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Imam Johari Malik & Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid on Zawahari’s Statements on Obama

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The following are statements of African-American Imams. It’s time to let BAMs to speak for themselves inshallah!

—————–

STATEMENT OF IMAM JOHARI ABDUL-MALIK
From “Out House” to the White House!

johari-malik.jpg

As a black American, I was an admirer of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz -Malcolm X (may Allah grant him peace) for many years before I finally converted to Islam over 25 years ago.  Like so many other Blacks in America and around world, I am outraged by the comments attributed to Mr. Al-Zawahiri.  Just in case Al-Zawahiri hasn’t noticed, both Malcolm X and President-elect Obama are heroes in Africa, Asia, Europe, around the world and all across America – including Black America.

His shallow attempt at dividing American Muslims from our president is an exercise in futility.  Al-Zawahiri’s comments only serve as a distraction, when we as Americans should be celebrating, we must take a detour to silence more hate speech from this group.

I am offended that this group consistently portrays Islam as a murderous and irrational religion practiced by racists and sexists.  Just as I would not portray the Ku Klux Klan as “Christian” or Hitler as “Catholic”, I can’t call the streaming absurdities of these kinds of people – “Islam”! Racism and murder are not part of Islam – Al-Zawahiri’s comments were (as usual) racist and divisive.

I was also offended at the hijacking of Malcolm X’s legacy in which Mr. Al-Zawahiri implied that Malcolm would approve of their un-Islamic murderous methods.  Malcolm X has said that he believed in the sanctity of life and the rule of law.  The Al-Qaeda gang of lawless murderers is looking to cover their bloody tracks by dragging Brother Malcolm X into their dark and musty cave of division.

In a recent speech by the Deputy-Amir of MANA (Muslim Alliance in North America) said,

“He (Malcolm X) said right here in Harlem in a rally in this very building (Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood), on July 5, 1964 “ … SO LET US TRY THE BALLOT. AND IF THE BALLOT DOESN’T WORK, WE’LL TRY SOMETHING ELSE. BUT LET US TRY THE BALLOT. AND THE ONLY WAY WE CAN TRY THE BALLOT IS TO ORGANIZE AND PUT ON A CAMPAIGN THAT WILL CREATE A NEW CLIMATE.” ”

Let it be known that Black American-Muslims see Malcolm X as a martyr (shaheed in Islam). Black American Muslims did not struggle through the civil rights movement and the acceptance of Islam to go from the “back of the bus” to the “back of the camel”.  How dare this racist Al-Zawahiri use the words of Malcolm X against the legitimate aspirations of Black people.

I was offended that Al-Zawahiri throws around the term “slave” to describe blacks in the pejorative!  This man, Al-Zawahiri, does a major disservice to the cause of Islam in America.  Black Muslims in America plan to pull the sheets off the sins of Arab-style-Klansman using the cover of Islamic brotherhood to exploit our people.

While I say this, I am not racist to call myself a Muslim African-American nor does it violate the spirit Islam to refer to all African-Americans as my people.  The Prophet (as) said, ‘Oh my people…..’ this affirmation was a comment to the people of Mecca both Muslim and those of other faiths.

I recall the prophet Muhammad, (as) said there is no superiority between the Arab and the non-Arab, the White over the Black nor the Black over the White…..

The Obama victory is the culmination on centuries of struggle; lynching, torture, murderer, rape and incarceration for political and religious freedom.  Today, I refuse to be castrated by hating Al-Qaeda group hiding in a cave.

While Mr. Al-Zawahiri comments spew from his  “Out house”.  Barak Obama is an African-American and he is…… ‘In the HOUSE!!!!!’, not  a “house-negro” but a black man’s house!  African-American Muslims are also “in the house!” – U.S. House of Representatives (Muslim congressman: Keith Ellison and Andre’ Carlson) and soon to be in the Senate and one day Muslims……..in every aspect of American life.

We are proud to be Muslim and we love our country. There is no contradiction.

Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, serves as Director of Outreach for the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, VA and as Chair of Governmental Issues for the Muslim Alliance in North America. The views expressed do not reflect the official position of the forementioned organizations
————–

talib.jpgSTATEMENT BY IMAM AL-HAJJ TALIB ‘ABDUR-RASHID
OF THE MOSQUE OF ISLAMIC BROTHERHOOD INC.  IN RESPONSE TO THE RECENT STATEMENT ATTRIBUTED TO AL-ZAWAHRI OF EL-QAEDA
Delivered at a Press Conference Convened at the Shabazz Center in Harlem NYC
Nov. 20, 2008

AS-SALAAMU ‘ALAIKUM. THE MOSQUE OF ISLAMIC BROTHERHOOD WAS FOUNDED FOUR DECADES AGO IN PART, AS A RESP0NSE TO THE FACT THAT IT HAD BECOME OBVIOUS THAT THE THEN EXISTING SUNNI MUSLIM COMMUNITIES LACKED KNOWLEDGE AND DISCIPLINE, AND WERE THEREBY EXPOSED TO MANIPULATION AND APPARENT USE AS A POLITICAL ARM.

THIS UNFORTUNATE SITUATION WAS RAPIDLY RESULTING IN CONFUSION, AND UN-ISLAMIC TEACHINGS WITHIN THE SUNNI MUSLIM COMMUNITIES, AND THE ALIENATION OF MANY PEOPLE WHO WANTED A TRUE UNDERSTANDING OF ISLAM. THE SINCERITY OF AFRICAN AMERICANS AND OUR PAST NAIVETÉ HAS APPARENTLY LED MODERN FORCES TO THINK THAT OUR PEOPLE CAN BE MANIPULATED , AT THIS OUTSET OF THE 21ST CENTURY.

