Prince Among Slaves introduces three large thematic areas often omitted from popular portrayals of the slavery experience in Hollywood film and in history textbooks. One of these themes is Muslims in Early America. Abdul Rahman's story, portrayed in Prince Among Slaves, is very similar to that of many enslaved Africans in America. Islam was a distinct and significant minority religion in the U.S. before the Civil War. Of the 10.7 million Africans who were enslaved in the Americas, approximately one million were Muslims. Yet slavery all but erased the Muslim faith in America. Nevertheless, enslaved Muslims shared a unique cultural and religious identity that proved to have a lasting impact on American culture.
By writing letters, texts and even autobiographies under extremely oppressive conditions, Muslim slaves showed that they valued literacy, formal education and intellectual and religious pursuits. Explore the modules below to gain better understanding of the place of Islam in the U.S. before the Civil War.