Wednesday, December 05, 2007

why blackamerican muslims don't stand up for justice

The title of this series by Abdul-Rahman M threw me off at first and made me disinclined to even read what he had to say. But after examining the articles I have to say that it is actually a very thought-provoking historically-grounded series examining (firstly) the different factors which encouraged African-American Muslims to drop-out of the Black American protest tradition during the 60's and 70's and (secondly) the challenges, distractions and obstacles which have made it difficult for orthodox Blackamerican Muslims to participate in that protest tradition in a stronger way.

Why Blackamerican Muslims Don't Stand Up for Justice, Part One
Why Blackamerican Muslims Don't Stand Up for Justice, Part Two
Why Blackamerican Muslims Don't Stand Up for Justice, Part Three
Why Blackamerican Muslims Don't Stand Up for Justice, Part Four

(the final piece, part five is still pending)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

the state of blackamerican islam conference

From Marc Manley's The Manrilla Blog: The State of Blackamerican Islam

It’s amazing that it’s already November. This year has just flown by. So last night had me in gracious company, photographing the first day of MANA’s conference here in Philadelphia: The State of Blackamerican Islam. Such keynote speakers included Dr. Aminah McCloud, professor Amir al-Islam, and of course, the esteemed Dr. Sherman ‘Abd al-Hakim’ Jackson. For more info in the event, see MANA’s web site. Here’s short photo gallery of some images from last night.

Enjoy

Sunday, October 28, 2007

traditional islam for the hip-hop generation

Southern California InFocus: Traditional Islam for the hip-hop generation by Zaid Shakur talks about some of the positive things going on in and around the San Diego urban Muslim community.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

from anti-muslim to anti-black

Here is a link to Tariq Nelson's piece Anti-Muslim bigots are also (often) racist which recently appeared at Muslimmatters.org. It shouldn't be surprising but it is worth being said.

rawdah: a gathering of traditional knowledge

just passing the word along:

The Sankore Institute and the Logan Islamic Community Center are happy to announce that we will be holding our 5th annual Rawdah Deen Intensive in San Diego, California on March 7th, 8th and 9th of 2008.

This year theme will be "The reality of spiritual excellence (Ihsan)". Our teachers for this years Rawdah will be Shaykh Sayyed Muhammad ibn Yahya Al-Husaini An-Ninowi, Imam Zaid Shakir and Ustadh Muhammad Abd'l Haqq Mendes.

The text that we will be going over are Al-Muqasid of Imam Nawawi (The section on Tasawwuf), Al-Hikam of Ibn Att'Illah and the Shukr Ihsan of Shaykh Abdullahi Dan Fodio.

We pray that you all will be able to attend and benefit from this deen intensive. Please come visit our website:

http://www.therawdah.org

Register early because space is very limited.

Amir Tariq Al Fudi

San Diego

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

black, but comely

Al-Ahram: Black, but comely by Gamal Nkrumah eulogizes the black Arab singer Tarfa Abdel-Kheir Adam, or Itab (her stage name).

two more blogs to plug

After taking a little more time to dive back into the blogosphere (i.e. after checking out The Manrilla Blog) I "discovered" two blogs I wanted to give a shout-out to over here. The first is Black American Muslim Political Scientists authored by Charles Hassan Ali. I would especially want to point to the article I Am Not Alone which candidly looks at some of the racial issues touched on in/by african & caribbean muslim marriage event.

The second blog is On Faith: Sherman Jackson where Prof. Jackson himself (the author of Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking toward the Third Resurrection) shares his own personal thoughts on a number of religious questions.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

nur az zaman

I wouldn't necessarily insist on all the theological claims below, but I'm glad to support the discussion of such an important Muslim scholar. The following is from Yusuf Yearwood:

Nur az Zaman

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nurazaman/

This yahoo group is dedicated to An-Nur a Zaman (the Light of the age) Shehu Uthman Dan Fodio and the true flag bearers of the Shehu's minhaj (methodology) The Jama'ah of Shehu Uthman Dan Fodio in America. It is mentioned by the great wali (friend) of Allah Shaykh Mukhtar al Kunti "The perfected friends of Allah in this age are three. One is an Arab who resides beyond Syria. His light is the light of La illaha ill Allah. The other is a Fulani in the land of the blacks, Uthman Dan Fodio. His light is the light of the seal of the Messenger of Allah, which was on his left shoulder. As for the last one his light is the light of the heart of the Messenger of Allah" Based on this and many other statments, there is consensus that the great mujadid (renewer) of the 12th Islamic century was Shaykh Uthman dan Fodio.

The Jama'ah of Shehu Uthman dan Fodio in America is directly connected to the broader community of Shehu Uthman through our Sultan, Al Haj AbuBakr ibn Muhammad At-Tahiru (residing in Mayurno, Sudan)the 16th caliph and direct descendent of Shehu Uthman dan Fodio. We are dedicated to reviving the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sawws) by following the traditions of those great scholars who came before us and by adhering to the minhaj (methodology) of Shehu Uthman Dan Fodio and his community until the advent of Al-Mahdi(Peace be upon him).

This yahoo group is open to all Muslims.

Monday, June 18, 2007

how to recover from the addiction to white supremacy

The original "12 steps" were developed by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous as a method to address alcoholism, but in time the steps were adapted to deal with other forms of addiction or substance abuse. Some authors have even suggested that the 12-step program can be generalized and followed, even by "non-addicts", as a path to greater wholeness, peace and a more spiritual life. (There are definitely some similarities which could be drawn between some of the 12-steps and certain elements of the sufi path).