SO LET US MAKE IT CLEAR THAT AMERICA IS, AS THE AUTHOR AND RESEARCHER SYLVIANNE DIOUF POINTS OUT, THE ONLY WESTERN COUNTRY WITH AN INDIGENOUS MUSLIM POPULATION OF AFRICAN DESCENT. NO ONE AT HOME  OR ABROAD SPEAKS FOR MUSLIM AFRICAN AMERICANS BUT THEIR OWN LEADERS.
FURTHER, OVERWHELMINGLY, AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSLIM LEADERS REJECT CALLS TO BOTH RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL EXTREMISM , PARTICULARLY WHEN SUCH CALLS ARE BASED UPON APPEALS TO EMOTION AND A PROJECTED INTERNATIONAL AGENDA DECLARED BY OTHERS, INSTEAD OF A DOMESTIC AGENDA DECLARED BY OURSELVES.

INSOFAR AS EL-HAJJ MALIK EL-SHABAZZ, POPULARLY KNOWN AS MALCOLM X IS CONCERNED (MAY ALLAH FORGIVE HIS SINS AND GRANT HIM PARADISE), WE WHO LIVE THE REALITY OF WHAT IT MEANS TO BE BOTH BLACK AND MUSLIM IN AMERICA, AS OPPOSED TO JUST READING ABOUT IT – WE THE PEOPLE – KNOW WHAT EL-HAJJ MALIK TAUGHT.

HE SAID RIGHT HERE IN HARLEM IN A RALLY IN THIS VERY BUILDING , ON JULY 5, 1964 :  “ … SO LET US TRY THE BALLOT. AND IF THE BALLOT DOESN’T WORK, WE’LL TRY SOMETHING ELSE. BUT LET US TRY THE BALLOT. AND THE ONLY WAY WE CAN TRY THE BALLOT IS TO ORGANIZE AND PUT ON A CAMPAIGN THAT WILL CREATE A NEW CLIMATE.

IT IS CLEAR TO US THAT THE SUCCESSFUL PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN  OF PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA WAS AN ACCEPTANCE OF BROTHER MALCOLM’S CHALLENGE TO AMERICANS OF AFRICAN DESCENT TO  “TRY THE BALLOT”.

SEVERAL MONTHS AGO, AN AL-JAZEERA REPORTER WHO WAS AN ARAB ASKED ME IF I THOUGHT THAT IF HE WERE ALIVE TODAY, EL-HAJJ MALIK EL-SHABAZZ (MALCOLM X) WOULD VOTE FOR BARACK OBAMA. WHEN I ANSWERED “YES”, THE REPORTER WAVED HIS HAND AND DISMISSED MY RESPONSE WITHOUT EVEN ASKING ME WHY I ANSWERED AS I DID.

WELL I PERSONALLY HAVE SPOKEN WITH SOME OF THE FEW  SURVIVING ELDERS IN THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY, WHO WERE ACTUAL AND AUTHENTIC,  CLOSE FOLLOWERS AND SUPPORTERS OF EL-HAJJ MALIK.

THEY HAVE SAID TO ME THAT THE GREAT AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSLIM LEADER WOULD HAVE BEEN PROUD OF THE DISCIPLINE AND INTEGRITY WITH WHICH THE PRESIDENT-ELECT CONDUCTED HIMSELF DURING THE CAMPAIGN. EL-HAJJ MALIK EL-SHABAZZ WOULD HAVE BEEN PROUD THEY SAY, O F PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA’S TRIUMPH OVER TREMENDOUS ODDS,  AND THE FACT THAT 97%  OF AFRICAN AMERICANS VOTED FOR OBAMA, AS WELL AS MANY, MANY WHITE, SPANISH-SPEAKING, AND OTHER AMERICANS, OF VARIOUS ETHNICITIES AND BACKGROUNDS.

BY THE SAME TOKEN, JUST AS THE PRESIDENT-ELECT HIMSELF HAS SAID THAT DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING WOULD BE IN THE STREETS LEADING POOR PEOPLE RATHER THAN SITTING IN THE WHITE HOUSE WITH HIM, WE UNDERSTAND THAT THIS APPLIES AS WELL TO BROTHER EL-HAJJ MALIK EL-SHABAZZ/ MALCOLM X, WHO FOLLOWED THE QUR’ANIC MANDATE TO SPEAK THE TRUTH NO MATTER WHOM OR WHAT, EVEN IF IT IS AGAINST ONESELF

THAT IS WHAT OUR ELDERS HAVE SAID TO US, AND THEY ARE IN A MUCH BETTER POSITION TO MAKE SUCH DETERMINATIONS, THAN THOSE WHO WHILE THEY SHARE OUR COMMON FAITH, HAVE HISTORICALLY BEEN DISCONNECTED FROM AFRICAN AMERICANS GENERALLY, AND MUSLIM AFRICAN AMERICANS IN PARTICULAR.

