The forbidden passages of Americas' first Muslims

Forbidden Passages: Muslims and Moriscos in Colonial Spanish America, written by Karoline P. Cook, reviewed by Ken Chitwood in Reading Religion from the American Academy of Religion (AAR). 

Emigrants from the Atlantic world came to the Americas for various reasons, with many motives, and precipitated by myriad circumstances. Some were forced, some came to escape an old society or to build a new one, others came to acquire riches or set-up shop. Yet, as J.H. Elliott wrote in his tome Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830, “they all faced the same challenge of moving from the known to the unknown, and of coming to terms with an alien environment that would demand of them numerous adjustments and a range of new responses.” 

Furthermore, as Elliott continues, “to a greater or lesser degree, those responses would be shaped by a home culture whose formative influence could never be entirely escaped, even by those who who were most consciously rejecting it for a new life beyond the seas.” While the local context with its diverse ecological, material, political, socio-cultural, and religious environments shaped the contours of American colonization and conquest, the colonial world was simultaneously defined and influenced by its transatlantic nature. Significantly, the historical and legal dimensions of imperial statecraft conditioned the experience of various constituencies in even the most far-flung reaches of the American empires. 

It is within this transatlantic imperial nexus that Karoline P. Cook situates the narrative of “Muslims and Moriscos in colonial Spanish America.” Yes, that's correct; Muslims came to the Americas as early as the 16th-century...