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Coming of Age Traditions

  In many religions and cultures, children go through an important rite of passage to mark their transition from child to adult. In Christianity, Roman Catholics have Confirmation; Jews have a Bar Mitzvah (for boys) and a Bat Mitzvah (for girls), celebrated at ages 13 and 12 respectively. Latino girls celebrate Quinceanera, the Japanese recognize young adults at the age of 20 during a ceremony called Seijin Shiki… the list goes on and on.

 

  Now: What about Islam? Islamically, we become baaligh – mature – when we attain the age of puberty, which is determined by the appearance of one of many signs (menstruation for girls, wet dreams and pubic hair for both genders; lacking any of those, age 15).

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  It’s a momentous time, this time in which we are now formally (and legally, Shari’ah-wise) adults. Our eyes are opened to the adult world, and we have many new responsibilities and duties, and so much to learn!

 

  The topic of this post, however, is not to go into the specifics of puberty, but to focus on another aspect of it – traditions associated with “coming of age,” and whether there are such traditions existent amongst Muslims today.

 

  As far as I know, there is nothing special in Islamic Law, from the Qur’an and Sunnah, that is done to mark the occasion of a youth’s emergence into the adult world. As for Muslim cultures, there seems to be a similar lack of emphasis when a child crosses over to the threshold of adulthood – it tends to be a very quiet, private affair (which is understandable, really, considering the rather sensitive nature of how we “come of age”). A quick Google search rendered only one specific result, on coming of age in Malaysia, although it seems to be what’s most common amongst Muslims.

 

  When I “came of age,” it wasn’t a really big thing for me. It happened, I knew that now I was held accountable in the Sight of Allah, and that was that. I didn’t feel anything different, I didn’t even think much about it – in fact, I felt as much a child that day, and the days after it, as I was before it.

 

  It seems that was also the case with many others – it happened, and while there were often misunderstandings and misconceptions in regards to the issue, there never seemed to be any major “excitement” involved. Mostly it tended to be the cause of a great deal of confusion, misunderstanding, misconceptions, and general ignorance (as mentioned in Amad’s post here).

 

  So what I was thinking was – is it possible for us to create some sort of coming of age tradition for the future generations of Muslims to come? Is there any way we can make this a special moment, a momentous occasion, something that will both welcome and introduce a whole new generation of young adults? Can we even do that, or would it be counted as a bid’ah, as imitating the kuffaar?

 

  Please note that I am not, in an way, shape or form implying that Islam is lacking or incomplete and that we need to introduce something into it; rather, I’m exploring how we handle this important aspect of life, and how we could perhaps change our current trend of general silence or awkward abruptness into something more comfortable and open.

 

  I personally think that it could be something great. It ties into what we discussed about puberty/ sex education with our youth, and furthermore, it has the potential to change it from being a taboo subject and rather be a very frank, yet special, introduction to the ways of the world and the circle of life.

 

  As well, it might prove to be something that will impress upon us youth the magnitude of what has happened to them, this new phase of life that they have entered. I know girls who, though they’ve had “The Talk” already, don’t take it seriously (and if my brothers are an example of the general attitude amongst guys of the same age group, the same goes for boys). To me, coming of age is a serious thing, something that we should be forced to stop, take note of, and think deeply about. As with everything else in Islam, the Islamic stance on this issue encompasses different aspects of our life – physical, mental, and spiritual.

 

As Tariq Nelson often notes, there is a slow but sure emergence of an American (Western?)-Muslim culture as a new generation of young Muslims grows up here, distinct from the “back-home” Muslim culture of the first few generations of immigrants. Perhaps there already exist certain coming-of-age rituals (no doubt different from family to family) – and if not, then maybe constructing our own tradition would help with the confusion that surrounds those of us figuring out a way to comprehensively education the youth on the whole subject of growing up.

 

I suppose another question to think about is whether it’s even necessary to have a coming-of-age tradition in the first place – would a comprehensive continuing education be all we need to introduce our youth to the responsibilities, duties, and privileges (such as they are!) of adulthood; rendering any ‘need’ (I’m not sure what word to use in its place, though I’m aware that need isn’t the right word here) for a special tradition totally obsolete and pointless?

I’m of two minds about it, really – the former is/ was my experience, yet I wonder if establishing some sort of tradition might not make the job easier for parents and help the youth also.

 

Here’s a parting question for parents – if your child has “come of age,” how did you deal with it? Did you make it something “special,” or was it more hushed-up, a “between me, you, and Allah” sort of thing?