EL-HAJJ MALIK EL-SHABAZZ WAS A MAN OF INTEGRITY WHO STOOD FOR JUSTICE AGAINST INJUSTICE. HE NEVER CALLED FOR ACTS OF INJUSTICE AGAINST OTHERS AS A RESPONSE TO INJUSTICE AGAINST HIS PEOPLE. HE STOOD FOR HUMAN RIGHTS,  AND THE PRINCIPLE  OF SELF-DEFENSE RECOGNIZED IN INTERNATIONAL LAW. HE WOULD HAVE REJECTED, AND WE REJECT , ACTS OF POLITICAL EXTREMISM THAT EXCEED THE BOUNDARIES OF ISLAMIC LAW, AND TAKE THE LIVES OF INNOCENT, NON-COMBATANT CIVILIANS.

SO WE SAY TO ALL WHO WOULD SEEK TO MANIPULATE US, OR MANIPULATE OTHERS AGAINST US, THAT WE KNOW OUR FULL HISTORY IN AMERICA AND WE ARE STRIVING TO UNDERSTAND THE GEO-POLITICAL COMPLEXITIES OF LIFE IN THE MODERN WORLD.  MALCOLM X STOOD FOR TRUTH AND JUSTICE AND SO DO WE. WE STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH ALL PEOPLES WHO SHARE THESE IDEALS.

LASTLY, WE BELIEVE THAT BEFORE PEOPLE CRITICIZE PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA ‘S PERFORMANCE AS PRESIDENT  OF THE UNITED STATES, THAT  BOTH  PRUDENCE AND JUSTICE DEMAND THAT HE FIRST BE ALLOWED TO ACTUALLY TAKE OFFICE AND ASSUME THE POWERS AND RESPONSIBILITIES THEREOF, AND BEGIN TO EXERCISE THEM.

IN MIGHT BE THAT WE AS MUSLIM AFRICAN AMERICAN LEADERS WILL IN THE FUTURE BE CRITICAL OF SOME OF PRESIDENT OBAMA’S DECISIONS AND ACTIONS. ALMIGHTY GOD, WHOM WE WHO ARE MUSLIMS CALL ALLAH, KNOWS BEST.

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Abu Reem is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Abu Reem is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").

28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Avatar

    AsimG

    November 22, 2008 at 12:26 PM

    Asalaamu Alaykum,

    Man the balance between love of Islam and love of country is not easy to find.

  2. Pingback: Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid and New York Imams Do the Right Thing. « A Singular Voice

  3. Avatar

    Abu Umar

    November 22, 2008 at 12:56 PM

    Again, I think this a completely media manufactured issue and these Muslim leaders show a very superficial understanding over what is really going on. I want to make clear that I’m not an apologist for Zawahiri and have numerous strong criticism for him and his methodology, but that beside the point for the moment. I honestly doubt that any of these Muslim leaders read the transcript of the audio tape in question and are rather just responding to what has been filtered through CNN and the rest of the corporate media. All of this is really a tempest in a teacup. The attempt to portray Zawahiri as being a racist is just absurd and does not much up with the facts. As Muslims, we should not take our talking points from CNN and the assorted “counter-terrorism” blowhards that populate the cable networks, rather we should undertake an objective evaluation of what was said and why and if there is any truth to it. If the Muslims are truly worried about racism, they should be speaking up for all of those brown Muslim people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, and Iran that Barack Obama is admittedly perfectly content to bomb back to the Stone Age.

    I would also ask where were these Muslim organizations and leaders when Zawahiri was issuing videos, books, and articles justifying the killing of non-combatants in Western countries, breaking covenants, as well as the killing of Muslims in terrorist attacks under the excuse that they are “human shields”? Zawahiri has distorted the shari’a to further his the-ends-justify-the-means methodology, yet we don’t see any of these Muslims standing up to defend the shari’a from these distortions and manipulations or writing detailed and scholarly refutations and rebuttals, yet as soon as the Dear Leader is called a “House Slave” everyone is all of a sudden outraged by Zawahiri and wrongfully, and I dare say cynically, calling him a racist, as if he were channeling David Duke. I find the whole situation disappointing.

  4. Avatar

    MM Associates

    November 22, 2008 at 12:59 PM

    [written by abu abdAllah]

    bismillah. ameen to the duas for El Hajj Malik el-Shabaz, aka Malcolm X. RahimAllah. without doubt a man who was killed soon after his hijrah, soon after he had made his hijrah a turning point in his comprehension of submission to Allah, soon after he had become a standard-bearer for his brother and sisters who were still in the Nation. may Allah accept him among the shaheed.

    personally, i still think that the best way to rebut the comments of a minority of hateful people is to refuse to give them any prominence. if someone were to ask me about my opinion of a certain group of people, i hope i have the presence of mind to just say “who? i don’t know anyone who is as interested in their views as you are. maybe you should report on something people do care about.”

    a sure sign that the Obama Administration does not plan on ruling by “divide and conquer” at home, does not plan on perpetuating athe politics of fear and hate? that mention of these militants gradually fades from public life.

  5. Avatar

    Abdul-Kareem

    November 22, 2008 at 1:11 PM

    @ Abu Umar

    Imam Johari Abdul-Malik makes clear in his post that he is outraged by their justifications of murder.

  6. Avatar

    Pasha

    November 22, 2008 at 1:13 PM

    The media cut and pastes and distorts. I’m no commenting on what anyone said or is saying but it’s amazing how everyone rushes to criticism when it’s impossible to get the full facts.

  7. Avatar

    MM Associates

    November 22, 2008 at 1:14 PM

    [written by abu abdAllah]

    bismillah. maybe a group of smart-minded Muslim Americans needs to take out an ad in the NYT and/or WSJ:

    (a sample text that could be edited by someone like Iesa Galloway)
    Stop paying attention to the media trolls of the Muslim world

    An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the intention of provoking other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.

