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The Arabic Lineage of English Words

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Like many other things in this world, words too can have a lineage by which they can be traced. The continuously developing field of etymology helps us learn about the origin of words. Just as human beings import and export goods, so too do we import and export words. Oftentimes the goods, services, or ideas are foreign to those importing them, thus people end up importing their names as well. This is one way in which vocabulary is exchanged by people of different races, cultures, and languages. Arabia and the Western world have had a long history of such a cultural exchange. Therefore, it is no surprise that hundreds or thousands of words from the Arabic language have found their way into English and other European languages.

Realizing how many different cultures and races we have actually been impacted by helps us develop more tolerance, understanding, and appreciation towards each other. One way we can easily define the impact of different cultures on our own is through the development of languages. It is fascinating how words from Arabic are borrowed by different European languages yet centuries later they remain true to their Arabic origin. From the vast selection of English words which can be etymologically traced to Arabic, I have very carefully selected ten words used in our daily lives which clearly reflect a transfer of culture.

1. Safari ~ سفري

We all enjoy and long for a nice vacation, perhaps a nice safari vacation, to explore the best that nature has to offer. A safari, as described by English dictionaries, is ‘the caravan and equipment of a hunting expedition especially in eastern Africa’. However, by our common usage of the word safari we mean, ‘a journey to enjoy exploring or hunting animals, especially in Africa’. The word safari finds its roots in the Arabic word safarī [السفري], which attributes something to a travel. Safarī [السفري] originates from the Arabic word safar [سفر] which means ‘a journey’. Save the pronunciation, the English word safari clearly reflects its Arabic origin.

2. Magazine ~ مخازن

Whether you are waiting at a doctor’s office, passing some free time before your turn at the barber, trying to fill in the few minutes as you wait your turn at an office, or just looking to have some quality time after you put your kids to sleep at night, an enjoyable way to spend some time is to read a magazine. The word magazine originates from the Arabic word makhāzin [المخازن] which means, ‘storehouses’. The Arabic word makhāzin [المخازن] is the plural of makhzan [مخزن], which means ‘a storehouse’. Makhāzin [المخازن] became the Italian magazzino, which became the Middle French magasin, and finally reached English in the 16th century as ‘magazine’. Though the words don’t appear directly connected at first glance, a magazine is essentially a place where you store information.

3. Paradise ~ فردوس

All believers in God and the afterlife share at least one common goal – to achieve salvation in the hereafter. The ultimate manifestation of this salvation is to find a place in paradise. The word ‘paradise’, often described as the Garden of Eden, finds its roots in the Arabic word firdaus [الفردوس]. Just as the East meets the West in the origin of this word, in the yearning desire to achieve this goal, adherents of many religions are also similar. The Arabic word firdaus [الفردوس] found its way into Greek, Late Latin, Old French, and finally became the English paradise.

4. Syrup, Sherbet, Sorbet ~ شربة، شراب

On a hot day, after a long day at work, or a long evening at the gym, a nice drink mixed with a syrup of your choice or sorbet made of your favorite fruit can really make up for everything else. Both syrup and sherbet or sorbet find their etymological origin in the three letter Arabic verb sha-ri-bā  [شرب], to drink. Syrup comes from the Arabic word sharāb [شراب], which means ‘a beverage’, and sherbet or sorbet come from the Arabic word sharba(t) [شربة], which means ‘a single drink’. The Arabic word sharba(t) [شربة] became the Persian sharbat which became the Turkish serbet. It was later anglicized into the English word sherbet or sorbet. As for syrup, it was adopted by both the French and the Italians from the Arabic word sharāb [شراب], and in the 14th century, it found its way to English.

5. Lemon ~ ليمون

Another drink that can act as a nice cooler on a hot day or as an immune system booster when you need it is a lemonade. Lemonade is obviously made from lemons, and lemons are that citrus fruit without which many gourmet meals wouldn’t taste the way they do. Lemon juice is rich in vitamin C and contains some amounts of B vitamins as well. It’s an essential ingredient to have in every modern kitchen. However, some cultures have been more fortunate to have had access to this fruit centuries before it reached other parts of the world. It was between the years 1000 to 1200 CE that the European world was introduced to lemons through what was then known as Andalusia, Muslim Spain. The Crusaders also found lemons growing in Palestine during their rather brief yet brutal invasion of the region. It is plausible that the crusaders may have carried lemons over to parts of Europe.

