19th century terms: The Fugitive Slave Act
Points of connection for Muslim students
“Here, July Fourth was a huge celebration…” - The celebration of holidays like the Fourth of July is something that there is a wide range of outlooks on from Muslims. There is plenty of evidence within Islam to suggest that it is forbidden to celebrate any holiday that is not one of the two Islamic holidays, of which this hadith of the Prophet Muhammad is at the center - and it is correct to say that Islam forbids these celebrations. Nevertheless, in the modern world the celebration of national holidays is something very widely compromised on by Muslims. Pretty much all Muslim countries have a national holiday, even Saudi Arabia which is the most conservative of Muslim countries. My experience with Muslims in America is that most of them stay away from celebrating the Fourth of July, yet I also know Muslims who have hosted fourth of July get togethers and celebrations at their homes, and I have known other Muslims who grew up not celebrating it but then as an adult went to fireworks displays with non-Muslim friends and acquaintances etc. I believe it is generally fair to say that the less acculturated a Muslims or Muslim family is to American life the less likely they are to celebrate this holiday, but at the same time I know people who are third generation Muslims who do not celebrate this holiday out of religious conviction.
Per my experience it is also safe to say that the Fourth of July (and maybe Thanksgiving) are looked at a little softer than Halloween, Christmas, and Easter; these three holidays celebrate things at their center that are very antithetical to Islam’s core doctrines.
“Muslims wore stocking feet when they were in the mosque, but this was different.” - Muslims will of course not wear shoes in the mosque (masjid) so as to keep the carpeting clean where people pray. It is not really accurate to say they wear "stocking feet" as whether or not you wear socks in the mosque just depends on whether or not you had socks on underneath your shoes. If you are wearing sandals in the summer you will have bare feet in the mosque and often times people will take their socks off even if they are wearing them because you have to wash the feet before praying (with some exception).
"Who knew that freedom could be trumped by practical considerations" - so see that practicality, even when faced with injustice, is being played on as a bit of theme here. This relates to Islamic concepts of rectifying affairs of evil as was explained in the Chapter 11 study guide. There is a connection to be made between all this and Mr. William's character as we are about to learn more about him.
"her mid-day prayer" - this is the prayer that is called asr.
"her mid-day prayer" - this is the prayer that is called asr.
"'Are you…a Muslim?" - so a huge thing is being revealed about Mr. William here (though again, I don't like the author's connecting it to him somehow having a accent that is similar to what she has heard from East Africans before in the 20th century). Within this part is a huge learning opportunity and connecting to slaves in America who were Muslim. One such person was a man named Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori, there is a picture of him in the PowerPoint along with a map that shows where in Africa slaves were mostly taken from to America. It can be see on that map that the northern most part of it was what is today Senegal. Senegal is about 92% Muslim. So slaves taken from there were likely to have been Muslims. There is more on African Muslim slaves in America here. Of course most of them would have lost their religion through being enslaved. But not all did and ibn Sori is an interesting example because he was a prince and was able to read and write Arabic and was eventually sent back home at the behest of the king of Morocco. The story that Mr. William gives about his life seems to be partly inspired by this story.
Another thing to note about the map. It is interesting that the United States transatlantic slave trade has its northern tip at Senegal. North of Senegal is the country of Mauritania. Mauritania is the western most Arab country in the world and has a long history of practicing slavery itself, it was actually the last country on earth to officially ban slavery, though it is said to still be practiced there extrajudicially, and it as an institution it is heavily embedded into the tribal structures of the country. It is a point that might need further looking into, but I believe part of the reason that slaves were not taken from north of Senegal is 1.) race - Senegal is where people just start being a lot more black, and it is well known that Europeans viewed blacks as an inferior race/species and 2.) to reap slaves from Arab west Africa would be to meddle in an already well established slavery system, and therefore resistance to it might be greater, in addition to the fact that these countries (Mauritania and Morocco) traditionally had closer relations with Europe and the Muslim empires. All this is to point out that the Muslim world itself, though here victimized by slavery in places like Senegal, is not guilt free by any means from the instituting slavery.
If you have Somali students, the Bantu tribe in Somalia has long been a slave class of people, there are some Somali-Bantu refugees in the United States but most Somalis in the US are not Bantu. It is not uncommon to hear Somali students in America (I have heard this much) use Bantu as a pejorative towards one another (not that they are making fun of a Somali who is Bantu but they are using the word Bantu to mock someone). This is a remnant of something sinister, for many of our Somali students it is fair to say that they are much more likely to have come from families whose recent ancestors owned slaves vs. being slaves themselves (unless they are Bantu Somalis). This also raises a whole other question about how these students are to figure out their own relating to the history of slavery in the United States - wherein they are black people but are not descended from slaves, and are perhaps descended from slave owners in their own right, and on the other hand they are Muslim, where Islam discourages slavery (but does not make its forbiddance mandatory) and Muslims have been both victims and perpetrators of slavery.
“Ya Allah! Tehki Arabi?” - “Tehki Arabi” is a colloquial way of asking if someone speaks Arabic. If you have non-Arab Muslim students who have taken some Arabic classes in mosques they will likely know the more standardized way of saying it, “takalam Arabi?”