    We are in an era of mass media-trolls. So the next time one of these literal and ideological cave-dwellers surfaces and claims to speak on behalf of all Muslims, or bad enough, claims to be addressing American Muslims, just remember that said individual or small group’s comments are no more worthy of reply than a common internet troll.

    When the mass media picks up those comments, it’s the mass media that has been taken advantage of by the trolls. We sympathize with you, but the solution is simple. Start covering the news — and stop following the trolls.

    (props to Amad for that troll definition, used in a different thread)

  8. Avatar

    Abdur-Rahman Muhammad

    November 22, 2008 at 1:27 PM

    Kudos to Imam Johari and Imam Talib in condemning this racist and murderous maniac. Thanks also to Amad. I know we have had our differences in the past, and we still do, but I must be fair and say I really appreciate you posting this in support of the Black community that was attacked by this man.

  9. Avatar

    Abu Umar

    November 22, 2008 at 2:33 PM

    the Black community that was attacked by this man.

    How was his statement an attack on the Black community? Or are Powell, Rice, and Obama (the only blacks attacked by Zawahiri) the embodiment of or the representatives of the entire black community?

  10. Avatar

    Suhail

    November 22, 2008 at 2:49 PM

    Where in the heck did he attack the Black community? You guys are really getting on nerves now. I mean you have no sense of justice. Is Obama a embodiment of black community? If you guys have this much problem with zawahiri using the “house slave” or “house negro” word why do you guys find it acceptable to using within the black community?

    This is media blowing things out of proportion and I find it really disappointing that the leaders of muslim community rushing to condemn him. What has Obama done for the muslims anyways? He has not even given them anything. On the other hand he has picked people like Sonal Shah,Rahm Emmanual etc.

  11. Avatar

    Siraaj

    November 22, 2008 at 2:51 PM

    Really, I don’t see how any of the members of Bin Laden’s group can even attempt to specifically Black Muslims in America. They are as disconnected and far apart as A and Z.

  12. Avatar

    Olivia

    November 22, 2008 at 2:52 PM

    sorry that comment by Siraaj was posted by me.

  13. Avatar

    Abdul-Kareem

    November 22, 2008 at 3:18 PM

    I am curious as to why many non-blacks are trying to tell blacks what should offend them. I tend to defer to them on this

  14. Avatar

    Saad

    November 22, 2008 at 5:07 PM

    Can any of these Imams please elaborate and provide evidences for Islamically accepting nationalism and patriotism?

    • Avatar

      Muhammad Rashid Aliyu

      May 19, 2009 at 9:26 PM

      ‏حدثنا ‏ ‏أبو بكر بن أبي شيبة ‏ ‏حدثنا ‏ ‏زياد بن الربيع اليحمدي ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏عباد بن كثير الشامي ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏امرأة منهم يقال لها ‏ ‏فسيلة ‏ ‏قالت سمعت ‏ ‏أبي ‏ ‏يقول ‏
      ‏سألت النبي ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏فقلت يا رسول الله أمن العصبية أن يحب الرجل قومه قال ‏ ‏لا ولكن من العصبية أن يعين الرجل قومه على الظلم

      “O Messenger of Allah, is it Al-‘Asabeeyah (racism & tribalism) that a man love his own people?” He said` ‘No! But Al-‘Asabeeyah is that a man helps his people in oppression and wrong-doing.’[1]

  15. Avatar

    hamdan

    November 22, 2008 at 5:21 PM

    What a joke. Haven’t they heard of al-Walaa wal Baraa’? What are these two going to say when Obama continues the war on Muslims? Islaam is innocent of this racialism.

  16. Avatar

    Mr Lee X Slave

    November 22, 2008 at 6:14 PM

    THE MUSLIM WORLD DOES NOT RESPECT YOU SO-CALLED ORTHODOX MUSLIMS, THEY CONTINUE TO SE YOU BROTHERS AS THEIR SLAVES. SAY WHAT YOU WILL ABOUT THE ‘BLACK MUSLIMS’ THEY MAY NOT LIKE US BUT THEY KNOW WE ARE NOT OR WILL EVER KISS THEIR BUTTS, TO BE RECOGNIZED, BY THE WILLING PARTICIPANTS ( who have not even apologized ) FOR THEIR INVOLVEMENT IN THE ENSLAVEMENT OF US THEIR MUSLIM BROTHERS. DAMN IT IS GOOD TO BE FREE!

  17. Amad

    Amad

    November 22, 2008 at 6:27 PM

    Story in CNN.

    This is a positive outcome alhamdulilah. Average Joe on the street gets an opportunity to see Muslims in America stand up for something that is positive and has wide support. I am sure if you ask an average American, probably a good chunk of them still think Muslims don’t have an issue with Al-Qaeda.

    So, even just using opportunities to get the word out in the media, of mainstream Muslim disapproval of al-Qaida is sufficient justification for what may seem an over-reaction to something trivial, if placed relative to the corpus of Zawahiri’s vile activities.

    In any case, it is amusing to see people tell others who are affected by certain statements how the others should feel about it!

    I am with Abdul Kareem. That is why I posted the statements because I defer judgment of offense to BAMs because they would know what they are feeling better than what I would know how they are feeling. And these statements are coming not from average BAMs, but BAMs who are respected Imams and elders in our communities. These are not members of NOI or black panthers or some other splinter group. They are recognized elders and part of the circle of the American Muslim leaders, whether we like it or not. I hope that we would all show required deference to them, EVEN if we disagree with their opinions.

    wallahualam.