The word lemon transferred over to Italian, then French, and finally to English from the Arabic word laimūn [ليمون]. The Arabic word likely originates from one of the Austronesian languages. Perhaps from the Balinese word limu or the Malay word limaw.

6. Cotton ~ قطن

Arabia has not only been exporting fine cotton to the Western world for centuries, it has also exported the word by which many European languages refer to the soft and fluffy fiber. The English word cotton made its way to Old Spanish or Italian, then to French, then to English from the Arabic word quṭn [قطن]. Cotton became an important source for fabric soon after the life of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). This may have been because the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) himself wore a cotton wrap. In fact, new discoveries suggest that even before the advent of Islam and Muslims, cotton was a booming industry in Arabia.

Today, the world’s leading cotton producers include: China, the United States, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Brazil, Turkey, Australia, Greece, Syria, Egypt, and Turkmenistan.

7. Carat ~ قيراط

Gold is one commodity that all cultures equally value. No matter where you are from, what language you speak, or what your ethnic background may be, gold is likely considered valuable by you. It goes without saying that the word carat is used to measure the fineness of gold. The carat system of measuring the fineness of gold is a standardized system around the world. Based on the global standard, a carat of gold is 1/24 gold. This is why 24-carat gold is considered the purest form of gold. The word carat also finds its origin in an Arabic word. Carat is etymologically traced to the word qīrāṭ [قيراط]. The word qīrāṭ [قيراط] doesn’t carry much different of a meaning than its anglicized counterpart. It means 1/24 of a gold coin according to one Arabic convention and 1/20 of a gold coin according to another.

8. Tamarind ~ تمر هندي

Some of the most delicious recipes include tamarind as a key ingredient, and you can’t get the right taste in certain meals unless you use this tangy fruit native to tropical Africa. This fruit was not known to the ancient Greeks and the Romans. It entered the medieval Latin medical practice through Arabia. The Arabs discovered tamarinds through India and thus the word tamarind came about. Tamarind, which is anglicized from the Arabic word tamar hindī [تمر هندي], literally means ‘an Indian date’. The structures of tamarinds and dates have similarities. Since dates are a famous fruit in Arabia, the Arabs called this foreign fruit tamar hindī [تمر هندي] or Indian dates likely because of the similarities between them in appearance.

9. Spinach ~ سبانخ

Many of us grew up watching the adventures of Popeye the Sailor. After swallowing a container full of spinach, Popeye was unstoppable. He wasn’t so wrong about its nutritional benefits! Spinach has exceptionally high nutritional values. The plant that later became known as a superfood, was not known to the ancient Greeks and the Romans. It was the Arabs who introduced spinach to Europe through Andalusia, Muslim Spain. The medieval Arabs referred to this superfood as isbānakh [السبانخ]. However, in Andalusian Arabic it was known as isbinakh, from which the word spinach was conveniently anglicized.

10. Coffee ~ قهوة

Possibly the world’s most popular drink after water is coffee. Over a billion cups of coffee are consumed on a daily basis across the world. Known to some as black gold, coffee has spread to every corner of the globe since its discovery in the 12th century. Legend has it that an Ethiopian goatherd named Khaled noticed his goats overly active after grazing in fields of the strange berries which later became known as coffee. The goatherd figured there must be something special about these berries, and there the story of coffee began.

The Arabs called this drink qahwah [قهوة] which literally translates to ‘wine’. They may have used this name for the new discovery because of its obvious impact on the mind, albeit for the better. The Arabic word was pronounced in Turkish as kahveh, from which comes the Italian word caffe, and the word was finally anglicized into the English word coffee.


Tracing the etymological lineage of a word can open a window to a dynamic world of cultural, social, and linguistic exchange. Considering the spike in racism and Islamophobia, it’s crucial that we educate ourselves and others on the extensive cultural exchange that the Arabian world, a largely Muslim world, has had with the Western world. Such realizations can invoke and awaken the spirit of tolerance that human beings are innately created upon, just as it can empower Muslims who struggle with their identities because of deliberate, organized, and systematic campaigns to undermine the influence that the East has had on the West.