 

Related Posts:

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Zainab bint Younus is a Canadian Muslim woman who writes on Muslim women's issues, gender related injustice in the Muslim community, and Muslim women in Islamic history. She holds a diploma in Islamic Studies from Arees University, a diploma in History of Female Scholarship from Cambridge Islamic College, and has spent the last fifteen years involved in grassroots da'wah. She was also an original founder of MuslimMatters.org.

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Avatar

    MR

    August 15, 2007 at 9:46 AM

    You forgot to add “Sweet 16”.

    Anyways, for Muslims, I’d say our “coming of age event” would be the Nikkah/Walima.

  2. Avatar

    ahmed

    August 15, 2007 at 12:16 PM

    Getting a driver’s license.

    Now the teenager’s in charge of a multi-thousand pound vehicle, and is responsible for grocery shopping and running errands.

    :)

    • Avatar

      supermed

      January 17, 2016 at 5:40 AM

      thats a good one for the saudi government

  3. Avatar

    Ibn Ajibah

    August 15, 2007 at 1:13 PM

    Wasn’t there some kind of ‘coming of age’ ceremony mentioned in Alex Haley’s Roots? Those people were/are Muslims. Although, judging from what it entailed (circumcision after puberty), it probably wouldn’t be a huge success here. On the other hand, in the book, it mentions ”manhood training” which included, wrestling, hunting etc.

  4. Amad

    Amad

    August 15, 2007 at 1:14 PM

    MR, great idea…. throw the newly minted adult right into the fray of marriage… that will ensure that there is no adolescence nonsense! Of course, parents would have to deal with 2 crazy teens… not just one!

    Seriously though I am not sure if there is a need of such a tradition. Though I can see some of the benefits and the creation of something to break the ice between parents/children IF that is not already done a long time ago.

  5. Avatar

    SrAnonymous

    August 15, 2007 at 2:18 PM

    Events needn’t be ceremonious, just like getting a licence or your child’s first day of school. However I’ve seen other ways in which coming of age makes its mark at my children’s Islamic school. The girls who are not praying all get a sense of camaraderie as yet another joins their flock.
    For parents it’s a tricky time as their “child” is now accountable and yet they don’t want to keep on at their child,” you have to pray now…it’s fard” “you have to dress like this all the time now..” “nag, nag, nag”
    It’s a time of transition that no matter how hard we had tried to get them used to salah, hijab etc, this age *gulp* is the real deal.
    And that’s just what’s happening on the outside.

  6. Avatar

    Ummaziza

    August 15, 2007 at 4:11 PM

    My vote is to keep it between parents and the child without any outside recognition.

    Reason 1 – The problem with the children of Adam (as) is that when cultural or non-religious things are added amongst the people, future generations often start to include them as part of or believe that they are a part of acts of worship.

    Reason 2: I personally appreciate the beauty in the quiet “unrecognized” transition that our children enjoy. In fact, if we reflect on it, everything about our lives as muslims is un-ceremonial (by contrast to the nations before us (some of which were mentioned at the beginning of the post)). In the strictest Islamic sense, our marriages, births, funerals, holidays are all incredibly simple, though people consistently try to blow them out of proportion and lose the focus of the real purpose at hand. If we follow the example of the Prophet (sws) simple and unceremonial (but consistent in duty and sincerity) is best.

    Reason 3: In this Western society especially, where everything is about the outside “show” of things, and very little focus on the essence of matters and one’s personal responsibility toward them, we should really fight the urge to make a big deal of things.

    Reason 4: We should train our children (and ourselves) to focus on what their responsibilities are when they come of age (i.e. salat, increased household obligations, training for future role as parents and spouses) and not on the fact that they have lived a certain number of years.

    Reason 5: We are the best nation, if we follow this complete way of life as we should – what we have is perfect.

    Wallahu ‘alim.

  7. Avatar

    Faiez

    August 15, 2007 at 4:16 PM

    “how we could perhaps change our current trend of general silence or awkward abruptness into something more comfortable and open.”

    I would say, the solution to not being comfortable and open would be to start being comfortable and open. Making a tradition will probably seem like a good idea now, but down the years it’ll just be something “corny” to young kids who won’t take it seriously.

    Just start treating the kids like adults and they’ll start acting like it. If you want to teach some responsibility, give them responsibility.