    P.S. Any personal attacks targeted at the Imams, just like any attacks on our Shayookh, will not be tolerated.

  18. Avatar

    al-istiqamah.com

    November 22, 2008 at 7:14 PM

    The glee with which African-American Muslims are rubbing their hands that an African-American has been elected to the WHITE house – purely because he shares their skin colour- is alien to the teachings of Islam regarding not having pride in one’s ancestral roots.

    Has Obama given any indication that the Muslim world will suffer less under his foreign policy than it did under Clinton or Bush?

  19. Avatar

    MT.Akbar

    November 22, 2008 at 8:42 PM

    Ayman Zawahiri is a propaganditst, an extremist, someone who according to Islamic law is a criminal. His comments were offensive because he is an outsider with no connection to the African American history or movement for liberation in America. His usage of Imam Malcolm X was disturbing because the two couldn’t be more sharply different in principles and methodology. The school of Malcolm X sought solidarity with the oppressed of the world and DID NOT make them targets in their schema of power, unlike Zawihiri and his acolytes who have committed atrocities against civilians and other poor folks. Zawihiri is closer to a utilitarian philosophy then a universal one which was espoused by Malcolm who was deeply effected by Islamic principles.

    It is a whole othet topic to discuss the problematic nature of an Obama presidency for both America and the world and the legitimate critique that must be aimed at him and the pressures (as Cornel West states) must be laid upon him to move in a progressive and truly repersentative manner. That discussion must be removed from this vitrolic contribution by Zawahiri “The outsider.”

    In light of recent appointments and past policy discussions it seems Obama will continue to move for neo-liberalism, unrepersentative and undermocratic forces here at home and abroad and imperialism. Aside from these wares which will not be altered in his sales as the merchant of change, the real substantive difference at least that separates him from the rest of the American political cartel is his ability to be open to dialogue and different views and be more diplomatic – this gives us some hope.

    PS. sorry for the ramble

    -MT

  20. Avatar

    Musa Franco

    November 22, 2008 at 9:42 PM

    Mr. Lee X Slave

    You went from being a slave to the White man to being a slave of the black man; oh and then to another white man (Farad Muhammad). As far as orthodox muslims. Well, we are not slaves to any created beings. have been emancipated by the Religion that the prophet muhammad. Not enslaved to a man like farad muhammad. I hope someone can post the article by Zaid Shakir called the prophet Muhammad and blackness.

    Wa Salaam Ala Man Taba3a Al Huda

  21. Avatar

    Naeem

    November 23, 2008 at 2:02 AM

    AA- Amad,

    “I am sure if you ask an average American, probably a good chunk of them still think Muslims don’t have an issue with Al-Qaeda.”

    And if after 7 years of loudly denouncing OBL and his crew, at every possible opportunity, at every public function, the Muslim community is still thought to support Al-Qaeda, what good will this CNN story do?

    Sorry bro, Joe six-pack will always be joe six-pack…ain’t no changing that! Just look at how many Joe’s and Jane’s thought/think Obama is a Muslim.

  22. Avatar

    Sarrah B.

    November 25, 2008 at 5:58 PM

    Jazakh Allahu Khair for this post. I would love to see more colaboration between the immigrant Muslim community and the indiginous Muslim community in America. I truly believe that it is only through more colaboration that we can better understand one another, respect one another, and truly embrace one another in faithful brother/sisterhood as Islam mandates/promotes.

    Growing up in America it has always boggled my mind how many Muslims (note, I didn’t say ALL) can be so incredibly racist and prejudice to others, while we are living here as religious and ethnic minorities and have experienced *some* of the same prejudice and in fact like to cry about how bad we have it (and I don’t think we have it that bad at all, Alhamdulillah).

    I think immigrant muslims and 2nd generation Muslims really need to take some time to understand the history of this country in order for us to progress as Muslim-Americans in the right direction. I think many would be surprised at what they might find and how they can better understand their role in it all.

    Please keep the posts like these coming! And even better, find a way for more Black American Muslims to regularly contribute to this site.

    Ok final rant – this site is amazing Mashallah. :o)

  23. Avatar

    J

    November 26, 2008 at 5:18 PM

    Bro/Sister al-istiqamah.com

    The glee with which African-American Muslims are rubbing their hands that an African-American has been elected

    Why shouldn’t they be? It is the culmination of many decades of struggle by their people to reach equality in the land?

    to the WHITE house –

    Umm, it’s called the white house because it is painted white.

    purely because he shares their skin colour- is alien to the teachings of Islam regarding not having pride in one’s ancestral roots.

    If a certain group of people have been oppressed for hundreds of years, and finally attain equality (although it’s just a symbolic event of course), then this is something to be happy about. It’s preposterous to link this to jahiliyyah or assabiyyah.

  24. Avatar

    Someone Somewhere

    December 8, 2008 at 5:35 AM

    I think discussing Zawahiri’s is positive, but when we become too affected by it we simply him to succed in fulfilling divisive goals.

  25. Avatar

    Umar Farooq

    September 8, 2009 at 3:53 PM

    @ al-istiqamah.com

    All praise be to Allah the most gracious most merciful. In whose name I bear witness to the truth so help me God if i’m in error. Both sides of the argument have some correctness here( I’m African by the way). However, Allah as my witness, if it were up to the Saudis my black behind would still be in shackles ( It was not until 1962 that King Faisal formally abolished slavery in Saudi Arabia with pressure from the UN- whom we consider to be Kaffirs) .

