It is unknown when #Muslims first arrived and settled in the space that is now called #Canada, but it certainly didn’t happen as recently as is often believed.
Even the evidence that we do have suggests that Muslims have been making Canada their home since 1851, more than a decade before the country itself was created.
However, some historians have speculated that #Mandingo (West #African) Muslims’ contact with the Indigenous peoples of the #Americas could predate even the arrival of Christopher #Columbus in 1492. Some go a step further and give life to the possibility that these pre-1492 Muslims in North #America may have sailed from the Gulf of #Mexico all the way up the #Mississippi River to the southern reaches of today’s #Manitoba and #Saskatchewan. However, for the time being this remains speculation, with little to no documentary evidence to support it.
There’s more evidence for the suggestion that some of the #African Muslims brought to the Americas in the slave trade may have been enslaved in Canada or, after the abolition of slavery in the British Empire (including Canada) in 1833, tried to obtain freedom by escaping to Canada using the famous Underground Railroad.
Slavery in Canada, though it certainly did exist, hasn’t received much scholarly attention so there isn’t too much to draw on there. With regards to African Muslims seeking freedom in or through Canada, Mahommah Baquaqua can be cited as an example.
Born into a devout Muslim family in West Africa, Mahommah (i.e. Muhammad) was enslaved as a young man in #Brazil. From there he was shipped to the #UnitedStates, where a remarkable turn of events earned him his freedom. Eventually, he settled for a while in #Chatam, a small town in #Ontario, and it was here that he wrote the autobiography that made him famous. (A detailed article on Baquaqua will be published as part of iHistory’s series for Canada150). In 1854, the year that Baquaqua arrived in Canada, three Muslims (or “Mahomadens”, as the census called them) were already living there. They were a young couple, James and Agnes Love, who had emigrated from Scotland in 1851 to become the first recorded Muslims CONTINUE READING 👇👇👇