Saturday, February 23, 2008

"a 21st century imam"

A brief documentary on Imam Johari Abdul Malik

Imam Johari Abdul-Malik is the Director of Outreach at the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center and former Muslim Chaplain at Howard University (HU) and was the first Muslim officially installed as a chaplain in higher education at HU and is the Head of the National Association of Muslim Chaplains in Higher Education. The imam also, serves as the chair of government relations for the Muslim Alliance in North America. He is the director of community outreach for the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center and President of the Muslim Society of Washington, Inc.

From an Episcopal choir boy-who visited the deep southern Pentecostal holiness church during his summer vacations as youth-until at confirmation the teachings of the Ten Commandments exposed the inherent contradiction of western Christianity-In high school he searched for spirituality-Taoism, Asian Spirituality.

In his native Brooklyn community his mother kept the family busy with community activism. In College he became a Black activist, musician, transcendental mediation and vegetarian. In Graduate school, Allah showed him the light of Islam. He served as the President of MSA at Howard University and later that University’s and the nations first officially recognized Muslim Chaplain in higher education.

Known nationally for his fundraising efforts for masjids, schools and relief and support organizations. Brother Johari is a founding member of the Muslim Advocacy Commission of Washington, D.C. Imam Johari and along with Rev. Graylan Hagler started the Ramadan Feed-the-Needy Program in Washington, DC feeding over 100 hundred homeless women of all faiths nightly during the holy month of fasting.

Lectures on a variety of subjects that motivate the Muslim community and the community at large to better themselves and their world.

Regular khatib (preacher) for the jumah sermon/prayer and halaqah/study circle presenter on Friday evenings at the Howard University (musallah) prayer room.

African-American born (mother from Northern Louisiana and father from Barbados, West Indies) and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Educated at Howard Universitywith a BS Chemistry and a MS Genetics and Human Genetics. Completed Clinical Post Graduate Training Program in Bioethics at Georgetown University Kennedy Center for Ethics. Completed PhD course work in Bioethics/Genetics (Degree Pending).

just a muslim

It seems like a number of African-American Muslim bloggers have been hitting this topic:
Firstly Abdur Rahman Muhammad over at A Singular Voice wrote the The “I’m Just a Muslim” Muslim, Pt 1 Then, Margari Aziza Hill at Just Another Black Muslim Woman? asks the question: Am I just a Muslim? And finally, Tariq Nelson chimed in with: More on "Just a Muslim"

In a lot of ways, the whole reason why I wanted to start this Third Resurrection blog was to create a forum where African-American Muslims weren't "just Muslims" and could speak with a distinctive voice. I'm glad that other folks out there seem to be having similar concerns. In fact, its made me wonder if there is even a need for a special clearing house like Third Resurrection since the conversation seems to be occuring in multiple places anyway.

Friday, February 22, 2008

imam johari abdul malik on malcolm x

Our brother El Hajj Malik El Shabazz was assassinated 43 years ago today. For me, this brother was not only a symbol of Black manhood, but of Black Fatherhood. His speeches about what it meant to be a man and father had such a profound effect upon me that upon embracing Islam, when searching for a family name I chose the name “Malik” (later Abdul-Malik) because of the profound impact of this man. I moved to “join” the Muslims because I recognizd that our people needed not only a personal religion (of personal values and morals) but that we also needed a system and way of life that would provide for a systematic collective salvation.

One night (while I was still in college) I was walking on 14th street in Washington, DC - clearly having the signature of Malcolm on me, but I could not see it. Two men were standing on the corner drinking wine and upon seeing me coming, they put their bags behind their backs. When

“Yes,” I responded

“Muhammad is the Prophet right?”


“You don’t drink alcohol do you?


“You don’t eat pork do you?”


He then turned to his friend and said, “He’s Muslim!”

He then asked me, “You believe in respecting our women?”


“You don’t smoke?”


He then said, “See, THAT’S what I’m talking about…Muslim!

They could see the signature of Malcolm on me even though - at that time - I didn’t know much about the particulars of Islam. However, I had been listening to Malcolm’s lectures. Malcolm said, “A husband means you take care of your wife. But everyone can’t take care of a woman. Anyone can make a baby. But a father takes care of that baby.”