  8. Avatar

    luz dedios

    January 1, 2009 at 12:20 PM

    AS
    I think if you are a hispanic muslim family, a quinceañera would be fine if tailored. For example. The girl could have a small gathering of friends, wearing her most beautiful dress for the day and celebrate. I mean face it, for sisters, the best time we have is looking forward to a sisters only gathering where we can dress up and take off hijab, wear make up and be girly girls and party. In addition, the girl could begin w/recitation of qur’an to show how serious she has been studying quran. like a reward for her memorizing a certain amount. Then party to celebrate becoming 15. This would help the girls b/c in our society most of our youth are bombarded w/peer pressure this would be there time to shine. Ok so what if they aren’t hispanic, then they could celebrate something similar, say a sweet sixteen or terrific 12 or 13. I know my children have attended bar mitzvahs and never requested anything like it but I appreciated the meaning behind the ceremony. My girls look forward to a quiñceanera b/c of their hispanic roots. They proudly recognize they are muslim first but appreciate their ethnicity as well. As for as bidah, we can take from a culture that which is not shirk/haram. I’m not advocating for muslims to start a tradition but if it is part of their culture then why not continue it as long as it is islamic.

  9. Avatar

    Younes

    April 10, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    I have just become 14. Im wondering when i will be coming of age?

  10. Avatar

    nobody

    November 11, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    ugh! ! why more hair and responsibilities?! ?! ?! no!

    • Avatar

      ben arfa

      November 17, 2013 at 5:36 AM

      stop being dirty

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  13. Avatar

    Salam

    February 16, 2018 at 3:53 AM

    I think a small gift to both boy/girl is nice. Islam encourages gift giving.

    And just having one on one time with your child explaining the obligations and celebrating with words. I mean all these years they just imititate you and talk so much if growing up.

    You can say
    You will be with us for sahoor
    Praying salah on special prayer mat
    Being more like baba/mama in avoiding certain situations like non mahram etc

    Simple yet special

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#Current Affairs

Oped: The Treachery Of Spreading Bosnia Genocide Denial In The Muslim Community

The expanding train of the Srebrenica genocide deniers includes the Nobel laureate Peter Handke, an academic Noam Chomsky, the Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, as well as almost all Serbian politicians in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. One name in this group weirdly stands out: “Sheikh” Imran Hosein. A traditionally trained Muslim cleric from Trinidad and Tobago, Hosein has carved his niche mostly with highly speculative interpretations of Islamic apocalyptic texts. He has a global following with more than 200 hundred thousand subscribers to his YouTube channel, and his videos are viewed by hundreds of thousands. He has written tens of books in English, some of which had been translated into major world languages. His denial of the Srebrenica genocide may seem outlandish, coming from a Muslim scholar, but a close inspection of his works reveals ideas that are as disturbing as they are misleading.

Much of Hosain’s output centers around interpreting the apocalyptic texts from the Qur’an and Sunnah on the “end of times” (akhir al-zaman). As in other major religious traditions, these texts are highly allegorical in nature and nobody can claim with certainty their true meaning – nobody, except Imran Hosein. He habitually dismisses those who disagree with his unwarranted conclusions by accusing them of not thinking properly. A Scottish Muslim scholar, Dr. Sohaib Saeed, also wrote about this tendency.

In his interpretations, the Dajjal (“anti-Christ”) is American-Zionist alliance (the West or the NATO), the Ottomans were oppressors of the Orthodox Christians who are, in turn, rightfully hating Islam and Muslims, Sultan Mehmed Fatih was acting on “satanic design” when he conquered Constantinople, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were a false flag operation carried out by the Mossad and its allies, and – yes! – the genocide did not take place in Srebrenica. Such conspiratorial thinking is clearly wrong but is particularly dangerous when dressed in the garb of religious certainty. 

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Hosain frequently presents his opinions as the “Islamic” view of things. His methodology consists of mixing widely accepted Muslim beliefs with his own stretched interpretations. The wider audience may not be as well versed in Islamic logic of interpretation so they may not be able to distinguish between legitimate Muslim beliefs and Hosain’s own warped imagination. In one of his fantastic interpretations, which has much in common with the Christian apocalypticism, the Great War that is nuclear in nature is coming and the Muslims need to align with Russia against the American-Zionist alliance. He sees the struggle in Syria as part of a wider apocalyptic unfolding in which Assad and Putin are playing a positive role. He stretches the Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings to read into them fanciful and extravagant interpretations that are not supported by any established Islamic authority.

