Art and the Black Muslim Image

A Zoom discussion on the essays from “Black Muslim Portraiture in the Modern Atlantic”, The Muslim World Journal - Special Issue

Saturday. May 28, 2022 

These conversations focus on five Black art figures of Muslim heritage: (1) Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (2) Yarrow Mamout, (3) Joseph Cinqué (4) Omar Ibn Sayyid and (5) The Bashi-Bazouk. They offer various interpretations, but this is precisely the reason this conversation is so vital. Then there’s the fact that these images are all of men and Black people, allowing us to question the male bias and racial assumptions in modern visual culture.

First, the portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo speaks to the values of its day, like the others. This makes it useful for exposing the public to ideas about diversity, inclusion and systemic racism in modern and contemporary worlds.

The two portraits of Yarrow Mamout, an African Muslim enslaved in Maryland in the 18th century, give us innovative ways to question America’s past. As visual storytelling, educators and young people will be inspired by the stories these pictures tell of heroism, dignity, and faith.

In 1839, Joseph Cinqué led a mutiny of 53 enslaved people on the Spanish slave ship Amistad, but little is said about their Muslim identity. This forces us to rethink old assumptions and look closer for what has been muted in the stories we tell.

The Bashi-Bazouk portrait raises questions about life in Egypt during the nineteenth century. It was a province of the Ottoman empire for 350 years. How did it respond to the cultural changes resulting in an influx of Western artists seeking to represent an authentic Black and Muslim world called the Orient?

A conversation about Omar Ibn Said promises to be remarkable on many fronts. Said was both an enslaved African and a literate Muslim. This will ignite new talks about enslaved peoples in the Americas, and the role faith traditions played in their survival and resistance.

These conversations make a clarion call to revisit our past so there will be more clarity moving forward. This is an opportunity you cannot afford to miss. To view the issue, visit here.


OPENING:  Salutations / Producing the Special Arts Issue                         

  • Welcome: Ellen McLarney,  Associate Professor, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and Director, Duke Islamic Studies Center at Duke University

  • Zain Abdullah, Special Issue Editor & Event Organizer and Associate Professor, Religion & Society and Islamic Studies at Temple University

  • Timur Yuskaev, Editor, The Muslim World Journal and Associate Professor, Contemporary Islam at Hartford International University for Religion and Peace

  • Nicolas Mumejian, Managing Editor, The Muslim World Journal and Hartford International University for Religion and Peace

PANEL I:  Ayuba Sulieman Diallo in the Black Atlantic World                     

  • Moderator: Nicolas Mumejian

  • Georgia Haseldine, Curator, East Storehouse at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England, UK

  • Richard Brent Turner, Professor, African American Religious History at University of Iowa

PANEL II: Rethinking Yarrow Mamout and Charles Wilson Peale             

  • Moderator: Timur Yuskaev

  • James H. Johnson, Author & Independent Scholar

  • Carol Eaton Soltis, Project Associate Curator, Dept of American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

PANEL III: Joseph Cinque: Reframing and a Digital Reading                  

  • Moderator: Nicolas Mumejian

  • Rebecca Hankins, Wendler Endowed Professor & Archivist/Librarian at Texas A&M University

  • Laura Macaluso,Author, Independent Scholar & Art Historian

PANEL IV: Black Muslim Portraits: The Bashi-Bazouk and Omar Ibn Said 

  • Moderator: Timur Yuskaev

  • Mbaye Lo, Associate Professor of the Practice of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and International Comparative Studies at Duke University

  • Zain Abdullah, Special Issue Editor and Associate Professor, Religion & Society and Islamic Studies at Temple University

OPEN FORUM: Where We Go From Here?                                                 

  • Moderators: Zain Abdullah, Timur Yuskaev, Nicolas Mumejian

  • Panel & Audience Open Discussion