For the past four years, Katerine Merriman (a Ph.D. candidate in Islamic studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) has been giving Muslim history tours of New York City with a focus on Harlem… for free. “There are roughly three hundred mosques in New York City,” says the scholar/tour director. “New York is one of the most, if not the most, diverse Muslim cities in the world. There is no such thing as a ‘Muslim world’ somewhere else.”
Muslim History Tour NYC tours happen about five times a year. On a recent tour, Merriman told the group that the first Muslims in New York arrived in the 1600’s as slaves. More came later as immigrants. “One of the first registered mosques in New York was started in 1907, in Williamsburg, by Muslim Lithuanians, Russians, and Poles,” she explained.
The walking tour takes you through 400 years of Muslim history in New York City — highlighting little known stories of “multiracial struggle, artistic production, and religious growth that make New York a major hub of global Islamic history” (according to Ms. Merriman).