Dr. Sulayman S. Nyang – Nyang’s scholarship spanned several decades and continents.
Noted American Islamic scholar and seasoned academician Dr. Sulayman S. Nyang died on November 12 after prolonged illness. He was 74.
Nyang was the former chairman of the African Studies Department at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He was a co-director of Muslims in the American Public Square (MAPS), a research project funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, and a former deputy ambassador and head of chancery of the Gambia Embassy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Dr. Nyang acted as a consultant to several national and international agencies and served on the boards of the African Studies Association, the American Council for the Study of Islamic Societies, America’s Islamic Heritage Museum, and the Association of Muslim Social Scientists.
He was an advising scholar for the award-winning, PBS-broadcast documentaries “Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet” (2002) and “Prince Among Slaves” (2007), produced by Unity Productions Foundation.
A native of The Gambia, West Africa, Dr. Nyang spent much of his career working to foster a greater understanding of Islam in America. He wrote and spoke extensively on Islam, Africa and Middle Eastern issues, publishing 11 books, including the highly-acclaimed “Islam in the United States of America.”
He was the lead developer of the Smithsonian Institution’s 1999 African Voices Project and served as an advisor to the White House and international organizations, such as the World Bank and the United Nations.
Dr. Nyang was a regular contributor to the Washington Post’s “On Faith” online forum. One of the most significant being a commentary entitled, “What Near Death Taught Me About Life,” a reflection on his recovery from a serious cardiac arrest in 2004.
He mentored and supervised the work of hundreds of graduate students and many more undergraduates, both at Howard University and at other institutions of higher learning outside the United States.
Mr. Abidullah Ghazi, Chairman, Iqra International Foundation, Chicago in a condolence messages said: In addition to his many academic achievements, Dr. Nyang was a key figure in the early years of IQRA’ International Educational Foundation, and he helped steer the development of its pioneering Islamic studies program.
Ghazi recalled that his best books were “Islam, Christianity, and African Identity” (1984), “A Line in the Sand: Saudi Arabia’s Role in the Gulf War” (1995) co-authored with Evan Heindricks, and “Religious Plurality in Africa” co-edited with Jacob Olupona. His last book was “Islam in the United States of America” (1999). “His scholarship, guidance and loving smile will be missed”, Ghazi lamented.