ideologies and attempted sterilization procedures.41

This history of persecution and brutal eugenic torture effected the ideological

commitments of the Ben Ishmael Tribe. Michael Gomez finds, "By the late nineteenth

century, 'three-quarters of the patients at Indianapolis City Hospital were from the Tribe

of Ishmael."'42 The Ishmael Tribe was reduced to the "very dregs of society,

impoverished and marginalized."43 These extreme living conditions and governmentally


38 See Leaming (1977:129).

39 Mukhopadhyay and Moses (1997:517).
40 Leading (1977:129).
41 Leading (1977:129).
42 Gomez (2005:197).

43 Gomez (2005:198).









mandated marginalization would have affected their world view, since "the province of

Ishmaelite influence appears to have been the non-Christian religious nationalist

movements."44 Learing elaborates the influence of the Ben Ishmael Tribe on religious

nationalist movements in that, "It is not surprising that there should have been

significant dialogue between those who had once been an independent nation in North

America and those who sought the self-determination of the entire African-American

people."45 The Ben Ishmael Tribe and the Moorish Science Temple share this history of

marginalization, questions and unified themselves under the banner of non-Christian

religious nationalism.

Drew Ali's connection to the Ishmaelites is traced through his migration from New

Jersey to Chicago, as he believed that "Islam is closer to the latter region."46 Ali's

emphasis on a Moorish identity for himself and his followers may also reflect a

connection with the group. It is known that "some percentage of Noble Drew Ali's

adherents in the Midwest were recruited from the Ishmaelites."47 By the time of the

MSTA the Ishmaelites as a group was largely defunct, so their identification with the

teachings of Drew Ali come "presumably as a result of some resonance between Noble

Drew Ali's teachings and the latter's own beliefs and lived experience."48 Leaming notes

several individuals who claimed to have membership in both the MSTA and the Ben

Ishmael Tribe. One of these individuals is Mrs. Gallivant, a women who joined the


44 Leading (1977:135).
45 Leading (1977:135).
46 Gomez (2005:200).

47 Gomez (2005:200).
48 Gomez (2005:200).









MSTA in Detroit around 1920; she had previously called herself an Ishmaelite, Mrs.

Gallivant even "spoke of the Tribe of Ishmael as a people who had dwelled downstate,

and who after moving north were among the first to assist in the establishment of the

Moorish Science in the Midwest."49 Leaming understands the sphere of influence with

the tribe, Islam, and the MSTA to be:

The accumulation of the tribal traits of shunning Christian churches,
abstinence from alcohol, polygamy, nomadic lifestyle, and names and
vocabulary bearing resemblances to Arabic proves nothing conclusive. But
they are sufficient to raise the question of Islamic influences on the old
culture of the Tribe of Ishmael, in light of this established relationship with
black nationalism after the diaspora [to the North], and then report of its
participation in the Midwestern founding of Moorish Science.5s

While there is still more to understand about the connections between the Ben Ishmael

Tribe, Drew Ali, and the MSTA, it is clear that they influenced the interpretations of

emergent African American Islamic movements.

Intellectual Influences on Drew Ali

Drew Ali was exposed to several other ideological influences including: the

writings of the "father of Pan-Africanism," Edward Wilmot Blyden; personal relationships

with the Ahmadiyya missionary, Mufti Muhammad Saddiq and Marcus Garvey; and his

membership in the Freemasons.51

Christian missionary Edward Wilmot Blyden's writings led to his title "father of

Pan-Africanism." He was the first scholar to link Islam to the continent of Africa as the

"authentic" religion for Africans, and subsequently the correct religion for African



49 Leading (1977:135).
50 Leading (1977:136).
51 See Michael Gomez (2005) and Richard Turner (1999) for more details on these connections, for
brevity's sake only a few of these links are addressed by this thesis.









Americans. 52 Blyden was born on St. Thomas in 1832.53 His missionary work brought

him to Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. He is best known for his book

Christianity, Islam, and the Negro Race, where he began to develop a theory that saw

Islam as an African religion and Christianity as European.54 Celebrated as the founder

of pan-African thought, Blyden saw Islam as the religion of Africans and those of African

descent. Blyden was also influenced by the political movements within Islam in Africa

and into his theory he absorbed the attitude of superiority regarding Islamic practices

from jihadist movements, such as Usman dan Fodio's in Nigeria.55 Blyden's linkage of

Islam and African heritage partly inspired Ali's belief in Islam as the original religion of

Africans which was believed to have been largely destroyed by slavery.56 Hence, in Ali's

view, to become a Muslim was to rediscover one's true identity.

While Blyden's ideological influence was inspirational for the MSTA in

understanding the correlation of Islam to the traditional religious practice of Africans,

there were also Islamic missionary influences contributing to the conception of Islam in

1920s American North. One of these missionaries was Mufti Muhammad Saddiq, the

first Ahmadiyya missionary to the United States.57 The Ahmadiyya are a Muslim group


52 Turner (1999:47).

53 Gomez (2005:257).
54 Blyden (1887) [reprint 1990]. Also discussed in Gomez (2005) and Turner (1999).
55 Scholar Dean S. Gilliland examines the influence of the jihadist movements of 1802 in Nigeria on
Blyden's understanding of Islam in African Religion Meets Islam: Religious Change in Northern Nigeria.
Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1986. He even cites Obarogie Ohonbamu's analysis of
Blyden's influence as "The educated [black] northerners were given the impression that their Islamic
culture was so superior that they never had the urge to ape of imitate the white administrators" (Gilliland,
1986:57).
56 See Turner (1999:48-59).

57 See Gomez (2005:251) for more detail about the life of Mufti Muhammad Saddiq. .









from the Punjab region of India who were widely persecuted for their beliefs in the late

1800s and early 1900s.58 Their persecution stems from their founder Ahmad's claim

that he was not only the Reformer of Islam (Muhaddid) but he was the messiah of all

prophetic religious traditions including the incarnation of Jesus Christ and the avatar of

Krishna. The Ahmadiyya movement achieved most of its missionary success amongst

African Americans and prison populations in North America. The Ahmadiyya much like

the MSTA, incorporated elements of Christianity and Judaism into Islam, believed in

continued revelations, and were viewed as heterodox by other Muslims. But Ali and

Saddiq were not only ideologically compatible. There is photographic evidence that links

Saddiq, Marcus Garvey, Elijah Muhammad, and Drew Ali.59 While Mufti Muhammad

Saddiq was not an African American, he was a central figure in the African American

intellectual community and most certainly was a contemporary and acquaintance of

Drew Ali and would have influenced his understanding of Islam.

Another influence on Drew Ali was his contemporary Marcus Garvey. Both

Garvey and Ali espoused ideologies of African American uplift and improvement. This is

especially apparent in the title of Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association or

UNIA. The extent of these men's influence on one another is the subject of some

scholarly debate. Historian Michael Gomez states that Ali's ideas and activities actually

antedate those of Garvey.60 While scholar Richard Brent Turner credits the latter's

influence on the former. This debate aside, both men employed mutual aid solutions to

alleviate unemployment and poverty within the African American community in the

58See Turner for more detail about the persecution endured by Saddiq and the Ahmadiyya (1999:112).
59 See Turner (1999:143).
60 Gomez (2005:204).









North, yet they had very different ends. Ali sought to establish autonomous black

economic systems like the MMC to lessen the exploitation of migrating African

Americans; while Marcus Garvey, with the help of UNIA members, began the Black Star

Line to raise funds and move people to Africa. The relationship between Ali and Garvey

is difficult to pinpoint, yet they had a common message of economic uplift through

community development projects.

Yet another intellectual influence on Drew Ali came from his affiliation with the

Freemasons. Ali was a member of the Black Shriners or the Ancient Egyptian Arabic

Order and used their Islamic symbolism, such as the red Fez, the title Noble, and the

crescent moon and star.61 The image etched on Drew Ali's gravestone is one of him in a

high-backed chair staring directly towards the viewer wearing the Fez. The red Fez was

used by the Shriners inside the lodge, but the Moorish Americans wore them in public,

and they were especially important regalia for the MSTA parades. Running deeper than

the appropriation of material symbols, the Moorish appropriation of Freemasonry

extended to the Fraternity's Rites of Passage where the MSTA developed similar rituals

intended to result, as Susan Nance holds, in a "spiritual rebirth of the initiate through

acquisition of secret truths to be used for personal fulfillment and the service of the

community at large."62 In the establishment of the MSTA, Drew Ali was intellectually

influenced by Edward Wilmot Blyden, Mufti Muhammad Saddiq, Marcus Garvey, and

the Freemasons. These intellectual connections are mirrored in the material culture of

the MSTA as the MMC, established to increase economic prosperity, the adoption of the


61See Turner (2003:95).
62 Nance (Summer 2002:138).









Fez and other clothing articles, as well as the symbols of the crescent and star, and the

use of the title Noble for Drew Ali. Other results of these influences are demonstrated

culturally through Rites of Passage and the belief in Islam as the superior religion for

Africans. These material and cultural influences on the life of Drew Ali and the MSTA

further demonstrates potential connections regarding Islam from Africa, the American

South, and the Moorish Science Temple of America.

The Prophet's Tea and Moorish Identity

The Moorish American identity of the MSTA evokes a connection to ancestral

knowledge that migrated with Africans across the Atlantic and into plantation life. The

foundations of the MSTA are rich with Islamic references, imagery, and materials that

connect the cultural tradition of African American Islam from different northern and

southern geographies and contexts. The life of Drew Ali and his ideological connections

illuminates the potential continuities of Islam between the North and the South during

the tumultuous uncertainty of early twentieth century America. As one member of the

MSTA put it, "people in the Moorish Science Temple knew their herbs. They learned

from their people in the South. Before that it came from the old country with some of the

slaves they brought here."63 While the employment of healing herbs was widely

practiced by the larger population of enslaved Africans, the connection between Ali's

knowledge of herbs to the South may also indicate potential for the influence of

Southern Islam on Drew Ali. The traditional employment of cure-all teas follows a path

from Africa to the Southern United States, but the tradition does not end here.


63 Dannin (2002:29).









With the migration of former enslaved African Americans and their descendents

to the North, the use of tea re-emerges in the context of black nationalist Islamic

movements at the turn of the century. The Moorish Science Temple of America was the

proprietor of such tea, called the Prophet's Tea or Moorish Body Builder and Blood

Purifier. It is the consumption of the Prophet's Tea as an herbal cure-all tea that

materially links the Moorish Science Temple back to the material practices of Southern

herbal cure-all teas. But larger than this connection, the Prophet's Tea indicates a

continued material tradition and knowledge system from Africa, to the American South,

and to the American North which helps us to grasp the history of African American Islam

and the origins of sustained Islamic practice in the Americas. We will now turn to this

history in the American South.









CHAPTER 3
LIFE EVERLASTING TEA

Do you have a cold and cough with congestion and fever? Pick the annual
herb 'life everlasting,' boil its leaves, stems, and yellow flowers, add another
plant like pine tops or mullein or sea myrtle, to make one of the most
popular cold remedies in South Carolina. Some say it will also relieve
cramps, diseased bowels, and pulmonary complaints, and promote general
well being. The dried plant is smoked for asthma, the leaves and flowers
are chewed for quinsy, the crumbled leaves relieve toothache, and a bath of
it eases foot pains.

William Pollitzer (1999:99).


Life Everlasting as an Herbal Cure-all

The first documented use of Life Everlasting1 Tea in the American South came

from the coastal regions of the Carolinas and Georgia, known as the Sea Islands. The

tea was consumed by enslaved Africans on southern plantations as an herbal stimulant

and cure-all tea, much like the Prophet's Tea of the Moorish Science Temple of America

(MSTA). The traditional use of Life Everlasting Tea for healing most likely comes from

Africa to the American South from enslaved Africans on the Sea Islands.2 This

medicinal use of cure-all teas, in particularly the plant Life Everlasting, is one of several

material continuities between the island residents, known as the Gullah culture, and

their ancestral homelands of Africa.

The African identities that transformed into the Gullah culture on the Sea Islands

during American slavery were influenced not only by African origins, but were also

shaped by the racist ideologies held by plantation owners and overseers about various

African ethnic groups. It was the belief of the white plantation owners that some slaves


1 Genus: Gnaphalum Species: polycephalum.
2 See Pollitzer (1999:99).









were of higher value than others and one of the prized slave populations were Muslim

Africans who were often skilled agriculturalists. The botanical continuities of Life

Everlasting Tea and Islamic material continuities of African ethnic identities provide

some of the documentation of the life, formation, and transformation of the Gullah

cultural identity which is comprised of non-Muslim majority and Muslim minority African

ethnicities under the harsh reality of slavery. The Islamic material continuities help to

shed light on Islamic cultural continuities as Islam transitions from Africa to America.

The unique population and documented presence of Islam in the Gullah material record

may have influenced subsequent African American Islamic movements in the North at

the turn of the century. We know that the employment of herbal cure-all teas were

rumored by the MSTA to reflect their southern heritage, a practice typified by the

employment Life Everlasting Tea on the Sea Islands, the influence of Islam in the South

on Islam in the North is more difficult to discern, but prospective research may clarify

these potential links.

Islam has a distinct material presence on the Sea Islands as evidenced by Arabic

derived names and words documented throughout the unique Gullah language system.

Moreover, some Gullah religious practices, such as the giving of sakara cakes and the

ring shout ritual, suggest further continuities between African Islam and the American

Southern Islam. We gain more insight into these Islamic practices when we look to the

life and legacy of slaves such as Bilali, an enslaved African Muslim from Sapelo Islands

who left his own written record in Arabic, used prayer beads, wore a Fez, prayed

multiple times a day facing the East, observed some dietary restrictions, and even wrote









Quranic scripture.3 Bilali's life is further contextualized through the writings of his

descendent Cornelia Bailey, who remembers not only her family history but also

provides written documentation of Gullah culture and oral traditions. From her writing we

are introduced to insider's history and perspective on contemporary issues facing the

Gullah and Sapelo Island. By tracing the material threads between the Sea Islands and

Africa, we are able to uncover some of the cultural continuities between Islam in both

regions and further understand the historical narrative of African American Islam.

From Africa to Gullah

The geography of the Sea Island Atlantic coastal region helps to explain the

continuity of herbal and medicinal plants from Africa to the Americas. The American

South and West Africa, the homelands for the majority of the enslaved Africans during

the transatlantic slavery system, are both subtropical zones of humidity, heat, luxuriant

vegetation, and sandy soils.4 The Sea Island region is a 250 mile long and 40 mile wide

coastal strip of low swamp and marsh lands that create an island chain from the coast

of North Carolina to the Northern border of Florida.5 Over generations of enslavement,

the island inhabitants developed their own Gullah African derived cultural and language

systems.6 This culture was imported from Africa with the start of the North American

slave trade in the 1600s. The Gullah identity began to coalesce through the institution of

chattel slavery and relative isolation from the American mainland.


3 As documented by the WPA Drums and Shadows (1940) accounts of Bilali's ancestors.
4 See Pollitzer (1999:87).
5 See Pollitzer (1999:4).
6 The difference between the Gullah and Gechee cultures is delineated by the Georgia/South Carolina
boarder. The Georgia Islands as technically the Gechee, but often the term Gullah is used
interchangeably since their cultures are "nearly indistinguishable" Gomez (1998:102). For the purpose of
simplicity only the term Gullah will be used to refer to the entire group of Sea Island cultures.









The story of Sea Island Gullah culture began with transatlantic slavery from

Africa to the United States in the late 1500s and early 1600s and officially ends in 1865.

While an estimated 530,000 Africans entered North America in chains, the total

estimated population of African slaves to the Americas numbers close to twelve million.7

The diverse demographics of the enslaved populations have been estimated from the

ledgers and cargo manifests of the ships as well as advertisements for slave auctions.8

The ethnic differences were not lost on the slave owners and this is reflected in the

owner's preference for slaves from particular regions for specific labors. Scholar William

Pollitzer finds, "West and Central Africa were the homeland of the ancestors of the

Gullah."9 Pollitzer includes the specific groups of the Islamic Hausa states, such as the

Fulani of Northern Nigeria, as a people whose "talents and experiences...were to be

reflected on the shores of the Americas."10 These talents and experiences often refer to

their agricultural abilities and these abilities were noticed by slave purchasers who

began to develop preferences for African slaves from specific ethnic backgrounds.

The African populations selected for enslavement on the Sea Island plantations

were based on the demand of slave owners and this was further influenced by their

perception of racial characteristics projected on specific African ethnicities. Racial

superiority is a one of the ideological constructs that supported the transatlantic slavery

system, but these racial attitudes were applied beyond a black and white dichotomy as

slave owners created further distinctions amongst African populations based on

7See Pollitzer (1999:38-39).
8 For an in-depth analysis and statistics see Gomez (2005) and Pollitzer (1999).

9Pollitzer (1999:26).
10Pollitzer (1999:28).









perceived ethnic differences. Slave owner's preferences were based on assumptions

and reductions about height, skin pigment, ethnically derived scarifications, literacy,

agricultural background, and demeanor. These preferences were often based on racist

phenotypical observations which were often conflated with the Islamic religious tradition

in the Sea Islands. For the Sea Islands, Muslim slaves were believed to possess the

most desirable skills for rice, cotton, and indigo agricultural production. They were

believed to be of both Arab and African descent and so valued over a perceived purely

African ethnicity. Michael Gomez further states, "Vis-a-vis other Africans, Muslims were

generally viewed by slave holders as a 'more intelligent, more reasonable, more

physically attractive, more dignified people."'11 The preferences were sometimes more

nuanced than this, for example Natchez planter William Dunbar was said to have

"specifically preferred Muslims from Northern Nigeria as opposed to Senegambians, but

they were Muslims nonetheless."12 The literacy of some Muslim slaves also influenced

plantation owner's perception of intelligence.13 According to Sylviane Diouf, slave

owners believed that since Muslim Africans had a mixed racial background that they

were not "true" Africans and they could be trusted, and they could "elevate themselves

to the highest positions within the boundaries of rigid slave society."14 The unique

Gullah culture of the Sea Islands begins with African diversity and was influenced by the

perception of slave owners. The influence of Islam on the Gullah culture is difficult to



11Gomez (1998:82).
12Gomez (1998:82). Northern Nigeria and Senegambia were just two regions from Africa that supplied the
coastal plantations with a labor force.
13Diouf (1998:97-100).
14Diouf (1998:99-100).









elucidate, but light is shed on some of these strands as we look to the larger material

culture of the Gullah.

The use of Life Everlasting Tea as an herbal cure-all demonstrates one of these

potential botanical cognates between African cultural practices and Gullah cultural

practices. Scholar William Pollitzer characterizes Life Everlasting as "only one of about

one hundred plants used by the citizens of the Low County for centuries for healing

aches and pains; the use of many of them is derived from ancient traditions of the Old

World."15 Given the similar climates, some of these medicinal plants may have been

native to the American South, but it is difficult to discern which plants originate from

Africa, and which ones were already growing in the American South. Pollitzer assumes

that botanical continuity indicates a traditional continuity. More pointedly Pollitzer

highlights this relationship, demonstrating that where plants have cognates, the

applications of these plants will also have cognates.

The similar climates between Western Africa and the Southern US allowed for

plant cognates to flourish, such as the cash crop rice. Africa supplied not only rice as a

cash crop to America, but also contributed indigo. In fact indigo can be traced by

species back to Africa to understand the influence of the ethnically Islamic group the

Fulani of Nigeria on the spread of indigo.16 Pollitzer indicates that not only do these

plant materials have correlations between the US and Africa, but their knowledge is

based on traditions with threads that precede American territory and reflect a knowledge

created in Africa. Through the continued use of Life Everlasting Tea as an herbal cure-

15Pollitzer (1999:99).
16Pollitzer traces the species Indigofera tinctoria, and Indigofera arrecta to Africa (specifically Senegal for
the former species) to the "Kanuri dyers of the Cameroun who carried it from Bornu to the region of Lake
Chad, "and there, "Fulani were also responsible for its spread." (1999:91).









all in Africa and the Sea Islands we can see the continuity of knowledge. Given the

documented presence of an Islamic material tradition in the Sea Islands, we can use

this evidence of herbal material continuities and extrapolate to investigate the presence

and transformation of Islam to the Sea Islands.

Beyond the crude materials of plants and tangible objects, Islam also came

across the Atlantic Ocean. Islam was an established religion in Africa as early as the

eleventh century.17 Early on there were Muslims amongst the Senegambian: Wolof,

Fulbe, and Malinke groups. There was also a Muslim presence in Northern Nigeria that

supplied slaves to the New World.18 The exact number of enslaved African Muslims

taken to the United States is unknown, but Michael Gomez states that "their numbers

were significant, probably reaching in the thousands."19 While Islam first arrived on the

shores of the Americas as early as the 1500s, it was in the 1600s that the first sustained

practices of Islam in the United States have been documented.20 The "epicenter of the

African Muslim community in colonial and antebellum North America...was located

along the Georgia and South Carolina coasts, comprising both islands and the

immediate mainland vicinity."21 It is this Sea Island region that also holds the keys to

understanding the beginnings of Islam in America through the material record of the

enslaved Muslims and their descendents.


17See Gomez (2005).
18Gomez (1998:43).

19Gomez (1998:60).
20Both Turner (2003) and Gomez (2005) demonstrate that enslaved African Muslims were also on
Spanish expeditions in the 1500s.Turner writes about Estevan, the first identifiable Muslim ion North
America, was a black Moroccan guide and interpreter who came to Florida from Spain in 1527 (2003:11).
21Gomez (2005:143).









Islam in the Material Record

Life Everlasting Tea, like the knowledge of its application as a cure-all, came

across the Atlantic from Africa and has left a lasting influence on the material record of

the Sea Islands. As Pollitzer indicates, botanical evidences indicate material continuities

and are indicative of knowledge continuities between Africa and the Sea Islands. As we

know Islam was an African religion before the onset of transatlantic slavery. We can

expect from these correlations that Islam will be present in the material culture of the

Sea Islands, and to understand the presence of Islam in the Sea Islands, we can look to

the material record. Like the herbal knowledge of Life Everlasting Tea's healing abilities,

Islam has material manifestations as evidenced by sakara cakes and the ring shout

ritual, as well as in family names and the vocabulary of the Sea Island residents, but

most concretely the continuation of Islam as a material and ideological system in the

Sea Islands is demonstrated by written Arabic records by enslaved Muslim Sea

Islanders. The importance of these Arabic records is understood through their ability to

assert agency in the representation of Muslims. It is the uniqueness of the Gullah

material culture that initiated scholastic investigation into the lives and practices of

enslaved Africans, and it is this very material culture that also indicates the transition of

Islam to the American South from Africa.

The material culture of the Sea Islands has been the subject of scholarly inquiry,

and it is from research on one of the southernmost Sea Islands, Fort George Island, that

"plantation archaeology" was created as a field of study.22 This new field took the

material culture of enslaved Africans into consideration to understand their daily

22 Leland Ferguson, Uncommon Ground: Archaeology and Early African America, 1650-100. Washington,
D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press,1992:Xxxvi.









activities, customs, and access to goods in an attempt to understand this largely

undocumented culture. It is in this vein that we will look to the material culture of the

Sea Islands in an attempt to highlight Islamic practices.

One of the materializations of Islam in the Sea Islands is sakara cakes. These

sweetened rice cakes were recorded from the oral histories of the descendents of

Gullah slaves by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1930s.23 The cakes were

made of overly water saturated rice sweetened with honey or sugar then mashed into

flat cakes.24 The origins of this cooking method, "probably spread from India through the

Moslems to West Africa and thence to the Low country."25 In the Gullah coastal

lowlands these cakes would have been offered as a tenant of Islam called sadakha, the

giving of alms. Furthermore, scholar Sylviane Diouf indicates, "As in the case in Africa,

the cakes in Georgia were given to the children, and being religious in nature, the

distribution was accompanied by the traditional ameen."26 Diouf even notes that the

cakes were so popular with the island children they memorialized them in song. While

the cakes are remembered in fond childhood memories of Sea Islanders, their practical

function was to serve the Islamic tenet of charity and they were most likely distributed

as a form of alms giving. The cakes and the method employed to construct them reflect

a further continuity of practice, food resources, and cooking technique between Muslims

in America and Muslims in Africa. The presence of Islam in the Gullah material record is

not always as transparent as in the case of the sakara cakes. To understand the less

23 WPA Drums and Shadows (1940) [reprinted 1986].
24 See Diouf (1998:65).
25 Pollitzer (1999:90).
26 Diouf (1998:65).









apparent connections some scholars, like Sylviane Diouf, aim to tease out traces of

Islamic practice from the generic catch-all category of "African" practices used by

scholars.