I learned from Malcolm in a profound and persuasive way. My spiritual father is El Hajj Malik Shabazz

Many years later while serving as Muslim Chaplain at Howard. One of the daughters of Malcolm (Malikah) was a student at Howard. She called me and told me that a man was stalking her and that this man said in a message that he is “after her” and that he can “see her where ever she is”.

So I told her we have something working on two levels: One is at the human level and the other at the level of Shaytan (Satan). First part is that the Prophet advised us to read three suras to avoid the Shaytan. The second is that if you see him following you, then go into a lighted area and call me and I will call for some men to intervene. I then told her that because of our love for your father, I know that many men would be willing to die because of what your fahter has done for us…

I wanted to share these short reflections on Malcolm as well as this video of Imam Zaid and others visiting Malcolms grave with a group of other Muslims

original source

"they killed him"

From Tariq Nelson's blog: "They Killed Him"

43 years ago, on February 21, 1965, Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X) was assassinated

Malcolm shortly before he was killed

Ossie Davis’ eulogy

andre carson for congress

Andre Carson for Congress Webpage

Muslim running for Congress wants to combat ignorance about his faith

Associated Press - February 15, 2008 6:04 AM ET

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Democratic Congressional candidate Andre Carson could become the second Muslim elected to Congress and a role model for a faith community seeking to make its mark in national politics.

Carson is the Democratic nominee in a March 11th special election to succeed his late grandmother, Julia Carson, representing Indiana's 7th District.

If Carson wins, he would join Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison as the only Muslims elected to Congress.

The 33-year-old Carson says he doesn't believe his religious identity hurts him politically.

Carson says his faith doesn't drive his stands on issues, other than instilling the values that have shaped his life and led him to public service.

He converted to Islam more than a decade ago and attends prayers at a predominantly African-American Sunni mosque in Indianapolis.

Third Resurrection and Keith Ellison

mos def, cornel west and the new world order

de-arabization of islam

Over at Alt.Muslim, Fatemeh Fakhraie recently published an article The Arabization of Islam which cautions Muslims against simplistically equating Arab culture with Islamic authenticity. A similar point was made more thoroughly in Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah's Islam and the Cultural Imperative. More generally, I'd like to think that in some way many of the posts here on Planet Grenada are full of examples of how one can push the cultural limits of being Muslim. I would argue that it is vitally important for the ummah to "de-arabize" Islam in order to maintain Islam's universality. Otherwise, we might be left with alternatives like the Salafi Imam mentioned over at Abdur Rahman Muhammad’s Weblog who preaches Arabs are the master race?!?!?

muslim convert seeks a seat in congress

Washington Times: Islam convert seeks a seat in Congress

By Ken Kusmer
February 16, 2008

NDIANAPOLIS -- A convert to Islam stands an election victory away from becoming the second Muslim elected to Congress and a role model for a faith community seeking to make its mark in national politics.

Political newcomer Andre Carson is the Democratic nominee in a March 11 special election to succeed his late grandmother, Julia Carson, representing Indiana's 7th District. She died in December of lung cancer, and her grandson is seeking to fill out the rest of her sixth term, which expires at year's end.

If Andre Carson wins the Democratic-leaning Indianapolis district over a freshman Republican lawmaker and a longshot Libertarian candidate, he would join Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota Democrat, as the only Muslims elected to Congress.

Mr. Carson, 33, said he doesn't believe his religious identity hurts him politically even while American Muslims struggle to gain acceptance. Polling last summer by the Pew Research Center and Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found 29 percent of Americans held unfavorable views of Muslim Americans, a higher percentage than shortly after September 11, 2001.

"I think it's more of an advantage," Mr. Carson said. "It's a platform to address ignorance. It's a platform to really show that this campaign is about inclusion of all races and religions."

However, Mr. Carson said his faith doesn't drive his stands on issues, other than instilling the values that have shaped his life and led him to public service. He said his decision-making is based on his constituents' needs.

"For me, the religion piece, it informs me. You need to respect people" regardless of their race, religion or gender, said Mr. Carson, who is black. "That is the foundation I go by."