    I’m not afraid to say that there is a fascist strain of thought flowing throughout the ‘Islamic World’. So don’t be surprised if brothers don’t see eye to eye on this issue.

    I’ll tell you what . when the islamic world is ready to elect a leader regardless of his color or his head being shriveled up like a raisin (as quoted from the racist(hadith) see bukhari Volume 1, Book 11, Number 662.) Then we’ll stop rejoicing at the Obama victory, but until then my raisin headed people quoted in the false hadith are gonna have to agree to disagree.

    ps. al-istiqamah.com -Dont lie , you know how disgracefull it would be if your sister( or any female relative) were to marry a raisin headed blackman (even if he was a muslim ) I lie ?

  26. Avatar

    Umm Uthmaan

    November 8, 2009 at 4:35 AM

    I have helped African brothers marry Asian sisters, so don’t slander me. I’m a Muslim sister, and no, it wouldn’t be shameful to me if anyone in our family married an African or mixed-race Muslim. What is shameful to me is the fact that so many African Americans are responding to the call of jahiliyah. What benefit has Obama brought you so far, as an African Muslim? It’s Christianity that put the Africans in chains, and there you are revelling over a mixed-race Christian being in the White House, who is continuing the foreign policy of Bush.

  27. Avatar

    The Black Whirl Wind

    June 19, 2011 at 6:02 AM

    First Zawahiri, ben Laden and the entire al-qaeda organization are muharibuun (illegal combatants) who are fighting without the permission of a Muslim ruler. the Qu’ran and the Sunna are explicite regarding the rulings of the muharibi. they are to be fought by the collective body of Muslims. If Zawahiri or his ilk had any genuine love for Black people or its large Muslim population, they would have consulted our leadership BEFORE making any attacks upon the nations in which we live and reside. Every single terrorist attack by these muharibuun have had dire consequence upon Muslims in the west and our ability to call people to Allah. if Zawahiri really identitfies with al-Hajj Malik El Shabazz, he would have known that there is an ongoing protracted struggle going on in the US for the rights of Muslims in the country that go back to trhe period of Antebellum America. The evoking of the words of al-Hajj Malik El Shabazz is a ploy and a hook, nothing more. And none of the dedicated soldiers to our struggle in the US will give any weight or consideration to Zawahiri’s words simply because he is legally a muharibi and politically and opportunists.

    Now as for Obama, powell and Rice being a house negroes. That is EXACLTY what they are and I didnt need Zawahiri hiding in a cave to tell me that. In fact, Zawahiri’s remarks fall short of describing the reality of Obama. Obama is typical of the black slave drivers who when they were given charge over the plantation in the absence of the slave master would go out of their way to be more violent, harsh and cruel than the white slave master. So far, none of the unjust, illegal or unconstitutoinal rulings implemented by Cheney and his shadow president Bush have been abolished. More Muslim have been killed under Obama than under Cheney. more tortures of innocent Muslims have occured under Obama than under Cheney. More illegal surveillance of US Muslims have occured under Obama than under Cheney. Obama has done NOTHING for the benefit of the people that he claims to be apart of, with the exception of havuing a few barbeques in the White House and inviting a couple of hip hop artists. All meaningful legislation to assure the protection of the human, political and economic rights of the US’s chief national minority has been ignored by the Obama administration. All the promises he made have all been unfulfilled. And the problem is not a single Black leader including Muslims are willing to admit this – simply because he is black! That is racism.

    So Johari may feel comfortable calling Zawahiri racist. He may well be, although nothing in his statement proves it. I can say that Johari is also racist for supporting an unjust ruler simply because he is black. To me both Zawahiri and Johari are playing the race card, because neither one of them REALLY cares about the genuine policies of al-Hajj Malikl El Shabazz. Zawahiri has an excuse, he’s is an Egyptian hiding in a cave in Afghanistan with no real advisers except somne loser white boy from southern California. What is Johari’s excuse for not actively supporting the political policies of al-Hajj Malik El Shabazz? Like Zawahiri, Johari is also evoking our Shining prince’s words and picking and choosing segments of his words which accomodate his own acquiesance to domestic colonization.

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#Society

Black Youth Matter: Stopping the Cycle of Racial Inequality in Our Ranks

In Malcolm X’s Letter from Mecca, he said, “America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem.” Yet, as Muslims living in America, we are not fulfilling our role in eradicating racism from our own ranks. We are making race our problem. With so much injustice plaguing the world, the time is now to embrace the youth, celebrate their diversity, and let them know there is a place for them in Islam.

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As we joined the rest of America in celebrating Black History Month and commemorating the legacy of the civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., with tweets, infographics, and sharing famous quotes, racism and colorism continue to plague the Muslim community. 

When we hear of a weekend course about the illustrious muadhin of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, Bilal Ibn Raba’ah, may Allah be pleased with him, or a whitewashed cartoon movie based loosely on his life, we flock to the location. When the imam retells his story during a Friday sermon, we listen intently and feel inspired, we smile in awe upon hearing about his fortitude in the face of incessant torture. We cry while reliving the part where he enters the city of Makkah alongside the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) victorious, and calls the adhan atop the Ka’aba. 

Then, we leave. 