Diouf specifically targets the practice of the "ring shout" to deconstruct the

assumption that this practice demonstrates an amalgamation of African derived

polytheistic religious influences. She elaborates that the ring shout, is probably a

linguistic derivative of shaut, which translates from Arabic to English to mean "to move

around the Kaaba... until exhausted."27 This practice of circumambulation is practiced

by Muslims on the hajji, one of the pillars of Islam, where pilgrims move as a unified

mass around the holy shrine called the Kaaba.28 The circular motion of the ring shout

ritual supports the hypothesis that it has similarities to the Islamic practice of

circumambulation at the Holy Shrine. The similarities between the ring shout ritual and

the Islamic practice of circumambulation at the Kaaba indicates a continuity of religious

practices with specifically Islamic influences. Diouf believes these terms "shout" and

"shaut" to be cognates since there is larger evidence of African and Arabic vocabulary

cognates and near cognates in the vocabulary and names of Sea Island residents.

African Arabic names and naming systems are also recorded from the Sea Island

regions. These Arabic derived names are posted on the runaway slave advertisements

searching for individuals with names like Bullaly (Bilali), Mustapha, Fatima, Sambo,

Bocarrey (Bukari), and Mamado (Mamadu).29 The name Sambo most likely comes from



27 Diouf (1998:69); Pollitzer (1999:115) also supports this hypothesis.
28 See Diouf (1998).
29 Gomez (1998). Gomez elaborates the list of potential cognates to include "Adamu, Ali, Amina, Aminata,
Ayisata, Bakari, Bilali, Binta, Bintu, Birahama, Birama, Fatimata, Gibril, Haruna, Hasana, Male, Mare,









the African area of the Fulbe, which is also a region known to have Muslims. Sambo,

probably the derivative of the name Samba, means "second son," the use of this name

is consistent with Muslim names and naming patterns from Africa in the New World.30

The continuation of these names and naming processes reflect the heritage of Islamic

knowledge in the written English record. There was another written record in the Sea

Islands, and this is perhaps the most informative writing because it is the writings of a

few elite Muslim slaves. These Muslims slaves had the ability to assert agency in the

written record which provides insights into the practice of Islam on the Sea Islands.31

Perhaps the most compelling evidence of Islam in the Sea Islands is this written

record, since the employment of the Arabic alphabet directly identifies the educated

nature of Muslims in Africa before the Atlantic slave trade. Islamic schools had been in

Africa for centuries before the transatlantic slave trade. As a result of this some of the

enslaved African Muslims were literate in Arabic. This is apparent in the documents

from South Carolina written by enslaved Muslims. Allan Austin was the first scholar to

chronicle several of these Muslim slaves who left documentation of their religious

commitment to Islam.32 Austin follows the life of Omar Ibn Said, one of the most famous

Muslims in nineteenth century America. Said was born in Africa 1770 and came to the

United States in chains in 1807.33 He is a legendary figure who supposedly "loved his


Mori, and Musa. He also includes a brief list of naming systems in his later work The Black Crescent
(2005:159).
30 Gomez (1998:69).
31 Allen Austin is credited with creating the seminal work on African American Muslims in American
Muslims in Antebellum America: A Sourcebook (1984).
32 See Austin (1984).

33 See Austin (1984).









master but ran away from a cruel overseer" and then was converted from Islam to

Christianity.34 The legend of Omar Ibn Said contributes some information to our

understanding of Islam in the Americas. Said's legendary conversion to Christianity

meant he "supposedly abandoned his interest in African and Islam and continued in a

love of white Americans and Christianity."35 Scholar Richard Turner believes that this

legend is "a deliberate distortion of history intended to soothe American consciences

and maintain, if not create, certain myths about the Old South."36 But Omar Ibn Said has

more than just a legendary representation in the historical record; Said was a literate

Muslim who left his own writings concerning his conversion.

While the narrative states Said converted to Christianity, this narrative is directly

challenged by Said's continued assertion of his Muslim identity in his writings. Said

apparently wrote Surah 110 of the Quran, which focuses on the ultimate victory of

Islam, on a manuscript entitled "The Lord's Prayer."37 Omar Ibn Said's writings are

further linked to serious Islamic practice in that, "The Arabic drawings and pentacles

inscribed on several of [Said's] Arabic manuscripts are similar to those found on the

amulets that African slaves in Brazil used in the Muslim insurrection of 1835 in Bahia."38

These amulets were also used for the same reasons in Africa.39 In Africa both Muslims

and non-Muslims carried amulets filled with Quranic scripture in the understanding that


34 Turner (2003:38).
35 Turner (2003:38).
36 Turner (2003:38).

37 Turner (2003:38).
38 Turner (2003:40).

39 Amulets containing Quranic scripture are used throughout the Muslim world, and are not specific to
Africa, but for these purposes we will only highlight this practice in Africa and the Sea Islands.









"writing possessed particular efficacy."40 The use of amulets filled with Quranic scripture

was a practice that came from the Muslim clerics of Africa and continued to be used by

Muslims in the New World. Omar Ibn Said's use of Islamic scripture and the designs of

his calligraphy led scholars to connect the use of Islamic amulets carried on into the

New World. Said was able to challenge in writing the assumptions about his religious

identity demonstrating that some Muslim slaves converted to Christianity in public, but

not necessarily in practice. The life and legacy of another enslaved Muslim from the Sea

Islands, Bilali Mohamet, provides further insights into the material manifestations and

continuation of Islam on the Sea Islands. The life of Bilali gives us insight in to the

lasting material legacy from slavery through emancipation and into contemporary times

and his legacy is represented in the oral history of Sapelo Island and his descendents

as a part of their Gullah cultural heritage.

The Life and Legacy of Bilali

The life of Bilali indicates the lasting influence of Islam on the Sapelo, one of the

Sea Islands. Bilali was originally from Timbo, Futa Jallon.41 Bilali was enslaved on the

plantation of Thomas Spaulding where he eventually proved to be a "dependable

driver."42 Richard Turner quotes white Sapelo resident Georgia Conrad's 1850s

observation of Bilali and his family to indicate he "worshiped Mohamet (sic)," that they

were "tall and well-formed with good features," talked amongst themselves in "a foreign

tongue that no one else understood," and that Bilali always adorned himself with "a cap



40 Gomez (1998:67).
41 Turner (2003:33).
42 Gomez (2005:154).









that resembled a Turkish fez."43 This description of Bilali is consistent with the

previously noted assumptions of plantation owners on the perceived attributes of

Muslim slaves. The legacy of Bilali as told by his descendents highlights the material

practices of Bilali including his use of prayer beads and Quranic amulets indicating the

transmission of Islamic practices throughout subsequent Sapelo Island generations.44

The memories of Bilali's descendent Cornelia Bailey not only sheds light on the

continuation of Islam materially on the Sea Islands, but also the botanical application of

Life Everlasting Tea as a traditional cure-all tea, which yet again confirms the

connection between materials both botanical and religious, and knowledge systems

both herbal and Islamic.

Bilali was an integral player in the prosperity of Spaulding's plantation, and in

Spaulding's absence Bilali would be deemed the overseer.45 This position of

responsibility was rare for an enslaved person, but some literate Muslims were given

this responsibility in spite of their bondage.46 The prestige of enslaved Muslims on

plantations was consistent with their stratified societies in Africa. The Muslims in Africa

controlled the vast trade networks creating a difference between resource access

between Muslims and non-Muslims in Africa. This is summarized by Gomez as "Muslim

abilities and atypicality were celebrated, and their divergence from other Africans was

rewarded with less demanding, more highly trained vocational jobs and assignments,

43Turner (2003:32).
44Bilali's descendent Cornelia Bailey with Christena Bledsoe have complied one of the most accessible
histories, traditions, and oral culture of the Gullah people and gives us particular insights into the legacy
of Bilali in God, Dr. Buzzard, and the Bolitoman (2000).
45See Austin (1984:265-68).
46Muslim slaves were not always privileged on the plantations and in some cases their adherence to
Islam brought them more persecution.









which necessarily contributed to the ways in which African-derived societies were

stratified."47 Bilali's ability to lead earned him his reputation, but his literacy allowed him

to assert some agency in historical representation.

Bilali's leadership abilities led to his achievements during the War of 1812 when

he and approximately eighty armed slaves prevented the British from securing Sapelo

Island.48 Bilali was even the model of Joel Chandler Harris's caricature "Ben Ali."49 Bilali

"wore a fez and kaftan, prayed daily (facing the East), and also observed the Muslim

feast days."50 His legacy was passed down to his seven daughters, Margret,51 Bentoo,

Chaalut, Medina, Yaruba, Fatima, and Hestuh, which Gomez considers to be "most

identifiably Muslim names."52 Furthermore, Bilali's Islamic influence provides a lasting

legacy of Islamic images in the memory of Sapelo Island residents.

One of these images recorded by the WPA was that of Katie Brown, a

descendent of Bilali, who claimed her famous great-grandfather and his wife Phoebe

"pray on duh bead."53 This image is consistent with the use of prayer beads by Muslims.



47 Gomez (2005:372).
48 See Turner (2003:33).

49 Gomez (2005). Joel Chandler Harris also created the character Uncle Remus, who would later become
the narrator of Disney's Song of the South directed by Harve Foster and Wilfred Jackson (1946). This film
recants the tales of Ber Rabbit, also a popular mythological character in the Sea Islands literature which
is believed to have African origins. For more information on the Ber Rabbit and Joel Chandler Harris
connection see Pollitzer (1999).
50 Gomez (1998:74).

51 Margaret was also documented as wearing a head covering that extended to her shoulders. This is a
practice that her granddaughter Katie Brown also continued into the 1930s according to the WPA
interview (1986: 158-172). Gomez to show consistency of veiling amongst the enslaved African Muslims
and their children (2005:155).
52 Gomez (2005:155).

53 WPA (1986:61).









An even more persuasive image of Islam on Sapelo Island is in the memory of Shad

Hall, grandson of Hestuh, Bilali's daughter. Shad Hall recalls,

Hestuh an all ub um sho pray on duh bead. Dey weah duh string uh beads
on duh wais. Sometime duh string on duh neck. Dey pray at sun-up and
face duh sun on duh knees an bow tuh it tree times, kneelin' on a lill mat.54

The use of prayer beads and a mat, as well as a prostrated posture indicates

consistency with widely accepted Muslim prayer practices.55

Another prayer artifact is that of the amulet. The use of Quranic scripture amulets

is recorded in the writings of Bilali descendent Cornelia Bailey. Cornelia Bailey also

refers to her ancestor's use of small amulet pouches similar to the ones Muslims in

Africa used. She states,

After Grandpa died, I opened the little bag and pulled the paper out and it
said, 'With God, all things are possible.' I later found out that Muslim clerics
in African used to hand out little sealed pouches with religious sayings on
them.56

These consistent practices lingered in the minds of Sea Island residents throughout

slavery and into the present and are preserved in the writings of Cornelia Bailey.

Cornelia Bailey, whose great-grandmother was Harriet Hall Grovner, the

granddaughter of Bentoo, Bilali's daughter; has contributed much to the documentation

of Gullah culture and oral traditions, her memoires provide road maps and insights into

the material culture of her Gullah heritage and she contributes a written legacy for the

oral traditions of her people. Michael Gomez states, "Cornelia Bailey offers a glimpse

with her observation that Bilali's children would not eat 'wild' animals or 'fresh' meat,


54 WPA (1986:165-68).
55 It should also be noted that the WPA recorded Islamic practices on other Islands near Sapelo. Some of
these practices were prayer three times a day and an emphasis on Friday prayer (1986:162).
56 Bailey (2000:66).









and that seafood such as crab was avoided as were certain kinds of fish."57 Cornelia

Bailey's memories support much of Gomez's findings and reports of the WPA. Bailey

further recalls that Bilali used a mat for prayer purposes, prostrated in prayer three

times a day, employed prayer beads, and that his wife Phoebe's rice cakes were

something to be remembered for generations.58 Her understanding of Bilali's leadership

role on the plantation and his victory against the British in the War of 1812 also matches

Gomez's analysis.59

It is from Cornelia Bailey's memories and transmission of oral history to written

history that we can understand the lasting effects of the Muslim presence on Sapelo

Island. Bailey highlights these connections in her story of family members, such as

Harriet Hall Grovner, who many have been practicing Islam as late as the 1920s.60 She

documents the peculiar Eastern prayer direction the congregation of the First Baptist

African Church of Sapelo faces for prayer. Bailey also documents a tension between the

South and North ends of Sapelo which may be a product of the tension between

Muslims and non-Muslims reflected by the privileged positions achieved by Muslims

within the plantation hierarchy, as we know Bilali had achieved one of these positions.

Bailey also links her family's material traditions to the use of Life Everlasting Tea as an





57 Gomez (2005:156).
58 See Bailey (2000).

59 See Bailey (2000).
60 See Gomez (2005:162). This link is speculative, but this potential indicates that Islam may have been
practiced on the Sea Islands into the twentieth century. Gomez does however, find that Harriet Hall
Grovner was practicing Islam until 1866, which does mean that Islam was practiced in the Sea Island
region a year after emancipation in 1865.









herbal cure-all, which is reminiscent of the mixture of Islam and herbal medicinal

applications in Africa.61

The writings of Cornelia Bailey further substantiate the claims of some scholars.

Scholars, like Michael Gomez speculate about the conversion experience of Harriet Hall

Grovner, Bailey's great-grandmother, from Islam to Christianity with the establishment

of the First African Baptist Church in 1866.62 Given the knowledge that some Sea

Islanders converted to Christianity more so in name than perhaps practice, i.e. Omar

Ibn Said, Gomez is suspicious about the extent of Grovner's conversion since she often

went into the woods to pray, a rather peculiar behavior given church membership and

attendance. Bailey is able to support Gomez's speculation with her memory which

recalled:

Grandma said that people had to sneak out into the woods at night to
pray...When freedom came, Bilali's children and grandchildren formed the
First African Baptist Church. Some of them would have been Muslim still
and some likely were Christian by then, and they wanted to go to church
together so they patched things up, and they used Muslim traditions in a
Christian church.63

A documented example of this Islamic influence is also apparent in the Eastern direction

of prayer for the First African Baptist Church.64 Bailey's memories of life on the Sea

Islands contextualize many of the assumptions scholars had long speculated about

Muslim people on the island chain. She is able to further illuminate a potential lasting




61 This notion is discussed at length in the next chapter in the context of the Northern Nigerian malam.
62 Gomez (2005:162).
63 Bailey (2000:158). But this is also noted by Diouf (1998:193).
64 See Bailey (2000), chapter sixteen, here Bailey explains the importance of the direction of the East in
the Gullah culture.









presence of Islam on Sapelo Island through her documentation of the historic conflict

between the north and south ends of Sapelo Island.

Cornelia Bailey indicates that Sapelo Island itself is still segregated between the

north and south ends of the Island. The north end people were the field workers, and

according to Bailey they "wanted to keep their own identity" while the south enders were

"used to being around the white man," which reflected their material access to Ivory

soap called "sweet soap," instead of having to use Borax like the field slaves.65 The

division on the island is a relic of the social system created by slavery.66 This dichotomy

could further reflect the division between the Muslims and non-Muslims of Sapelo

Island. Bilali was a Muslim who achieved the title of overseer in the absence of

Spaulding; Bilali would have been one of these more privileged slaves of the south end.

This North and South dichotomy on Sapelo Island demonstrates that continuity of racial

and potentially religious ideologies and identities created at the time of slavery still has

implications on the lives of Sea Islanders into the present. Bailey is also the link

between a continued Islamic material culture and botanical material culture coming from

Africa to the Sea Islands through the use of Life Everlasting Tea.

Bailey's description of the material traditions of Sapelo Island also includes

mention of the use of Life Everlasting Tea as a part of her family's medicine cabinet.

She states, "We had roots and herbs growing all over Sapelo, and we used them for

everything."67 Her father drank the tea daily in the evening, as in the evening Life

Everlasting was drunk as "the poor man's Lipton, with its own stimulant, and it got you

65 Bailey (2000:113).
66 Bailey (2000:112).
67 Bailey (2000:201).









up and going."68 She further elaborates that even when her father could afford coffee he

still chose to drink the Life Everlasting Tea.69 Bailey also informs her audience that the

tea was given to her when she was a sick child as a cure for severe colds. Bailey further

notes that "most of my family did live to old age."70 Life Everlasting Tea has a long

history of use on the plantations on the Sea Islands and has materially and ideologically

become part of the culture, but the historic use of this tea as a cure-all probably

originates in Africa.

The use of plants for healing was widely practiced by slaves on Southern

plantations since enslaved people did not typically have access to doctors in the

traditional European sense. They relied on those who knew how to use roots and herbs

to concoct remedies out of local botany. The creation of this knowledge is difficult to

trace, since we have few records of this process. But employment and development of

root knowledge, much like Life Everlasting Tea, has its origins in a land separated by

the Atlantic Ocean. The knowledge of Life Everlasting Tea as a cure-all most likely

endured the middle passage, from Africa to America. There is specifically documented

use of Life Everlasting Tea as an herbal supplement in Nigeria, where they refer to the

plant as Never Die.71 More than the transfer of crude materials, the continued use and

knowledge of the benefit of Life Everlasting Tea consumption highlight something

deeper; it indicates that materials, as well as knowledge and ideas survived the Middle

Passage from Africa to the American South. The life of Bilali and the memories of

68 Bailey (2000:203).
69 Bailey (2000:203).
70 Bailey (2000:203).
71 According to Bailey (2000:327).









Cornelia Bailey illuminate more of the material influences that demonstrate links to other

knowledge and ideologies that survived this treacherous passage, including Islam.

Islam appears in the American material record as herbal remedies, prayer

sacraments, writings, and familial names which indicate the legacies and

remembrances of heritages from Africa in the Americas. When we follow these material

cognates we are able to highlight the daily life practices of these enslaved populations

as well as fill in gaps in the historical narrative of the African experience in America. The

material record clearly indicates that not only botanical materials have continuities, but

also Islamic artifacts and practices do as well. It is through the material objects that we

are able to speculate the cultural continuities that originate from African Muslims and

transform as they reach the new context of the American South initiating African

American Islam. So to understand these material manifestations in the United States,

we must also understand the larger practice, history, and material culture of Islam in

Africa. By understanding the method in which Islam adapts to Africa from Middle

Eastern trade networks as they spread through the continent we can understand the

tradition of adaptation in African Islam.









CHAPTER 4
NEVER DIE TEA

A man from Nigeria who visited [Sapelo] saw some Life Everlasting and
said to his son, 'Look. We have this at home too.' So Life Everlasting grows
in West Africa. The only difference is that people there call the plant 'never
die.'

Cornelia Bailey (2000:326-327)

Never Die Tea as an Herbal Cure-all

The Nigerian visitor described by Cornelia Bailey identified the plant Life

Everlasting as a botanical cognate to a Nigerian plant called Never Die.1 The

connection of Life Everlasting Tea in Sapelo Island and Nigeria has further implications

than just botanical continuities. The use of Life Everlasting Tea as an herbal cure-all tea

supports continuities between other material cultures and belief systems as well. This

can be highlighted through the material tradition of Islam in Nigeria.

Islam was transmitted through Africa via trade networks established and

controlled by Middle Eastern Muslims.2 The association between Islam and trade

opened the avenues for Islam to be associated with political power as well. As Islam

spread throughout Africa it began to take on uniquely African features, such as the

reliance on cure-all herbal teas for healing purposes. This transmission of Islam through

Africa as a base of mercantilism, political power, religious ideology, and source of

healing is demonstrated in Nigeria by the role of the malam. But the conflation of African

traditional knowledge and Islamic knowledge created the base of a politics of

authenticity concerning the idea of a "true" or "pure" Arabian Islam versus an "un-pure"


1 The same plant is found in both Nigeria and Sapelo Island, but it is unknown if the plant originated in
Africa and was brought to the Americas, or if the plant was already a native species to the Americas.
2 Gomez (2005:6).









African Islam. These politics are demonstrated by the jihad movement of Usman dan

Fodio in 1802, which sought to disassociate herbal remedies and African innovations

from Islam and concretized the conflicts between Fulani Muslims of Northern Nigeria

and other Muslim and non-Muslim ethnic groups.3 Dan Fodio's persecution set the tone

for his successor Muhammad Bello, who continued to eradicate innovation from

Nigerian Islam.4 These conflicts potentially influenced Bilali's attitude to other enslaved

Africans on Sapelo Island and may have also contributed to Edward Wilmot Blyden's

understanding of Islam as an "authentic" African religion. Furthermore, this innovation of

herbal remedies into Islamic practices in Africa contributes to tracing the legacy of

Islamic material culture in North America and the sheds light on the overarching beliefs

connected to this controversial practice. Through the Islamic practices of the malam: the

employment of blessings; Quranic amulets; the use of assault magic practices; and

herbal consumption methods, help us investigate the transition of Islam to Nigeria. This

further illuminates the potential origins and possible material continuities between

African and African American Islam. The use of cure-all tea in Nigeria indicates insights

into the lives of Muslims in Africa and the underlying politics of authenticity that begins

in Africa and continues in North America.

Islam in Africa

Before the institution of transatlantic slavery, where Africans were taken to the

Americas, there was the transsaharan slave trade during which Africans were taken to

the Middle East. It was this slave trade that originally brought the knowledge of Islam to

3 Gilliland (1986:56). This subject is further explored by Gilliland (1986) and Michael Gomez (2005).
4 Abdalla (1985:15). For more about Muhammad Bello see Ismail Abdalla's essay, "The Ulama of Sokoto
in the Nineteenth Century: A Medical Review," in African Healing Strategies. Edited by Brian M du Toit
and Ismail Abdalla. New York: Traco-Medic Books, 1985.









Africa as early as the seventh century.5 It was, however, from the eleventh century

onward that Islam not only became an African religion, but took on an influential role in

politics.6 The political ties of Islam to trade networks and the elite class led to the

establishment of Muslim states throughout Africa. This Muslim state development began

when "the king of Takrur (in Senegambia) became a Muslim; Islam in West Africa was

closely connected with the development of states such as ancient Ghana, Mali and

Songhay."7 As Islam spread from these trade networks throughout Africa it became the

religion practiced by many of the merchants. This connection contributes to the later

politicization of Islam. Islam in Africa was not only the religion of the elite and political

leaders. With this eleventh century spread of Islam across Africa, it transitioned "from

being a religion of traders and scholars, Islam was increasingly adopted by West

Africans societies who fused elements of the new Islamic religion to their own traditional

beliefs, thus resulting in a situation where 'mixed' Islam took root."8 In Nigeria this

African influence on Islam is demonstrated materially by the use of cure-all teas and

herbal remedies for healing. These innovations, however, have been the subject of

much persecution in Nigeria, as we will see in thejihad led by Usman dan Fodio and the

lasting effect of this jihad on the Fulani ethnicity both in Africa and in the Americas.

From the beginning, the history of Islam in Africa had a uniquely African expression, and



5 Scholar J. Alexander provides a more thorough analysis of the transsaharan slaves trade in his article
"Islam, archaeology, and slavery in Africa." World Archaeology 33/1(2001):44-50.
6 Along with Alexander (2001), scholars Michael Gomez (2005) and Christopher Steed (1995) also
provide insights into the trade networks and political networks that arose across Africa before the
transatlantic slave trade, but for brevity the discussion will focus only on Nigeria.
7 Steed (1995:67).
8 Steed (1995:67).









consequentially the authenticity of some African Islamic practices has been a subject of

scrutiny.