More recently, Marvin X, a Muslim activist and writer who has been featured frequently on Planet Grenada (and is also on my blog roll) has adapted the 12 step approach to deal with a different sort of problem in: How To Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy: A Pan African 12 Step Model which, without ignoring or dismissing the economic and political aspects of white supremacy, starts to address some of the deeply embedded psychological factors as well. The link goes to a long excerpt on Marvin X's blog, so if you want the detailed explanation of all the steps I guess you are going to have to buy his book. But the section he chose to share is definitely thought-provoking.

For some previous Grenada posts on the psychological impact of racism on its victims check out:
go back to mexico?
recalling frantz fanon
post traumatic slave syndrome

And for some more Marvin X check out:
more marvin x

Sunday, June 17, 2007

a fatwa on pan-arab racism

A Fatwa on Pan-Arab Racism
by Muslim and former Black Panther, Dhoruba Bin-Wahad

In the Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful

As-Salaamu-alaikum,

Peace and Greetings to All.

I bear witness that there is no Illah but Allah, I bear witness that Muahammad ibn Abdullah is the Prophet of Allah.

We Muslims of African ancestry face difficult decisions. We stare the grim consequences of our multifaceted heritage in the face of; consequences of the long nightmare of enslavement by Europeans; preceded by an epoch of mercantile slavery and war at the hands of Arabs. Embedded in the fiber of our folk memory are dim recollections, like historical cultural DNA, of the successive waves of conquests - ancient and not so ancient that swept through North Africa - Hittites of antiquity, the Romans, Greeks, Arabs, and ultimately Northern Germanic clans of Western European origin, each left their legacy and impact upon Africa and our ancestors, and hence upon us.

We are today the sum total of what we were yesterday. That sum represents both failure and success, triumph and defeat, the sacred and the profane. Sometimes it seems as though we “can't win of losing.” Ask yourself, what became of our Moorish glory and hegemony over a third of Europe? Of what significance today are the trade routes and commerce of Songhay, or Dahomey, and the Niger Delta states to the political and moral bankruptcy of today's African nation-states? What have we truly learned? In what relevancy lie the appreciation of “Maroon” culture by declaring it a “national heritage” while depreciating the revolutionary impulse for freedom the burned in the hearts of Africans who became Maroons? Enslaved by a system of dehumanizing trade and commerce against their will, they revolted, organized resistance, and built a self-containing culture to keep their independence. Of what relevance are they today? Yes even our victories are subject to the vicissitudes of Time...“By the token of time [humans] are at lost”. Indeed we often are, but it is our consciousness, our intellect, our God given quality of “insight” or the human gift of abstract thought, that qualify us as Earth's vice-regent and therefore capable of learning from the past, overcoming the present, and plan our own salvation. As Muslims we are never done telling ourselves that we were molded in the best of images, We, Muslims are Guardians, not destroyers of life. Part of Creation – not above it. Nonetheless, we, like all living things are created beings. And as such we were created in different communities, of different colors, not as a basis for hatred, animosity, or war, but to appreciate the infinite variety of human possibility – to love each possibility in its own right.

But the age in which we now find ourselves will forever be shaped and judged by our actions and responses to the legacy history has imposed upon us all. There are events unfolding within western civilization and cultures of the East that are of the utmost importance to our physical survival, and the reemergence of a genuinely liberating Islam and progressive Ummah. These events have not only a history, they also are major struggles in which our freedom and salvation are at stake. These events represent for the benefactors of racism, exploitation, injustice, avarice, and elitism serious challenges as well. And we need be mindful of the monopoly on violence the benefactors of injustice, racism, and exploitation have, and their proven disposition to use legal and extralegal violence to hold on to power and privileges.

click here to read entire "fatwa"
click here for more from/about Dhoruba Bin Wahad

african islam and islam in africa: encounters between sufis and islamists

book review by Korwa G Adar, Journal of Third World Studies, Fall 2001 of African Islam and Islam in Africa: Encounters Between Sufis and Islamists Rosander, Eva Evers and David Westerlund, (eds.). Athens, OH.: Ohio University Press, 1997 358 pp.

This interdisciplinary book deals with an important subject, Sufism and Islamism in Africa. Specifically, it examines the relationship between Sufism, that is, African Islam and Islamism or Islam in Africa. It is a collection of Twelve Chapters by experts who have examined various aspects of the subject. Most of the scholarly works which have been done on the subject have focussed mainly on critical Islamist views on Western-centred ideas and life. The book focuses on the "intra-Muslim relationship between Sufis and Islamists" as its main point of departure. Apart from using Islamization as a mediator between tradition and modernity, sharia (Islamic law), jahiliyya (ignorance about Islam), tahara (purity), and baraka (blessing), among others, are treated in the book as some of the central levels of conceptualization.

In the Introduction Eva Evers Rosander details concepts such as Sufism, Islamism, and Ismaization of tradition and modernity. Rosander argues that Sufi orders or brotherhood have had great political and religious impact in Africa over the centuries. Apart from benefiting from the British colonial rule in Tanganyika the author states that the Sufi orders gained considerable political influence in the 18th and 19th centuries while at the same time collaborated with the French colonialists in North and West Africa at the expense of the nonMuslims.

In his Chapter John Huwick argues that for many centuries there has been intense interaction between Muslims in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Arabo-Islamic world. These include travel by African Muslim scholars to the Arabo-Islamic world, the inflow of visitors to the Sub-Saharan Africa, the formation of pan-African Islamic organizations and networks as well as membership in international Islamic associations are some of the contributing factors to the linkage between Muslims in Africa and those in other parts of the world. Huwick states that because of the continued contacts with the Arabo-Muslim world SubSaharan Africa is increasingly being integrated into the Muslim world at the expense of the West.