Hosain does not deny that a terrible massacre happened in Srebrenica. He, however, denies it was a genocide, contradicting thus numerous legal verdicts by international courts and tribunals. Established by the United Nations’ Security Council, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) delivered a verdict of genocide in 2001 in the case of the Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstić. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague confirmed, in 2007, that genocide took place in Srebrenica. In 2010, two more Bosnian Serb officers were found guilty of committing genocide in Bosnia. The butcher of Srebrenica, Ratko Mladić, was found guilty of genocide in 2017.

In spite of this, and displaying his ignorance on nature and definition of genocide, Hosain stated in an interview with the Serbian media, “Srebrenica was not a genocide. That would mean the whole Serbian people wanted to destroy the whole Muslim people. That never happened.” In a meandering and offensive video “message to Bosnian Muslims” in which he frequently digressed to talking about the end of times, Hosain explained that Srebrenica was not a genocide and that Muslims of Bosnia needed to form an alliance with the Orthodox Serbs. He is oblivious to the fact that the problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the former Yugoslavia stem not from the Bosniaks’ purported unwillingness to form an alliance with the Serbs, but from the aggressive Greater Serbia ideology which had caused misery and destruction in Bosnia, Slovenia, Croatia, and Kosovo. 

Hosein’s views are, of course, welcome in Serbia and in Republika Srpska (Serb-dominated entity within Bosnia), where almost all politicians habitually deny that genocide took place in Srebrenica. He had been interviewed multiple times on Serbian television, where he spewed his views of the Ottoman occupation and crimes against the Serbs, the need to form an alliance between Muslims and Russia, and that Srebrenica was not a genocide. His website contains only one entry on Srebrenica: a long “exposé” that claims no genocide took place in Srebrenica. Authored by two Serbs, Stefan Karganović and Aleksandar Pavić, the special report is a hodge-podge of conspiracy theories, anti-globalization and anti-West views. Karganović, who received more than a million dollars over a six year period from the government of the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska for lobbying efforts in Washington, was recently convicted by the Basic Court in Banja Luka on tax evasion and defamation. The Court issued a warrant for Karganović’s arrest but he is still on the loose. 

True conspirators of the Srebrenica killings, according to Hosain, are not the Serbian political and military leaders, and soldiers who executed Srebrenica’s Muslims. The conspirators are unnamed but it does not take much to understand that he believes that the massacres were ultimately orchestrated by the West, CIA, and NATO. Hosain even stated on the Serbian TV that if people who knew the truth were to come forward they would be executed to hide what really happened. Such opinions are bound to add to an already unbearable pain that many survivors of the Srebrenica genocide are experiencing. It is even more painful when Bosniak victims – who were killed because they were Muslims – are being belittled by an “Islamic” scholar who seems to be more interested in giving comfort to those who actually perpetrated the heinous crime of genocide than in recognizing the victims’ pain. These views are, of course, welcome in Serbia, Russia, and Greece.

It is not difficult to see why Hosain’s views would be popular in today’s day and age where misinformation and fake news are propagated even by the world leaders who should know better. A conspiratorial mindset, mistrust of established facts, undermining of international institutions – these are all hallmarks of the post-truth age. In another time, Imran Hosain would be easily exposed for what he truly is: a charlatan who claims religious expertise. Today, however, his opinions are amplified by social media and by the people who already question science and established facts. For these reasons, he needs to be unmasked to safeguard the very religious foundations which he claims to uphold but ultimately undermines. 

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#Life

A Festival Amidst a Pandemic: How to Give Your Kids an Eid ul-Adha to Remember

Eid ul-Adha is less than 3 weeks away!  This year, more than ever, we want to welcome Eid ul-Adha with a full heart and spirit, insha’Allah, despite the circumstances we are in with the global pandemic.

If you follow me on social media, you probably know that my husband and I host an open house brunch for Eid ul-Adha, welcoming over 125 guests into our home. It’s a party our Muslim and non-Muslim neighbors, friends, and family look forward to being invited to each year. It’s a time to come together as a community, share heart-felt conversations, have laughs, chow down lots of delicious food, and exchange gifts. Kids participate in fun crafts, decorate cookies, and receive eidi. The reality is that we cannot keep up with the tradition this year.

Despite social distancing, we have decided that we will continue to lift our spirits and switch our summer décor to Eid décor, and make it the best Eid for our family and our child. We want to instill the love of Islam in my daughter and make the Islamic festivals a real part of her life. We want to create warm Eid memories, and COVID-19 isn’t going to stop us from doing that. I really hope you plan to do the same.