Scholar Ismail H. Abdalla emphasizes this connection between traditional African

healing and Islamic influences to the larger understanding of Islam in Africa, "when the

role of the Muslim cleric as a doctor in Islamized African societies is fully investigated

and understood, we will perhaps better comprehend the process of conversion in Africa,

and be able to explain, more convincingly, the influence of Islam on the life of the

ordinary African."9 In fact, "the participation of both animist and Muslims in traditional

institutions of [witchcraft and magic] is of the highest importance."10 To understand the

relationship between Islam and traditional sources of healing we will look to Northern

Nigeria, a region historically notes for the dynamics of Islam, Christianity, and

indigenous beliefs as well as being one of the sources of enslaved African Muslims to

the New World in the 1600s.

A Brief History of Islam in Nigeria

The history of Islam in Nigeria is shaped by contentious interactions along ethnic

borders between Islam, Christianity, and other African religions. Nigeria is typically

divided into three religious majority regions with Islam associated with the North,

Christianity in the "Middle Belt" region, and indigenous polytheistic African religions

practiced in the South.11 Islam transitioned to Northern Nigerian through trade networks




9 Abdalla (1985:8).
10 Gilliland (1986:50).

11 For more explanation about the regional and ethnic ties across Nigeria see Jacob Olupona and Toyin
Falola's edited volume Religion and Society in Nigeria: Historical and Sociological Perspectives. Nigeria:
Spectrum Books Limited, 1991.









in the eleventh century, and again in the late fourteenth century.12 These networks

spread material goods as well as Islam to the surrounding populations of Kanem-

Borono and Hausa kingdoms, as well as connecting Islam to the Northern Nigerian

merchant class. Islam in Northern Nigeria is also connected to the ethnic identities of

the Fulani and Hausa. It was through the jihad movement of Usman dan Fodio that

Fulani was connected to an Islamic identity.13

As a result, the Fulani claim an Arabian origin in their mythology, and they depict

themselves as the upholders of "orthodox principles in the face of lax Hausa officials."14

The claim to Arab descent allows for a continued lineage for the Fulani to legitimate

their religious practice from the lineage of the prophet. The Fulani group sought to rid

Islam in Northern Nigeria of its ties to African practices, in the attempt to establish a

"true and pure Islamic state."15 Usman dan Fodio was the initiator of this jihad, or holy

war against innovation, which lasted until 1810, and sought to "purify an already semi-

Islamized society by purging 'venal' Muslims, rather than forcibly convert non-

Muslims."16 Innovation was not the only focus of dan Fodio's campaign, he also wished

to eradicate the pagan practices, and force the Christians to pay tributes.17





12 See Steed (1995:67).
13 Dan Fodio's jihad was influenced by the Wahhabi movement of Arabia. (Steed, 1995:68).
14 Salamone (1991:47).

15Salamone (1991:47).
16 Steed (1995:69). Steed indicates that dan Fodio perhaps did not emphasize conversion for the non-
Muslims because it was because only non-Muslims could be enslaved according to Islamic jurisprudence.
Also see Salamone (1991:48).
17 See Steed (1995:69-70).









Tensions like these between the religious groups of Nigeria were potentially

transmitted in the prejudices of the slaves against one another in the American South,

as is evidenced by Sapelo Island's Bilali, who found he "could depend only upon fellow

Muslims, as opposed to the general slave population whom he characterized as

'Christian dogs."18 This is further explained from the West African context of religious

based conflict between Christians, Muslims, and polytheistic traditions. The jihad

movement of Usman dan Fodio changed the way in which Islam co-existed with other

religious practices. Moreover, dan Fodio's jihad occurred contemporaneously with

transatlantic slavery, and makes it there for reasonable that slaves from the Hausa

nation exported from 1804-12 to the Americas would have most likely been Muslim and

non-Muslim war captives. 19

Usman dan Fodio's successor Sultan Muhammad Bello understood the

importance of both Islam and Arabic writing for Africa.20 Bello sought to estrange African

Muslim medicinal practices from the traditional African herbal remedies to instead

employ what he understood as Quranic and Hadith sciences. It was apparently through

health care that Bello thought governmental stability could be achieved, but more than

this, "Bello's interest in the development of a sound medical and agricultural system in

Hausaland cannot be separated from his overall commitment to the establishment of the

ideal Muslim society in the land, which was the main aim of the jihad [led by dan

Fodio]."21 Bello's support and research into Islamic medicines also aided in establishing


18 Gomez (1998:83).
19 Gomez (2005:145).
20 See Abdalla (1985:14).
21 Abdalla (1985:15).









the hegemony of the Sokoto Caliphate.22 Bello carried on the rhetoric of eradicating

African elements from Islamic practices, and in doing so questioned the authenticity of

some so-called Islamic practices. Bello believed that it was through education Nigeria

could become an authentic Islamic state, free of innovation. Bello's sultanate

emphasized education and literacy to achieve a "true" Islamic state. Scholar Dean

Gilliland notes that Bello's emphases in, "sparked a wave of enlightenment;" brought

"dignity to the Muslim upper class;" and "affected hundreds of tribes ruled by Fulani

emirs."23 This further concretized dan Fodio's elitist idea of what is defined as "true"

Islam versus non-Islamic practices which influenced the consciousness of Muslims in

North America.24

But more than this, "the importance of this movement in raising the

consciousness for education and progress is reflected in the controversial work of

Edward Blyden."25 Bylden claims to describe Nigeria just after the jihad in his

observations stating, "Where the Muslim in found... he looks upon himself as a separate

and distinct being from his pagan neighbor, and immeasurably superior in intellectual

and moral respects."26 Blyden used this elitist notion in his equation of Islam as the

superior religion for Africans, an idea which later influenced the Noble Drew Ali of the

Moorish Science Temple.27 The Fulani elitist religio-political networks were reinforced


22 See Robert Stock's "Islamic Medicine in Rural Hausaland," African Healing Strategies. Ed by Brian M.
du Toit and Ismail H. Abdalla. New York: Trado-Medic Books, 1985:31.
23 Gilliland (1986:56).
24 Gilliland (1986:56).
25 Gilliland (1986:56).
26 Gilliland (1986:57).
27 According to Stock (1985:31).









by transatlantic slavery, as jihad war captives were sold to slavers. This Fulani elitist

notion was concretized by the colonial British endeavors in Nigeria. The belief in the

superiority of Islam in Nigeria fostered by dan Fodio's jihad demonstrates the long

standing history of this bias concerning Islamic practice and African heritage, and the

legacy of this attitude is apparent in the attitudes of enslaved Muslims in the Americas.

Nigerian Islamic Practices

Some of these emergent practices of Islam with African influences are also

referred to as folk Islam, which "emphasizes the altered forms of Islam which traditional

society develops for the benefit of the society."28 Folk Islam has a long tradition in the

history of Islam as it was first influenced by Arabic animism, and spread with the

transition of Islam to Africa.29 Islam was also influenced by African traditions and these

were the types of innovations and practices targeted by Usman dan Fodio's ihad to

"purify" Islamic worship Northern Nigeria.30

However, Folk Islamic practices help us to grasp the history of Islam in North

America. The merging of traditional African roles and traditional Islamic roles is

apparent in the Nigerian figure of the malam.31 The malam was both a Quranic scholar


28 Gilliland (1986:70).

29 According to Gilliland (1986:70).
30 See Steed (1995:69) and also Salamone (1991:48).
31 The term malam is used to refer to several different societal positions: it can mean anyone who is
literate and has some status because of this; it is also used in a "historical sense, referring to the learned
class that has always accompanied the spread of Islam," but is also used to refer to folk doctors of
traditional villages (Gilliland 1986:116). The original intent of the term applies it to Muslim scholars, but in
the context of Africa the role is extended to incorporate knowledge of traditional medicines as well. In the
rural Hausa areas the malam, also called the malami, resort to "both prophetic and herbal medicines,
often in combination" (Stock 1985:29). The malam fulfills the combined role of a Muslim cleric, or scholar
and healer, or magician. Thus, the malam has legitimacy in their Islamic prescriptions as well as herbal
medicinal knowledge. For further elaboration on the malam of Nigeria see: Adballa (1985); Gilliland
(1986); Gilliland (1991); Salamone (1991); and Stock (1985).









and a Nigerian herbal healer who had the ability to create protection charms, give

blessings, had knowledge of an "evil" magic, and employed both African herbal

remedies and Quranic consumption methods for medicinal and healing purposes. The

herbs used for traditional healing purposes by the malam came from the "traditional

Hausa pharmacopeia" and this tradition of herbal remedies as mentioned in previous

chapters was part of the material transmission of African Islam to African American

Islam.32 By examining the creation of this role in Nigeria we are able to highlight some

of the origins to the material healing tradition we have traced from the American North

and South.

Medical Historian Ismail Abdalla stresses the importance of the malam in Nigeria

was so great that "he was also the diviner without whose prediction and blessing no

business, trade, journey or marriage was considered safe or desirable." Furthermore,

this was all "made possible because of his ability, real or assumed, to control space-

time events by manipulating the Word."33 The Word in this context means, Arabic, which

likely indicates Islam. So the source of power for the malam is the Quran even though

the malam uses traditional practices and herbal remedies.

The malam also has a tradition of applying Islamic prophetic medicines for

healing as well as traditional African medicines. These prophetic medicines were

administered in a variety of ways. The most common of these remedies was Rubutu, a

practice of "writing appropriate verses from the Holy Koran (sic) on a writing board and

then drinking the ink washed from the board. Rubutu may be used as a curative


32Stock (1985:32).

33 Abdalla (1985:12).









medicine, but it is more often employed as a tonic to preserve health and bring good

fortune."34 Another method was the Laya, or amulets, usually filled with Quranic verses,

that would have either been worn or placed within a space in need of protection.35 In

chapter three we found that Muslims in the Sea Islands employed similar such amulets.

This demonstrates the malam's ability to employ both African and prophetic cures for

healing, a practice that seems to have continuities to North American Islamic practices.

In addition to the healing powers of the malamai, there was an "evil" side of

"unscrupulous 'black' malamai" practices.36 Medical geographer Robert Stock finds one

example of this assault magic is thejifa, in which a curse is literally hurled at the

conjured image of the victim, often using a needle as the symbolic medium of

delivery."37 The lines between secular and spiritual healing are merged to the point that

many "malamai dispense herbal as well as Islamic medicines."38 The way in which

these unscrupulous 'black' malamai practices are understood within the context of

African Islam is not exactly clear, but would be labeled by the Islamic reform

movements as un-lslamic. The malam "rightly thought he had as much claim to the

medicine of the Prophet as the orthodox Fulani reformers. He was often unaware or

unwilling to admit any contradiction between this type of medicine and that advocated




34 Stock (1985:33).
35 Stock (1984) also examines the practices of Tofi, or rubbing the malam's saliva on to the center of pain;
Kamun Kai, headache passages; Addu'a, or medical invocations to be said following prayer five times a
day; and Rokon Allah, or begging Allah.
36 Stock (1985:32).

37 Stock (1985:32). There are potential similarities between this practice and other religions in the
Americas that are believed to have African origins.
38 Stock (1985:30).









by the jihadists."39 It is for these reasons that medical historian Ismail Abdalla finds dan

Fodio and Bello's missions to remove traditional Hausa healing ideologies and practices

from Islam was to be unsuccessful as of 1989.40 The dual use of prophetic and

traditional healing remedies as well as the incorporation of unscrupulous practices of

some made the malam a target for Islamic reformation movements in Nigeria.

As previously discussed the continuation of plant species between Africa and the

Americas indicates a continuation of materials, but not only were the materials

continuous; the consumption methods were also traditional. Gilliland finds this means

"herbal remedies may be given as an infusion to be drunk and/or rubbed over the body,

or fermented for several days... or put into the fire so the vapors (turare) may be inhaled,

or rubbed on to the body in its raw state."41 This tradition of drinking herbal cure-all teas

continued from Africa to the Sea Islands. The accounts of Life Everlasting Tea use also

appear in Yamacraw resident James "Stick Daddy" Cooper."42 In the Works Progress

Administrations (WPA) interview with Stick Daddy, he stated

I kin make a sho cou fuh chills an fevuh. Yuh take some cawn fodduh boil it
an make a tea. Yuh drink some an bathe in some an yuh'll git well soon.
Fuh a cold yuh get some life-evuh-lastin and make a tea tuh drink.43

The process of drinking herbal concoctions as a tea was consistent with traditional

Africa healing practices, and had correlates in the herbal remedies of the descendents



39 Abdalla (1985:17).
40 Abdalla (1985:17).
41 Pollitzer, 1999:104.
42 Works Projects Administration (WPA), 1940 (reprint 1986):26. The WPA notes that Yamacraw was
"established on the Savannah River bluff west of the township of Savannah, a community where, "the
residents are drawn largely from coastal counties of Georgia and South Carolina." (1986:23).
43 WPA (reprint 1986:23).









of enslaved Africans on Southern plantations. Scholar William Pollitzer notes that "more

important than the same species in linking Africa to the sea islands is the similar way in

which these plants are regarded in the art of healing and the beliefs surrounding

them."44 These cultural implications highlight the links between Islam in African and

Islam on the American southern plantation.

The use of herbal remedies was an intricate part African culture before the

inception of Islam to Africa. Gilliland observes, "Religious priests are intimately

connected to African society. They know the characteristics of each ethnic community

and are experts in the psychological approaches and the particular medicines to held

(sic) cope with a myriad of problems."45 The religious priest responds to the needs of

the community in a manner that they understand. This approach calls for the Muslim

cleric to have to take on the same responsibilities as the traditional priest. Of the

multiplicity of healing practices in Nigeria, it is the herbal remedies that "assume a

dominant role in the treatment of spirit-related illness."46 This tradition of herbal based

medicines to deal with spirit related illness is part of the cultural traditions of Africa and

was also a cultural aspect of African Muslim practices. This cultural aspect potentially

transfers to the New World with the enslaved African Muslims, as we know enslaved

Muslim populations employed herbal remedies.47




44 Pollitzer (1999:103).
45 Gilliland (1985:76).
46 Stock (1985:34).

47 It is important to note that not only enslaved Muslim populations employed herbal cures, in fact, the
larger populations of enslaved Africans were known for their employment of herbs for curing, seeing as
slaves had little to no access to medical doctors in the Western sense.









The examination of Islam in Africa, and specifically Northern Nigeria, allows for a

fuller comprehension of the history of African Islam in America and also that of

subsequent African American Islamic movements. From Islam in Nigeria we are able to

uncover some of the African origins of the material continuities we have traced from the

American North to the South. The question of "true" or "authentic" Islam begins in Africa

as a critique of the relationship between African based religions and African Islam, as

compared to Islam of Arabia. We can clearly see these early tensions in the discussion

of Usman dan Fodio and his initiation ofjihad in 1802, his continued legacy of

persecution by Muhammad Bello.48 And these conflicts potentially influenced both Bilali

and Blyden's understanding of Islam. The role of the malam allows us to further

understand the material practice of Islam in Nigeria and indicates more continuity

between African Islam in the Americas. Islam from Arabia changed in its transmission to

Africa and African Islam also changes to fit new circumstances as it crosses the Atlantic

to the New World.49 Because of this, Africanist Merrick Posnansky reminds scholars

that "one should be careful not to look for one-to-one parallel... changes have to have

been made. The way things are done, rather than the objects themselves, and the

spatial relations at the intrasite level will be the indication of African Presence."s5 While

there are continuities between Islam from Africa to the American South, there are

tentative and potential connections to American Northern Islamic movements at the turn


48 Gilliland (1986:56).

49Despite attempts to retain Islamic traditions as practiced in Africa enslaved populations in the Americas
would have adapted their religious practices because of persecution or lack of resources.
50 Merrick Ponansky, "Toward an Archaeology of the Black Diaspora." Journal of Black Studies 15/2
(1984):195-205. Ponansky's quote comes from his discussion concerning specifically the relationship
between African and the Caribbean, but it would be fair to speculate this to some varying degree may
also hold true across the larger scale of the African Diaspora across the Americas (1984:201).









of the century, but there is also space for change and innovation as Islam is applied to

new circumstances and lived experiences.









CHAPTER 5
CONCLUSION

The religion of Islam came historically to the American South when enslaved

Muslim Africans were forcibly from Africa to the Americas in what is often called the

Middle Passage from Africa to provide the labor force for American plantations. The

brutal conditions of North American slavery treated the African slaves as sub-humans.

Because of these conditions, there is some documentation of the daily life and

experience of enslaved Africans, but there is still much we do not know. It was these

enslaved Africans who would create the first generations of African Americans.

At the time of American slavery, Africa had metropolitan civilizations and a

number of these cities were populated by African Muslims. Islam in Africa was tied to

mercantile networks and ultimately became influential in political control from beginning

in the eleventh century in Nigeria. The Nigerian context not only suggests a continuation

of the role of Islam and the use of herbs in the material tradition of medicinal and Islamic

artifacts in the Americas, but also suggests a parallel mixture of Islam and herbal

knowledge systems in the Americas.

The combined use of herbal and Islamic healing practices in Africa, a point of

contention in Northern Nigeria after thejihad of Usman dan Fodio, has some parallels to

the Islam in the American South and North as they also consumed herbal cure-all teas.

We know that there are herbal plant cognates in both African and the American South,

and there is evidence that these herbs were employed for the similar physical and

spiritual ailments. This continuation of herbal medicine also appears in the American

North in the context of the Moorish Science Temple of America. This organization sold

the Prophet's Tea and other herbal concoctions to alleviate similar conditions as their









Southern ancestors endured. The mysterious Southern origins of the MSTA's founder

Noble Drew Ali and his lasting legacy on the black nationalist movements of the early

1900s sheds some light on these correlates as well, since it is widely accepted by

MSTA members that Drew Ali learned his healing skills from the root work herbal

practitioners in the South who were versed in the herbal tradition of medicine.1

It is in chapter one with the Moorish Science Temple and Drew Ali that we began

to trace the hidden history of African American Islam through the consumption of the

Prophet's Tea. It is believed that Ali spent several years migrating around the South

before he moved to Newark, New Jersey.2 Drew Ali encountered several philosophies

and people along his journeys that shaped his understanding of Islam and the Moorish

identity. Drew Ali came into contact with members of the Ben Ishmael Tribe and was

influenced by their nationalist identity and their attempt at autonomy from the American

government. Ali was also influenced by the writings of Edward Wilmot Blyden, a man

whose own bias were shaped by the outbreak ofjihad movements in Africa, including

dan Fodio's, as a base for his connection linking Islam to Africa as the superior religion

for Africans.3 Ali was also personally connected to Muhammad Saddiq and Marcus

Garvey, as well as retaining a membership with the Freemasons. All of these influences

shaped his understanding of Islam, the Moorish identity, continued prophecy, and his

emphasis on social aid.4 The combination of these ideologies, groups, and people

merged under the onslaught of Northern migration at the turn of the nineteenth century

1 See Gomez (2005).
2 See Turner (2003:90-92).

3 See Gilliland (1986:57).
4 As documented by Gomez (2005) and Turner (2003).









and the subsequent growing racial tensions. It is in this new context that African

American Islam takes on a black nationalistic focus. But to understand the larger history

of Islam in America we must step back from this more contemporary example and look

to the historical origins of the Muslim presence in the US, which traces historically back

to the antebellum South.

We look to the South in the second chapter, particularly at the Gullah Sea Island

culture, a society that also employed an herbal cure-all tea for healing purposes called

Life Everlasting Tea. The Sea Island region which spans the coasts of Northern Florida,

Georgia, and the Carolinas, was also home to a few literate Muslim slaves. The written

record of enslaved men such as Omar Ibn Said and Bilali Mohamet allow insights into

the possible resistance to Christian conversion and commitment to Islam. Islam appears

further in the Gullah material culture in the form of African and Arabic names and words

in the vocabulary of Sea Island residents, the giving of sakara cakes as a form of alms,

and the ring shout ritual which bears not only potential linguistic cognates, but also is

reminiscent of the practice of circumambulation at the Kaaba.s Given the climate of the

American South and its similarity to West Africa many plant species have botanical

cognates in both regions. The plantation cash crops rice and indigo also help to reflect

this botanical continuity, as does Life Everlasting Tea, which also appears in Nigeria

where it is called Never Die. It is when we trace Life Everlasting Tea to Nigeria; we

again encounter the use of herbal cure-alls in the context of Islamic practices.

The third chapter examines the transformation of Islam on the continent of Africa

and the politics of authenticity that surround various African Muslim groups who employ


5 Diouf (1998:69).









herbal cure-all teas, like Never Die, alongside Quranic healing methods. But to

understand this transformation we must first look at the history of Islam in Africa. In

Nigeria the roles of the Muslim cleric fell in synch with the role of the herbal healer

forming the category of malam. It was innovations such as this that Usman dan Fodio

sought to eradicate from Nigerian Islam, while also promoting the superiority of Islam

over other religions during his reign of jihad in the early 1800s. These tensions between

Muslim and non-Muslim groups in Nigeria influenced the understanding of Edward

Wilmot Blyden, the father of pan-Africanism, who was influenced by this bias in his

belief that Islam was the preferred religion for Africans as Christianity was the preferred

religion for Caucasians. This race influenced understanding of religion comes from

these types of missionary observations and becomes reified in the context of the

Americas. More than this though, the tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims are

also apparent in Bilali's derogatory language calling some slaves "Christian dogs."6

The legacy of these African tensions highlights some of the cultural continuities

between African and the New World. It is through material practices that we are able to

understand the potential cognates of plants and religious materials as they represent on

a deeper level the transference of ideas as they across vast territories to contend with a

very bleak reality on American shores. This thesis argues that through the examination

of tea we are able to understand potential material links between Islam from Africa as

Islam is transmitted and transformed by the context of Southern slavery, and potentially

we will be able to further follow the materials to understand the continuities and


6 Gomez (1998:83).









transitions of Islam in the North in the black nationalist movements as a part of the

larger history of African American Islam.

Melville Herskovits was novel in the field of anthropology for his inquiry into

"Africanisms" in the archaeological record.7 Herskovits used material culture to attempt

to understand the various cultures Africans brought to the American South. Other

scholars such as Robert Dannin, Michael Gomez, and Moustafa Bayoumi understand

the importance of the material record in attempting to illuminate the history of Islam in

America, and in particularly the history of African American Islam.8 Since the written

record regarding the daily life of Southern Muslim slaves leaves much of their

experience still unknown, their voices can begin to be heard through the examination of

their lasting legacy materially and from that we can enhance our knowledge of their lives

spiritually. But there is still much to uncover concerning the history of Islam in America.

Although it was not the intention of this study to address the following deficiency

in scholarship, I note in passing that one of the limitations of this budding field is that no

hemispheric study of Islam in the Americas has been conducted. As a result we have

only a particularist understanding of Islam in the Americas. Gomez has been the closest

to producing a hemispheric analysis with his incorporation of African Muslims in the

Caribbean and Brazil in Black Crescent.9 Diouf does find cross cultural correlates

between enslaved Muslims in Brazil and enslaved Muslims in North America.10 But

Diouf is quick to project between the experiences of Islam in the Americas when there is


7 Herskovits (1958).
8 See Bayoumi (1999); Dannin (2002); Gomez (2005).

9 Gomez (2005).
10 See Diouf (1998).









not the material evidence to support her claims, such as her argument that based on the

presence of Brazilian Quranic schools, we can extrapolate from this the presence

Quranic schools in Americas "where the Muslim community was large and organized

enough.""1 There does not yet appear to be material to support this assumption.

Moreover, both Gomez and Diouf fall short of a truly hemispheric approach with their

focus on North American Muslims out weighing further insights that could be made

between the Americas as a whole and Africa.

The mysterious histories of Noble Drew Ali and the Ben Ishmael Tribe may also

hold more keys to understanding the movement of Islam across the Americas. Another

mysterious group called the Melungoens has potential ties to Drew Ali and further

research on this group could yield more insights into the history of Islam in America.

Further exploration of the connection between Garvey and Ali may also aid in

uncovering knowledge pertaining to the early history of Northern Islamic movements.

Perhaps there are still some written documents that help to separate mythology from

history or even concretize speculation regarding the ancestry of Drew Ali, his early

history, and provide insights into the triangular migratory pattern of the Ben Ishmael

Tribe. A thorough examination of the "triracial" influences on the Ben Ishmael Tribe

would provide insights not only of the multiple other identities that contributed to their

philosophy, but would also provide scholarship more knowledge about their Muslim

identity.