The "eternal dichotomy" between Sufistic, rural and popular religious practices and the learned, urban and elitistic Islam in the Maghrib region of North Africa constitute the main focus of George Joffe's Chapter. He states that irrespective of the fact that the two Islamic orientations do not intermingle they form part of a dynamic complementary and dialectical social process. Joffe argues that this has been the long standing tradition in the Maghrib religious culture. He emphasizes that Islamic radicalism has a negative impact in popular forms of Islam, comparing it to what prevailed in the area during the colonial period. Joffe found out that the impact of Islamic radicalism in the societies in the Maghrib region varied from country to country. In Tunisia, for example, the Hizb Nahda, the Harakat al-Islami (or the 15-21 Movement as it is also known) and the Hizb al-Tahri-ral-Islami which had influence in the 1970s and 1980s had virtually been eliminated. Similarly, the al-Adl wa'l-Ahsan and al-Shabiba al-Islamiyya committed to the violent overthrow of the monarchy in Morocco have either been successfully repressed or co-opted into the government. However, the Algerian case differs in that the Islamic radicalism, notably led by the Front Islamique du Salut (FIS), the Groupe Islamique Arme (GIA) and the Armee Islamique du Salut (AJS), have destabilised the country for a number of years.

Abdullahi A. An-Na'im's chapter focuses on Islam and human rights in the Sahelian region in Africa. The author puts into proper theoretical perspective the relationship between Islamic religious and customary practices and international law norms. He finds some correlation between Islam and cultures of the Sahelian peoples. He stresses that cultural diversity which prevails in societies need not be a hindrance to the growth and legitimacy of international law, particularly in relation to human rights. He argues that such a view is in conformity with what is prevailing in a number of countries in Sahel except Sudan. The author argues that the Sudanese leadership does not recognize human rights because they equate human rights regime with Western values and norms. The author states that Islamization which is taking place in the Sahel region is not unique in that it is similar to what prevailed in the 18th and the 19th centuries, with jihad playing important role. An-Na'im, however, points out that Islamic views of human rights are different from international human rights norms in that non-Muslims and women are seen to be unequal and inferior.

The controversial and contentious issue of translation of the Quran into other languages is the theme which is examined by Justo Lacunza-Balda. In West Africa the arabisants have a strong view that Quran was originally given by God in Arabic and as such cannot be distorted by way of translations. They condemn the practice where, for example, the Mouride women in Senegal sing religious songs in Wolof, their founder's language. The same negative views about the translation of the Quran prevails in Nigeria. The author argues that the main disagreement about the authenticity of the translation of the Quran in East Africa is mainly due to the existing translations which were done by a Christian and others by a member of the Ahmadiyya movement, regarded as non-Muslim. However, the author states that Muslim translators are the advocates of the need for the translations of the Quran in Swahili, the lingua franca in the region.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

colonizing islam: the black-white divide

From the blog In Search of Jannah:
Colonizing Islam: the Black-White Divide which suggests (with a number of caveats) that at least in the UK Muslim community the Salafi/Sufi split seems to have racial and class components.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

N.Y. State Jail To Hire Muslim Chaplain

We have a chaplain passing out pamphlets calling our God the devil and our prophet a dictator, Decision follows furor over pastor who distributed anti-Islamic cartoons
The Associated Press
Updated: 1:10 p.m. ET May 9, 2007

NEW CITY, N.Y. - The county jail where a Christian minister handed out anti-Islamic cartoons announced it will hire an imam for its Muslim inmates.

The Rockland County Jail also said it will provide religiously appropriate food.

Rockland Undersheriff Thomas Guthrie said Tuesday that the imam will work one day a week, joining the jail’s priest and rabbi.

The Christian chaplain, the Rev. Teresa Darden Clapp, was suspended with pay last month after inmates complained she was passing out anti-Islam booklets.

In the cartoon panel stories, a tract titled “Men of Peace?” said Islamic fundamentalists who commit terrorist acts are not “bad Muslims” but “very good Muslims” who act in accordance with their religion. Another tract, titled “Allah Has No Son,” said Allah is not God, Muhammad was no prophet, and the Quran is not the word of God. Both stories end with people being convinced Islam is false. In one, a Muslim converts to Christianity.

Local Muslims have called for Clapp’s dismissal, and the county requested an independent investigation.

Clapp has not commented public about the controversy and has not responded to messages seeking comment.

© 2007 The Associated Press. URL: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18572667/

Relate article here and here.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

More Thoughts On the Exclucivity of Whiteness

While researching a paper for class I came across some interesting notes about "whiteness" from one of the founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin. From the gist of Franklin's rhetoric, I found myself easily able to substitute and of the other European races for "Muslim", "Arab", "Paki", or even, "Mexican".

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Immigrant Islam - Door To "Whiteness" Closed?

I have written a short article on my blog concerning the similar issues that many immigrant Muslims are facing now compared to what Blackamericans have faced in times past. The short essay is a reflection on a town hall meeting I attended here in Philadelphia, hosted by WHYY. Initially, the talk was supposed to revolve around divides within the religious world but of course quickly boiled down to, "Why can't Muslims 'just get along' ". Here's the article.

Monday, March 19, 2007

africa's muslim democracies

Here is a pop quiz for all the fans of international relations: On which continent are the most majority-Muslim population electoral democracies located? The first answer to everyone’s mind is often Asia. This is natural since Islam and Asia are intimately linked in most minds. It would seem that everyone knows about Turkey. Insightful observers also know about Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Indonesia as well. Europe has one: Albania. Iraq and Afghanistan are too tentative to be called real democracies. The answer is Africa with six electoral democracies in Senegal, Mali, Niger, The Gambia, Sierra Leone, and Djibouti.

