Imam Satti Majid was a pivotal leader in establishing Islam as an organized religion during the 1920s. It is estimated that in his time, there were about 100,000 Muslims without a single Masjid or a national organization. He established a number of Muslim societies and converted a significant number of African Americans, including Shaikh Daoud Ahmed Faisal. He primarily worked in New York City, Buffalo, Detroit, and Pittsburgh.
Satti Majid was born in al-Ghaddar in Old Dongola in 1300/1883; his father was from the Zayadab section of the Dahmashiyya Bidayriyya and a member of a well-known Sudanese holy family, the Suwar al-Dhahab. He came to New York City in 1904 at the age of 21. Before coming to America, he went to England and founded an Islamic missionary society (jamiiyyat li’l-tabshır bi-dın al-Islam). He established four Islamic organizations in America at different times.
In this pre-WW1 era, he was contemporary to Ottoman Empire embassy officials, Drew Ali and Ahmadiyya movement. In New York, in part, he acted as a caretaker of immigrant Arab and Indian Muslims coming to America. Learning about Drew Ali and his movement, Imam Satti tried to present True Islam to Drew Ali, wrote about it in the media. He urged Drew Ali to both change his name and burn his so-called revelation. In 1929, he travelled to Al-Azhar, Khartoum and Omdurman and obtained fatwas against Drew Ali and his teachings. He apparently did not return to the USA from those trips. While abroad, he did continue to communicate with his American followers and was thus instrumental in the development and shaping of new and emerging Muslim groups in America.
Imam Sattı returned to the Sudan sometime in the 1940s and died there March 17, 1963.
Black Crescent: The Experience and Legacy of African Muslims in the Americas By Michael A. Gomez
- Gathering scattered Muslims into congregations and thus starting an organized Islam in America.
- Introduced Islam and challenged heretical movements at the very outset.
- Brought immigrant and African Muslims together
Although heterodox movements of Drew Ali and Elijah Mohammad remained numerically stronger than Imam Satti’s efforts, his efforts were critical for the expansion of orthodox Islam in the United States. Organizational membership in the Moorish Scientist Temple and the Nation of Islam has been on a steady decline while the number of orthodox Muslims has mushroomed over the decades since the 1930s.