There is still much of material culture and history to uncover and investigate.

Islam was not the majority religious identity of enslaved Africans; they also brought


11 Diouf (1998:121).









various other African religious traditions.12 These multiple religious influences must be

taken in to account when attempting to understand the spiritual life of African Americans

in the American South. Scholars have previously conflated material evidences with

religious identities that are potentially incorrect; this can be seen in the example of the

ring shout ritual. Scholar Sylviane Diouf speculates that this previously believed

indigenous African practice may actually have a strong Islamic influence.13 The

interpretive process is not always correct, but by examining the larger history and

contextualizing Islam we can illuminate the possible lines of continuity.

The history of Islam in America is far from being fully exposed, but by examining

the material record of herbal cure-all tea consumption of the earliest American Muslims

on the Southern plantations in conjunction with an examination of their African origins,

we can begin to piece together the early history, and speculate the potential transition of

Islam into the twentieth century American North.



















12 See Steed, Christopher and David Westerlund eds., The Triple Religious Heritage of Nigeria. Uppsala:
Uppsala universitet,1995.
13 Diouf (1998).









LIST OF REFERENCES


Abdalla, Ismail H., "The Ulama of Sokoto in the Nineteenth Century: A Medical Review,"
African Healing Strategies. Brian M. du Toit and Ismail H. Abdalla eds. New York:
Trado-Medic Books (1985):8-19.

Alexander, J., "Islam, archaeology and slavery in Africa." World Archaeology 33/1
(2001):44-60.

Ali, Noble Drew, The Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple of Science 7, Know
Yourself and Your Father God-Allah, That You Learn to Love Instead of Hate.
Everyman Need to Worship Under His Own Vine and Fig Tree. The Uniting of Asia.
Chicago, 1927.

Austin, Allen, American Muslims in Antebellum America: A Source Book. Garland
Publishing, 1984.

Austin, Allen, American Muslims in Antebellum America: Transatlantic Stories and
Spiritual Struggles. New York and London: Routledge, 1997.

Berg, Herbert, "Mythmaking in the African American Muslim Context: The Moorish
Science Temple, the Nation of Islam and the American Society of Muslims." Journal of
the American Academy of Religion 73/3 (2005):685-703.

Bailey, Cornelia with Christena Bledsoe, God, Dr. Buzzard, and the Bolitoman. New
York: Doubleday, 2000.

Bayoumi, Moustafa, "Review Moorish Science." Transition No. 80 Indiana Press
Journals (1999):100-119.

Blyden, Edward Wilmot. Christianity, Islam, and the Negro Race 1887. New York: ECA
reprint, 1990.

Curtis, Edward and Danielle Burne Sigler, The New Black Gods: Arthur Huff Fauset and
the Study of African American Religions. Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2009.

Dannin, Robert, Black Pilgrimage to Islam. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Denny, Frederick Mathewson, An Introduction to Islam. Third Edition. New Jersey:
Prentice Hall, 2006.

Diouf, Sylviane, Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas. New
York: NYU press, 1998.

Dowling, Levi, Aquarian Gospel: The philosophic and practical basis of the religion of
the Aquarian Age of the world. (original 1907) Reprinted by Marina Del Rey, CA:
DeVorss & Co,1972.









Gilliland, Dean S., African Religion Meets Islam: Religious Change in Northern Nigeria.
Lanham, M.D: University Press of America, 1986

Ferguson, Leland, Uncommon ground: archaeology and early African America, 1650-
1800. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992.

Foster, Harve and Wilfred Jackson directors, Song of the South. Walt Disney
Productions, 1946.

Gansul, Muurish. The Moorish Minutes. Generated (17 March 2010) available through
http://muurishgansul.com.

Gilliland, Dean, African Religion Meets Islam: Religious Change in Northern Nigeria.
Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1986.

Gilliland, Dean, "Kings, Priests and Religion in Northern Nigeria," Religion and Society
in Nigeria: Historical and Sociological Perspectives. Jacob K. Olupona and Toyin Falola
eds. Nigeria: Spectrum Books Limited (1991):66-80.

Gomez, Michael, Exchanging Our Country Marks: The Transformation of African
Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South. Chapel Hill and London: The University
of North Carolina, 1998.

Gomez, Michael, The Black Crescent: The Experience and Legacy of African Muslims
in the Americas. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Hadad, Yvonne, and Jane I. Smith eds., Muslim Communities in North America. Albany:
SUNY Press, 1994.

Harris, Marvin, The Rise of Anthropological Theory. New York: Crowell, 1986.

Herskovits, Melville, The Myth of the Negro Past. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1958.

Historical Society of Islam. www.historicalsocietyofislam.com "Economic" section.
Moorish Guide archives. Accessed March 2010.

Jackson, Sherman, Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Toward the Third
Resurrection. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Judy, Ronald, (Dis)forming the American Cannon: African-Arabic Slave Narratives and
the Vernacular. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993.

Kane, Ousmane, Muslim Modernity in Postcolonial Nigeria: A study of the Society for
the Removal of Innovation and Reinstatement of Tradition. Lieden: Brill, 2003









Leading, Hugo, "The Ben Ishmael Tribe: A Fugitive 'Nation' of the Old Northwest," The
Ethnic Frontier: Essays in the History of Group Survival in Chicago and the Midwest.
Melvin G. Holli and Peter d'A. Jones eds. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans
Publishing Company (1977): 97-142.

Loimeier Roman, Islamic Reform and Political Change in Northern Nigeria. Evanston:
Northwest University Press, 1997.

McCloud, Aminah Beverly, African American Muslims. New York and London:
Routledge, 1995.

McFeely, William, Sapelo's People: a Long Walk into Freedom. New York: W.W.
Norton, 1994.

Moorish Guide as compiled by thehistoricalsocietyofislam.com, under their subheading
of "Economics" in regards to the Moorish Science Temple, accessed March, 2010.

Mukhopadhyay, Carol C., and Yolanda T. Moses, "Reestablishing 'Race' in
Anthropological Discourse." American Anthropologist. 99/3 (1997): 517-533.

Nance, Susan, "Mystery of the Moorish Science Temple: Southern Blacks and
American Alternative Spirituality in 1930s Chicago," Religion and American Culture 12/2
(Summer, 2002):123-166.

Nance, Susan, "Respectability and Representation: The Moorish Science Temple,
Morocco, and Black Public Culture in 1920s Chicago." American Quarterly 54/4 (Dec
2002):623-659.

Olupona, Jacob and Toyin Falola eds., Religion and Society in Nigeria: Historical and
Sociological Perspectives. Nigeria: Spectrum Books Limited, 1991.

Pollitzer, William, The Gullah People and Their African Heritage. Athens: University of
Georgia Press, 1999.

Ponansky, Merrick, "Toward an Archaeology of the Black Diaspora." Journal of Black
Studies 15/2 (1984):195-205.

Salamone, Frank A., "Ethnic Identities and Religion," Religion and Society in Nigeria:
Historical and Sociological Perspectives. Jacob K. Olupona and Toyin Falola eds.
Nigeria: Spectrum Books Limited (1991):45-65.


Steed, Christopher, "The Islamic Heritage of Nigeria," The Triple Religious Heritage of
Nigeria. Christopher Steed and David Westerlund eds. Uppsala: Uppsala universitet
(1995):67-92.









Steed, Christopher and David Westerlund eds., The Triple Religious Heritage of Nigeria.
Uppsala: Uppsala universitet, 1995.

Stock, Robert, "Islamic Medicine in Rural Hausaland," African Healing Strategies. Brian
M. du Toit and Ismail H. Abdalla eds. New York: Trado-Medic Books (1985):29-47.

The Official Website of the Moorish Science Temple of American: The Moorish Divine
and National Movement. www.themoorishscinecetempleofamerica.org. Copy right,
2009. Last accessed, March, 2010.

Turner, Richard Brent, Islam in the African American Experience. Second Edition
Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.

Wadud, Amina, "American Muslim identity: race and ethnicity in progressive Islam,"
Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism. Omar Safi ed. Oxford:
Oneworld Publications (2003):270-285.

Washington-Creel, Margaret, A Peculiar People: Slave Religion and Community -
Culture among the Gullahs. New York: New York university Press, 1988.

Works Progress Administration (WPA) Georgia Writer's Project, Drums and Shadows:
Survival Studies Among the Georgia Coastal Negros. Georgia: University of Georgia,
1986 [original 1940].









BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Jennifer Dick received her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida in

2007 with a major in anthropology and a minor in religion. During her undergraduate

work, she attended Kingsley Plantation Archaeological Field School in Jacksonville her

final semester. It is through this experience that she became interested in the material

culture of enslaved plantation populations and the connection material cultures have to

knowledge systems. She returned to the University of Florida in the fall of 2008 to

achieve a master's degree in religion, this thesis is the result of that process.





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1 TEA AND THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF ISLAM By JENNIFER DICK A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2010

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2 2010 Jennifer Dick

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3 To my mom, dad, and brother

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank my family for their love and support throughout this adventure. I would also like to thank my friends for all of the comfort and help they have provided me along the years. I am indebted to all of the professors and people who have inspired me and guided me along my journey. I owe my success to all of your support and assistance. Sincerely, thank you.

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5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .................................................................................................. 4 LIST OF FIGURES .......................................................................................................... 6 ABSTRACT ..................................................................................................................... 7 1 ISLAM AND THE MATERIAL RECORD ................................................................... 9 The Origins of a Scholastic Debate .......................................................................... 9 Tea as a Material Indication of Knowledge ............................................................. 11 2 THE PROPHETS TEA ........................................................................................... 18 The Prophets Tea as an Herbal Cureall................................................................ 18 Brief History of the Moorish Science Temple of America ........................................ 19 The Life of Drew Ali ................................................................................................ 24 The Ben Ishmael Tribe ............................................................................................ 25 Intellectual Influences on Drew Ali .......................................................................... 30 The Prophets Tea and Moorish Identity ................................................................. 34 3 LIFE EVERLASTING TEA ...................................................................................... 36 Life Everlasting as an Herbal Cureall .................................................................... 36 From Africa to Gullah .............................................................................................. 38 Islam in the Material Record ................................................................................... 43 The Life and Legacy of Bilali ................................................................................... 48 4 NEVER DIE TEA .................................................................................................... 57 Never Die Tea as an Herbal Cureall ...................................................................... 57 Islam in Africa ......................................................................................................... 58 A Brief History of Islam in Nigeria ........................................................................... 60 Nigerian Islamic Practices ....................................................................................... 64 5 CONCLUSION ........................................................................................................ 71 LIST OF REFERENCES ............................................................................................... 78 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ............................................................................................ 82

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6 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2 1 Advertisement of the Prophets Tea ....................................................................... 18

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7 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts TEA AND THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF ISLAM By Jennifer Dick August 2010 Chair: David Hackett Major: Religion The history of Islam in America began with the transport of enslaved Africans to the American South. Slavery forced Africans to adapt their material and philosophical traditions to their new context. After centuries of oppression enslaved American populations achieved emancipation, and by the early twentieth century some of the newly freed African Americans migrated to the American North in search of economic prosperity. S ince there is little written history concerning the daily lives of enslaved African Muslim populations this thesis looks to the material link of cureall tea consumption to grasp the passage of Islam from Africa, to the American South, and onward to American North. We begin with the Prophets Tea consumed and distributed by the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA), a black nationalistic Islamic movement that appeared i n the early 1900s in Chicago. From the Prophets Tea we will look to the larger Islamic material culture of the MSTA and trace potential material cultural continuities from the North to the American South through the consumption of Life Everlasting Tea in the Gullah Sea Islands. It is from Life Everlasting Tea and the Islamic material culture of the Gullah that avenues of continuity link these traditions to

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8 Africa and the consumption of Never Die Tea, a botanical cognate to Life Everlasting. In this thesis, t ea operates as a thematic device to explore the history of Islam in America.

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9 CHAPTER 1 ISLAM AND THE MATERIAL RECORD The Origins of a Scholastic Debate Islam came to American soil with the onset of transatlantic slavery, where enslaved African Muslims were wretched from their homelands and forced into bondage across the Atlantic Ocean. In the Americas enslaved Muslims were subjected to the same horrific conditions as t heir non Muslim African counter parts. Since Islam came from Africa into a system of bondage that dehumanized the enslaved Muslims the early history of Islam in America is largely unknown. Few slaves were literate, and even fewer were able to write in l anguages unknown to their slave owners. Arabic documents make up only a small portion of the larger material culture of African Muslims enslaved in the Americas. Since there is a small amount of written material concerning the lives of African Muslim slave s in North America material culture helps to provide insights into their lives and practices. This thesis turns to material culture to explore the journey of Islam in North America. Through material culture we are able to gain insight into the systems of knowledge t hat accompany materials. Anthropologist Melville Herskovits was one of the first scholars to use material culture to look for Africanisms or survivals of African artifacts and culture in the material record.1 1 Melville Herskovits is credited as the founder of plantation archaeology, which aims to understand the material life of enslaved Africans and African Americans on American plantations. His seminal work is The Myth of the Negro Past (1958). Similarly, through the examinati on of the material culture of the enslaved African populations w e can work to shed light on transformations and continuities of Islam. Although, t here is widespread scholarly consensus that the history of sus tained Islamic practices in North America began on

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10 Southern plantations, the implications of this agreed upon begi nning are the subject of debate.2The speculative nature of this period of history has led to debate about the lasting influence of Islam in the American South, and questions the role Southern Islam played in the f ormati on of black nationalistic Islamic movements that emerge in the North after e mancipation. After emancipation in 1865, some former slaves embarked on a northern migration. The former slaves who migrated believed the South held no avenues of economic opportunities so they advanced North in search of these opportunities. Some scholars take issue with the logical extension of this process that the former slaves would still retain any Islamic knowledge and renegotiate it under the context of migration from the tumultuous post antebellum Jim Crow South to the prosperous industrialized North. The relationship between the early African Muslims on the plantations in the South and the mul tiple black nationalistic Islamic mov e ments that emerge in the North in the 1920s is a particularly speculative period of this history. 3 However, scholars such as Mic hael Gomez speculate the Islam may have been practiced on the Sea Islands into the 1920s.4 2 This is first documented by Allen Austins American Muslims in the Antebellum America: a Sour ce Book (1984). Scholar such as Robert Dannin (2002); Slyviane Diouf (1998); Michael Gomez (2005); and Richard Brent Turner (2003) all pay homage to Austin and elaborate on his findings in their respective works. While scholars have yet to reach a consensus, published theories on the matter seem to divide into three specific c amps: there is no connection between the Islam on the plantations and 3 This debate will be address in more deta il in Chapter One. 4 Michael Gomez makes this speculation in The Black Crescent: The Experience and Legacy of African Muslims in the Americas New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Gomez examines the life of Harriet Hall Grovner, who was a practicin g Muslim until 1866 when she joined the newly assembled First African Baptist Church. But Grovners conversion to Christianity is speculative, which will be discussed at greater length in chapter three, but Gomez believes she may have been a practicing Mus lim until her death in 1922, and uses this to hypothesize that she could represent the continuation of Islam on the Sea Islands into the twentieth century. (Gomez, 2005:162).

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11 the Islam of the North;5 there is an ideological connection, which is typically attributed to populari zation of Edwar d Wilmot Blyden's Pan Africanist ideology;6 or they employ the ideological connections to indicate a future avenue of materialist analysis.7Tea as a Material Indication of Knowledge Though this scholarshi p is conflicted it does suggest that through the examination of material culture we can come to understand potential connection between the Islam of the South and the Islam of the North. In order to do this; however, we must step farther back and examine the material culture of Muslims in Africa. In this thesis I will employ material analysis to explore the presence and history of Islam in the American religious arena. More to the point, the heuristic device of cure all tea consumption sheds light on material practices and their accompanying knowledge systems. From this we look at potential Islamic material practices and their presence in African Islam, Islam in the American South, and Islam in the Am erican North. Muslims from t hese areas all practice herbal cure all tea consumption to alleviate both physical and spiritual ailments.8 5 Scholars Slyviane Diouf (1998) and Aminah Beverly McCloud (1995) state they bel ieve that the Islam from the Plantations in the South was eventually no longer transmitted to the slave descendents and over the generations, Islamic adherence dissipates. Through the c onsumption of the Prophets Tea, 6 Turner (2002) credits that there may be an ideological connection because of the influence of Blydens work among the founders of the black nationalist Islamic movements in the North at the turn of the century. 7 Scholars like Moustafa Bayoumi (1999); Robert Dannin (2002); Edward Curtis and Danielle Brune Sigler (2009); and Michael Gomez (2005) continue to apply Herskovits emphasis on material culture as essential in understanding the lives of slaves and elucidate that further inquiry into this methodology could illuminate the links between Islam in the American South and Islam in the American North. 8 It is important to note that African Muslims in the Americas were not the only consumers of cureall teas or herbal remedies. This was a wide spread practice throughout Africa, and even many of the Native groups already in the Americas also employed herbs. Also herbal remedies and teas were typically used in the Americas by all populations that could not afford or chose not to use Western medical doctors, and herbs still provide a source of remedy for many cultures.

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12 the larger material culture of the Moorish Science Temple of America and the life of its founder Noble Drew Ali we will examine the potential transformation and continuities of Islam ic practice s in the American North in the early 1900s as former slaves and their descendents migrated and had to adapt to life in the North. To gain insights into these possible adaptations and transformations of Islam with the Moorish Science Temple in the American North we will look to the American South, via the herbal cureall Life Everlasting Tea consumed on the Gullah Sea Islands, to understand the origins of sustained Islamic practice in Am erica. T he plantation south, in part icularly the Gullah Sea Islands was the first American region to document sustained Islamic pr actice in America.9 The Sea Islands span the coast s of Northern Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The documented Muslim population of these Islands was a part of ma ny African tribal groupings which later combined to become the Gullah culture.10 To gain insight into the lives of enslaved African Muslims and their lasting legacy and impact on Islam in America we will look to the life of Bilali of Sapelo Island and his l egacy on the culture as it is remembered by his descendent Cornelia Bailey. Bailey recounts her familys consumption of an herbal cureall tea called Life Everlasting; this plant most likely has origins from Africa.11The potential direct material link bet ween African Never Die Tea and Southern Life Everlasting Tea are due to the fact that the same genus of plant appears in both 9 See Allen Austin ( 1984) for the detailed lives of enslaved Muslim Africans. 10 In particular, Allen Austin (1984) wrote about several Muslims from the Gullah Sea Island region. 11 Cornelia Bailey, with Christena Bledsoe documents the oral culture and Baileys memories are of childhood on the Sea Islands in God, Dr. Buzzard and the Bolitoman (2000). While Scholar William Pollitzer documents the botanical correlates between Africa and the Sea Islands in depth in his work The Gullah People and Their African Heritage (1999).

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13 Africa and the American South.12 T his link is further enhanced by the employment of both plants as herbal curealls teas .13The first chapter begins with an examination of t he Prophets Tea and the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA). The MSTA was one of the earliest black nationalist Islamic groups to appear in the North at the turn of the century. This does not only indicate a material connection but it also reflects a continuity of knowledge most likely grounded in African origins By extension we can begin to understand other knowledge systems, such as Islam, as it appears materially in Africa and materially in the American context T hese African origins can be understood through an examination of : the material culture of African Muslims; the dual role of the malam as an Is lamic scholar and herbal healer; and the politics of authenticity that contextualize Islam in Northern Nigeria. It is from Africa that Islam comes to the plantatio n South via enslaved Africans. Islam then migrates and transform s on the American continent with the movement of emancipated African Americans to the North in search of economic prosperity. 14 This group consumed a cureall tea known as the Prophets Tea, also known as Moorish Body Builder and Blood Purifier; the tea was employed as a remedy for ailments that including the improvement of lung function to the loss of manhood.15 12 Pollitzer (1999). The Prophets Tea was sold and distributed by the MSTAs economic arm, the Moorish Manufacturing Corporation (MMC). The goal of the MMC was to provide economic uplift to MSTA 13 See again Bailey (2000) and Pollitzer (1999). 14 Officially, the Moorish Science Temple of America began in 1926 in Chicago, but the founder of the MSTA, Noble Drew Ali, also founded several movements before this beginning in 1913 with the Canaanote Temple and including the 1916 Holy Moabite Temple of t he World. (Gomez, 2005:215). 15 Gomez (2005:262263).

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14 members and ultimately sought to raise funds to create an autonomous Moorish Vil lage on American soil. The material culture of this group is largely understood and contextualized through examination of the groups founder Noble Drew Ali. Drew Alis history is rather mysterious, but his ideological influences and contributions to the m aterial culture of the MSTA hints to lines of continuity between the Islamic practices in the American North enacted by the MSTA and the Islamic practices of slaves in the South. The second chapter traces the material culture of the MSTA to the South via Life Everlasting Tea and the Gullah culture of the S ea Islands They were the consumers of an herbal cureall tea from a plant referred to as Life Everlasting.16 This plant was believed to have the ability to relieve ailments from asthma to diseased bowls.17 This tea is part of the herbal medicine cabinet of the Gullah culture and is reflective of the knowledge of the herbal cureall tradition. The breadth of the Gullah material culture is largely undocumented because of the context of slaver y and illiteracy of the people. This lack of scholarshi p has led to debates concerning the extent of the legacy of Islam in the region.18 16Use documented by both Bailey with Bledsoe (2000) and Pollitzer (1999). But the voices of the enslaved populations can be understood through their material culture and their orally transmitted family histories. To understand some of the potential strands of continuity between the MSTA and the Gullah Islands, and then ultimately the strands that led back to Africa, this chapter examines the life and legacy of Bilali, a Muslim slave from Sapelo Island, part of the Sea Island chain. Bilali was the 17 Pollitzer (1999:99). 18 As previously stated, Diouf believes that there is no material connection between the Islam in the North and South as stated in her book Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas (1998).

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15 literate and a well tr usted slave of Thomas Spaulding; he left Arabic documents, was known to pray facing the East several times a day, and even adorned himself with a Fez.19 One of his descendents Cornelia Bailey (believed to a modification of Bilali) has written an explicit history of her life growing up on Sapelo Island and tried to incorporate all of her knowledge of the island and the Gullah culture into a written document because she believes her culture to be dying .20The third chapter argues for the direct material connection of Life Everlasting Tea from the Sea Islands to Nigeria, where the tea is called Never Die. It is in her memories that Life Everlasting Tea appears in the context of Sapelo Island The connection of the MSTAs material culture to the Gullah material culture through the consumption of cureall teas will provide the anchor to support evidence of cultural connections linking the American North and South to each other and to Africa 21 19 Works Progress Administration (WPA) Georgia Writers Project interviewed the descendents of Bilali in the late 1930s and was published as Drums and S hadows : Costal Studies Among The Georgia Coastal Negros (1940) [reprint 1986]. The exact application of Never Die Tea is less clear than its American counterpart, but the consumption of the plant as a tea originating in Af rica demonstrates heuristically cultural continuities between the two geographies. The use of plants for healing purposes has a long history in Africa and is also practiced by nonMuslim populations across Africa. T his chapter speaks broadly about Islamic practices in Africa, but specifically focuses o n the use of herbs by Muslims in Nigeria The employment of herba l remedies by Muslims in Nigeria can be understood through the role of the malam a Quranic scholar 20 Bailey with Bledsoe (2000) explicitly states this fear in the closing few chapters of the book. 21 As stated by Baileys documentation of a Nigeria man who indicates the connection (2000:327).

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16 and herbal healer.22 It is this combination of trad itional healing methods and Islamic sciences in Nigeria centers the question of authentic practice concern ing the integration of African cultural practices into Islam and contributes to an attitude that equates Islam as the superior religion for Africans These politics are part of the heritage of African American Islam and questi ons of authenticity plague hyb rid Islamic practices throughout history. These questions concerning authentic Islamic practices appear in Nigeria in the form of religio political campaigns initiated by Usman dan Fodio to purify Nigerian Islam from African based innovations, such as herbal healing.23The application of the term Islam to the MSTA is contentious since some scholars debate the legitimacy of the Moorish Science Temple of America as an Islamic group for a number of reasons including: their reliance on the Circle Seven Koran This context is important in the comprehension of the influence of African origins on the material practice and biases of African Muslims in America The use of herbs for medicinal purposes heuristically demonstrates plausible material and c ultural continuities between Africans and African Americans 24 22 Scholar Ismail Abdalla (1985) explores the role of the malam in his medical analysis of nineteenth century Nigeria. instea d of the Holy Q uran revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in seventh century Arabia as a guiding text, their unique appearance, and their seemingly secular focus on social uplift as some believe this to be a reimagining of the Islam of the plantation 23 Scholar Frank Salamone (1991) discusses the circumstances that connect religion to ethnic identities and the creati on of the Fulani identity as a result of dan Fodios jihad 24 This book was written by the MSTA founder Noble Drew Ali and was used by the group in 1927 as their primary religious text (Gomez, 2005:215). This text is discussed in further detail in chapter two.