For the rest of the article see Black Electorate: Africa's Muslim Democracies by Benjamin Bouchet

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Black Vote vs Islamic Justice

In light of the recent New York Times article, the 2008 election will present some interesting questions for Blackamerican Muslims. Clearly, there are candidates who support the domestic interests of the black community more than others.

Nevertheless, as Muslims, they will also be faced with candidates, both Republican and Democrat who are unflinching in their biased support for the Israeli Zionist (Apartheid-like) regime and hell-bent on sending more troops (many of them black and/or Muslim) into Afghanistan, and perhaps most disturbingly of all, attacking Iran (actions that morally conscious Muslims do not support).

There are alternative candidates who support more "just" positions, yet they have little chance of winning in a two-party system. Should Muslims, particularly Blackamerican Muslims, choose the "lesser of two evils?"

Monday, March 05, 2007

upon the ashes of babylon

Here is an entire talk entitled Upon the Ashes of Babylon from a powerful Muslim spoken word artist, Amir Sulaiman. The event was part of Islam Awareness Week 2006 at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, AB, Canada. Amir's words manifest a quiet confidence which I find compelling. He has a way of framing issues which is really cathartic and healthy... it reminds me of how I felt when I read Malcolm's speeches for the first time.

Upon the Ashes of Babylon
Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Past Grenada posts on Amir

Saturday, March 03, 2007

how kareem abdul-jabbar embraced islam

I've been meaning to post something about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's path to Islam for a while and was especially interested in trying to better understand Hamas Abdul Khaalis and the so- called Hanafi Madhab group which in 1977 used shotguns and machetes to take control of several DC buildings. (Apparently in 1973, members of the Nation of Islam killed some of Abdul Khaalis' family and somehow this was a way to get revenge.) I still don't have a good sense of what that group was like, but I did find the following which does give a decent sense of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's path to Islam.


From Noorullah Online: How Kareem Abdul-Jabbar embraced Islam
December 22nd, 2006

Acknowledged by many players as the greatest basketball player of all time, voted six times the National Basketball Association’s most valuable player, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is also one of the most visible Muslims in the American public arena. The 7’ 2” native upper Harlem, born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr., starred for UCLA before entering the National Basketball Association with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1969. Alcindor later went to the Los Angeles Lakers. He was so dominant in college basketball that "dunking,”at which he excelled, was formally banned from the intercollegiate sport.

As a result, Lew Alcindor developed the shot for which he is personally the most famous — the "skyhook" — which has been called the shot that changed basketball, and with the help of which he was to score more than thirty eight thousand points in regular-season NBA play. When Milwaukee won the NBA title in 1970-71, Alcindor, who was by then Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, was the acclaimed king of basketball.

Lew Alcindor first learned his Islam from Hammas Abdul Khaalis, a former jazz drummer …. According to his own testimony, he had been raised to take authority seriously, whether that of nuns, teachers, or coaches, and in that spirit he followed the teachings of Abdul Khaalis closely. It was by him that Alcindor was given the name Abdul Kareem, then changed to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, literally "the noble one, servant of the Almighty.” Soon, however, he determined to augment Abdul Khaalis’s teachings with his own study of the Quran, for which he undertook to learn basic Arabic. In 1973 he travelled to Libya and Saudi Arabia to get a better grasp of the language and to learn about Islam in some of its "home" contexts.

Abdul-Jabbar was not interested in making the kind of public statement about his Islam that he felt Muhammad Ali had in his opposition to the Vietnam War, wishing simply to identify himself quietly as an African American who was also a Muslim. He stated clearly that his name Alcindor was a slave name, literally that of the slave-dealer who had taken his family away from West Africa to Dominica to Trinidad, from where they were brought to America.

[…] Kareem Abdul-Jabbar affirms his identity as a Sunni Muslim. He professes a strong belief in what he calls the Supreme Being and is clear in his understanding that Muhammad is his prophet and the Quran is the final revelation…

….For his part, Kareem accepts his responsibility to live as good an Islamic life as possible, recognising that Islam is able to meet the requirements of being a professional athlete in America.

Excerpts from His Book, Kareem

The following are excerpts from the second book he wrote about his basketball career, Kareem, published in 19901, telling his reasons for being drawn toward Islam:

[Growing up in America,] I eventually found that…emotionally, spiritually, I could not afford to be a racist. As I got older, I gradually got past believing that black was either the best or the worst. It just was. The black man who had the most profound influence on me was Malcolm X. I had read "Muhammad Speaks", the Black Muslim newspaper, but even in the early sixties, their brand of racism was unacceptable to me. It held the identical hostility as white racism, and for all my anger and resent meant, I understood that rage can do very little to change anything. It’s just a continual negative spiral that feeds on itself, and who needs that?

…Malcolm X was different. He’d made a trip to Mecca, and realized that Islam embraced people of all color. He was assassinated in 1965, and though I didn’t know much about him then, his death hit hard because I knew he was talking about black pride, about self-help and lifting ourselves up. And I liked his attitude of non-subservience.

…Malcolm X’s autobiography came out in 1966, when I was a freshman at UCLA, and I read it right before my nineteenth birthday. It made a bigger impression on me than any book I had ever read, turning me around totally. I started to look at things differently, instead of accepting the mainstream viewpoint.

…[Malcolm] opened the door for real cooperation between the races, not just the superficial, paternalistic thing. He was talking about real people doing real things, black pride and Islam. I just grabbed on to it. And I have never looked back.

Interview with TalkAsia2

SG: Before Kareem Abdul-Jabbar there was Lew Alcindor. Now Lew Alcindor was what Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was born as, he has since converted to Islam. Something that he says was a very deeply spiritual decision. Tell me a little bit about your own personal journey, from Lew Alcindor to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Is there still some of Lew Alcindor in you today?

