Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ibrahim Khalil, Native American Ahmadi

Islam also attracted people of Native American heritage. One convert who joined the St. Louis Ahmadiyya Muslim Community went by the name of Ibrahim Khalil. Ibrahim may have been the first Native American to become an Ahmadi Muslim. Ibrahim was said to be a very private man. What is known about him comes from the oral history of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the St. Louis area dating back to the 1930s.

According to Rasheed Ahmad of St. Louis, Ibrahim Khalil was a jazz musician - a saxophonist who played with a band featuring a singer named Ida Cox. He was said to be a very diplomatic individual who was known for always being immaculately dressed in fine suits. While in St. Louis, MO, he founded the Pyramid Barbershop, which still exists today on 4338 Oakwood.

Ibrahim was already a Muslim before he came into contact with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. It is believed that he was originally a member of one of the few Islamic brotherhood societies in America that existed during that time. When he heard about the Ahmadiyya Movement and about the claims of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, he made a pilgrimage to Chicago to meet with Sufi Mutiur Rahman Bengalee, who was the missionary there during the 1930s. He reportedly accepted shortly afterward and then returned back to St. Louis and became a vital part of its Ahmadiyya community.

According to Ahmadi elder Munir Ahmad, who now owns the Pyramid Barbershop, Ibrahim was originally from Mississippi and his family name before he he became a Muslim was Johnson. These last two points suggest that he was perhaps a member of the Choctaw Nation - a majority of whom are located in Mississippi. (When Nations Gather, by Sultan Abdul Latif, page 256-259)

Angela Y. Walton-Raji states in her book, African-American Ancestors Among the Five Civilzed Tribes, that through intermarrying came European surnames into the Choctaw Nation.

...this was how European surnames became part of most of the Indigenous tribes. As the Indian women married European men, names such as Ross, Boudinot, Leflore, Johnson were not unusual in Indian communities. (Black Genealogy Research: African-American Ancestors Among the Five Civilized Traibes, by Angela Y Walton-Raji, page 8)


What say you?