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17 South and not an extension of Islamic tradition.25 However, when we turn to the material cultures of African and African American Islam we are a ble to explore the potential legacy of adaptation and change Islam has endured from Africa to the US, and then through the American South and North to new contexts. Much in the same light that Hersko vits was novel in his attempts to find Africanisms that linked the material culture of Southern slaves to their African heritages; this thesis argues that we can use material culture to link Islam as it transitions from Africa to the South, and then prospectively to the North. We know that Islamic beliefs and practices endured what is often called the Middle P assage, so to believe that it dead ends with plantations in the South is short sighted. The history is difficult to uncover and is at times built on t entative links such as Harriet Hall Grovners potential practice of Islam into the 1920s. T he use of cureall teas heuristically evidences the potential for other namely Islamic, material and cultural continuities which helps to illuminate the hidden his toriography of Muslim Americans. 25 Herbert Bergs Mythmaking in the African American Muslim Context: The Moorish Science Temple, the Nation of Islam and the American Society of Muslims. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 73/3 (2005):685703. Berg assumes in this essay that there are not actually any material connections between Islamic movements from the Antebellum South to the North at the turn of the century, that instead the process of creating mythic origins and cultivates credibility as a reenvisioning or the Islam from Africa and the American South.

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18 CHAPTER 2 THE PROPHETS TEA The Prophets Tea as an Herbal Cureall The Prophets Tea, also known as Moorish Body Builder and Blood Purifier, first appeared on the Chicago market in the early 1900s as an herbal cureall.1 In Chicago the tea became identified with the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA), an African American religious community that heralds Islam and Africa as the sources of their religious identity. As a material manifestation of the cultural continuity of African American thought, the tale of Prophets Tea contributes to our understanding of the spread of Islam from Africa to the American South and then to the North. Figure 21. Adverstisement of the Prophets Tea, also know n as Moorish Body Builder and Blood Purifier. Image taken from Moorish Guide archieved by t he Historical Society of Islam. 1 Michael Gomez provides a thorough analysis of the Moorish Science Temples material culture in The Black Crescent (2005:262263).

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19 Brief History of the Moorish Science Temple of America The Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA) was officially established in 1926 in Chicago.2 The founding members of the group were African American emigrants searching for economic opportunity in the North in the early 1920s The creation of the MSTA reflects the historical context and charged racial attitudes of the early twentieth century. According to the Moorish Guide, the self p ublished newspaper of the MSTA, The aim of the Moorish Science Temple of America is to promulgate the Mohammedan religion and give to all Moorish Americans their national free name.3 Members of the MSTA saw themselves not as African Americans but as Moorish Americans as they identified with a Moroccan and Islamic historical past. By disassociating themselves from an identity tarnished by racism, they sought to create a spa ce for the uplifting of humanity, which would be achieved through participation i n the life of the Temple and an appropriation of an Islamic identity.4 As part of this adaption the MSTA did not use the traditional Muslim scriptures of the Quran and Had ith but instead employed the Circle Seven Kora n 5 2 Gomez (2005:215). It is important to note that MSTA members refer to themselves as Moors and Moorish Americans and these terms will be employed when referring to the members. The Circle Seven Koran is a text comprised of two sections; the first part appears to have been heavily 3 The MSTAs newspaper from October 26, 1928, as documented in the Moorish Minutes (2010). Compiled by Muurish Gansul available through hppt://muurishgansul.com. The Moorish Guide is also referenced by Gomez (2005:262263). 4 See McCloud (1995:14). 5 The scripture used by the MSTA is described in detail to varying degrees in the works of Gomez (2005); Turner (2003); Nance (2002); and Dannin (2002). Gomez indicates the original full title of the book is The Holy Koran of the Moorish Holy Temple of Science 7, Know Yourself and Your Father GodAllah That You Learn to Love Instead of Hate. Everyman Need to Worship Under His Own Vine and Fig Tree. The Uniting of Asia an d was originally printed in 1927 (2005:217).

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20 plagiarized from Levi Dowlings The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ .6 Dowlings book came from a lon g tradition of apocrypha describing Jesus as a mystical figure, only one of a number of Christs in world history.7 Through the appropriation of Dowlings belief in continued revelation and multiple avatars of prophecy the Circle Seven Koran was interpreted by its Moorish Temple followers as a religious text in the tradition of the Abrahamic faiths. Unlike the Quran of the ancient Middle East, the Circle Seven Koran acknowledges the prophecy of various traditional figures including Buddha, Moses, Zoroaster, Muhammad, and Confucius, while emphasizing the life of Jesus Christ.8 The second part of the Circle Seven Koran is proscriptive containing rules and self help messages pertaining to: daily practices; food taboos; relationships between friends, family, e mployers, and politicians; and the instruction to face east while in recitation of prayer.9 This is similar to the proscriptive aspects of the Hadith the written compilation of the custom, usual procedure, or ways of acting of the Prophet Mohammad, but th e Circle Seven Koran is still not considered by any of the larger Muslim world as orthodox Islam.10Though often considered a decided variant of Islam, some of the MSTAs practices are consistent with Sunni and Sufi Islam. These practices include: the It is this reliance on doctrines outside of the traditionally accepted Islamic cannon of Hadith and Quran as law and theology that is the foremost reason the authenticity of the MSTAs vision of Islam has been challenged. 6 Dowling (1907) [reprinted 1972]. For detailed analysis on the Circle Seven Koran see Susan Nance (Summer 2002:127). 7 Nance (Summer 2002:127). 8 Dannin (2002:27). 9 Nance (Summer 2002:131). 10 Used as defi ned by Frederick Mathewson Denny in An Introduction to Islam. Third Edition (2006:404).

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21 celebration of Friday as a holy day, sex segregated seating in the Temple, and the Eastern direction of prayer.11The politics of authenticity are part of the heritage of Islam in Africa, and continues to be a point of contention between socalled orthodox Islam and African American Islamic movements. From the first spread of Islam ic knowledge across Africa the religion had to adapt to the African context. Despite attempts to retai n African Islamic practices, Islam faced new contextual challenges in the Amer ican South ; and then when Islam transitions to the North, there is a third contextual transfor mation of Islam As people are fac ed with new challenges they negotiate new avenues to achieve a solution. The unique circumstances of racism in the North shaped the development of the Moorish Science Temple of America. The MSTA, like other African Ameri can Muslim movements emerging at the beginning of the twentieth century had to deal with racism and the MSTA did so by calling themselves Moors. Food taboos such as the Moors abstinence from pork and intoxicants are also consistent as a widespread Muslim practice. Nevertheless, the use of the Holy Koran i nstead of the Quran has led to disputes over which represents the true Islam. More pointedly, critics argue that the Circle Seven Koran s incorporation of multiple prophets from various religious traditions and its emphasis on Jesus Christ as well as th eir belief in continued prophecy disqualifies their claim to being Muslims This politics of authenticity debate permeates scholarship that negates the validity of MSTAs claims to Islam. The MSTAs religious implications are often overshadowed in scholarship by a focus on their communal improvement programs. This focus was set into place because 11 McCloud (1995:14) denotes these practices.

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22 of northern whites racial attitudes, and a need for not only religious but economic support networks form African Americans migrating from the South. While these aid programs may have a socalled secular focus, it is important to keep in mind that the MSTA identifie d foremost as Muslims, and display ed some so called orthodox Muslim practices. One of the practices of the MSTA and the larger Muslim world is known as one of the pillars of Islam: zakat or giving alms.12 The MSTAs focus on social outreach through econom ics is reflective of this mandate to help those in need. This larger practice embeds Muslims into their com munities through religious mandate. Nevertheless, Sherman Jackson, who is a professor of Arabic and Isl am ic studies, states that I t is important to recognize that these men were not so much interpreting Islam as they were appropriating it.13 The men Jackson refers to are the prophetic founders of the emergent African American Muslim movements, including the MSTA, of the early twentieth century. Jacks on seeks to disassociate these movements with what he contends to be Islam. He further elaborates Black Religion functioned as the core, with the trappings (namely vocabulary) of Islam serving as the outer shell.14 This example is characteristic of a lar ger scholarly debate over the depiction of the MSTA as a secular socially oriented group.15 12 Used as defined by Fredrick Denny (2006:411). 13 Jackson (2005:43). Sherman Jackson, Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Forward the Third Resurrection (2005) seeks to disassociate the terms Black Religion and Islam. 14 Jackson (2005:44). 15 For more contributions to the discussion see Austin (1984); Berg (2005); Dannin (2002); Diouf (1998); Gomez (2005); McCloud ( 1998); Turner (2003); and Amina Wadud American Muslim identity: race and ethnicity in progressive Islam, Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism Omid Sadie ed. (2003):270285. She even states that the first [Islamic] movements among Afri canAmericans to combat

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23 The racial attitudes of the North influenced the MSTA members to relocate their identity from Negroes to Moorish American.16 Part of this new identity was the specif ic appearance that was expected of members. Scholar Susan Nance holds that, The Moors claimed royal descent; they donned fezzes, colorful gowns, and turbans and identified themselves as Moslem in order to divorce black identity from black southern cultu re and the ostensible lawlessness, laziness, and immorality typically associated with it.17 The MSTA frequently paraded around their temples in this distinctive apparel in an effort to both publicize their movement and attract others interest in the uplif t of African Americans mig rants from the Old South. F urther the MSTA issued Moroccan identity cards to physically demonstrate a non Negro identity.18 While the MSTA sought to create a new and distinct image, their material culture demonstrates continuities to the very heritage they sought to obfuscate. This can be understood throug h the creation and consumption of the Prophets Tea, a cureall tea marketed by the MSTAs economic arm the Moorish Manufacturing Company (MMC). The Prophets Tea and other herbal products were advertised and sold through the The elaborate attire and identity cards are part of the material culture of the MSTA through which they d emonstrate a distinction between their old identity and their new one. experiences of racism in American were primarily nationalist and panAfricanist, furthermore, they were quite secular in nature. (2003:275). 16 At this time all people perceived to be black were referred to as Negroes with no particular identity to a specific land mass or geographic region. 17 Susan Nance, Respectability and Representation: The Moorish Science Temple, Morocco, and Black Public Culture in 1920s Chicago. American Quarterly 54/4 (Dec 2002:624). It is in this essay that Nance provides key insights into the identity politics of the Moorish Science Temple, but does so with regard to the religious implications as well. 18 The Moorish identity cards stated, I do hereby declare t hat you are a Moslem under the Divine Laws on the Holy Koran of Mecca. Love Truth Peace Freedom and Justice. I AM A CITIZEN OF THE U.S.A. as documented by Dannin (2002: 27)

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24 Moorish Guide and other newspapers in ads place by the MMC to anyone who could afford them.19 Another product was Moorish Mineral and Healing Oil, which claimed to remedy rheumatism, sore and tired feet, indigestion, stiff joints, and neuralgia.20 One testimonial by a female stated the oil alleviated her throat problems to the point that she felt like a young girl.21 But the healing oil had a special application for males. According to historian Michael Gomez, the oil was to be applied to the spi ne as well as the lower parts of the stomach twice daily to treat loss of manhood.22 The MMC also marketed and sold a Moorish Antiseptic Bath Compound that alleviated the same general pains of rheumatism and stiff joints, but also claimed to be benefic ial to the complexion when used daily as a face wash.23The Life of Drew Ali All of these herbal concoctions were said to be remedies created from traditional herbal medicinal knowledg e possessed by MSTAs mysterious founder Noble Drew Ali. The early histor y of the man known as Noble Drew Ali is shrouded in mystery. Before becoming the prophetic founder of the Moorish Science Temple of America, he was born Timothy Drew on January 8, 1886 in North Carolina.24 19 The 1927 prices ranged from fifty cents to one dollar. These goods can current ly be purchased online, but they now cost seven to ten dollars plus shipping and handling from the It is believed that his mother was a Cherokee, and his father was a runaway slave, but there is a larger than www.moorishsciencetempleofamericainc.org. 20 See Gomez (2005:263). 21 Gomez (2005:263). 22 Gom ez (2005:263). Gomez does note that most of the testimonials were actually from women (eight out of ten), which is interesting given that these goods have male specific healing claims. 23 Advertisements from the Moorish Guide as compiled by thehistoricalsocietyofislam.com 24 Gomez (2005). Gomez does note however, that mythology states Ali was born in Simpsonbuck County, but this is place that does not and seems to never have historically existed (2005:203).

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25 life mythology that surrounds the MSTAs narrative of Alis life.25 Scholar Richard Brent Turner offers another hypothesis that Drew Ali was a descendent of Bilali Mohammet, the famous African Mu slim slave who inhabited Sapelo Island in the nineteenth century.26It is unknown how long Ali continued to reside in the Carolinas or if he migrated around the South. Some of the MSTA lore believes that he may have even gone to Egypt. This belief is used to further connect Ali to a Moorish identity and authentic Quranic training. This connection is based on speculative evidence linking Ali and Bilali by geographic location. Still, it is clear that Drew Ali spent some of his early life in the South, in particular in the Carolinas, where it is believed he learned root work and the recipes for all of the MMC concoctions, including the Prophets Tea. Through the life of Drew Ali we can understand the foundations of the MSTA and are then able to highlight potential conti nuities between material practices of Islam in the North and South. 27The Ben Ishmael Tribe Alis next documented move was to Newark, New Jersey where in 1913 he established the Canaanite Temple. While Drew Alis life history is unclear there are several avenues of inf luence that are believed to have contributed to his unique understanding of Africa, Islam, and Moorish heritage. One of these groups that scholars believe influenced Drew Alis emphasis on a Moorish identity was the Ben Ishmael Tribe.28 25 This is the common belief about Alis origins, documented by Tuner (2005); Dannin (2002); and Gomez (2005). The extent of this early connection is 26 Turner (1999:90). I have found no other information that makes this claim about Ali. The life and legacy of Bilali Mohammet will be later discus sed in more detail in the following chapter. 27 See Turner (1999:92). 28 The Ben Ishmael Tribe is one of two groups chronicled by Michael Gomezs Interlude. The other group is the Melungeons, a mysterious multi racial group documented as early as 1674 i n Tennessee,

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26 shrouded in even more mystery than the life of Ali, but there are similarities between the marginalization experienced by both the MSTA and the Ben Ishmael Tribe. Further similarities are indicated by the religious nationalistic focuses of the groups which led to questions about this Islamic authenti city Both t he Moorish Science Temple and the Ben Ishmael Tribe claimed a specifically Moorish heritage.29 The mysterious Ben Ishmael Tribe appears in historical records as early as 1790 in Noble County, Kentucky.30 They referred to themselves as Ishmaelites, abstained from alcohol, and boasted an estimated membership of 10,000 members before the end of the nineteenth century.31 Their origins are relatively unknown, but sc holar Michael Gomez believes they were a Muslim maroon or guerilla group comprised of a triracial model of descent from African, Native American, and poor white.32They lived as an isolated group with a triangular semi nomadic migra tion pattern through Mahomet, Illinois; Morocco, Indiana; and Mecca, Indiana. 33 Kentucky, and Virginia (Gomez, 2005:187). The history of this group is largely unknown but Gomez indicates that they identified as Moorish, as did the Ben Ishmael Tribe. Historian Hugo Leaming finds this migratory pattern to be parallel to the Fulani, one of the few migratory peoples of West Africa and at the same time the most militant missionaries of 29 See Gomez (2005:200). 30 Hugo Leaming, The Ben Ishmael Tribe: A Fugit ive Nation of the Old Northwest, The Ethnic Frontier: Essays in the History of Group Survival in Chicago and the Midwest Ed. By Melvin G. Holli and Peter dA Jones. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company,1977:98. 31See Leaming (1977:127) and Gomez (2005) Interlude. Gomez also notes that into the late nineteenth century the tribe had difficulty conforming to the encroaching settlements, and as a consequence he quotes threequarters of the patients in the Indianapolis City Hospital were f rom the Tribe of Ishmael, a large portion of the Tribe was also plagued with other health problems due to poverty conditions, and were heavily persecuted in the early 1900s (2005:97). 32 Gomez (2005:196). 33 See Leaming (1977:136).

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27 Islam in th at region during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.34 The names of these cities also support the belief that there was a Muslim population, or minimally a presence, who knew Arabic names in the Midwest. The appropriation of Arabic words is pres ent in the family names of residents in the outlying areas of the tribes nomadic trade route. According to Leaming, names such as Aimen, Booromer, Sherfy, Pusha, and Osman appeared on rural directories in 1870, these names bear appearances to Islamic name s or words respectively: Ameen, Omar, Sharrieff, Pasha, and Osman,35 which was also a name given to the leader of the Fulani holy war.36The evidence of a connection between African Islam and the Ben Ishmael Tribe is supported furt her by the Islami c flare to architecture along their migration routes. It is said this unique architecture had been constructed as if the builders had heard of Moorish architecture but had not seen a picture, and not realizing that the dome rises from a squared base, cons tructed elongated roofs t hat are all dome. This use of Moorish architecture may reflect a material link to the Moorish identity cl aimed by the Ben Ishmael Tribe. The Ishmaelites, much like the MSTA, appropriated a Moorish identity, but it is likely accor ding to Leaming, that this identity was based on a racialized understanding of the Moorish identity and its connection to Islam. This further extends the potential that the Ben Ishmael tribe is likely connected to African Islam, and this will later be linked to the MSTA. 37 34 Leaming (1977:136) 35 Usman and Uthman are also alternate spellings of this name. 36 Leaming (1977:138). Chapter three contains more information on Usman dan Fodio, the leader of the Fulani holy war in Northern Nigeria, and the Islamic Fulani identity. 37 See Leaming (1977:138).

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28 The Ben Ishmael Tribe was subject to much persecution, the most brutal of which was racially motivated. They became the objec t of Reverend Oscar McCullochs 1880 study of heredity and genetics, which was the foundation of McCullochs social degradation theory.38 This theory emerges almost simultaneously with the creation of the field of anthropology Some anthropologists believe that Modern anthropologys roots lie in the 19thcentury European natural history traditions, with their focus on the classification and comparison of human populations and their search for indicators of mental capacity.39 The establishment of eugenic s ciences dras tically affected this group and further heightened their marginalized status. Scholar Hugo Leaming adds that McCullochs resea rch on the Ben Ishmael Tribe was to retain a respected place in the growing literature of eugenics for sixty years, until the movements collapse.40 The Ben Ishmael Tribe was one of the first groups in the United States to be subjected to eugenic ideologies and attempted sterilization procedures.41This history of persecution and brutal eugenic torture effected the ideol ogical commitments of the Ben Ishmael Tribe. Michael Gomez finds, By the late nineteenth century, threequarters of the patients at Indianapolis City Hospital were from the Tribe of Ishmael. 42 The Ishmael Tribe was reduced to the very dregs of society, impoverished and marginalized.43 38 See Leaming (1977:129). These extreme living conditions and governmentally 39 Mukhopadhyay and Moses (1997:517). 40 Leaming (1977:129). 41 Leaming (1977:129). 42 Gomez (2005:197). 43 Gomez (2005:198).

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29 mandated marginalization would have affected their world view, si nce the province of Ishmaelite influence appears to have been the nonChristian religious nationalist mov ements.44 Leaming elaborates the influence of the Ben Ishmael Tribe on religious nationalist movements in that, It is not surprising that there should have been significant dialogue between those who had once been an independent nation in North America an d those who sought the self determination of the entire AfricanAmerican people.45Drew Alis connection to the Ishmaelites is traced through his migration from New Jersey to Chicago, as he believed that Islam is closer to the latter region. The Ben Ishmael Tribe and the Moorish Science Temple share this history of mar ginalization, questions and unif ied themselves under the banner of non Christian religious nati onalism. 46 Alis emphasis on a Moorish identity for himself and his followers may also reflect a connection with the group. It is known that some percentage of Noble Drew Alis adherents in the Midwest were recruited from the Ishmaelites.47 B y the time of the MSTA the Ishmaelites as a group was largely defunct, so their identification with the teachings of Drew Ali come presumably as a result of some resonance between Noble Drew Alis teachings and the latters own beliefs and lived experience.48 44 Leaming (1977:135). Leaming notes several individuals who claimed to have membership in both the MSTA and the Ben Ishmael Tribe. One of these individuals is Mrs. Gallivant, a women who joined the 45 Leaming (1977:135). 46 Gomez (2005:200). 47 Gomez (2005:200). 48 Gomez (2005:200).

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30 MSTA in Detroit around 1920; she had previously called herself an Ishmaelite, Mrs. Gallivant even spoke of the T ribe of Ishmael as a people who had dwelled downstate, and who after moving north were among the first to assist in the establishment of the Moorish Science in the Midwest.49The accumulation of the tribal traits of shunning Christian churches, abstinence from alcohol, polygamy, nomadic lifestyle, and name s and vocabulary bearing resemblances to Arabic proves nothing conclusive. But they are sufficient to raise the question of Islamic influences on the old culture of the Tribe of Ishmael, in light of this established relationship with black nationalism after the diaspora [to the North], and then report of its participation in the Midwestern founding of Moorish Scienc e. Leaming understands the sphere of influence with the tribe, Islam and the MSTA t o be: 50While there is still more to understand about the connections between the Ben Ishmael Tribe, Drew Ali, and the MSTA, it is clear that they influenced the interpretations of emergent African American Islamic movements. Intellectual Influences on Drew A li Drew Ali was exposed to several other ideological influences including: the writings of the father of PanAfricanism, Edward Wilmot Blyden; perso nal relationships with the Ahma diyya missionary, Mufti Muhammad Saddiq an d Marcus Garvey; and his membersh ip in the Freemasons .51Christian missionary Edward Wilmot Blydens writings led to his title father of Pan Africanism. H e was the first scholar to link Islam to the continent of Africa as the authentic religion for Africans, and subsequently the corr ect religion for African 49 Leaming (1977:135). 50 Leaming (1977:136). 51 See Michael Gomez (2005) and Richard Turner (1999) for more details on these connections, for brevitys sake only a few of these links are addressed by this thesis.

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31 Americans. 52 Blyden was born on St. Thomas in 1832.53 His missionary work brought him to Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. He is best known for his book Christianity, Islam, and the Negro Race, where he began to develop a theory that saw Islam as an African religion and Christianity as European.54 Celebrated as the founder of pan African thought, Blyden saw Islam as the religion of Africans and those of African descent. Blyden was also influenced by the political movements w ithin Islam in Africa and into his theory he absorbed the attitude of superiority regarding Islamic practices from jihadist movements, such as Usman dan Fodios in Nigeria.55 Blydens linkage of Islam and African heritage partly inspired Alis belief in Isl am as the or iginal religion of Africans which was believed to have been largely destroyed by slavery.56 While Blydens ideological influence was inspirational for the MSTA in u nderstanding the correlation of Islam to the traditional religious practice of Africans, there were also Islamic missionary influences contributing to the conception of Islam in 1920s America n North One of these missionaries was Mufti Muhammad Saddiq, the first Ahmadiyya missionary to the United States. Hence, in Alis view, to become a Muslim was to rediscover ones true identity. 57 52 Turner (1999:47). The Ahmadiyya are a Muslim group 53 Gomez (2005:257). 54 Blyden (1887) [reprint 1990]. Also discussed in Gomez (2005) and Turner (1999). 55 Scholar Dean S. Gilliland examines the influence of the jihadist movements of 1802 in Nigeria on Blydens understanding of Islam in African Religion Me ets Islam: Religious Change in Northern Nigeria. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1986. He even cites Obarogie Ohonbamus analysis of Blydens influence as The educated [black] northerners were given the impression that their Islamic culture was s o superior that they never had the urge to ape of imitate the white administrators (Gilliland, 1986:57). 56 See Turner (1999:4859). 57 See Gomez (2005:251) for more detail about the life of Mufti Muhammad Saddiq.