KA: Well you know that was who I started my life out as, I’m still my parent’s child, I’m still…my cousins are still the same, I’m still me though. But I made a choice. (SG: Do you feel different? Is it a different feeling when you take on a different name, a different persona?) I really don’t think…I think it has more to do with evolution — I evolved into Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, I don’t have any regrets about who I was but this is who I am now.

SG: And a spiritual journey, how important was that?

KA: Well as a spiritual journey, I don’t think I would have been able to be as successful as I was as an athlete if it were not for Islam. It gave me a moral anchor, it enabled me to not be materialistic, it enabled me to see more what was important in the world. And all of that was reinforced by people, very important people to me: Coach John Wooden, my parents, all reinforced those values. And it enabled me to live my life a certain way and not get distracted.

SG: When you embraced Islam, was it difficult for other people to come to terms with that? Did that create a distance between you and others?

KA: For the most part it was. I didn’t try to make it hard on people; I did not have a chip on my shoulder. I just wanted people understand I was Muslim, and that’s what I felt was the best thing for me. If they could accept that I could accept them. I didn’t…it wasn’t like if you’re going to become my friend you have to become Muslim also. No, that was not it. I respect people’s choices just as I hope they respect my choices.

SG: What happens to a person when they take on another name, another persona if you like? How much did you change?

KA: For me it made me more tolerant because I had to learn to understand differences. You know I was different, people didn’t oftentimes understand exactly where I was coming from; certainly after 9/11 I’ve had to like explain myself and…

SG: Was there a backlash against people like yourself? Did you feel that at all?

KA: I didn’t feel like necessarily a backlash, but I certainly felt that a number of people might have questioned my loyalty, or questioned where I was at, but I continue to be a patriotic American…

SG: For a lot of black Americans, converting to Islam was an intensely political decision as well. Was it the same for you?

KA: That was not part of my journey. My choosing Islam was not a political statement; it was a spiritual statement. What I learned about the Bible and the Qur’an made me see that the Qur’an was the next revelation from the Supreme Being - and I chose to interpret that and follow that. I don’t think it had anything to do with trying to pigeon hole anyone, and deny them the ability to practice as they saw fit. The Quran tells us that Jews, Christians, and Muslims: Muslims are supposed to treat all of them the same way because we all believe in the same prophets and heaven and hell would be the same for all of us. And that’s what it’s supposed to be about.

SG: And it’s been very influential in your writing as well.

KA: Yes it has. Racial equality and just what I experienced growing up in America as a kid really affected me to experience the Civil Rights Movement, and see people risking their lives, being beaten, being attacked by dogs, being fire hosed down streets, and they still took a non-violent and very brave approach to confronting bigotry. It was remarkable and it certainly affected me in a very profound way.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

post 9/11, islam flourishes among u.s. blacks

Post 9/11, Islam flourishes among U.S. blacks

By Matthew Bigg

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Islam is growing fast among African Americans, who are undeterred by increased scrutiny of Muslims in the United States since the September 11 attacks, according to imams and experts.

Converts within the black community say they are attracted to the disciplines of prayer, the emphasis within Islam on submission to God and the religion's affinity with people who are oppressed.

Some blacks are also suspicious of U.S. government warnings about the emergence of new enemies since the 2001 attacks because of memories of how the establishment demonised civil rights leaders Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

As a result, they are willing to view Islam as a legitimate alternative to Christianity, the majority religion among U.S. blacks.

"It is one of the fastest-growing religions in America," said Lawrence Mamiya, professor of religion at Vassar College, speaking of Islam among black Americans.

He said there were up to 2 million black U.S. Muslims but acknowledged there are no precise figures.

"It's not viewed (by authorities) as a threat because the numbers are small and once we get past the war on terror and all the negative images then it will continue to spread."

Black Americans typically attend mosques separate from Muslims from immigrant backgrounds despite sharing common beliefs, according to Aminah McCloud, religious studies professor at DePaul University in Chicago.

But imams in Atlanta, a U.S. centre for black Muslims, said they were subjected to less scrutiny than Muslims from the Middle East and Indian sub-continent.

RAP BROWN'S MOSQUE

Many blacks converted during the civil rights era, when Malcolm X helped popularise the Nation of Islam, attracting boxer Muhammad Ali among others. Islam still attracts prominent blacks such as rapper Scarface, a recent convert.

But the Nation of Islam has declined as a force at the expense of an association of mosques led by Warith Deen Muhammad, the son of Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad, who died in 1975.

At a street-corner mosque in one of Atlanta's oldest and poorest neighbourhoods, a recent Friday sermon illustrated the power of the history of Islam in the United States for blacks.

Men and women sat separately on the mosque floor, heads covered, as cleric Nadim Ali recounted stories from history of Muslim slaves brought from Africa who struggled to uphold their faith in the face of slaveholders' opposition.

If Muslims could remain true to Islam under slavery, the audience should follow their example, Ali said at the Community Masjid of Atlanta in the city's West End district.

"You are talking about a people who were cut off from their roots .... Islam reconnects you with Africa and with other parts of the world so your peoplehood transcends race," Ali said later in an interview.

The mosque has a direct link to a slice of black history. It was founded by H. Rap Brown, a one-time member of the 1960s Black Panthers group. Brown became a Muslim in prison in the 1970s and changed his name to Jamil al-Amin.

He was convicted for killing a sheriff's deputy in Georgia in March 2000 and is serving a sentence of life without parole, but in his absence the mosque has continued what Ali said was the low-profile work of building a local Muslim community.

CONVERSION

The mosque teaches there was no distinction between Sunni and Shi'ite within Islam, according to people who attend regularly. Sermons urged Muslims to find work, stay free from crime and drugs and maintain stable family lives.

Ali said he assumed the mosque was bugged and infiltrated by informers, in part because its leaders remained sceptical about U.S. policies since September 11.