Mr. Carson's grandmother raised him in a Baptist church and enrolled him at an inner-city Catholic school, where he entertained the idea of becoming a priest. As he grew older, he became interested in Islam, reading the poetry of the Sufi mystic Rumi and "The Autobiography of Malcolm X."

He converted to Islam more than a decade ago and began attending prayers at Nur-Allah Islamic Center, a predominantly African-American Sunni mosque.

"For me, what appealed to me about Islam was the universal aspect of Islam," he said. "All faiths teach universality. But with Islam, I saw it regularly in the [mosques], the praying, the different races."

After Julia Carson died Dec. 15, Louis Farrakhan delivered a eulogy at her funeral, leading some local political bloggers to question Andre Carson's ties to the controversial Nation of Islam leader.

He said the ties barely exist: His mosque is not affiliated with the Nation of Islam. He said he approves of some of the group's work, including fighting drug use in Indianapolis.

Unlike many U.S. Muslims, Mr. Carson said his faith rarely has become an issue for others in his civic life or law enforcement career that included a stint with an anti-terrorism unit of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

Mr. Carson and Mr. Ellison spoke by telephone recently, and the Minnesota congressman who took office 13 months ago said he advised Mr. Carson to emphasize broad concerns such as the economy, the war in Iraq and global warming.

"These things don't have any particular religion or color or race," Mr. Ellison said.

Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council, said both men built their political base by gaining the confidence of Democratic leaders, not by running on their religion.

However, he said they need to demonstrate their faith to Muslim youth and show that civic engagement among Muslims is healthy.

"It counters any sense of isolation or alienation," Mr. Al-Marayati said.

Corey Saylor, legislative director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Mr. Ellison's 2006 election marked a breakthrough for U.S. Muslims seeking national office.

"Post-9/11, there was a sense in the community that it would be hard for a Muslim to get elected," Mr. Saylor said.

He predicted immigrant Muslims will join black Americans like Mr. Ellison and Mr. Carson on the national political scene. Sons and daughters of Muslims who arrived in the United States from Asia and Africa are energized politically and working on campaigns, he said.

"We see people starting to build up the civic resume that will get them elected to public office," Mr. Saylor said. "Give them five or 10 years."

Even if Mr. Carson wins the special election next month and serves the remainder of his grandmother's term, he almost immediately will face a challenge to hold the seat. The May 6 Democratic primary for the seat's next full term has attracted several candidates.

more from zaid shakir

Imam Zaid Shakir, the orthodox Muslim leader who is often called the "new" Malcolm X has some rather timely articles which came out recently on the New Islamic Directions website.

In Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Barack Obama, and the Fate of America Zaid Shakir reflects on a theme which has frequently appeared here on Planet Grenada; the idea that especially towards the end of his life Martin Luther King Jr. was a much more radical critic of American society and government then is suggested by his sanitized publically-approved image. Imam Zaid goes on to suggest that even today, America is not yet ready to tolerate the "real" King's message, and certainly would not elect him president were he alive today.

Herein lays Dr. King’s legacy, an uncompromising struggle against the “giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism.” That aspect of his work and teachings is unmentioned in the mainstream media. Instead his baritone refraining of “I have a dream” fills the airwaves. After his death, the struggle against those evil “triplets” was not allowed to exist as his enduring legacy. Instead, that legacy has been whitewashed, sanitized and rendered “acceptable” for white middle class sensitivities.

What does all of this have to do with Obama? Obama is a viable African American candidate because he has steadfastly refused to deal with the issues Dr. King was dealing with at the end of his life, even though they are just as relevant today as they were forty years ago. That refusal has seen him distance himself from his activist pastor, Minister Jeremiah Wright. It has seen him avoid any public identification with Rev. Jesse Jackson, a fellow Chicagoan, or similar leaders who are identified with African American civil rights advocacy, and it has seen him ignore issues of relevance to African Americans and the urban and rural poor today.

That he has taken such positions is not an indictment against Obama. It is an indictment against American society which has deemed that an open advocate for such issues is unfit to lead this nation.

