Religiosity, Resistance, Resilience: Islam in the African Diaspora



Omar H. Ali is Professor of Comparative African Diaspora History and Dean of Lloyd International Honors College at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The author of four books, his latest two are Malik Ambar: Power and Slavery Across the Indian Ocean World (Oxford University Press, 2016) and  Islam in the indian Ocean World: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford St. Martin’s, 2016). A graduate of the London School of Economics and PoliticalScience, he studied ethnography at the School of Oriental and African Studies and received his Ph.D. in History from Columbia University. In 2015 he was named the Carnegie Foundation North Carolina Professor of the Year.


Jazmin Graves is a fifth-year doctoral student in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Her dissertation research centers on the African-Indian (Sidi) Sufi devotional tradition of western India. With Kenneth Robbins, Omar Ali, and Beheroze Shroff, Jazmin is co-editing a forthcoming volume on the African presence in South Asia. She is also leading the Ahmedabad Sidi Heritage and Educational Initiative (ASHEI) to support academic achievement and community development for the African-Indian community of Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

Khan, Aisha

Aisha Khan is a member of the Anthropology Department and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University. She is also affiliated with NYU’s Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near East Studies and the Department of History. She has conducted ethnographic research in Trinidad, Honduras, Guyana, and Haiti, and has published widely on South Asian and African diasporas, religion, race, and creolization. Her publications include Callaloo Nation: Metaphors of Race and Religious Identity among South Asians in Trinidad; Islam and the Americas; Empirical Futures: Anthropologists and Historians Engage the Work of Sidney Mintz; and Women Anthropologists: Biographical Sketches. She is currently working on a monograph on Caribbean religions.


Ifrah Magan is an adjunct lecturer at Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University in Family and Community Services with a specialization in Health Promotion and International Development. She then went on to receive a Masters degree from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration where she was a recipient of many awards including the Kathryn Davis Peace Award, and served as a Child Advocate for unaccompanied undocumented children through the Young Center at University of Chicago School of Law. Dr. Magan’s completed her doctoral studies at University of Illinois at Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work in fall 2017. Her dissertation explored the migration paths of Somali refugees in Chicago, and in particular, how ethnic and religious identities impact their resettlement and integration. In addition to her academic work, she has over ten years of experience working in diverse refugee communities, and is the co-founder of the first Rohingya Cultural Center in Chicago.

Radiah headshot

Radiah Shabazz is a second year master’s student in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. Her work is rooted in racial equity and justice, with a keen focus on attaining Black liberation by diminishing the effects of pervasive anti-blackness and dismantling all manifestations of white supremacy. Radiah’s research has broadly focused on examining tactics and language in racial justice work, social movements, white fragility, cultural humility, and the racialization of resilience. Following her tenure at SSA, Radiah will begin a career in social work policy and advocacy, with an eventual goal of pursuing her doctorate. Radiah holds a degree in journalism from Howard University and will receive her master’s in social work this June. She is guided by the following quote from Audre Lorde: “I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.”


Rudolph Bilal Ware, Professor of History, University of Michigan, specializes in premodern West African history. His research interests include Islam, popular religious culture, and race. His book, The Walking Qur’an Islamic Education, Embodied Knowledge, and History in West Africa, interrogates the role of Islamic education in shaping Muslim identities, and examines the ways in which Qur’anic schools have articulated with Sufi orders, Muslim reformers, and the state in the recent past.