"They (the government) unplug black people and plug in Arabs or Muslims. They unplug Arabs and plug in communists. America needs war to maintain its economic status," he said.

The larger Masjid of al-Islam mosque in another mainly black neighbourhood of Atlanta is part of Warith Deen Muhammad's group. Its imam, Plemon el-Amin, said he was involved with local interfaith work as well as with a local Islamic school.

One recent Friday, Mark King, a new convert, and hundreds of others at the mosque listened to a preacher urge Muslims to seek God through the Koran. Followers of other faiths should seek God through their own holy books, the preacher said.

King, who wears his hair in dreadlocks, converted after visiting Africa for the first time and in Gambia read the Koran and realised its teaching chimed with his own beliefs, not least in fighting injustice.

"For young African Americans, there is some attraction to learning about traditions that have been associated with resistance to European imperialism," said King, who has adopted the name Bilal Mansa since his conversion.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Thursday, February 08, 2007

macon, ga mayor converts to Islam

Ellis converts to Islam, will change his name
By Matt Barnwell
TELEGRAPH STAFF WRITER


Macon Mayor Jack Ellis has converted to Islam and is working to legally change his name to Hakim Mansour Ellis.

The mayor, raised as a Christian, said Thursday that he has been studying the Quran for years. He became a Sunni Muslim during a December ceremony in the country of Senegal, on the western coast of Africa. He said the religion originally was practiced by his West African ancestors before they were brought to America by slave traders.

Ellis said his decision was a personal one, though he understands his elected position breeds public interest in his choice. It was not something he decided overnight to do, he said. He will keep his last name the same at the request of two of his daughters.

"Why does one become a Christian?" the mayor said. "You do it because it feels right. It's the right thing for you to do. ... To me it's no big deal. But people like to know what you believe in. And this is what I believe in."

Ellis said he initially began reading the Quran in the 1980s before taking it up more seriously in the early '90s. He said he is attending the Macon Islamic Center, just down the road from the first Christian church he had joined in Macon.

The mayor, who has not ruled out future tries for elected office after his term expires this year, said he had not made any calculations for how his conversion would affect him politically one way or the other. He is an American first, he said, and was proud to live in a country founded on religious freedom.

Muslims as a whole should not be painted with a broad brush, he said, simply because a few radicals exist in their midst.

"If anybody wants to know about Islam, I can hold an intelligent conversation," the mayor added. "What I've found is how little we know about the religion."

Monday, January 29, 2007

what makes american muslims unique?

alt.muslim: What Makes American Muslims Unique? by M. Aurangzeb Ahmad considers the issue of how and why Muslims here are different from Muslim minorities in Europe.

Friday, January 26, 2007

the pen and the sword & prince among slaves

Unity Productions Foundation: The Pen and the Sword is one of many projects trying to put more positive historical images of Muslims and Islamic civilization out in the media. The Pen and the Sword deals with inter-religious relations in Medieval Spain. And Prince Among Slaves deals with the story of Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori, an African prince who was enslaved in Mississippi from 1788 to 1828 when he finally won his freedom and returned to Africa. Check them out.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

an interview on malcolm x

Z-Net: Manning Marable interviewed by Amy Goodman on the life and death of Malcolm X

sleeper cell: the second season

So... I recently found a website where I could see the first few episodes of Sleeper Cell's second season. In some ways, the second season seems to suffert from the same limitations as the first season which I've mentioned before (see sleeper cell (part 2)) but fewer of the positives. Little or no emphasis is put on the faith of the main character, Darwyn the African-American Muslim FBI agent (which is unfortunate since it provided some interesting contrast and tension in the first season). In a similar vein, the government characters are generally portrayed as less compassionate, competent and ethical than they were in the first season. Instead of being about a sincere Muslim who has to carefully negotiate and come to terms with various loyalties and identities (keeping his own faith and integrity, not blowing his cover, and fighting against those who would betray his nation and his ummah) in this season, both the government characters and the Muslim villans seem painted in broader strokes and so the story seems more cartoonish than before.

I'm not sure of whether this is a good thing or not but the cell members are being portrayed in a more diverse way (e.g. a female member, a Latino ex-gangbanger) I've read that there is also a gay Muslim member of the terror cell but that is not totally obvious from the episodes I've seen. (Although if the claim is true, it is definitely forshadowed). On the one hand this is good in the sense that it shows some of the diversity which exists in the Muslim community. On the other hand, it gives the impression that all Muslims could be terrorists.

Perhaps I'll be able to say more as I see more of the season.

Friday, January 19, 2007

marvin x speaks

Marvin X Speaks is a new blog by a brother who has been a frequent subject over at Planet Grenada but is still not totally unknown here at Third Resurrection. Check out: even more marvin x

Thursday, January 18, 2007

open letter to dr. hussein shahristani

ChickenBones: A Journal: Open Letter to Dr. Hussein Shahristani, Minister of Oil, Republic of Iraq by Marvin X (from early last year)

Dear Dr. Hussein Shahristani:

Bismillah-r-Rahman-r-Rahim.

As-Salaam-Alaikum, my brother. It has been forty years since we last met at your apartment in Toronto, Canada, 1967. You may recall that I was resisting the Vietnam War and you were a student at the University of Toronto. I saw that you went on to become a nuclear scientist but was persecuted under Saddam Hussein because you refused to work on his "Islamic" bomb. Al Hamdulilah, you survived. I saw your name on the list of persons for the first prime minister of American occupied Iraq. I noticed you refused this most dangerous job. I prayed for your safety. It was good to know you are a servant of the Grand Ayatollah Sistani. I have watched you advance from leader of the assembly to minister of oil.