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32 from the Punjab region of India who were widely persecuted for their beliefs in the late 1800s and early 1900s.58 Their persecution stems from their founder Ahmads c laim th at he was not only the R eformer of Islam ( Muhaddid) but he was the messiah of all prophetic religious traditions including the incarnation of Jesus Christ and the avatar of Krishna. The Ahmadiyya movement achieved most of its missionary success amongst Af rican Americans and prison populations in North America. The Ahmadiyya much like the MSTA, incorporated elements of Christianity and Judaism into Islam, believed in continued revelations, and were viewed as heterodox by other Muslims. But Ali and Saddiq were not only ideologically compatible. There is photographic evidence that links Saddiq, Marcus Garvey, Elijah Muhammad, and Drew Ali.59Another influence on Drew Ali was his contemporary Marcus Garvey. Both Garvey and Ali espoused ideologies of African American uplift and improvement. This is especially apparent in the title of Garveys Universal Negro Improvement Association or UNIA. The extent of these mens influence on one another is the subject of some scholarly debate. Historian Michael Gomez states that Ali s ideas and activities actually antedate those of Garvey. While Mufti Muhammad Saddiq was not an African American, he was a central figure in the African American intellectual com munity and most certainly was a contemporary and acquaintance of Drew Ali and would have influenced his understanding of Islam. 60 58 See Turner for more detail about the persecution endured by Saddiq and the Ahmadiyya (1999:112). While scholar Richard Brent Turner credits the latters influence on the former. This debate aside, both men employed mutual aid solutions to alleviate unemployment and poverty within the African American community in the 59 See Turner (1999:143). 60 Gomez (2005:204).

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33 North, yet they had very different ends. Ali sought to establish autonomous black economic systems like the MMC to lessen the exploitation of migrating African Americans; while Marcus Garvey, with the help of UNIA members, began t he Black Star Line to raise funds and move people to Africa. The relationship between Ali and Garvey is diffic ult to pinpoint, yet they had a common message of economic uplift through community development projects. Yet another intellectual influence on Drew Ali came from his affiliation with the Freemasons. Ali was a member of the Black Shriners or the Ancient Egypti an Arabic Order and used the ir Islamic symbolism, such as the red Fez the title Noble, and the cresce nt moon and star .61 The image etched on Drew Alis gravestone is one of him in a high backed chair staring directly towards the viewer wearing the Fez. The red Fez was used by the Shriners inside the lodge, but the Moorish Americans wore them in public, and they were especially important regalia for the MSTA parades. Running deeper than the appropriation of material symbols, the Moorish appropriation of Freemasonry extended to the Fraternitys Rites of P assage where the MSTA developed similar rituals intended to result, as Susan Nance holds, in a spiritual rebirth of the initiate through acquisition of secret truths to be used for personal fulfillment and the service of the community at large.62 61See Turner (2003:95). In the establishment of the MSTA, Drew Ali was intellectually i nfluenced by Edward Wilmot Blyden, Mufti Muhammad Saddiq, Marcus Garvey, and the Freemasons. These intellectual connections are mirrored in the material culture of the MSTA as the MMC, established to increase economic prosperity, the adoption of the 62 Nance (Summer 2002:138).

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34 Fez and other clothing articles, as well as the symbols of the crescent and star, and the use of the title Noble for Drew Ali Other results of these influences are demonstrated culturally through Rites of Passage and the belief in Islam as the superior religion for Africans. These material and cultural influences on the life of Drew Ali and the MSTA further demonstrates potential connections regarding Islam from Africa, the American South, and the Moorish Science Temple of America. The Prophets Tea and Moorish Identity The Moorish American identity of the MSTA evokes a connection to ancestral knowledge that migrated with Africans across the Atlantic and into plantation life. The foundations of the MSTA are rich with Islamic references, imagery, and materials th at connect the cultural tradition of African American Islam from different northern and southern geographies and contexts. The life of Drew Ali and his ideolog ical connections illuminates the potential continuities of Islam between the North and the South during the tumultuous uncertainty of early twentieth century America. As one member of the MSTA put it, people in the Moorish Science Temple knew their herbs. They learned from their people in the South. Before that it came from the old country with some of the slaves they brought here.63 63 Dannin (2002:29). While the employment of healing herbs was widely practiced by the larger population of enslaved Africans the connection between Alis knowledge of herbs to the South may also indicate potential for the influence of Southern Islam on Drew Ali. The traditional employment of cure all teas follows a path from Africa to the Southern United States, but the tradition does not end here.

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35 With the migration of former enslaved African Americans and their descendents to the North, the use of tea reemerges in the context of black nationalist Islamic movements at the turn of the century. The Moorish Science Temple of America was the proprietor of such tea, called the Prophet s Tea or Moorish Body Builder and Blood Purif ier. It is the consumption of the Prophets Tea as an herbal cureall tea that materially links the Moorish S cience Temple back to the material practices of Southern herbal cureall teas But larger than this connection, the Prophets Tea indicates a conti nued material tradition and knowledge system from Africa, to the American South, and to the American North which helps us to grasp the history of African American Islam and the origins of sustained Is lamic practice in the Americas. We will now turn to this history in the American South.

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36 CHAPTER 3 LIFE EVERLASTING TEA Do you have a cold and cough with congestion and fever? Pick the annual herb life everlasting, boil its leaves, stems, and yellow flowers, add another plant like pine tops or mullein or sea myrtle, to make one of the most popular cold remedies in South Carolina. Some say it will also relieve cramps, diseased bowels, and pulmonary complaints, and promote general well being. The dried plant is smoked for asthma, the leaves and flowers are chewed for quinsy, the crumbled leaves relieve toothache, and a bath of it eases foot pains. William Pollitzer (1999:99). Life Everlasting as an Herbal Cureall The first documented use of Life Everlasting1 Tea in the American South came from the coastal regions of the Carolinas and Georgia, known as the Sea Islands. The tea was consumed by enslaved Africans on southern plantations as an herbal stimulant and cureall tea, much like the Prophets Tea of the M oorish Science Temple of America (MSTA). The traditional use of Life Everlasting Tea for healing most likely comes from Afric a to the American South from enslaved Africans on the Sea Islands.2The African identities that transformed into the Gullah culture on the Sea Islands during Am erican slavery were influenced not onl y by African origins, but were also shaped by the racist ideologies held by plantation owners and overseers about various Africa n ethnic groups. It was the belief of the white plantation owners that some slaves This medicinal use of cureall teas, in particularly the plant Life Everlasting, is one of several material continuities between the island residents, known as the Gullah culture, and their ancestral homelands of Africa. 1 Genus: Gnaphalum Species: polycephalum. 2 See Pollitzer (1999:99).

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37 were of higher value than others and one of the prized slave populations were Muslim Africans who were often skilled agriculturalists. The botanical continuities of Life Everlasting Tea and Islamic material continuities of Afri can ethnic identities provide some of the documentation of the life, formation, and transformation of the Gullah cultural identity which is comprised of nonMuslim majority and Muslim minority African ethnicities under the harsh reality of slavery. The Islamic material continuities help to shed light on Islamic cultural continuities as Islam transitions from Africa to America. The unique population and documented presence of Islam in the Gullah material record may have influenced subsequent African American Islamic movements in the North at t he turn of the century. We know that the employment of herbal cureall teas were rumored by the MSTA to reflect their southern heritage, a practice typified by the employment Life Everlasting Tea on the Sea Islands, the influence of Islam in the South on I slam in the North is more dif ficult to discern, but prospective research may clarify these potential links. Islam has a distinct material presence on the Sea Islands as evidenced by Arabic derived names and words documented throughout the unique Gullah language system Moreover some Gullah religious practices such as the giving of sakara cakes and the r ing shout ritual, suggest further continuities between African Islam and the American Southern Islam. We gain more insight into these Islamic practices when we look to the life and legacy of slaves such as Bilali, an enslaved African Muslim from Sapelo Islands who left his own written record in Arabic, used prayer beads, wore a Fez, prayed multiple times a day facing the East, observed some dietary restrictions, and even wrote

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38 Quranic scripture.3From Africa to Gullah Bilalis life is further contextualized through the writings of his descendent Cornelia Bailey, who remembers not only her family history but also provi des written documentation of Gullah culture and oral traditions. From her writing we are introduced to insiders history and perspective on contemporary issues faci ng the Gullah and Sapelo Island. By tracing the material threads between the Sea Islands and Africa, we are able to uncover some of the cultural continuities between Islam in both regions and further understand the historical narrative of African American Islam. The geography of the Sea Island Atlantic coastal region helps t o explain the continuity of herbal and medicinal plants from Africa to the Americas. The American South and West Africa, the homelands for the majority of the enslaved Africans during the transatlantic slavery system, are both subtropical zones of humidity heat, luxuriant vegetation, and sandy soils.4 The Sea Island region is a 250 mile long and 40 mile wide coastal strip of low swamp and marsh lands that create an island chain from the coast of North Carolina to the Northern border of Florida.5 Over gener ations of enslavement, the island inhabitants developed their own Gullah African derived cultural and language systems.6 3 As documented by the WPA Drums and Shadows (1940) accounts of Bilalis ancestors. This culture was imported from Africa with the start of the North American slave trade in the 1600s. The Gullah identity began to coalesce through the institution of chattel slavery and relative isolation from the American mainland. 4 See Pollitzer (1999:87). 5 See Pollitzer (1999:4). 6 The difference between the Gullah and Gechee cultures is delineated by the Georgia/South Carolina boarder. The Geor gia Islands as technically the Gechee, but often the term Gullah is used interchangeably since their cultures are nearly indistinguishable Gomez (1998:102). For the purpose of simplicity only the term Gullah will be used to refer to the entire group of S ea Island cultures.

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39 The story of Sea Island Gullah culture began with transatlantic slavery from Africa to the United States in the l ate 1500s and early 1600s and officially ends in 1865. While an estimated 530,000 Africans entered North America in chains the total estimated population of African slaves to the Americas numbers close to twelve million.7 The diverse demographics of the enslaved populations have been estimated from the ledgers and cargo manifests of the ships as well as advertisements for slave auctions.8 The ethnic differences were not lost on the slave owners and this is reflected in the owners preference for slaves from particular regions for specific labors. Scholar William Pollitzer finds, West and Central Africa were the homeland of the ancestors of the Gullah.9 Pollitzer includes the specific groups of the Islamic Hausa states such as the Fulani of Northern Nigeria, as a people whose talents and experienceswere to be reflected on the shores of the Americas.10The African populations selected for enslavement on the Sea Island plantations were based on the demand of slave owners and this was further influenced by their perception of racial characteristics projected on specific Af rican ethnicities Racial superiority is a one of the ideological constructs that supported the transatlantic slavery system, but these racial attitudes were applied beyond a black and white dichotomy as slave owners created further distinctions amongst Af rican populations based on These talents and experiences often refer to their agricultural abilities and these abilities were noticed by slave purchasers who began to develop preferences for African slaves f rom specific ethnic backgrounds 7See Pollitzer (1999:3839). 8 For an indepth analysis and statistics see Gomez (2005) and Pollitzer (1999). 9Pollitzer (1999:26). 10Pollitzer (1999:28).

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40 perceived ethnic differences. Slave owners preferences were based on assumptions and reductions about height, skin pigment, ethnically derived scarifications, literacy, agricultural background, and demeanor. These preferences were often based on racist phenotypical observations which were often conflated with the Islamic religious tradition in the Sea Islands. For the Sea Islands, Muslim slaves were believed to possess the most desirable skills for rice, cotton, and indigo agricultural production. They were believed to be of both Arab and African descent and so valued over a perceived purely African ethnicity. Michael Gomez further states, Vis vis other Africans, Muslims were generally viewed by slave holders as a more intelli gent, more reasonable, more physically attractive, more dignified people.11 The preferences were sometimes more nuanced than this, for example Natchez planter William Dunbar was said to have specifically preferred Muslims from Northern Nigeria as opposed to Senegambians, but they were Muslims nonetheless.12 The literacy of some Muslim slaves also influenced plantation owners perception of intelligence.13 According to Sylviane Diouf, slave owners believed that since Muslim Africans had a mixed racial backg round that they were not true Africans and they could be trusted, and they could elevate themselves to the highest positions within the boundaries of rigid slave society.14 11Gomez (1998:82). The unique Gullah culture of the Sea Islands begins with African divers ity and w as influenced by the perception of slave owners The influence of Islam on the Gullah culture is difficult to 12Gomez (1998:82). Northern Nigeria and Senegambia were just two regions from Africa that supplied the coastal plantations with a labor force. 13Diouf (1998:97100). 14Diouf (1998:99100).

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41 elucidate, but light is shed on some of these strands as we look to the larger material culture of the Gullah. The use of Life Everlasting Tea as an herbal cureall demonstrates one of these potential botanical cognates between African cultural practices and Gullah cultural practices. S cholar William Pollitzer characterizes Life Everlasting as only one of about one hundred plants used by the citi zens of the Low County for centuries for healing aches and pains; the use of many of them is derived from ancient traditions of the Old World.15The similar climates between Western Africa and the Southern US allowed for plant cognates to flourish, such as the cash crop rice. Africa supplied not only rice as a cash crop to America, but also contributed indigo. In fact indigo can be traced by species back to Africa to understand the influence of the ethnically Islamic group the Fulani of Nigeria on the spread of indigo. Given the similar climates, some of these medicinal plants may have been native to the American South, but it i s difficult to discern which plants originate from Africa, and which ones were already growing in the American South. Pollitzer assumes that botanical continuity indicates a traditional continuity. More pointedly Pollit zer highlights this relationship, dem onstrating that where plants have cognates, the applications of these plants will also have cognates. 16 15Pollitzer (1999:99). Pollitzer indicates that not only do these plant materials have correlations between the US and Africa, but their knowledge is based on traditions with threads that precede American territory and reflect a knowledge created in Africa. Through the continued use of Life Everlasting Tea as an herbal cure-16Pollitzer traces the species Indigofera tinct oria, and Indigofera arrecta to Africa (specifically Senegal for the former species) to the Kanuri dyers of the Cameroun who carried it from Bornu to the region of Lake Chad, and there, Fulani were also responsible for its spread. (1999:91).

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42 all in Africa and the Sea Islands we can see the continuity of knowledge. Given the documented presence of an Islamic material tradition in the Sea Islands, we can use this evidence of herbal material continuities and extrapolate to inv estigate the presence and transformation of Islam to the Sea Islands Beyond the crude materials of plants and tangible objects, Islam also came across the Atlantic Ocean. Islam was an established religion in Africa as early as the eleventh century.17 Early on there were Muslims amongst the Senegambian: Wolof, Fulbe, and Malinke groups. There was also a Muslim presence in Northern Nigeria that supplied slaves to the New World.18 The exact number of enslaved African Muslims taken to the U nited S tates is unknow n, but Michael Gomez states that their numbers were significant, probably reaching in the thousands.19 While Islam first arrived on the shores of the Americas as early as the 1500s, it was in the 1600s that the first sustained practices of Islam in the Un ited States have been documented.20 The epicenter of the African Muslim community in colonial and antebellum North Americawas located along the Georgia and South Carolina coasts, comprising both islands and the immediate mainland vicinity.21 17See Gomez (2005). It is this Se a Island region that also holds the keys to understanding the beginnings of Islam in America through the material record of the enslaved Muslims and their descendents. 18Gomez (1998:43). 19Gomez (1998:60). 20Both Turner (2003) and Gomez (2005) demonstrate that enslaved African Muslims were also on Spanish expeditions in the 1500s.Turner writes about Estevan, the first identifiable Muslim ion North America, was a black Moroccan guide and interpreter who came to Florida from Spain in 1527 (2003:11). 21Gomez (2005:143).

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43 Islam in the Material Record Life Everlasting Tea, like the knowledge of its application as a cureall, came across the Atlantic from Africa and has left a lasting influence on the material record of the Sea Islands. As Pollitzer indicates, botanical evidences indicate material continuities and are indicative of knowledge continuities between Africa and the Sea Islands. As we know Islam was an African religion before the onset of transatlantic slavery. We can expect from these correlations that Islam will be present in the material culture of the Sea Islands, and to understand the presence of Islam in the Sea Islands, we can look to the material record. Like the herbal knowledge of Life Ever lasting Teas healing abilities, Islam has material manifestations as evidenced by sakara cakes and the ring shout ritual, as well as in family names and the vocabulary of the Sea Island residents, but most concretely the continuation of Islam as a material and ideological system in the Sea Islands is demonstrated by written Arabic records by enslaved Muslim Sea Islanders. The importance of these Arabic records is understood through their ability to assert agency in the representation of Muslims It is the uniqueness of the Gullah material culture that initiated scholastic investigation into th e lives and practices of enslaved Africans, and it is this very material culture that also indicates the transition of Islam to the American South from Africa The material culture of the Sea Islands has been the subject of scholarly inquiry, and it is f rom research on one of the southernmost Sea Islands, Fort George Island, that plantation archaeology was created as a field of study.22 22 Leland Ferguson, Uncommon Ground: Archaeology and Early African America, 1650100. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press,1992:Xxxvi. This new field took the material culture of enslaved Africans into consideration to understand their daily

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44 activities, customs, and access to goods in an attempt to understand this largely undocumented culture It is in this vein that we will look to the material culture of the Sea Islands in an attempt to highlight Islamic practices. One of the materializations of Islam in the Sea Islands is sakara cakes. These sweetened rice cakes were recorded from the oral histories of the descendents of Gullah slaves by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1930s.23 The cakes were made of overly water saturated rice sweetened with honey or sugar then mashed into flat cakes.24 The origins of this cooking method, probably spread from India through the Moslems to West Africa and thence to the Low country.25 In the Gullah coastal lowlands these cakes would have been offered as a tenant of Islam called sadakha, the giving of alms. Furthermore, scholar Sylviane Diouf indicates, As in the case in Africa, the cakes in Georgia were given to the children, and being religious in nature, the distribution was accompanied by the traditional ameen .26 23 WPA Drums and Shadows (1940) [reprinted 1986] Diouf even notes that the cakes were so popular with the island children they memorialized them in song. While the cakes are remembered in fond childhood memories of Sea Islanders, their practical function was to serve the Islamic tenet of charity and they were most likely distributed as a form of alms giving. The cakes and the method employed to construct them reflect a further continuity of practice, food resources, and cooking technique between Muslims in America and Muslims in Africa. The presence of Islam in the Gullah material record is not always as transparent as in the case of the sakara cakes. T o understand the less 24 See Diouf (1998:65). 25 Pollitzer (1999:90). 26 Diouf (1998:65).

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45 apparent connections some scholars, like Sylviane Diouf, aim to tease out traces of Islam ic practice from the generic catchall c ategory of African practices used by scholars. Diouf specifically targets the practice of the ring shout to deconstruct the assumption that this practice demonstrates an amalgamation of African derived polytheistic religious influences. She elaborates that the ring shout, is probably a linguistic derivative of shaut which translates from Arabic to English to mean to move around the Kaabauntil exhausted.27 This practice of circumambulation is practiced by Muslims on the hajji, one of the pillars of Islam, where pilgrims move as a unified mass around the holy shrine called the Kaaba.28African Arabic names and naming systems are also recorded from the Sea Island regions. These A rabic derived names are posted on the runaway slave advertisements searching for individuals with names like Bullaly (Bilali), Mustapha, Fatima, Sambo, Bocarrey (Bukari), and Mamado (Mamadu). The circular motion of the ring shout ritual supports the hypothesis that it has similarities to the Islamic practice of circumambulation at the Holy Shrine. The similarities between the ring shout ritual and the Islamic practice of circumambulation at the Kaaba indicates a continuity of reli gious practices with specifically Islamic influences. Diouf believes these terms shout and shaut to be cognates since there is larger evidence of African and Arabic vocabulary cognates and near cognates in the vocabulary and names of Sea Island residents. 29 27 Diouf (1998:69); Pollitzer (1999:115) also supports this hypothesis. The name Sambo most likely comes from 28 See Diouf (1998). 29 Gomez (1998). Gomez elaborates the list of potential cognates to include Adamu, Ali, Amina, Aminata, Ayisata, Bakari, Bilali, Binta, Bintu, Birahama, Birama, Fatimata, Gibril, Haruna, Hasana, Male, Mare,

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46 the African area of the F ulbe, which is also a region known to have Muslims. Sambo, probably the derivative of the name Samba, means second son, the use of this name is consistent with Muslim names and naming patterns from Africa in the New World.30 The continuation of these name s and naming processes reflect the heritage of Islamic knowledge in the written English record. There was another written record in the Sea Islands, and this is perhaps the most informative writing because it is the writings of a few elite Muslim slaves. T hese Muslims slaves had the ability to assert agency in the written record which provides insights into the practice of Islam on the Sea Islands.31Perhaps the most compelling evidence of Islam in the Sea Islands is this written record, since the employment of the Arabic alphabet directly identifies the educated nature of Muslims in Africa before the Atlantic slave trade. Islamic schools had been in Africa for centuries before th e transatlantic slave trade. As a result of this some of the enslaved African M uslims were literate in Arabic. This is apparent in the documents from South Carolina written by enslaved Muslims. Allan Austin was the first scholar to chronicle several of these Muslim slaves who left documentation of their religious commitment to Isla m. 32 A ustin follows the life of Omar I bn Said, one of the most famous Muslims in nineteenth century America. Said was born in Africa 1770 and came to the United States in chains in 1807.33 Mori, and Musa. He also includes a brief list of naming systems in his later work The Black Crescent (2005:159). He is a legendary figure who supposedly loved his 30 Gomez (1998:69). 31 Allen Austin is credited with creating the seminal work on African American Muslims in American Muslims in Antebellum America: A Sourcebook (1984). 32 See Austin (1984). 33 See Austin (1984).

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47 master but ran away from a cruel overseer and t hen was converted from Islam to Christianity .34 The legen d of Omar I bn Said contributes some information to our understanding of Islam in the Americas. Saids legendary conversion to Christianity meant he supposedly abandoned hi s interest in African and Islam and continued in a love of white Americans and Christianity .35 Scholar Richard Turner believes that this legend is a deliberate distortion of history intended to soothe American consciences and maintain if not create, certain myths about the Old South.36While the narrative states Said converted to Christianity, this narrative is directly challenged by Saids continued assertion of his Muslim identity in his writings. Said apparently wrote Surah 110 of the Quran, which focuses on the ultimate victory of Is lam, on a manuscript entitled The Lords Prayer. But Omar I bn Said has more than just a legendary representation in the historical record; Said was a literate Muslim who left his own writings concerning his conversion. 37 Omar Ibn Saids writings are further linked to serious Islamic practice in that, The Arabic drawings and pentacles inscribed on several of [Saids] Arabic manuscripts are similar to those found on the am ulets that African slaves in Brazil used in the Muslim insurrection of 1835 in Bahia.38 These amulets were also used for the same reasons in Africa.39 34 Turner (2003:38). In Africa both Muslims and nonMuslims carried amulets filled with Quranic scripture in the understanding that 35 Turner (2003:38). 36 Turner (2003:38). 37 Turner (2003:38). 38 Turner (2003:40). 39 Amulets containing Quranic scripture are used throughout the Muslim world, and are not specific to Africa, but for these purposes we will only highlight this practice in Africa and the Sea Islands.