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Here are 4 ideas to inspire you to bring that festive spirit alive for your family this Eid ul-Adha:

Hajj and Eid ul-Adha themed activities and crafts

There are so many activities to keep the little ones engaged, but having a plan for Eid-ul-Adha with some key activities that your child will enjoy, makes the task so much easier.

Kids love stories, and for us parents this is a great way to get a point across. Read to them about hajj in an age appropriate way. If you don’t have Hajj and Eid-ul-Adha related books, you can get started with this Hajj book list. Read together about the significance and the Islamic traditions of hajj, and the story of how zamzam was discovered. While you teach them the story of the divine sacrifice of Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), ask relatable questions. As a lesson from the story, give your child examples of how they can sacrifice their anger, bad behavior, etc. during this season of sacrifice for the sake of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Ask your children how they would feel if they had to give away their favorite toys, so that they can comprehend the feeling.

Counting down the 10 days of Dhul Hijjah to Eid ul-Adha is another fun activity to encourage kids to do a good deed every day. Have different fun and education activities planned for these 10 days.

Family memories are made through baking together. In our household, Eid cannot pass without baking cookies together and sharing with friends and family. Bake and decorate Eid ul-Adha themed cookies in the shape of a masjid, camel, or even lamb, and share with the neighbors one day, and color in Islamic wooden crafts the next. This DIY Ka’bah craft is a must for us to make every year while learning about the Ka’bah, and it’s an easy craft you can try with your family. Have the kids save their change in this cute masjid money box that they can donate on the day of Eid.

Decorate the main family areas

We are all going to be missing visiting friends and relatives for Eid breakfast, lunch, and dinner this year, so why not jazz things up a bit more at home than usual?

Start decorating the areas of your home that you frequently occupy.  Brighten up the living area, and/or main hallway with a variety of star and masjid-shaped lights, festive lanterns, and Eid garlands, to emphasize that Eid has indeed arrived. Perhaps, decorate a tent while you tell your children about the tent city of Mina.

Prep the dining room as if you are having Guests Over

Set up the breakfast table as if you are having family and friends over for Eid breakfast.

These times will be the special moments you spend together eating as a family. Now, with all hands on deck, plan to get everyone involved to make it a full-on affair. What specific tasks can the little ones take on to feel included as part of the Eid prep and get excited?

While the Eid table set-up itself can be simple, the moments spent around the table sharing in new traditions and engaging in prayer will insha’Allah be even more meaningful and memorable.

 An afternoon picnic

Family picnics are a perfect way for family members to relax and connect. If Texas weather permits, we may take advantage of a cool sunny day with a picnic at a nearby, shady park. With the heat wave we are experiencing, it may either not happen or will be an impromptu one.

Out of all the picnics, it’s the impromptu family meals on the lawn or at a park that I love the most. The ones where we grab an old quilt, basket, light meals, fresh fruits and venture out into the backyard or a nearby park. It’ll be a perfect socially distanced Eid picnic.

Eid ul-Adha comes around just once a year, so let’s strive to make the best of it for our children, even amidst this global pandemic.

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#Society

The Problem With “When They Go Low, We Go High” In An Anti-Black Society

In 2016, First Lady Michelle Obama’s quote, ‘When they go low, we go high’, was first invoked in response to growing anti-black and racist sentiments hurled by the current president and his supporters. Like many others, I believed it was stirring and motivational, yet never felt right in my heart, let alone mind. Going high, but what was the starting point? How are we defining the actions of the ‘they’ or ‘them’? What is the breaking point, when engagement with the ‘they’ becomes problematic and leads to your destruction? Are there rules to this engagement? What game are we playing? Who gets to be the judge or referee? So, the quote and the sentiment never really set right in my heart and led to more questions than answers.

The first assumption of the quote, ‘they’  have a moral compass and actively engaging you in this manner, placing you on the same level. The reality, whiteness in America seeks to maintain its power and control. White slaveholders and the system of hate they used to justify those they enslaved, built a model of power and control, which is the foundation of our current economy and societal structure. This institutionalized whiteness is so ingrained in our culture we are blind to its implications and oblivious to how we each play a role in maintaining this system. Ignorance of the historical development of this country and the narrative of being ‘American’ allows for ‘them’ to maintain their control and a passive acceptance of ‘their’ control and power.

