- Muhammad Ali: Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., Muhammad Ali was a heavyweight boxing champion who is widely considered one of the greatest boxers of all time. He was also an outspoken advocate for civil rights and a controversial figure in the 1960s and 70s. Ali famously refused to be drafted into the Vietnam War, citing his religious beliefs as a Muslim. He was stripped of his boxing titles and banned from the sport for several years as a result, but ultimately prevailed in his legal battle to resume his boxing career. His commitment to social change and equality inspired many other activist, both within and outside the Muslim community.
2. Clara Muhammad: Clara Muhammad was the wife of Elijah Muhammad, the founder of the Nation of Islam. She was a key figure in the development of the organization, and was instrumental in establishing schools and other institutions to serve the needs of African American Muslims. Clara Muhammad was a pioneer for Muslim Women’s rights in America. Her tireless efforts to empower and educate Muslim Women paved the way for future generations of Muslim women leaders. She also played a prominent role in the education and development of her children, including her son Warith Deen Muhammad, who succeeded Elijah Muhammad as the leader of the Nation of Islam. Schools across the continent are named in her honor.
3. Yarrow Mamout: Yarrow Mamout was a slave who was brought to the United States from West Africa in the early 18th century. He was eventually freed and became a prominent figure in Georgetown, Washington D.C. Mamout was a devout Muslim, and his portrait was painted by the renowned artist Charles Willson Peale. He is also the subject of a book, “The Remarkable Yarrow Mamout: Unlikely Entrepreneur and Georgetown’s First African American Landowner” by James H. Johnston.
4. Marcus Garvey: Marcus Garvey was a Jamaican-born political leader and activist who founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Garvey was a strong advocate for black self-reliance and a proponent of Pan-Africanism, which sought to unite people of African descent across the globe. He was also a controversial figure who was accused of promoting black separatism and was ultimately deported from the United States. Garvey’s vision and leadership inspired many other activists and political leaders in the U.S and across the African Diaspora.
5. Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (1701-1773): Ayuba Suleiman Diallo was a West African Muslim who was enslaved and brought to the United States in the 18th century. He was eventually freed and returned to Africa, but not before he had made a significant impact in the United States. Diallo was a respected scholar and leader, and he was able to use his knowledge and influence to secure his freedom and the freedom of other enslaved Africans.
6. Abdul Rahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori: Abdul Rahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori was another West African Muslim who was enslaved and brought to the United States in the 18th century. He was eventually freed and returned to Africa, but only after a lengthy and complex legal battle. Rahman was a prominent figure in the anti-slavery movement, and his story is the subject of the book “Prince Among Slaves” by Terry Alford.
7. Noble Drew Ali: Noble Drew Ali was the founder of the Moorish Science Temple of America, which sought to promote the identity and empowerment of African Americans. The movement emphasized the teachings of Islam, but also drew on other spiritual traditions. Ali was a controversial figure who faced opposition from both the government and other black nationalist groups. His teachings and leadership inspired many other Muslim leaders and activists who sought to empower and uplift African Americans.
8. Elijah Muhammad: Elijah Muhammad was the leader of the Nation of Islam, which sought to promote black nationalism and self-reliance. Muhammad was a key figure in the civil rights movement, and his influence helped shape the political and cultural landscape of African American communities. His focus on community building and self-determination helped to create a strong sense of unity and purpose among the African American community.
9. Edward Wilmot Blyden: Edward Wilmot Blyden was a West African writer and political leader who is considered a pioneer of Pan-Africanism. He advocated for the unity and empowerment of people of African descent throughout the world, and he was also a strong advocate for the development of Africa itself. Blyden was a devout Christian, but he was also influenced by Islamic traditions, and he saw Islam as an important force for unity and social progress in Africa.
10. Mohammad Ali Ben Said II (1836-1882): Mohammad Ali Ben Said II was an influential Muslim leader in East Africa during the late 19th century. He was a prominent figure in the Sultanate of Zanzibar, where he served as a religious and political leader. Ben Said was also a key figure in the struggle against European colonization and was instrumental in negotiating treaties that helped preserve the independence of Zanzibar.
11. Malcolm X: Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little, was a prominent civil rights leader and Muslim activist who was a key figure in the Nation of Islam during the 1950s and 60s. He was known for his powerful oratory skills and his unwavering commitment to racial justice and empowerment. Malcolm X’s views on racial equality and the role of Islam in society evolved over time, and he ultimately split with the Nation of Islam and embraced a more global version of Islam before his assassination in 1965. His unwavering commitment to social justice and equality inspired many other activists and political leaders, both within and outside the Muslim community.
12. Warith Deen Muhammad: Warith Deen Muhammad was the son of Elijah Muhammad and the leader of the Nation of Islam after his father’s death. He was a major figure in the development of American Islam during the late 20th century, and he played a key role in the movement towards a more Global and inclusive version of Islam in the United States. Under his leadership, the Nation of Islam underwent significant changes, including a shift towards Sunni Islam and a greater emphasis on community building and social activism.
13. Minister Louis Farrakhan is the current leader of the Nation of Islam. He has been a powerful figure throughout his lifetime, and he has faced criticism for his views on race, religion, and politics. Farrakhan is known for his powerful oratory skills and his ability to inspire and mobilize people around the world. He has also been a vocal critic of the hypocrisy and a oppression sanctioned and carried out by governments and hate groups. Farrakhan has advocated for greater independence and self-determination for African Americans. The founder of the Million Man March, he is known worldwide for his ability to unify black people. He has been an advocate and campaigned for Black owned educational institutions with empowering curriculums for black youth, Black land ownership and Black owned Farms.