Abu Bakr al Siddiq

Location: Jamaica

Abu Bakr al Siddiq, born in 1790, came from an illustrious Muslim family originally from Timbuktu and Jenne. He bears the name of one of the first Muslims and companions of the Prophet Muhammad. Like his father and grandfathers before him, Abu Bakr  studied to become a cleric.  He was captured at age 15 and shipped to Jamaica where he was enslaved for 30 years. He was held captive by several masters, the last one named Anderson.  Several sympathetic inhabitants of the city of Kingston raised funds to gain his release.  In 1834 he completed an autobiography written in Arabic. In 1835 he sailed for Africa, reaching Morocco and eventually arriving in Jenne some 250 miles south of Timbuktu. 

“The two autobiographical fragments of Abu Bakr al-Siddig, born in Timbuktu about 1790 the son of a learned family of the Western Sudan, is regarded as the best testimony of Muslim presence in Jamaica. The first personal account written in Arabic on September 20, 1834 was given to Magistrate Madden in Kingston, Jamaica. The second version also written in Arabic but in England in the following year in August was translated and published by G.C. Rehourd. These personal recollections of Abu Bakr reveal the background of his family which belonged to the class of the ulama, or men of learning in Islamic jurisprudence. The conduct of public affairs largely rested in their hands. Abu Bakr’s father and his great-grandfathers, both paternal and maternal, presumably belonged to the class of jurisconsult – shahid 1-marik. Furthermore, the family belonged to one of the Shurfa groups in Western Sudan which claimed descent from Prophet Mohammed…”  (Sultana)


“Abu Berkr Sheriff of Timbuktoo – Written in Jamaica, 1834.” Al- Ahari, Muhammad A. (ed)   Five Classic Muslim Slave Narratives. Magribine, 2006.

Afroz, Sultana. “The Unsung Slaves: Islam in Plantation Jamaica.” Caribbean Quarterly Vol. 41, No. 3/4 (September-December 1995), pp. 30-44

Diouf, Sylviane A. Servants of Allah, African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas, New York University Press, 1998.