We return to our homes and all but forget about it until the next time he is brought up— unless we are Black Muslims. Like King, his impact comes in waves, maybe once a year like MLK Day or like Black History Month, for many of us. Yet, there were more Black companions and renowned Black Muslims in our history, just as there were countless civil rights leaders who fought for racial equality in America. For many of us who are not American of African descent, we live our lives unperturbed by the implications of ignoring the racial disparities that exist within our own places of worship.

However, it is our youth that bear the brunt of this injustice. 

A few weeks ago, I witnessed an incident that made me reflect deeply on the effects of racism and fear on our youth and the Muslim community. After picking up my son from middle school in Baltimore County, I drove to a nearby 7-Eleven for some snacks. While I was standing in line to pay for my groceries, I noticed that the man behind the counter was Muslim. From his outward appearance, accent, and name tag, I guessed he was South Asian. We greeted each other with salaam, a smile, and a head nod of camaraderie.

As he was ringing up my items, a group of chattery students still in school uniforms, approached the entrance of the convenience store. The cashier looked up horrified, and in mid transaction swung his arm back and forth as if swatting a fly. I turned to look at who he was gesturing to and saw the children were swinging the door open to enter. They were about 6 African American children from the same public middle school as my son. In his school, each grade level wears a different color polo with khaki pants as part of their uniform, so I could tell that most of them were in his same grade level.

“No! No! No!” the cashier cried harshly, “Out!”

I turned to him grimacing in disbelief, surprised at his reaction to the kids and then I noticed his expression. He had a look on his face of fear coupled with disgust.

One child cheerfully told him, “I got money, man!” My head turned back and forth from the students to the cashier. He reluctantly said, “Fine,” but as more students followed, he added sternly, “Three at a time!” I wondered if this was a rule when one of the girls in the group said, “Yeah, three at a time y’all,” and the majority stayed back, as if they were familiar with the routine. Some of them rolled their eyes, others laughed, but they remained outside the door. The cashier followed the ones who entered with his eyes intently as he finished bagging my items. He looked genuinely concerned. I tried to make light of the situation and get his attention away from the children, asking, “The kids give you a hard time, huh?” He smiled and nodded nervously, but I was not satisfied with his answer. 

As I swiped my debit card to pay, I felt troubled. My maternal instincts were telling me that I should defend these children. I felt anger and helplessness at the same time. These kids were tweens or barely 13 years old, yet they were being judged because of the color of their skin. There was no other logical explanation. They were not rowdy or reckless, not any more than any other child their age. They did not look menacing; in fact, they were all smiling and joking with one another.

Yet, this cashier, my Muslim brother, was looking at them as if they were a threat. The same way some white American may look at a Muslim sporting a beard and thobe boarding a plane.  

I tried to find excuses for his behavior. Perhaps he had a bad experience, or he was having a bad day. Could some of the kids from the middle school have stolen something before and this prompted his apprehension? There is some crime in this neighborhood located in the southwestern part of Baltimore County, on the outskirts of the City. Could he have suffered from some type of trauma that led to his anxiety? Maybe there was a fight in his store one day? Yet, even if any of these assumptions were true, I still felt like he was overreacting.

After all, these were just kids.

In Dr. Joy Degruy’s book Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing, she mentions that policing continues to represent one of the most pervasive and obvious examples of racial inequality; one that even the youth are unable to avoid. She cites an article published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, highlighting a study by UCLA, the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Boston, Massachusetts, Penn State, and University of Pennsylvania that investigated how black boys were perceived as it related to childhood innocence. They found, “converging evidence that black boys are seen as older and less innocent and that they prompt a less essential conception of childhood than do their white same-age peers.” Consequently, African American youth are often unfairly singled out as troublemakers. 

They found, “converging evidence that black boys are seen as older and less innocent and that they prompt a less essential conception of childhood than do their white same-age peers.” Consequently, African American youth are often unfairly singled out as troublemakers. Click To Tweet

On November 22, 2014, a 12-year-old African American child, like my son and his middle school peers, was fatally shot by police while he played with a toy gun in a playground. The child, Tamir Rice, was just a young boy playing cheerfully outdoors, but police officers regarded him a threat, demonstrating the ghastly reality of the above-mentioned study. After hearing about this atrocity, I remember telling my own children that they can never play outside with nerf guns or water pistols, out of fear of this happening to them. This is the type of world our children are living in. As Muslims, why do we choose to be part of the problem and not its solution?

Black youth

Junior football team huddling together

As I walked through the door and past the group in front of the 7-Eleven, all I could think about is that the kids were no different than my son who was sitting in the car, hungry, waiting for me to bring him some food. The only difference was that I was there to defend him, if need be. The children did not have an adult to stand up for them against the discrimination to which they were being subjected. I felt guilty for not saying more. I also remembered an incident where a group of African American youth were turned away from the tarawih prayers at a local mosque, not too far from the 7-Eleven, during the month of Ramadan, because they were perceived to be “too rowdy.” This prompted me to write about this incident; to speak up for them now, and to remind myself and other Muslims that the Prophet, peace be upon him, taught us compassion. 

He said, “Whoever does not show mercy to our young ones, or acknowledge the rights of our elders, is not one of us.” (Musnad Ahmad)

Even when a bedouin came into the masjid, the House of Allah – a place much more sacred than any convenience store – and urinated, yes urinated there, he still treated him with dignity. (Muslim)

The students standing at the door of the 7-Eleven were just going in for a snack. Even if they had been misbehaving, the gentleman at the counter could have addressed them with kindness. Similarly, the youth at the local mosque just wanted to pray tarawih. Now imagine the impact it had on them to be turned away from praying with their brethren during the month of Ramadan. 