Oil is the reason I am writing you, other than to let you know my prayers are with you and I recall fondly how you taught me my prayers in Arabic and our conversations on Islam.

I recall how you related that you wanted a Nation of Islam, thus you agreed with the vision of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Clearly, your nation shall become a nation of Islam. It appears to me southern Iraq is a de facto Islamic nation. Correct me if I am wrong.

But back to oil. As minister of oil, I would like you to consider assisting North American Africans in the United States of America who recently experienced hurricane Katrina, only to discover they were left at the mercy of themselves, with little assistance from the local, state and federal government. Some were too poor to buy gasoline to leave town for safer ground. Some were shot trying to reach higher ground by KKK policemen.

As you know, President Chavez of Venezuela has assisted many poor and minority communities in America and throughout the Americas. He has given them discounted gasoline and oil. Perhaps, you can assist us as well. First, we need to establish a community strategic reserve through the North American African community, just in case of emergency since we know we cannot depend on FEMA, Homeland Security or any government agency. Thus, we see the need to establish our own reserve in each community with storage tanks and tanker trucks equipped with nozzles for roadside emergency service.

Brother, see if you can help us so we are not dependent on this sham government.

Finally, I would like you to consider a speaking tour of Black America to explain to us your perspective on the situation in your nation. It is truly painful for me to hear about the daily violence in Iraq. But it is equally as painful to know about the daily violence in our neighborhoods, the grieving mothers, fathers, siblings, relatives and friends.

We grieve for the Iraqi people and the innocent American soldiers. Please consider a brief tour of the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia and New York, also Detroit and Chicago. We want to hear from you. I know you are in the midst of war, but perhaps you can slip away for a few days. Let me hear from you soon.

As-Salaam-Alaikum,

Marvin X (El Muhajir)

P.O. Box 1317

Paradise CA 95965

mrvnx@yahoo.com

Monday, January 15, 2007

african unity still a dream

BBC News
Gamal Nkrumah

African Unity Still a Dream

My father, Ghana's first President Kwame Nkrumah, was a trendsetter in more ways than one.

One of his most outstanding legacies was a political commitment to African continental unity. The Arabic-speaking states of North Africa were, in his vision, no less African than those predominantly non-Arab states south of the Sahara.

With his initial encouragement, Arabs have since become active participants in the politics of Africa.

Nkrumah's was no easy mission. There were many in Africa and in the West who wished to extricate Arab countries from costly African commitments and interventions south of the Sahara.

But Nkrumah's special friendship with the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser - after whom I was named - was instrumental in cementing Arab-African ties.

Tempestuous relations

Nasser was a strong advocate of the African component of the Egyptian national composition, the first Egyptian leader to take such a view.

According to him, Egypt's national make-up is composed of the intersection of three circles - the Arab, the Islamic and the African.

The destinies of "Arabs" and "Africans" have historically and geographically been inextricably intertwined
Be that as it may, relations between Arabs and sub-Saharan Africans have often been uneasy - and at times even tempestuous.

The precise nature of the role expected to be played by Arabs in pan-African politics was at first only dimly understood.

Self-styled "Arab" Somalia fought non-Arab Ethiopia. "Arab" Mauritania went to battle against non-Arab Senegal.

The so-called borderlands of the Sahara and the Sahel have become a veritable frontline where "Arabs" and "Africans" bitterly engage in war.

The focus of much of the fighting has traditionally been Sudan, a member of the Arab League, a body that groups 22 states - including not only the Mediterranean North African countries of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, but also Mauritania, Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti and the Comoros.

Geographically the largest African country, Sudan has been embroiled intermittently in civil war since its independence in 1956.

The international media persists in propagating confusing myths and half-truths about the war between the "Arab Muslim north" and the "black African south". But the north is not composed entirely of ethnic Arabs, and most of those classified as "Arabs" are far darker in complexion than many of the Congressional Black Caucus members.

Similarly conflict in Sudan's province of Darfur is depicted as between "Arabs" and "black Africans".

There has been a perceptible change in attitudes and perceptions over the years of tensions between "African" and "Arab", but these incremental changes have on the whole been rather negative.

Expectations

In the wake of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war and the sudden price hikes of crude oil, African countries began sizing up the readiness of oil-rich Arab countries to offer economic aid and financial assistance.

African countries had high expectations of Arab largesse, but were sorely disappointed.

Migrants heading to Europe from Senegal
Sub-Saharan migrants head to Morocco on their way to Europe
Not only was money not forthcoming, but it became apparent that Arab countries were developing countries, after all, and incapable of lending a helping hand in the area of technical expertise.

Arabs, in turn, quietly brooded over the consequences of not being able to measure up to African expectations.

Summits have reconciled enemies before: Chad and Libya; Sudan and its numerous neighbours.

But there is no escaping the fact that what are often mistakenly dubbed "Arab" versus "African" conflicts have disturbed the placid surface of Nkrumah's vision of African continental unity.

African governments north and south of the Sahara cannot be absolved of responsibility.

And recently, friction has arisen due to the influx of African youth into Arab states.

Their main goal of immigrating to the West - and in particular Europe - necessitates a long and uncomfortable sojourn in North African transit points.

The stories that filtered back are harrowing: death at sea, slave labour, prostitution and narcotic trafficking and an alarming wave of racism in North Africa.

Nevertheless, the destinies of "Arabs" and "Africans" have historically and geographically been inextricably intertwined.

The only way forward for Africa is continental African Union as envisaged by Kwame Nkrumah.

we should all have the same dream

From TheArab-AmericanNews.com: We should all have the same dream briefly comments on the significance of Martin Luther King's legacy for Arabs in the United States.