The ‘they’ is often not embodied in a singular person or one group, but a collective body of thoughts and behavior; perpetuating fundamental beliefs or maintaining a perceived status quo. It is individual, institutional, and structural. While social media is full of single racially- charged incidents, when viewed as a whole, they are rooted in long-held beliefs and perceptions of white superiority and disdain for Black presence in their daily lives. Guilt, maybe. Fear. Many are not even aware of how and why they ‘hate’ Black people they simply, do. Here is where we will begin, if you cannot soundly identify or recognize why you hold a particular belief or idea, your actions can never firmly centered in a morally or ethically position. Many of the recent encounters reveal whiteness is predicated on lies; and the belief that white words are superior to truth. The interaction between a San Francisco couple, confronting a Black Man. provides a case study in how we are often engaged and the surveillance of our presence. Threats to call the police, with false information was of no significance to them in their minds, they were right and justified. This incident and the modern-day lynchings of Black persons, allows us to understand ‘they’ or morally bankrupt and will do whatever is necessary to maintain their perceived control.

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A quote by Matshona Dhilwayo bridges the gap between the contradictions in my heart and the understanding my mind seeks,

“It is possible to turn the other cheek when one has stopped counting.”

For generations, Black Americans have taken the ‘higher’ road in response to prejudice and discrimination. At times I believe, we have stopped counting because we knew few changes were coming or justice. During the pinnacle of the civil rights movement during the 60’s the emergence of Malcolm X, challenged the idea of ‘turning the cheek’ when faced with violent acts perpetrated upon Blacks by Whites. The slaps, the senseless murders of Black people on the streets, you count and recognize your enemy for who and what they represent.

In confronting our enemy, we must meet them on their home field of engagement. Millions have taken to the streets across the globe, no longer willing to accept the status quo and suffer needlessly at the hands of those who seek to negate our very existence. As a country, we must understand, this was NEVER a fair fight, on an equal field of battle, or with ample weapons. Nothing about the ‘American’ way of life ever guaranteed any of us a fair shot or equality.

You can not get justice from a system founded by people who in the 1700s published books on how to address the ‘negro problem’. Even Thomas Jefferson knew this day was coming, but in the end, he still held firmly to the belief we were an inferior race who could be easily controlled and manipulated.

Did the enemy play fair when Dr. King was trying to catch a moment of calm at the Lorraine Hotel? Was the enemy morally centered when Malcolm stood in the Audubon Auditorium and was assassinated in front of his family? Did they think twice as Medger Evers pulled into his driveway to spend the evening with his wife and family? When Fred Hampton lay in bed beside his wife was there a second thought?

The idea is not to meet your enemy on some lofty plateau of moral superiority, because they have none; their superiority is based on an ideology that doesn’t even recognize you as their equal. The real lesson, learn from your enemy- their tactics, fighting styles, and methods of engagement. Fight them not with their tools, but your own.

As people of faith, we tend to view those around us, as divine creations of The One; forgetting it was one of those divine creations, who we call the Shaytan. Yes, we accept others for who they are and respect all of humanity. The balance then becomes in recognizing just as the Quran teaches, not everyone will be called to faith or will lead peaceful harmonious lives. This is where we find ourselves, after almost five hundred years of oppression and abuse across the world, here in America, there may not be any redemptive hope for our enemy or the system they created. This does not mean, we simply acquiesce to their control and power, it means we engage them on a level playing field and defeat them using their own rules and weapons.

Knowing your enemy does not mean you become them; nor does it eliminate Divine intervention during periods of unrest. Knowing your enemy, is simply that you fully embrace the reality that they are your enemy and act accordingly. While we hold firm to our faith and the knowledge that He is the Best of Planners, we cannot enter into the enemy’s seat of power believing our mere presence and fervent prayers will somehow miraculously and instantly change their heart. That is not our calling or role, and not our divine purpose. Imams, scholars, and activists engaged in the work of justice and equality, are not divinely elevated to personas and are not representatives of our Lord, but mere offering religious insight and guidance. They hold space, offering insight, and protection.

Never, in the history of this country, have those in power and control ever fully recognized, accepted, or atoned for the entrapment, kidnapping, and enslavement of Africans. Instead, they have violently and systematically created a country of denial and continued oppression. The argument is that things have improved from the ’60s.  My response, I am still not free of the anxiety of having my children taken from this world, simply because they are Black.

We are not allowed to move about this world without having to do twice as much; be ten times better; while still being thought of as less than.

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