I sat in the car where my son was waiting and found him looking out the window, unaware of what was happening. We were parked far from the entrance.

“Do you know any of those kids?” I asked him. “Yeah, the girl on the right is in my gym class,” he said.

My heart sank more and as we sat in the car, I wondered, what would have been the cashier’s reaction if the kids had been white? More than likely, he would not have treated them the same way. This racial profiling leads to devastating consequences. A recent news report by WUSA9 revealed that the state of Maryland leads the nation in incarcerating young black men, according to experts at the Justice Policy Institute. Their November Policy Briefs for 2019 entitled, Rethinking Approaches to Over Incarceration of Black Young Adults in Maryland, revealed that disparity is most pronounced among emerging adults, or youth ages 18-24, where, “Nearly eight in 10 people who were sentenced as emerging adults and have served 10 or more years in a Maryland prison are black. This is the highest rate of any state in the country.”

“Nearly eight in 10 people who were sentenced as emerging adults and have served 10 or more years in a Maryland prison are black. This is the highest rate of any state in the country.” Click To Tweet

What was most troubling about the incident at the 7-Eleven was that the students had been conditioned; they were already used to being treated that way. It was routine for them and business as usual for the Muslim cashier. While he may believe that he is doing the right thing, by averting a potential “problem,” the harm that he is causing has greater ramifications. He is adding to the trauma these children are already experiencing being black in America. Black students in Baltimore County were not even allowed by law to earn an education past 5th grade in 1935, and 65 years after Brown vs. Board of Education, the county’s schools are still highly segregated. Local and federal leadership in America have continuously failed African Americans, and it is disheartening to think that the immigrant Muslim community is headed in the same direction. 

I was haunted by this incident and returned to the 7-Eleven a week later to ask the cashier or the owner of the store about their (mis)treatment of the middle schoolers. I parked directly in front of the glass doors of the entrance and it was there where I saw a sign typed in regular white computer paper that read, “AT A TIME NO MORE THAN THREE (3) SCHOOL KIDS ARE ALLOWED IN THE STORE & please do not bring bags inside the store. Thanks.” I had not seen the sign before, maybe I overlooked it the day of the occurrence. Nevertheless, I went inside and spoke with the owner of the franchise, a Muslim gentleman who greeted me with salaam. I asked him about the sign outside the door and the reason why the middle schoolers were treated like would-be criminals. He explained that students from local schools have stolen goods from the convenience store on many occasions. To prevent this, they established a rule that only three unaccompanied school children could enter at a time and they were not allowed to bring their backpacks. The owner further added that crime and vandalism were prevalent in the area. Unfortunately, because this side of town is predominately African American, the blame falls disproportionately on this group. 

Nevertheless, patrolling and intimidating the African American youth in the area is not the solution. As Dr. Degruy stated in her book, “The powerful oppress the less powerful, who in turn oppress those even less powerful than they. These cycles of oppression leave scars on the victims and victors alike, scars that embed themselves in our collective psyches and are passed down through generations, robbing us of our humanity.”

A thirty-four-year veteran police officer named Norm Stamper wrote a book about racism in the criminal justice system entitled, Breaking Rank, (2005) and he mentioned that, “It is not hard to understand why people of color, the poor, and younger Americans did not, and do not, look upon the police as ‘theirs’… Do the police protect ‘the weak against oppression or intimidation’ or do they oppress and intimidate the very people they’ve sworn to protect?” Likewise, this young generation will begin to see Muslims of all colors as no different, if we take the role of the oppressor. 

When Abu Dharr insulted Bilal ibn Rabah, may Allah be pleased with them, by calling him, “O son of a black woman!” and the Prophet, peace be upon him heard of this, he rebuked Abu Dharr and said to him, “By the One who revealed the Book to Muhammad, no one is better than another except by righteous deeds. You have nothing but an insignificant amount.” We may have read or heard this and other narrations before, however, we fall short in implementing these teachings.

In Malcolm X’s Letter from Mecca, he said, “America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem.” Yet, as Muslims living in America, we are not fulfilling our role in eradicating racism from our own ranks. We are making race our problem. With so much injustice plaguing the world, the time is now to embrace the youth, celebrate their diversity, and let them know there is a place for them in Islam.

Sometimes it takes one person to stand up and point out the wrong to set the right tone. The sign at the 7-Eleven in my neighborhood has been taken down.

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Civil Rights

Podcast: Lessons from the Life of Malcolm X | Abdul-Malik Ryan

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One of the things that happens with historical figures who continue to remain well-known and influential years after they can continue to speak for themselves is that others seek to speak for them.  Attempts are made to co-opt their legacy, either in sincere efforts for good or in selfish efforts for ideological or even commercial gain.  This is especially true of Malcolm X, who is not only a historical and political icon but in many ways a “celebrity” remembered by many primarily for his style and attitude.

The only real and meaningful tribute we can pay to Malcolm X is to follow his example. Click To Tweet

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Audio

Podcast: We Are All Slaves of Allah | Hakeemah Cummings

Guests
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Once, while in class at college, an Arab girl I was sitting next to said quite loudly to another, “Hey, give this paper to the ‘abdah” referring to a black girl in the class. I wondered if she was even aware of what she was saying in English. Did she think that ‘abdah translates to “black girl” and never thought of its true meaning? Did she think that I didn’t understand?

 

Read by Zeba Khan, originally posted here on Muslimmatters.org.

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