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Chapter Summary

As multiple historians of American religion have noted, the spiritual effect of slavery upon Africans in North America was akin to the destruction of their traditional religiosity. African American folk culture, in fact, reflected this feeling in its placing great emphasis on images of death, resurrection, saviors, and the hope for a millennial redemption. The early African American leaders linked these folk views to both concepts of Islam, which had recently been popularized by black nationalists as a religion of opposition to white supremacy, and to notions about self and community improvement. By being connected to such concepts, Islam spread quickly in the African American community during the first era of the African American Islamic Renaissance. In the second era, the Nation of Islam adopted some of the practices that had made black nationalism so influential in the first era and used these to generate an even larger Islamic movement, one that had the power to impact international politics and widespread cultural habits. In doing this, African American Islam had essentially resurrected the underground folk beliefs that they had long represented.

10.1163/9789004354371_018
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