Historian Evan Taparata reminds us that Muslims have been immigrating to the United States for centuries, often not by choice.
As far back as 1502, European adventurers such as Vasco Núñez de Balboa, Hernán Cortés, Pánfilo de Narváez, Pedro de Alvarado, and Francisco de Montejo brought Muslim men with them to help with their expeditions to the Americas. In the 1520s, a Muslim man named Estevanico was sold into slavery and forced to aid Spain’s exploration of present-day Florida. Later, he would become famous for completing an eight-year journey on foot from Florida to Mexico City.
During the Atlantic Slave trade, approximately 10-15% of Africans taken from their homelands and forced into slavery were… Muslim. The docudruma Prince Among Slave tells the story of Abdul Rahman, a highly educated African prince and heir to a West African nation the size of Great Britain, who was kidnapped from his homeland and forced into slavery. For decades he worked on a plantation, but managed to become the most famous African in America, attracting the support of President John Quincy Adams and Secretary of State Henry Clay. Abdul Rahman returned to Africa at the age 67, only to fall ill and die just as word of his return reached his former kingdom.
For more on the historical significance of Muslims in America, be sure to read this fascinating and super informative article –