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48 writing possessed particular efficacy.40The Life and Legacy of Bilali The use of amulets filled with Quranic scripture was a practice that came from the Muslim clerics of Africa and continued to be used by Muslims in the New World. Omar Ibn Saids use of Islamic scripture and the designs of his calligraph y le d scholars to connect the use of Islamic amulets carri ed on into the New World. Said was able to challenge in writing the assumptions about his religious identity demonstrating that some Muslim slaves converted to Christianit y in public but not necessarily in practice. T he life and legacy of another enslaved Muslim from the Sea Islands, Bilali Mohamet, provides further insights into the material manifestations and continuation of Islam on the Sea Islands. The life of Bilali g ives us insight in to the lasting material legacy from slavery through emancipation and into contemporary times and his legacy is represented in the oral history of Sapelo Island and his descendents as a part of their Gullah cultural heritage. The life of Bilali indicates the lasting influence of Islam on the Sapelo, one of the Sea Islands. Bilali was originally from Timbo, Futa Jallon.41 Bilali was enslaved on the plantation of Thomas Spaulding where he eventually proved to be a dependable driver.42 40 Gomez (1998:67). Richard Turner quotes white Sapelo resident Georgia Conrads 1850s observation of Bil ali and his family to indicate he worshiped Mohamet (sic) that they were tall and well formed with good features, talked amongst themselves in a foreign tongue that no one else understood, and that Bilali always adorned himself with a cap 41 Turner (2003:33). 42 Gomez (2005:154).

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49 that resembled a Turkish fez.43 This description of Bilali is consistent with the previously noted assumptions of plantation owners on the perceived attribu tes of Muslim slaves. The legacy of Bilali as told by his descendents highlights the material practices of Bilali including his use of prayer bea ds and Quranic amulets indicating the transmission of Islamic practices throughout subsequent Sapelo Island generations.44Bilali was an integral player in the prosperity of Spauldings plantation, and in Spauldings absence Bil ali would be deemed the overseer. The memories of Bilalis descendent Cornelia Bailey not only sheds light on the continuation of Islam materially on the Sea Islands, but also the botanical application of Life Everlasting Tea as a traditional cure all tea, which yet again confirms the connection between materials both botanical and religious, and knowledge systems both herbal and Islamic. 45 This position of responsibility was rare for an enslaved person, but some literate Muslims were given this responsibili ty in spite of their bondage.46 43Turner (2003:32). T he prestige of enslaved Muslims on plantations was consistent with their stratified societies in Africa. The Muslims in Africa controlled the vast trade networks creating a difference between resource access between Muslim s and nonMuslims in Africa. This is summarized by Gomez as Muslim abilities and atypicality were celebrated, and their divergence from other Africans was rewarded with less demanding, more highly trained vocational jobs and assignments, 44Bilalis descendent Cornelia Bailey with Christena Bledsoe have complied one of the most accessible histories, traditions, and oral culture of the Gullah people and gives us particular insights into the legacy of Bilali in God, Dr. Buzzard, and the Bolitoman (2000). 45See Austin (1984:26568). 46Muslim slaves were not always privileged on the plantations and in some cases their adherence to Islam brought them more persecution.

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50 which necessarily contributed to the ways in which Africanderived societies were stratified.47Bilalis leadership abilities led to his achievements during the War of 1812 when he and approximately eighty armed slaves prevented the British fr om securing Sapelo Island. Bilalis ability to lead earned him his reputation, but his literacy al lowed him to assert some agency in historical representation. 48 Bilali was even the model of Joel Chandler Harriss caricature Ben Ali.49 Bilali wore a fez and kaftan, prayed daily (facing the East), and also observed the Muslim feast days.50 His legacy was passed down to his seven daughters, Margret,51 Bentoo, Chaalut, Medina, Yaruba, Fatima, and Hestuh, which Gomez considers to be most identifiably Muslim names.52 One of these images recorded by the WPA was that of Katie Brown, a descendent of Bilali, who claimed her famous great grandfather and his wife Phoebe pray on duh bead. Furthermore, Bilalis Islamic influence provides a lasting legacy of Islamic images in the memory of Sapelo Island residents. 53 47 Gomez (2005:372). This image is consistent with the use of prayer beads by Muslims. 48 See Turner (2003:33). 49 Gomez (2005). Joel Chandler Harri s also created the character Uncle Remus, who would later become the narrator of Disneys Song of the South directed by Harve Foster and Wilfred Jackson (1946). This film recants the tales of Ber Rabbit, also a popular mythological character in the Sea Isl ands literature which is believed to have African origins. For more information on the Ber Rabbit and Joel Chandler Harris connection see Pollitzer (1999). 50 Gomez (1998:74). 51 Margaret was also documented as wearing a head covering that extended to her shoulders. This is a practice that her granddaughter Katie Brown also continued into the 1930s according to the WPA interview (1986: 158172). Gomez to show consistency of veiling amongst the enslaved African Muslims and their children (2005:155). 52 Gom ez (2005:155). 53 WPA (1986:61).

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51 An even more pers uasive image of Islam on Sapelo Island is in the memory of Shad Hall, grandson of Hestuh, Bilalis daughter Shad Hall recalls, Hestuh an all ub um sho pray on duh bead. Dey weah duh string uh beads on duh wais. Sometime duh string on duh neck. Dey pray at sunup and face duh sun on duh knees an bow tuh it tree times, kneelin on a lill mat.54The use of prayer beads and a mat, as well as a prostrated posture indicates consistency with widely accepted Muslim prayer practices. 55Another prayer artif act is that of the amulet. The use of Quranic scripture amulets is recorded in the writings of Bilali descendent Cornelia Bailey. Cornelia Bailey also refers to her ancestors use of small amulet pouches similar to the ones Muslims in Africa used. She stat es, After Grandpa died, I opened the little bag and pulled the paper out and it said, With God, all things are possible. I later found out that Muslim clerics in African used to hand out little sealed pouches with religious sayings on them.56These cons istent practices lingered in the minds of Sea Island residents throughout slavery and into the present and are preserved in the writings of Cornelia Bailey. Cornelia Bailey, whose great grandmother was Harriet Hall Grovner, the granddaughter of Bentoo, Bi lalis daughter ; has contributed much to the documentation of Gul lah culture and oral traditions, her memoires provide road maps and insights into the material culture of her Gullah heritage and she contributes a written legacy for the oral traditions of her people. Michael Gomez states, Cornelia Bailey offers a glimpse with her observation that Bilalis children would not eat wild animals or fresh meat, 54 WPA (1986:16568). 55 It should also be noted that the WPA recorded Islamic practices on other Islands near Sapelo. Some of these practices were prayer three times a day and an emphasis on Friday prayer (1986:162). 56 Ba iley (2000:66).

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52 and that seafood such as crab was avoided as were certain kinds of fish.57 Cornelia Baileys memori es support much of Gomezs findings and reports of the WPA. Bailey further recalls that Bilali used a mat for prayer purposes, prostrated in prayer three times a day, employed prayer beads, and that his wife Phoebes rice cakes were something to be remembered for generations.58 Her understanding of Bilali's leadership role on the plantation and his victory against the British in the War of 1812 also matches Gomez's analysis.59It is from Cornelia Baileys memories and transmission of oral history to written history that we can understand the lasting effects of the Muslim presence on Sapelo Island. Bailey highlights these connections in her story of family members, such as Harriet Hall Grovner, who many have been practicing Islam as late as the 1920s. 60 57 Gomez (2005:156). S he doc uments the peculiar Eastern prayer direction the congregation of the First Baptis t African Church of Sapelo faces for prayer Bailey also documents a tension between the South and North ends of Sapelo which may be a product of the tension between Muslim s a nd nonMuslims reflected by the privileged positions achieved by Muslims within the plantation hierarchy, as we know Bilali had achieved one of these positions Bailey also links her familys material traditions to the use of Life Everlasting Tea as an 58 See Bailey (2000). 59 See Bailey (2000). 60 See Gomez (2005:162). This link is speculative, but this potential indicates that Islam may have been practiced on the Sea Islands into the twentieth century. Gomez does ho wever, find that Harriet Hall Grovner was practicing Islam until 1866, which does mean that Islam was practiced in the Sea Island region a year after emancipation in 1865.

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53 her bal cureall, which is reminiscent of the mixture of Islam and herbal medicinal applications in Africa.61The writings of Cornelia Bailey further substantiate the claims of some scholars. Scholars, like Michael Gomez speculate about th e conversion experience of Harriet Hall Grovner, Baileys great grandmother, from Islam to Christianity with the establishment of the First African Baptist Church in 1866. 62Grandma said that people had to sneak out into the woods at night to prayWhen freedom came, Bilalis children and grandchildren formed the First African Baptist Church. Some of them would have been Muslim still and some likely were Christian by then, and they wanted to go to church together so they patched things up, and they used Muslim traditions in a Christian church. Given the knowledge that some Sea Islanders converted to Christianity more so in name than perhaps practice, i.e. Omar I bn Said, Gomez is suspicious about the extent of Grovners conversion since she often went into the woods to pray, a rather peculiar behavior given church membership and attendance. Bailey is able to support Gomez's speculat ion with her memory which recalled: 63A documented example of this Islamic influence is also apparent in the Eastern direction of prayer f or the First African Baptist Church. 64 61 This notion is discussed at length in the next chapter in the context of the Nort hern Nigerian malam. Baileys memories of life on the Sea Islands contextualize many of the assumptions scholars had long speculated about Muslim people on the island chain. S he is able to further illuminate a potential lasting 62 Gomez (2005:162). 63 Bailey (2000:158). But this is also noted by Diouf (1998:193). 64 See Bailey (2000), chapter sixteen, here Bailey explains the importance of the direction of the East in the Gullah culture.

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54 presence of Islam on Sapelo Island through her documentation of the historic conflict between the north and s outh ends of Sapelo Island. Cornelia Bailey indicates that Sapelo Island itself is still segregated between the north and south ends of the Island. The nort h end people were the field workers, and according to Bailey they wanted to keep their own identity while the south e nders were used to being around the white man, which reflected their material access to Ivory soap called sweet soap, instead of havi ng to use Borax like the field slaves.65 The division on the island is a relic of the social system created by slavery.66Baileys description of the material traditions of Sapelo Island also includes mention of the use of Life Everlasting Tea as a part of her familys medicine cabinet. She states, We had roots and herbs growing all over Sapelo, and we used them for everything. This dichotomy could further reflect the division between the Muslim s and nonMuslim s of Sapelo Island. Bilali was a Muslim who achieved the title of overseer in the absence of Spaulding; Bilali would have been one of these more privileged slaves of the south end This North and South dichotomy on Sapelo Island demonstrates that continuity of racial and potentially religious ideologies and identities created at the time of slavery still has implications on the lives of Sea Islanders into the present. Bailey is also the link between a continued Islamic material culture and botanical material culture coming from Africa to the Sea Islands thro ugh the use of Life Everlasting Tea. 67 65 Bailey (2000:113). Her father drank the tea daily in the evening, as in the evening Life Everlasting was drunk as the poor mans Lipton, with its own stimulant, and it got you 66 Bailey (2000:112). 67 Bailey (2000:201).

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55 up and going.68 She further elaborates that even when her father could afford coffee he still chose to drink the Life Everlasting Tea.69 Bailey also informs her audience that the tea was given to her when she was a sick child as a cure for severe colds. Bailey further notes that most of my family did live to old age.70 The use of plants for healing was widely practiced by slaves on Southern plantations since enslaved people did not typically have access to doctors in the traditional European sense. They relied on those who knew how to use roots and herbs to concoct remedies out of local botany. The creation of this knowledge is difficult to trace, since we have few records of this process. But employment and development of root knowledge, much like Life Everlasting Tea, has its origins in a land separated by the Atlantic Ocean. The knowledge of Life Everlasting Tea as a cure all most likely endured the middle passage, from Africa to America. There is specifically documented use of Life Everlasting Tea as an herbal supplement in Nigeria, where they refer to the plant as Never Die. Life Everlasting T ea has a long history of use on the plantations on the Sea Islands and has materially and ideologically become part of the culture, but the historic use of this tea as a cureall probably originates in Africa. 71 68 Bailey (2000:203). Mo re than the transfer of crude materials, the continued use and knowledge of the benefit of Life Everlasting Tea consumption highlight something deeper; it indicates that materials, as well as knowledge and ideas survived the Middle Passage from Africa to t he American South. The life of Bilali and the memories of 69 Bailey (2000:203). 70 Bailey (2000:203). 71 According to Bailey (2000:327).

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56 Cornelia Bailey illuminate more of the material influences that demonstrate links to other knowledge and ideologies that survived this treacherous passage, including Islam. Islam appears in the American material record as herbal remedies, prayer sacraments, writings, and familial names which indicate the legacies and remembrances of heritages from Africa in the Americas. When we follow these material cognates we are able to highlight the daily life practices of these enslaved populations as well as fill in gaps in the historical narrative of the African experience in America. The material record clearly indicates that not onl y botanical materials have continuities, but also Islamic artifacts and prac tices do as well It is through the material objects that we are able to speculate the cultural continuities that originate from African Muslims and transform as they reach the new context of the American South initiating African American Islam. So to understand these material manifestations in the United States, we must also understand the larger practice, history, and material culture of Islam in Africa. By understanding the method in which Islam adapts to Africa from Middle Eastern trade networks as they spread through the continent we can understand the tradition of adaptation in African Islam.

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57 CHAPTER 4 NEVER DIE TEA A man from Nigeria who visited [Sapelo] saw some Life Everlasting and said to his son, Look. We have this at home too. So Li fe Everlasting grows in West Africa. The only difference is that people th ere call the plant never die. Cornelia Bailey ( 2000: 326327) Never Die Tea as an Herbal Cureall The Nigerian visitor described by Cornelia Bailey identified the plant Life Everlas ting as a botanical cognate to a Nigeria n plant called Never Die.1 Islam was transmitted through Africa via trade networks established and controlled by Middle Eastern Muslims. The connection of Life Everlasting Tea in Sapelo Island and Nigeria has further implications than just botanical continuities. The use of Life Everlasting T ea as an herbal cureall tea supports continuities between other material cultures and belief systems as well T his can be highlighted through the material tradition of Islam in Nigeria. 2 1 The same plant is found in both Nigeria and Sapelo Island, but it is unknown if the plant originated in Africa and was brought to the Americas, or if the plant was already a native species to the Americas. The association between Islam and trade opened the avenues for Islam to be associated with political power as well. As Islam spread throughout A frica it began to take on uniquely African features, such as the reliance on cureall herbal teas for healing purposes. This transmission of Islam through Africa as a base of mercantilism, political power, religious ideology, and source of healing is demonstrated in Nigeria by the role of the malam But the conflation of African traditional knowledge and Islamic knowledge created the base of a politics of authenticity concerning the idea of a true or pure Arabian Islam versus an unpure 2 Gomez (2005:6).

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58 African Islam. These politics are demonstrated by the jihad movement of Usman dan Fodio in 1802, which sought to disassociate herbal remedies and African innovations from Islam and concretized the conflicts between Fulani Muslims of Northern Nigeria and other Muslim and nonMuslim ethnic groups.3 Dan Fodios persecution set the tone for his successor Muhammad Bello, who continued to eradicate innovation from Nigerian Islam.4Islam in A frica These conflicts potentially influenced Bilalis attitude to other enslaved Africans on Sapelo Isl and and may have also contributed to Edward Wilmot Blydens understanding of Islam as an authentic African religion. Furthermore, this innovation of herbal remedies into Islamic practices in Africa contributes to tracing the legacy of Islamic material cu lture in North America and the sheds light on the overarching beliefs connected to this controversial practice. Through the Islamic practices of the malam : the employment of blessings ; Quranic amulets; the use of assault magic practices; and herbal consumption methods, help us investigate the transition of Islam to Nigeria. This further illuminates the potential origins and possible material continui ties between African and African American Islam. The use of cureall tea in Nigeria indicates insights into the lives of Muslims in Africa and the underlying politics of authenti city that begins in Africa and continues in North America. Before the institution of transatlantic slavery, where Africans were taken to the Americas, there was th e transsaharan slave trade during which Africans were taken to the Middle East. It was this slave trade that originally brought the knowledge of Islam to 3 Gilliland (1986:56). This subject is further explored by Gilliland (1986) and Michael Gomez (2005). 4 Abdalla (1985:15). For more about Muhammad Bello see Ismail Abdallas essay, The Ulama of Sokoto in the Nineteenth Century: A Medical Review, in African Healing Strategies Edited by Brian M du Toit and Ismail Abdalla. New York: Traco Medic Books, 1985.

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59 Africa as early as the seventh century.5 It was however, from the eleventh century onward that Islam not only became an A frican religion, but took on an influential role in politics.6 The political ties of Islam to trade networks and the elite class led to the establishment of Muslim states throughout Africa. This Muslim state development began when the king of Takrur (in Senegambia) became a Muslim; Islam in West Africa was closely connected with the development of states such as ancient Ghana, Mali and Songhay.7 As Islam spread from these trade networks throughout Africa it became the religion practice d by many of the merchants This connection contributes to the later politicization of Islam. Islam in Africa was not only the religion of the elite and political leaders. With this eleventh century spread of Islam across Africa it transitioned from being a religion of traders and scholars, Islam was increasingly adopted by West Africans societies who fused elements of the new Islamic religion to their own traditional beliefs, thus resulting in a situation where mixed Islam took root.8 5 Scholar J. Alexander provides a more thorough analysis of the transsaharan slaves trade in his article Islam, archaeology, and slavery in Africa. World Archaeology 33/1(2001):4450. I n Nigeria this African influence on Islam is demonstrated materially by the use of cureall teas and herbal remedies for healing T hese innovations however, have been the subject of much persecution in Nigeria, as we will see in the jihad led by Usman dan Fodio and the lasting effect of this jihad on the Fulani ethnicity both in Africa and in the Americas. From the beginning, th e history of Islam in Africa had a uniquely African expression, and 6 Along with Alexander (2001), scholars Mic hael Gomez (2005) and Christopher Steed (1995) also provide insights into the trade networks and political networks that arose across Africa before the transatlantic slave trade, but for brevity the discussion will focus only on Nigeria. 7 Steed (1995:67) 8 Steed (1995:67).

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60 consequentially the authenticity of some African Islamic practices has been a subject of scrutiny. Scholar Ismail H. Abdalla emphasizes this connection between traditional African healing and Islamic influences to the larger understanding of Islam in Africa, when the role of the Muslim cleric as a doctor in Islamized African soci eties is fully investigated and understood, we will perhaps better comprehend the process of conversion in Africa, and be able to explain, more convincingly, the influence of Islam on the life of the ordinary African.9 In fact, the participation of both animist and Muslims in traditional institutions of [witchcraft and magic] is of the highest importance.10A Brief History of Islam in N igeria To understand the relationship between Islam and traditional sources of healing we will look to Northern Nigeria, a region historically notes for the dynamics of Islam, Christianity, and indigenous beliefs as well as being one of the sources of enslaved African Muslims to the New World in the 1600s. The history of Islam in Nigeria is shaped by contentious interactions along ethnic borders between Islam, Christianity, and other African religions. Nigeria is typically divided into three religious majority regions with Islam associated with the North, Christianity in the Middle Belt region, and indigenous polytheistic African religions practiced in the South.11 9 Abdalla (1985:8). Islam transitioned to Northern Nigerian through trade networks 10 Gilliland (1986:50). 11 For more explanation about the regional and ethnic ties across Nigeria see Jacob Olupona and Toyin Falolas edited volume Religion and Society in Nigeria: Historical and Sociological Per spectives Nigeria: Spectrum Books Limited, 1991.

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61 in the eleventh century, and again in the late fourteenth century .12 These networks spread material goods as well as Islam to the surrounding populations of Kanem Borono and Hausa kingdoms, as well as connecting Islam to the Northern Nigerian merchant class. Islam in Northern Nigeria is also connected to the ethnic identities o f the Fulani and Hausa. It was t hrough the jihad movement of Usman dan Fodio that Fulani was connected to an Islamic identity.13 As a result, the Fulani claim an Arabian origin in their mythology, and they depict themselves as the upholders of orthodox principles i n the face of lax Hausa officials. 14 The claim to Arab descent allows for a continued lineage for the Fulani to legitimate their religious practice from the lineage of the prophet. The Fulani group sought to rid Islam in Northern Nigeria of its ties to Afr ican practices, in the attempt to establish a true and pure Islamic state.15 Usman dan Fodio was the initiator of this jihad or holy war against innovation, which lasted until 1810, and sought to purify an already semi Islamized society by purging venal Musli ms, rather than forcibly convert nonMuslims 16 Innovation was not the only focus of dan Fodios campaign, he also wished to eradicate the pagan practices, and force the Christians to pay tributes.17 12 See Steed (1995:67). 13 Dan Fodios jihad was influenced by the Wahhabi movement of Arabia. (Steed, 1995:68). 14 Salamone (1991:47). 15Salamone (1991:47). 16 Steed (1995:69). Steed indicates that dan Fo dio perhaps did not emphasize conversion for the nonMuslims because it was because only nonMuslims could be enslaved according to Islamic jurisprudence. Also see Salamone (1991:48). 17 See Steed ( 1995:69 70)

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62 T ensions like these between the religious groups of Nigeria w ere potentially transmitted in the prejudices of the slaves against one a nother in the American South, as is evidenced by Sapelo Islands Bilali who found he could depend only upon fellow Muslims, as opposed to the general slave population w hom he characterized as Christian dogs.18 T his is further explained from the West African context of religious based conflict between Christians, Muslims, and polytheistic traditions. The jihad movement of Usman dan Fodio changed the way in which Islam coexisted with other religious practices. Moreover, d an Fodios jihad occurred contemporaneously with transatlantic slavery, and makes it there for reasonable that slaves from the Hausa nation exported from 180412 to the A mericas would have most likely been Muslim and nonMuslim war captives.19Usman dan Fodios successor Sultan Muhammad Bello understood the importance of both Islam and Arabic writing for Africa. 20 Bello sought to estrange African Muslim medicinal practices f rom the traditional African herbal remedies to instead employ what he understood as Quranic and Hadith sciences. It was apparently through health care that Bello thought governmental stability could be achieved, but more than this, Bellos interest in the development of a sound medical and agricultural system in Hausaland cannot be separated from his overall commitment to the establishment of the ideal Muslim society in the land, which was the main aim of the jihad [led by dan Fodio].21 18 Gomez (1998:83). Bellos support and research into Islamic medicines also aided in establishing 19 Gomez (2005:145). 20 See Abdalla (1985:14). 21 Abdalla (1985:15).

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63 the hegemony of the Sokoto Caliphate.22 Bello carried on the rhetoric of eradicating African elements from Islamic practi ces, and in doing so questioned the authenticity of some so called Islamic p ractices. Bello believed that it was through education Nigeria could become an authentic Islamic state, free of innovation. Bellos sultanate emphasized education and literacy to achieve a tr ue Islamic state. Scholar Dean Gilliland notes that Bellos emphase s in, sparked a wave of enlightenment; brought di gnity to the Muslim upper class; and affected hundreds of tribes ruled by Fulani emirs.23 T his further concretized dan Fodios elitist idea of what is defined as true Islam versu s non Islamic practices w hich influenced the consciousness of Muslims in North America.24But more than this, the importance of this movement in raising the consciousness for education and progress is reflected in the controversial work of Edward Blyden. 25 Bylden claim s to describe Nigeria just after the jihad in his observations stating, Where the Muslim in foundhe looks upon himself as a separate and distinct being from his pagan neighbor, and immeasurably superior in intellectual and moral respects.26 Blyden used t his elitist notion in his equation of Islam as the superior religion for Africans, an idea which later influenced the Noble Drew Ali of the Moorish Science Temple.27 22 See Robert Stocks Islamic Medicine in Rural Hausaland, African Healing Strategies Ed by Brian M. du Toit and Ismail H. Abdalla. New York: TradoMedic Books, 1985:31. The Fulani elitist religio political networks were reinforced 23 Gilliland (1986:56). 24 Gilliland (1986:56). 25 Gilliland (1986:56). 26 Gilliland (1986:57). 27 According to Stock (1985:31).

