USC Dornsife College Of Letters Arts and Sciences

University of Southern California

National Association of Real Estate Brokers…

Islamic Traditions in the African-American Community Introduction

Islam in the African-American community is as old as the United States itself. Islam came to the United States on slave ships, and the first Qurans (the Islamic holy book) to be found in the continental United States belonged to Africans forcibly transported to the Americas. It is estimated that roughly 15–30 percent of slaves brought to Americas were Muslim. Most were forced to convert to Christianity during the era of American slavery.

Today, it is estimated that there are roughly 800,000 to 1 million Black Muslims in the United States. African-American Muslims constitute an estimated 20 percent of the total U.S. Muslim population. African-American Muslims are predominately Sunni, though they also adhere to the following Islamic traditions: Nation of Islam, Five-Percent Nation, Ahmadiyya Islam, Shia Islam and Moorish Science Temple of America.

When partnership with African-American Muslims is pursued, there are a few supplementary accommodations to consider in addition to what is included in the “Overview to Religious Competency” section:


The salutation “As Salaamu Alaikom” (“peace be unto you”) is used when greeting any member or leader of an Islamic tradition. This is returned with the statement, “Wa Alaikom Asalaam” (“and unto you peace”). The terms “Brother” and “Sister” are often used between members.


Shoes should be removed when entering homes and houses of worship, called Mosques, Masjids or Temples. Men and women should offer to cover their head when entering homes and houses of worship of Muslims. The Islamic communal prayer takes place on Fridays, often between 12pm–2pm, though exact times differ from congregation to congregation. Keep this in mind when scheduling meetings.


Some observant Muslims refrain from all physical contact with persons of the opposite sex who are not members of their family. This prohibition includes handshakes and can often include eye contact.


Many Muslims believe in only eating halal food, especially halal meat. Poultry, mutton and beef are halal if the animal has been slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law; some Muslims may accept Kosher meat as fulfilling this requirement. Muslims are not to eat pork in any form; foods and utensils that have come into contact with pork should not touch any food to be eaten by a Muslim. Fish is acceptable, but some Muslims refrain from eating shellfish. Consumption of alcohol in any form is forbidden. (Some Muslims say that this includes alcohol used in cooking; others say that cooking dissipates the alcohol, so the food may still be eaten.) In general, it is best to omit alcohol, including items like vanilla extract, in cooking. Many Muslims believe that food should be eaten only with the right hand.