In his second article Reflections on Black History Month Zaid Shakir looks at the current situation of Muslims in the United States and suggests that American Muslims (especially African-American Muslims) rather than looking towards violent Third World liberation struggles should look back to the example of enslaved African Muslims in the Americas as role models in the struggles.

The question for us is, “How can we best address the oppressive mechanisms facing us, and those facing our co-religionists in so many redoubts scattered around the globe?” In answering this question, we can gain valuable insight from the lives and struggles of our African Muslim forebears. Superior erudition was the key to the liberation of Job Ben Solomon. Herein is a sign for us. As American Muslims we have been blessed to reside in the most intellectually dynamic society in history. Also, the primal command in our religion is to read. We should enthusiastically pursue the mandate created by these twin facts and push ourselves to become the most educated community on Earth –in religious and worldly knowledge. In so doing, the miracles which were so clearly manifested in the life of Job Ben Solomon will surely bless our lives.

elsewhere in the blogosphere

The following a blatantly stolen from Kameelahwrites' Black American Muslim Round-Up:

Why are you boycotting ISNA? (Jamerican Muslimah)
Several people have emailed me privately to ask me why I’m boycotting the annual ISNA convention. Before I give you my reasons let me start off by saying the word “boycott” sounds a little strong. Yet when I think about my reasons for not attending anymore they’re beyond simply being “tired of it.” My reasons are pointed and purposeful. They’re both political and personal. Shall we begin?...

The Condition of a Thinking Muslim< (Just Another Angry Black Muslim Woman?)
I personally don’t think that the solution this condition is in building more community centers or some initiative. Rather, I think it is in individuals. What people desire is fellowship and companionship. And that is developed over time as we create ethical friendships of mutual exchanges and trust. I think it is important for our spiritual and religious leaders to teach us to be better companions and friends. We can foster a sense of fellowship and through that, have actual communities that address the spritiual need to be connected, as opposed to being purely based on political and social interests....

islam and dreadlocks

I recently found an interesting blog called Islamically locked. which reminded me of how way back in the day, around the time I first became Muslim, I toyed with the idea of growing dreadlocks. At the time I thought that dreadlocks were "cool" but questionable for a couple of reasons:

1. Firstly (and this is probably the most nitpicky argument) If you go all out and take some version of the Nazrite vow, you would have to break it when you went on Hajj.

2. Even without dreads, when I would go out at night, random people would occasionally ask me for weed. (although I should probably add that I would sometimes wear a big poofy red, black, yellow and green "rasta" hat). In any case, I thought that if I went further and actually had dreads, the requests probably would have gotten ridiculous.

3. In Islam, there is a basic principle of not imitating the practices of non-Muslims and dreadlocks are pretty distinvely associated with Rastafarianism.

4. Dreads make it harder to do the ablutions for prayer (salat).

5. Dreads make it harder to wear a normal-sized kufi.

On the other hand, (to address 3) there are some indications that the prophet (saaws) may have had his hair in some sort of braid. And memebrs of the Baye Fall Sufi order are known to wear dreads. While the other considerations don't necessarily mean one shouldn't grow dreads, just that they come with certain burdens which one must be willing to accept if you want to grow them. (e.g. grow dreads but trim them after hajj, get a bigger kufi, take the extra effort to wash them, etc.)

I you really want to reflect more on the subject, I would suggest that you check out the above blog.

muslims and obama

After coming back from a shaykh-imposed blogging break, Ali Eteraz shares some of his thoughts on Obama and American-Muslims and Why Muslims shouldn't Support Ron Paul.

should muslims use the n word

Recently IslamCrunch announced a community forum in Oakland, CA with the unfortunate title Should Muslims use the N word? My hope is that whoever named the forum was simply trying to stir up attendance and was not imagining that the affirmative position should be seriously considered.

radicalism is the realization of marginalization

“Radicalism is the realization of marginalization” is a new interview between Imam Zaid Shakir and Wajahat Ali at the alt.muslim website. The conversation touches on the invasion of Panama, the Darfur crisis, Obama's candidacy and U.S politics, the need for a revolution of values, the clash of civilizations, color prejudice within the Muslim community and the invasion of (the island nation of) Grenada.