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64 by transatlantic slavery, as jihad war captives were sold to slavers. This Fulani elitist notion was concretized by the colonial British endeavors in Nigeria. The belief in the superiority of Islam in Nigeria fostered by dan Fodios jihad demonstrate s the long standing history of this bias concerning Islamic practice and African heritage, and the legacy of this attitude is apparent in the attitudes of enslaved Muslims in the Americas Nigerian Islamic P ractices Some of these emergent practices of Islam with African influences are also referred to as folk Islam, which emphasizes the altered forms of Islam which traditional society develops for the benefit of the society.28 Folk Islam has a long tradition in the history of Islam as it was first influenced by Arabic animism, and spr ead with the transition of Islam to Africa.29 Islam was also influenced by African traditions and these were the types of innovations and practices targeted by Usman dan Fodios jihad to purify Islamic worship Northern Nigeria.30However, F olk Islamic prac tices help us to grasp the history of Islam in North America The merging of traditional African roles and traditional Islamic roles is apparent in the Nigerian figure of the malam 31 28 Gilliland (1986:70). The malam was both a Quranic scholar 29 According to Gilliland (1986:70). 30 See Steed (1995:69) and also Salamone (1991:48). 31 The term malam is used to refer to several different societal positions: it can mean anyone who is literate and has some status because of this; it is also used in a historical sense, referring to the learned class that has always accompanied the spread of Islam, but is also used to refer to folk doctors of traditional villages (Gilliland 1986:116). The original intent of the term applies it to Muslim scholars, but in the context of Africa the role is extended to incorporate knowledge of traditional medicines as well. In the rural Hausa areas the malam also called the malami resort to both prophetic and herbal medicines, often in combination (Stock 1985:29). The malam fulfills the combined role of a Muslim cleric, or scholar and healer, or magician. Thus, the malam has legitimacy in their Islamic prescriptions as well as herbal medicinal knowledge. For further elaboration on the malam of Nigeria see: Adballa (1985); Gilliland (1986); Gilliland (1991); Salamone (1991); and Stock (1985).

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65 and a Nigerian her bal healer who had the ability to create protection charms, give blessings, had knowledge of an evil magic, and employed both African herbal remedies and Quranic consumption methods for medicinal and healing purposes. The herbs used for traditional healing purposes by the malam came from the traditional Hausa pharmacopeia and this tradition of herbal remedies as m entioned in previous chapters was part of the material transmission of African Islam to African American Islam.32Medical Historian Ismail Abdalla stresses the importance of the malam in Nig eria was so great that he was also the diviner without whose prediction and blessing no business, trade, journey or marriage w as considered safe or desirable. F urthermore, this was all made possible because of his ability, real or assumed, to control space time events by manipulating the Word. By examining the creation of this role in Nigeria we are able to highlight some of the origins to the material healing tradition we have traced from the American North and South. 33The malam also has a tradition of applying Islamic prophetic medicines for healing as well as traditional African medicines. These prophetic medicines were administered in a variety of ways. The most common of these remedies was Rubutu, a practice of writing appropriate verses from the Holy Koran (sic) on a writing board and then drinking the ink washed from the board. Rubutu may be used as a curative The Word in this context means, Arabic, which likely indicates Islam. So the source of power for the malam is the Quran even though the malam uses traditional practices and herbal remedies. 32Stock (1985:32). 33 Abdalla ( 1985:12).

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66 medicine, but it is more often employed as a tonic to preserve health and bring good fortune.34 Another method was the Laya, or amulets, usually filled with Quranic verses, that would have either been worn or placed within a space in need of protection.35In addition to the healing powers of the malamai there was an "evil" side of unscrupulous black malamai practices. In chapter three we found that Muslims in the Sea Islands employed similar such amulets. This demonstrates the malam s ability t o employ both African and prophetic cures for healing a practice that seems to have continuities to North American Islamic practices 36 Medical geographer Robert Stock finds one example of this assault magic is the jifa in which a curse is literally hurled at the conjured image of the victim, often using a needle as the symbolic medium of delivery.37 The lines between secular and spiritual healing are merged to the point that many malamai dispense herbal as well as Islamic medicines.38 34 Stock (1985:33). The way in which these unscrupulous black malamai practices are understood within the context of African Islam is not exactly clear, but would be labeled by the Islamic reform movements as unIslamic. The malam rightly thought he had as much claim to the medicine of the Prophet as the orthodox Fulani ref ormers. He was often unaware or unwilling to admit any contradiction between this type of medicine and that advocated 35 Stock (1984) also examines the practices of Tofi or rubbing the malam s saliva on to the center of pain; Kamun Kai headache passages; Addua, or medical invocations to be said following prayer five times a day; and Rokon Allah or begging Allah. 36 Stock (1985:32). 37 Stock (1985:32). There are potential similarities between this practice and other religions in the Americas that are believed to have African origins. 38 Stock (1985:30).

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67 by the jihadists.39 It is for these reasons that medical historian Ismail Abdalla finds dan Fodio and Bellos missions to remove tradition al Hausa healing ideologies and practices from Islam was to be unsuccessful as of 1989 .40As previously discussed the continuation of plant species between Africa and the Americas indicates a continuation of materials, but not only were the materials continuous; the consumption methods were also traditional. Gilliland finds this means herbal remedies may be given as an infusion to be drunk and/or rubbed over the body, or fermented for several daysor put into the fire so the vapors (turare) may be inhaled, or rubbed on to the body in its raw state. The dual use of prophetic and traditional healing remedies as well as the incorporation of unsc rupulous practices of some made the malam a target for Islamic reformati on movements in Nigeria. 41 This tradition of drinking herbal cure all teas continued from Africa to the Sea Islands. The accounts of Life Everlasting Tea use also appear in Yamacraw resident James Stick Daddy Cooper.42I kin make a sho cou fuh chills an fevuh. Yuh take some cawn fodduh boil it an make a tea. Yuh drink some an bathe in some an yuhll git well soon. Fuh a cold yuh get some lifeevuhlastin and make a tea tuh drink. In the Works Progress Administrations (WPA) interview with Stick Daddy, he stated 43The process of drinkin g herbal concoct ions as a tea was consistent with traditional A frica healing practices, and had correlates in the herbal remedies of the descendents 39 Abdalla (1985:17). 40 Abdalla (1985:17). 41 Pollitzer, 1999:104. 42 Works Projects Administration (WPA), 1940 (reprint 1986):26. The WPA notes that Yamacraw was established on the Savannah River bluff west of the township of Savannah, a community where, the residents are drawn largely from coastal counties of Georgia and South Carolina. (1986:23). 43 WPA (reprint 1986:23).

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68 of enslaved Africans on Southern plantations. Scholar William Pollitzer notes that more important than the same species in linking Africa to the sea islands is the similar way in which these plants are regarded in the art of healing and the beliefs surrounding them.44The use of herbal remedies was an intricate part African culture before the inception of Islam to Africa. Gilliland observes, Religious priests are intimately connected to African society. They know the characteristics of each ethnic community and are experts in the psychological approaches and the particular medicines to held (sic) cope with a myriad of problems. These cultural implications highlight the links between Islam in African and Islam on the American southern plantation. 45 The religious priest responds to the needs of the community in a manner that they understand. This approach calls for the Muslim cleric to have to take on the same responsibilities as the traditional priest. Of the multiplicity of healing practices in Nigeria, it is the herbal remedies that assume a dominant role in the treatment of spirit related illness.46 This tradition of herbal based medicines to deal with s pirit related illness is part of the cultural traditions of Africa and was also a cultural aspect of African Muslim practices. This cultural aspect potentially tr ansfers to the New World with the enslaved African Muslims as we know enslaved Muslim populations employed herbal remedies .47 44 Pollitzer (1999:103). 45 Gilliland (1985: 76 ) 46 Stock (1985:34). 47 It is important to note that not only enslaved Muslim populations employed herbal cures, in fact, the larger populations of enslaved Africans were known for their employment of herbs for curing, seeing as slaves had little to no access to medical doctors in the Western sense.

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69 The examination of Islam in Africa, and specifically Northern Nigeria, allows for a fuller comprehension of the history of African Islam in America and also that of subsequent African American Isl amic movements. From Islam in Nigeria we are able to uncover some of the African origins of the material continuities we have traced from the American North to the South. The question of true or authentic Islam begins in Africa as a critique of th e relationship between African based religions and African Islam, as compared to Islam of Arabia. We can clearly see these early tensions in the discussion of Usman dan Fodio and his initiation of jihad in 1802, his continued legacy of persecution by Muham mad Bello .48 And these conflicts potentially influenced both Bilali and Blydens understanding of Islam. The role of the malam allows us to further understand the material practice of Islam in Nigeria and indicates more continuity between African Islam in t he Americas. Islam from Arabia changed in its transmission to Africa and African Islam also changes to fit new circumstances as it crosses the Atlant ic to the New World.49 Because of this, Africanist Merrick Posnansky reminds scholars that one should be careful not to look for oneto one parallelchanges have to have been made. The way things are done, rather than the objects themselves, and the spatial relations at the intrasite level will be the indication of African Presence.50 48 Gilliland (1986:56). While there are continuiti es between Islam from A frica to the American South, there are tentative and potential connections to American Northern Islamic movements a t the turn 49Despite attempts to retain Islamic traditions as practiced in Africa enslaved populations in the Americas would have adapted their religious practices because of persecution or lack of resources. 50 Merrick Ponansky, Toward an Archaeology of the Black Diaspora. Journal of Black Studies 15/2 (1984):195205. Ponanskys quote comes from his discussion concerning specifically the relationship between African and the Caribbean, but it would be fair to speculate this to some varying degree may also hold true across the larger scale of the African Diaspora across the Americas (1984:201).

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70 of the century, but there is also space for change and innovation as Islam is applied to new circumstances and lived experiences.

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71 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION The religion of Islam came historica lly to the American South when enslaved Muslim Africans were forcibly from Africa to the Americas in what is often called the Middle Passage from Africa to provide the labor force for American plantations The brutal conditions of North American slavery treated the African slaves as sub humans. Because of t hese conditions, there is some documentation of the d aily life and experience of enslaved Africans but there is still much we do not know It was these enslaved Africans who would create the first generations of African Americans. At the time of American slavery Africa had metropolitan civilizations and a number of these cities were populated by Afric an Muslims. I slam in Africa was tied to mercantile networks and ultimately became infl uential in political control from beginning in the eleventh century in Nigeria. The Nige rian context not only suggests a continuation of the role of Islam and the use of herbs in the material tradition of medicinal and Islamic artifacts in the Americas, but also suggest s a parallel mixture of Islam and herbal knowledge systems in the Americas. The combined use of herbal and Islamic healing practices in Africa, a point of contention in Northern Nigeria after the jihad of Usman dan Fodio, has some parallels to the Islam in the American South and North as the y also consumed herbal cureall teas. We know that there are herbal plant cognates in both African and the American South, and there is evidence that these herbs were employed for the similar physical and spiritual ailments. This continuation of herbal medicine also appe ars in the American North in the context of the Moorish Science Temple of America. This organization sold the Prophets Tea and other herbal concoctions to alleviate similar conditions as their

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72 Southern ancestors endured. The mysterious Southern origins of the MSTAs founder Noble Drew Ali and his lasting legacy on the black nationalist movements of the early 1900s sheds some light on these correlates as well, since it is widely accepted by MSTA members that Drew Ali learned his healing skills from the root work herbal practitioners in the South who were versed in the herbal tradition of medicine.1 It is in chapter one with the Moorish Science Temple and Drew Ali that we began to trace the hidden history of African American Islam through the con sumption of the Prophets Tea It is believed that Ali spent several years migrating around the South before he moved to Newark, New Jersey. 2 Drew Ali encountered several philosophies and people along his journeys that shaped hi s understanding of Islam and the Moorish identity. Drew Ali came into contact with members of the Ben Ishmael Tribe and was influenced by their nationalist identity and their attempt at autonomy from the American government. Ali was also influenced by the writings of Edward Wilmot Blyden, a man who se own bias were shaped by the outbreak of jihad movements in A frica, including dan Fodios, as a base for his connection linking Islam to Africa as the superior religion for Africans.3 Ali was also personally connected to Muhammad Saddiq and Marcus Gar vey, as well as retaining a membership with the Freemasons. All of these influences shaped his understanding of Islam, the Moorish identity, continued prophecy, and his emphasis on social aid.4 1 See Gomez (2005). The combination of these ideologies, groups, and people merged under the onslaught of Northern migration at the turn of the nineteenth century 2 See Turner (2003:9092). 3 See Gilliland (1986:57). 4 As documented by Gomez (2005) and Turner (2003).

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73 and the subsequent growing racial tensions. It is in this new context that African American Islam takes on a black nationalistic focus. But to understand the larger history of Islam in America we must step back from this more contemporary example and look to the hi storical origins of the Muslim presence in the US, which traces historically back to the antebellum South. We look to the South i n the second chapter, particularly at the Gullah Sea Island culture, a society that also employed an herbal cureall tea for healing purposes called Life Everlasting Tea. The Sea Island region which spans the coasts of Northern Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, w as also home to a few literate Muslim slaves The written record of enslaved men such as Omar I bn Said and Bilali Mohamet allow insights into the possible resistance to Christian conversion and comm itment to Islam. I slam appears further in the Gullah material culture in the for m of African and Arabic names and words in the vocabulary of Sea Island residents, the giving of sakara cakes as a form of alms, and the ring shout ritual which bears not only potential linguistic cognates, but also is reminiscent of the practice of circum ambulation at the Kaaba .5 The third chapter examines the transformation of Islam on the continent of Africa and the politics of authenticity that surround various African Muslim groups who employ Given the climate of the American South and its similarity to West A frica many plant species have botanical cognates in both regions The plantation cash crops rice and indigo also help to reflect this botanical continuity, as does Life Everlasting Tea, which also appears in Nigeria where it is called Never Die. It is when we trace Life Everlasting Tea to Nigeria; we again encounter the use of herbal curealls in the context of Islamic practices. 5 D iouf (1998:69).

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74 herbal cureall teas like Never Die alongside Quranic healing methods. But to understand this transformation we must f irst look at the history of Islam in Africa. In Nigeria the roles of the Muslim cleric fell in synch with the role of the herbal healer forming the category of malam. It was innovations such as this that Usman dan Fodio sought to eradicate from Nigerian Is lam while also promoting the superiority of Islam over other religions during his reign of jihad in the early 1800s. These tensions between Muslim and nonMuslim groups in Nigeria influenced the understanding of Edward Wilmot Blyden, the father of panAfr icanism, who was influenced by this bias in his belief that Islam was the pre fe r red religion for Africans as Christianity was the preferred religion for Caucasians. This race influenced understanding of religion comes from these types of missionary observations and becomes reified in the context of the Americas. More than this though, the tensions between Muslims and nonMuslims are also apparent in Bilalis derogatory language calling some slaves Christian dogs.6The legacy of these African tensions hi ghlights some of the cultural continuities between African and the New World. It is through material practices that we are able to understand the potential cognates of plants and religious materials as they represent on a deeper level the transference of i deas as they across vast territories to contend with a very bleak reality on American shores. T his thesis argues that t hrough the examination of tea we are able to understand potential material links between Islam from Africa as Islam is transmitted and tr ansformed by the c ontext of Southern slavery, and potentially we will be able to further follow the materials to understand the continuities and 6 Gomez (1998:83).

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75 transitions of Islam in the North in the black nationalist movements as a part of the larger history of African American Islam. Melville Herskovits was novel in the field of anthropology for his inquiry into Africanisms in the archaeological record.7 Herskovits used material culture to attempt to understand the various cultures Africans brought to the American S outh. Other scholars such as Robert Dannin, Michael Gomez, and Moustafa Bayoumi understand the importance of the material record in attempting to illuminate the history of Islam in America, and in particularly the history of African American Islam.8Although it was not the intention of this study to address the following deficiency in scholarship, I note in passing that one of the limitations of t his budding field is that no hemispheric study of Islam in the Americas has been conducted. As a result we have only a particularist understanding of Islam in the Americas. Gomez has been the closest to producing a hemispheric analysis with his incorporat ion of African Muslims in the Caribbean and Brazil in Black Crescent Since the written record regarding the daily life of Southern Muslim slaves leaves much of their experience still unknown their voices can begin to be heard through the examination of their lasting legacy materially and from that we can enhance our knowledge of their lives spiritually. But there is still much to uncover concerning the history of Islam in America. 9 Diouf does find cross cultural correlates between enslaved Muslims in Brazil and enslaved Muslims in North America.10 7 Herskovits (1958). But Diouf is quick to project between the experiences of Islam in the Americas when there is 8 See Bayoumi (1999); Dannin (2002); Gomez (2005). 9 Gomez (2005). 10 See Diouf (1998).

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76 not the material evidence to support her claims, such as her argument that based on the presence of Brazilian Quranic schools, we can extrapolate from this the presence Quranic s chools in America s where the Muslim community was large and organized enough. 11The mysterious histories of Noble Drew Ali and the Ben Ishmael Tribe may also hold more keys to understanding the movement of Islam across the Americas. Another mysterious group called the Melungoens has potential ties to Drew Ali and further research on this group could yield more insights into the history of Islam in America. Further exploration of the connection between Garvey and Ali may also aid in uncovering knowledge pertaining to the early history of Northern Islamic movements. Perhaps there are still some written documents that help to separate mythology from history or even concretize speculation regarding the ancestry of Drew Ali, his early history, and provide insights into t he triangular migratory pattern of the Ben Ishmael Tribe. A thorough examination of the triracial influences on the Ben Ishmael Tribe would prov ide insights not only of the multiple other identities that contributed to their philosophy, but would also provide scholarship more knowledge about their Muslim identity. There does not yet appear to be material to support this assumption. Moreover both Gomez and Diouf fall short of a truly hemispheric approach with their focus on North American Muslims out weighing further insights that could be made between the Americas as a whole and Africa. There is still much of material culture and history to uncover and inv estigate. Isl am was not the majority religious identity of enslaved Africans; they also brought 11 Diouf (1998:121).

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77 various other African religious traditions.12 These multiple religious influences must be taken in to account when attempting to understand the spiritual life of African Amer icans in the American South. Scholars have previously conflated material evidences with religious identities that are potentially incorrect ; this can be seen in the example of the ring shout ritual. Scholar Sylviane Diouf speculates that this previously believed indigenous African practice may actually have a strong Islamic influence.13The history of Islam in America is far from being fully exposed, but by examining the material record of herbal cureall tea consumption of the earliest American Muslims on the Southern plantations in conjunction with an examination of their African origins, we can begin to piece together the early history, and speculate the potential transition of Islam into the twentieth century American North. The interpretive process is not always correct, but by examining the larger history and contextualizing Islam we can illuminate the possible lines of continuity. 12 See Steed, Christopher and David Westerlund eds., The Triple Religious Heritage of N igeria Uppsala: Uppsala universitet,1995. 13 Diouf (1998).

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78 LIST OF REFERENCES Abdalla, Ismail H., The Ulama of Sokoto in the Nineteenth Century: A Medical Review, African Healing Strategies Brian M. du Toit and Ismail H. Abdalla eds. New York: Trado Medic Books (1985):819. Alexander, J Islam, archaeology and slavery in Africa. World Archaeology 33/1 (2001):4460. Ali, Noble Drew, The Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple of Science 7, Know Yourself and Your Father GodAllah, That You Learn to Love Instead of Hate. Everyman Need to Worship Under His Own Vine and Fig Tree. The Uniting of Asia. Chicago, 1927. Austin, Allen, American Muslims in Antebellum America: A S ource Book Garland Publishing, 1984. Austin, Allen, American Muslims in Antebellum America: Transatlantic Stories and Spiritual Struggles New York and London: Routledge, 1997. Berg, Herbert Mythmaking in the African American Muslim Context: The Moorish Science Temple, the Nation of Islam and the American Society of Muslims. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 73/ 3 ( 2005):685703. Bailey, Cornelia with Christena Bledsoe, God, Dr. Buzzard, and the Bolitoman. New York: Doubleday, 2000. Bay oumi, Moustafa, Review Moorish Science. Transition No. 80 Indiana Press Journals (1999):100119. Blyden, Edward Wilmot. Christianity, Islam, and the Negro Race 1887 New York: ECA reprint, 1990. Curtis, Edward and Danielle Burne Sigler, The New Blac k Gods: Arthur Huff Fauset and the Study of African American Religions Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2009. Dannin, Robert, Black Pilgrimage to Islam Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Denny, Frederick Mathewson, An Introduction to Islam Thi rd Edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2006. Diouf, Sylviane, Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas New York: NYU press, 1998. Dowling, Levi, Aquarian Gospel: The philosophic and practical basis of the religion of the Aquarian Age of the world. (original 1907) Reprinted by Marina Del Rey, CA: DeVorss & Co,1972.

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79 Gilliland, Dean S., African Religion Meets Islam: Religious Change in Northern Nigeria. Lanham, M.D: University Press of America, 1986 Ferguson, Leland, Uncommon ground: archaeology and early African America, 16501800. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992. Foster, Harve and Wilfred Jackson directors, Song of the South Walt Disney Productions, 1946. Gansul, Muurish. The Moorish Minutes Genera ted (17 March 2010) available through http://muurishgansul.com Gilliland, Dean, African Religion Meets Islam: Religious Change in Northern Nigeria. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1986. Gilliland, Dean, Kings, Priests and Religion in Northern Nigeria, Religion and Society in Nigeria: Historical and Sociological Perspectives Jacob K. Olupona and Toyin Falola eds. Nigeria: Spectrum Books Limited (1991):6680. Gomez, Michael, Exchanging Our Country Mark s: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South. Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina, 1998. Gomez, Michael, The Black Crescent : The Experience and Legacy of African Muslims in the Americas New York : Cambridge University Press, 2005. Hadad, Yvonne, and Jane I. Smith eds., Muslim Communities in North America. Albany: SUNY Press, 1994. Harris, Marvin, The Rise of Anthropological Theory New York: Crowell, 1986. Herskovits, Melville, The Myth of the Negro Past Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1958. Historical Society of Islam. www.historicalsocietyofislam.com Economic section. Moorish Guide archives. Accessed March 2010. Jackson, Sherman, Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Toward the Third Resurrect ion New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Judy, Ronald, (Dis)forming the American Cannon: AfricanArabic Slave Narratives and the Vernacular Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993. Kane, Ousmane, Muslim Modernity in Postcolonial Nigeria: A study of the Society for the Removal of Innovation and Reinstatement of Tradition. Lieden: Brill, 2003

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80 Leaming, Hugo, The Ben Ishmael Tribe: A Fugitive Nation of the Old Northwest, The Ethnic Frontier: Essays in the History of Group Survival in Chicago and the Midwest Melvin G. Holli and Peter dA. Jones eds. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (1977): 97142. Loimeier Roman Islamic Reform and Political Change in Northern Nigeria. Evanston: Northwest University Press, 1997. McCloud, Aminah Beverly, African American Muslims New York and London: Routledge, 1995. McFeely, William, Sapelos People: a Long Walk into Freedom New York: W.W. Norton, 1994. Moorish Guide as compiled by thehistoricalsocietyofislam.com, under their subheading of Economics in regards to the Moorish Science Temple, accessed March, 2010. Mukhopadhyay, Carol C., and Yolanda T. Moses, Reestablishing Race in Anthropological Discourse. American Anthropologist 99/3 (1997): 517533. Nance, Susan, Mystery of the Moorish Science Temple: Southern Blacks and American Alternative Spirituality in 1930s Chicago, Religion and American Culture 12/2 (Summer, 2002):123166. Nance, Susan, Respectability and Representation: The Moorish Science Temple, Moro cco, and Black Public Culture in 1920s Chicago. American Quarterly 54/4 (Dec 2002):623659. Olupona, Jacob and Toyin Falola eds., Religion and Society in Nigeria: Historical and Sociological Perspectives Nigeria: Spectrum Books Limited, 1991. Pollitz er, William, The Gullah People and Their African Heritage. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1999. Ponansky, Merrick, Toward an Archaeology of the Black Diaspora. Journal of Black Studies 15/2 (1984):195205. Salamone, Frank A., Ethnic Identities and Religion, Religion and Society in Nigeria: Historical and Sociological Perspectives Jacob K. Olupona and Toyin Falola eds. Nigeria: Spectrum Books Limited (1991):4565. Steed Christopher, The Islamic Heritage of Nigeria, The Triple Religious Her itage of Nigeria Christopher Steed and David Westerlund eds. Uppsala: Uppsala universitet (1995):6792.

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82 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Jennifer Dick received her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida in 2007 with a major in a nthropology and a minor in r eligion. During her undergraduate work she attended Kingsley Plantation Archaeological Field School in Jacksonville her final semester. It is through this experience that she became interested in the material culture of enslaved plantation populations and the connection material cultures have to knowledge systems. She returned to the University of Florida in the fall of 2008 to achieve a masters degree in r eligion, this thesis is the result of that process.