An interesting tidbit of history is reported in Arab News today. It concerns the quest for the grave and perhaps other remains of the life of one of the first identified Muslims in America, Yarrow Mamout, a freed slave who died and was buried in what is now the prestigious Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC.
FOR most Muslims, what happens to the body of a deceased person is not quite as important as what happens to that person’s soul. Still, historians of all backgrounds are scrambling to locate the body and belongings of a Muslim buried in Washington, D.C. nearly 200 years ago, for it touches the soul of early American history.
The deceased, Yarrow Mamout, was among tens of thousands — if not millions — of Muslims brought to America during the slave trade, but one of few for which historians have much information.
Historic documents suggest Yarrow may be buried on the property he purchased after gaining his independence in 1797. That land is located in Washington’s historic Georgetown neighborhood where homes now sell for several million dollars. Its owner, real estate developer Deyi Awadallah, hopes to build and sell a new residence on the property. He knew nothing of Yarrow when he purchased the land last spring, but he’s willing to give archaeologists a chance — a few weeks or months — to investigate before he finalizes his plans.
“I’m trying to respect the situation. It deserves that,” he said in an interview this month.