Monday, January 02, 2006

third resurrection

What does the term "Third Resurrection" refer to?

From Sherman Jackson's "Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Toward the Third Resurrection":

When the Honorable Elijah Muhammad died in 1975, his followers came to refer to the period before his death as the "First Resurrection," during which blacks were said to have been delivered from the darkness of their slave mentality into the light of their true Blackamerican selves. The period immediately after his death, under the divided leadership of Imam W.D. Muhammad and Minister Louis Farrakhan, came to be known for a time as the "Second Resurrection." Under both of those "dispensations," it was the charismatic leader rather than any objective method of scriptural interpretation that made and unmade religious doctrine. .

Jackson goes on to say that:

Today, however, Blackamerican Islam is and for more than three decades has been in a state of transition. While Black Religion continues to influence the thinking and sensibilities of Blackamerican Muslims, it no longer enjoys the near monopoly it once did. [...] Rather than to Black Religion, it is to the sources and authorities of historical Islam that Blackamerican Muslims now appeal in order to authenticate their views and actions and earn these recognition as Islamic. This shift in the basis of authority in Blackamerican Islam constitutes a fundamental break with its past and marks the beginning of the "Third Resurrection".

Or to put it differently, the First Resurrection occured when African-Americans left mainstream Christian churches and joined proto-Islamic groups like the Nation of Islam or Moorish Science.

The Second Resurrection, occured after Elijah Muhammad passed away and, under the leadership of Warithudeen Muhammad, members of the Nation left behind many of the more extreme positions of the past (e.g. Allah came in the person of Fard Muhammad) and adopted more mainstream Islamic teachings (e.g. Following the five pillars). Still, in some respects this community still held onto some distinctive beliefs on minor matters, and was slightly insular.

The other members of the group blog should feel free to share their thoughts, but from my perspective the Third Resurrection is about the next step, the process of joining the larger world community of orthodox Islam, while at the same time speaking out with a distinctively Black (but non-racist) American voice which is appropriate to our contemporary situation.

Why this blog?

When I look around online for sites related to Islam and race, it is easy to see that the followers of Elijah Muhammad, namely the Nation(s) of Islam and the Five Percenters, definitely have a huge virtual presence, in spite of the fact that African-American Sunnis strongly outnumber them. Similarly, in Afrocentric bookstores, it is often much easier to find materials comming from the Nation than from a Sunni perspective. Somehow there is a vacuum. For whatever reason, it has been difficult for African-American orthodox Muslims post-Malcolm X to speak about race and racism with any kind of depth or detail and be heard or noticed in the mainstream.

So at least one purpose for this blog is to help fill that vacuum a little by gathering together the efforts of African-American orthodox Muslim bloggers to speak on contemporary (and historical) issues of relevance.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I found Mr. Jackson's book some time ago and I must say I have been longing to hear other African-American traditional Muslims address these issues. I have sat on a few interfaith counsels and everytime one of my non-indegenous brothers wants to show Islam's historical integration, they always point out that forty percent of the Muslim population in America is African-American but it's hard to believe because we have not developed an authentic Islamic identity yet.