Positioning the Testimony of Job Ben Solomon, An Enslaved African American Muslim

Muna Sulaiman Al-Badaai

Abstract


Ayyub Ben Suleiman Diallo, better known as Job ben Solomon was among thousands of African Muslims enslaved in America. Job was a son of a high Priest from Senegal. He was kidnapped by his African enemy and sold as a slave in the New World in 1731. He worked on a tobacco plantation in Maryland. He ran away and was captured and imprisoned. Job’s literacy in Arabic attracted the attention of the philanthropist James Oglethorpe who helped to free him. In 1733, Job sailed to England and later returned to Africa. Upon Job’s request, Thomas Bluett wrote Some Memoirs of the Life of Job the Son of Solomon (1734). Allan Austin claims in his book African Muslims in Antebellum America: Transatlantic Stories and Spiritual Struggles (1997) that Job might be considered as the “father of African American Literature”. Muhammad Al-Ahari (2006) states that this account “is perhaps the earliest biography of any African-Americans”. However, William Andrews (1988) with other scholars consider the year of 1760 the appearance of slave narrative as genre. What is more, African Muslim slave narratives have been excluded from African American anthologies. Florence Marfo (2009) in her article entitled “African Muslims in African American Literature” discusses some possible reasons for this omission which mostly relate to the perceived identity of enslaved African American Muslims and the absence of an anti-slavery goal in their narratives. This paper aims to position Job’s testimony in the light of arguments made by the other scholars.

 


Keywords


Antebellum, Ayyub, canonization, enslaved Muslims, Job Ben Solomon, slave narrative

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.4n.6p.204

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