Friday, February 01, 2008

islam and sufism in west africa

From Saifuddin: Islam and Sufism in West Africa

Saifuddin and a fellow Fulani from Senegal.

The world of Islam in West Africa has such a rich and interconnected relationship with the people and their culture that it is hard to imagine that there was ever a time Islam was not present. In fact it is hard to imagine Islam without also thinking of the distinctive characteristics of West African Islam. One of the reasons that Islam is so close to the hearts of West African people is because of Sufism. Sufism is a branch of Islamic Knowledge which concentrates on direct experience and the spiritual development of a Muslim. It is this area of knowledge that provides the social framework for Muslim communities in West Africa. This social framework can be seen in the Muslim communities from Senegal to Nigeria. According to Khadim Mbacke, author of Sufism and Religious Brotherhoods in Senegal, Sufi brotherhoods first appeared in West Africa during the 15th Century (although there are much earlier accounts). He explains that there was a natural and necessary acceptance of the Islamic Science called Sufism, which was essential to maintaining a straight path of religious purity.

Mbacke also says that Sufi associations provided a support system for Muslims to seek guidance and religious teaching. The two components which make up this essential support for the straight path are the shaykhs (”masters”) and the murids (”disciples”). The role of the shaykh is like that of a teacher however playing a much more extensive role in the a disciples life. Shaykhs advise the murids on all matters of life and have very specific obligations that they are to uphold to lead their murids in religious and private affairs. The murid likewise has responsibilities to his shaykh which includes a code of conduct. That code of conduct is typically patterned after those Believers who were closest to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (alayhi salatu wa sallim), in the way of the traditions that have been passed down from that time.

The largest groups of Sufi associations in West Africa are the Qadiri, the Tijani, the Mouride and Sammaniyya a branch of the Halveti Order. These orders were traditionally the leading resistance to social corruption, colonial rule and tyranny, such as the case with the Sanusi Sufi Order founded by Muhammad ibn Ali al-Sanusi and the Sammaniya, who led a revolt against Egyptian and British colonial rule in the Sudan.

Historically Sufism in West Africa has also played a significant role in the lives of women and women’s education. For example Nana Asma’u, a Fulani woman and daughter of well known Qadiri Shaykh, Uthman dan Fodio (who was also an initiate into the Naqshbandi Order), was an Islamic scholar of her own right. Asma’u was familiar with al-Ghazali’s treatise on the Duties of Brotherhood, a classic work of the highest degree. This treatise advises the devout Muslim on eight specific obligations toward his or her community members: material assistance, personal aid, holding one’s tongue, speaking out, forgiveness, prayer, loyalty and sincerity and affording relief from discomfort and inconvenience. And there were examples of the Sunnah of Muhammad (alayhi salatu wa sallim) to support these elements of society. Asma’u and her students promoted these principles in their own community speaking on the roles of women in society. By teaching women, Asma’u was by extension training whole families in orthodox Sufi practices that focused on following the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Lately, I have noticed a growing buzz of disappointment in the present status of Islam in African-American communities. African-American Muslims like Tariq Nelson and Marc Manley have expressed their disappointment on a number of important issues. And others are channeling their energies into developing a specific and unique American-Muslim identity. I would like to contrast all of these efforts by suggesting that establishing an authentic chain of transmission for Islamic knowledge and guidance is traditionally the means of success in religious reformation. Therefore, there needs to be an acceptance of authority. And a final question needs to be answered,

“From where are we getting our Islam?”

In conclusion, it should be noted that the element of Islamic knowledge which once allowed the West African communities to thrive is now nearly devoid from the Islam of their American-born descendants here in the United States. Perhaps this is partly because African-Americans are not taking their Islam from their own historical traditions but instead, the development of Islam in African-American communities is a milieu of pseudo-Islamic organizations, such as the Nation of Islam; the Moorish Science Temple of America; the Five Percent Nation, as well as course-work on Islam and the Middle East through American Universities and imported religious education through Saudi funding. Now that African-American Muslim community leaders are gathering (see MANA Conference) perhaps someone will raise this issue of authority and tradition and maybe find an answer in the near future, inshaAllah.