Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Clarence Taylor

Committee Members

Beth Baron

Edward E. Curtis IV

Simon Davis

Bernard Haykel

Subject Categories

African American Studies | American Studies | History of Religion | Islamic Studies | Islamic World and Near East History | Near Eastern Languages and Societies | United States History


Islam, transnational, Islam in America, African American History, Middle East, Saudi, African American Religion


Since the 1960s, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has financed missionary efforts to Muslims around the world, attempting to spread a Salafi form of Islam that professes strict adherence to Islamic sacred scripture. The effects of this transnational proselytization have depended on numerous factors in “host countries.” This project explores the various impacts of Saudi transnational religious influence in the United States among African-Americans. By relying on previously unused documentary sources and fresh oral histories, it shows how Saudi “soft power” attempted to effect change in religious practices of African-American Muslims from 1975 through 2000. It provides the most detailed examination and interpretation yet of Wallace Mohammed’s groundbreaking tenure as leader of the Nation of Islam and its successor groups after 1975, showing how he led his organization to variously accept and resist Saudi efforts to dictate the terms of Islam in America to African-Americans, while he oversaw a general acceptance of Sunni Islam. This project also describes and interprets the acceptance of quietist Salafi religious ideals and practices by thousands of African-Americans, in a Salafi movement associated with African-American graduates of Saudi Islamic universities.