Friday, January 12, 2007

usman dan fodio and the sokoto caliphate

By the late eighteenth century in Nigeria, many Muslim scholars and teachers had become disenchanted with the insecurity that characterized the Hausa states and Borno. Some clerics (mallams) continued to reside at the courts of the Hausa states and Borno, but others, who joined the Qadiriyah brotherhood, began to think about a revolution that would overthrow existing authorities. Prominent among these radical mallams was Usman dan Fodio, who with his brother and son, attracted a following among the clerical class. (for more of this history see Usman dan Fodio and the Sokoto Caliphate)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

even more on (and from) brother keith

Recently Laury posted: Keith Ellison Story, Film, Interview, and Essay over at www.progressiveislam.org. The post includes more details on the Jefferson Quran and the whole situation, a film of the swearing-in, an interview with Ellison where he gets a little more detail about his faith and his politics, and finally an essay by Ellison where he encourages Americans to embrace a broader, more inclusive, more "generous" vision of the country.

choose generosity, not exclusion

by Keith Ellison

The author was elected to the House of Representatives from Minnesota's 5th District in November. He is the first Muslim elected to serve in the U.S. Congress. The new 110th Congress will, for the first time, include a Muslim, two Buddhists, more Jews than Episcopalians, and the highest-ranking Mormon in congressional history, the Religion News Service reports. Roman Catholics remain the largest single faith group in Congress, accounting for 29 percent of all members of the House and Senate, followed by Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Jews and Episcopalians.


Somewhere in Minneapolis or Jackson or Baltimore, somewhere in America today, there is a young couple that is feeling vulnerable. Maybe one has been laid off due to outsourcing, and maybe, the other is working for something close to a minimum wage. They probably have no medical benefits. Today real income is lower for the typical family than in 2000, while the incomes of the wealthiest families have grown significantly. Things are tough for working people, but in America, we often turn to our faith in tough times.

When our couple shows up for worship service, probably on a Sunday, there is no doubt that the preacher will tell them of God’s unyielding love. “God loves you.” But the next thing the preacher tells them is crucial - not only to the young couple, but to us all. The next message from the preacher may help to shape, not only the next election results, but the political landscape of the nation.

Will the preacher tell our young couple, “God loves you – but only you and people like you?” Or will the preacher say “God loves you and you must love your neighbors of all colors, cultures, or faiths as yourselves”? One message will lead to be a stinginess of spirit, an exclusion of the “undeserving”, and the other will lead to a generosity of spirit and inclusion of all.

In America today, we are encouraged to believe in the myth of scarcity - that there just isn't enough - of anything. But in the story of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Jesus, who the Muslims call Isa, found himself preaching to 5000 (not including the women by the way) at dinner time, and there didn’t appear to be enough food. The disciples said that there were only five barley loaves and two fish. We just have to send them away hungry. We simply don't have enough. But Jesus took the loaves and the fish and started sharing food. There was enough for everyone. There was more than enough. What was perceived as scarcity was illusory as long as there was sharing, and not hoarding.

The idea here is not that there is a boundless supply of everything. Such an idea leads to waste and dispensability of everything. But the idea is that there is enough.

If scarcity is a myth, then poverty is not necessary. America need not have 37 million Americans living below the poverty line. It is a choice. Hunger is a choice. Exclusion of the stranger, the immigrant, or the darker other is a choice.

We can choose generosity. In America today, we spend more on health care than any other industrialized nation, yet 46 Million people have none. Canada spends half of what we spend and covers everyone. Perfectly? Of course not. But adequately. That’s more than what a lot of people have right now.

We live in a society which says that there is enough for a tax break for the wealthy but not enough for an increase in the minimum wage or for national health care. There is enough for subsidies to oil and coal companies but not for families who are struggling to afford child care or a college education. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

We need a politics of generosity based on the reality of abundance as opposed to a politics of not-enough. The richest 1 percent of the nation, on average, owns 190 times as much as a typical household. The child poverty rate in the United States is the highest of 16 other industrialized nations. Employers are shifting health insurance costs onto workers. Not only are fewer employees receiving health insurance through their employers, but those who still do are paying more for it.

Recently, I have become the focus of some criticism for my use of the Qu'ran for my ceremonial swearing in. Let me be clear, I am going to be sworn into office like all members of Congress. I am going to swear to uphold the United States Constitution. We seem to have lost the political vision of our founding document -- a vision of inclusion, tolerance and generosity.

I do not blame my critics for subscribing to a politics of scarcity and intolerance. However, I believe we all must project a new politics of generosity and inclusion This is the vision of the diverse coalition in my Congressional district. My constituents in Minnesota elected me to fight for a new politics in which a loving nation guarantees health care for all of its people; a new politics in which executive pay may not skyrocket while workers do not have enough to care for their families. I was elected to articulate a new politics in which no one is cut out of the American dream, not immigrants, not gays, not poor people, not even a Muslim committed to serve his nation.

Friday, January 05, 2007

ellison and the jefferson quran

From Grenada:
In a rather elegant response to the people who were calling him unAmerican for choosing to use a Quran for his swearing-in ceremony, Keith Ellison will be using a Quran once owned by Thomas Jefferson. Nice.
I kind of wish I had been as informative. Here are more details about the situation from Sadiq M. Alam's blog, Inspirations and Creative Thoughts in an entry called: Keith Ellison, Thomas Jefferson's Quran and America's embrace of diversity

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The State of the Blackamerican Muslim Community

Coming November 2-4, 2007, Insha Allah

MANA will be having a conference on "The State of the Blackamerican Muslim Community"

Location and details TBA

beyonce vs. islamism?

Ted over at hawgblawg recently put up an entry called Beyonce vs Islamism? which explores the idea of whether hip-hop, or African-American popular culture generally, is a threat to Islamic fundamentalism abroad.