Visit Embracing Quran to access free video Tafsir of the Quran by the author:

Sh. Saleem has learned from, met, and exchanged thoughts with a wide range of scholars from around the world. He is the founder of Salik Academy, an instructor at Mishkah University, a lecturer at Restu International College and an author of a number of books, articles, and poems. Additionally, he has made appearances and presented complete seasons on various TV stations and YouTube channels including Al-Hijrah TV, Huda TV, Ramadan TV, Sharjah TV, The Daily Reminder and others.



  1. Avatar


    July 15, 2018 at 12:59 AM

    Honeslty, I actually thought it was the other way around; that half of these words made their way into the Arabic language from English.

    So jazakAllah Khair for sharing these!

    • Abdul Wahab Saleem

      Abdul Wahab Saleem

      July 15, 2018 at 8:33 AM

      The words that I’ve picked out are just a few of many! Some words can go the other way as well. Wa Iyyak.

  2. Avatar


    July 15, 2018 at 6:44 AM

    The word paradise does not come from Arabic nor is the word فردوس a purely Arabic word, it’s Persian. A simple Google search would reveal that fact

    • Abdul Wahab Saleem

      Abdul Wahab Saleem

      July 15, 2018 at 6:29 PM

      In terms of the word الفردوس, lexicologists have differed about the absolute origin of this word. Some trace it back to Arabic as I’ve done in the article, and others to Arabic from Persian (or other languages), followed by the rest of the lineage that I’ve given above. Personally, I believe that it is in fact originally an Arabic word as it is in the Quran and words in the Quran, by default, are Arabic unless conclusively proven otherwise. In this case, there are conflicting views, even among the lexicologists. In fact, we can find the usage of the word الفردوس in early Arabic poetry as well which usually indicates the Arabic nature of a word. Moreover, the Arabs also use the verb فَرْدَسَ which further encourages the view that the word is more likely derived from an Arabic root.

      Last but not least, whether Arabic adopted it from other languages or not, the fact that it was transferred from Arabic to European languages is almost definite. However, I personally far-fetch the idea that it is not originally Arabic as this is a name of paradise itself and not something new to the Arabian experience which may require a lingual exchange. Among the scholars who believe it to be originally Arabic are Al-Ḍaḥḥāk (d. after 100 AH), al-Farrāʾ (d. 207 AH), al-Ṭabarī (d. 310 AH), and others.

  3. Avatar


    July 15, 2018 at 8:49 AM

    Actually some of the worlds you just mentioned like safari aren’t related to arabic you said that it’s like the world “سفري” and that world means ” my travel”
    And also the main words are the arabic ones and then English language took some words from arabic

  4. Avatar


    July 15, 2018 at 5:54 PM

    Those words and many other words in English learned borrowed from Persian indeed!
    Am surprised!

    • Abdul Wahab Saleem

      Abdul Wahab Saleem

      July 15, 2018 at 7:16 PM

      Persian has been and continues to be an important language!

  5. Avatar


    July 15, 2018 at 6:37 PM

    I found this article very intresting, but I would like to add some similarities with other languages: qahwah [قهوة] is similar to Lithuanian word kava which means and sounds the same and makhāzin [المخازن] reminds me Russian word магазин [magazin]- shop, store.

    • Abdul Wahab Saleem

      Abdul Wahab Saleem

      July 15, 2018 at 7:14 PM

      JazakAllah Khair for your useful input.

  6. Avatar


    August 4, 2018 at 12:43 PM

    Maa sha Allah, very Informative. May Allah reward you immensely.

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Book Review of Revolution by the Book by Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (Formerly known As H Rap Brown)

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Imam Jamil Al-Amin’s magnum opus, Revolution by the Book, is a paradigmatic Islamic liberation theology manifesto. It gives an outline of spiritual cultivation specific to the experience of the marginalized who are advocating for freedom from structural oppression, particularly Black Americans in the context in which Imam Jamil is writing. In his book, Imam Jamil Al-Amin argues that Islamic religious practice, which he refers to as “the Muslim program” provides a successful guide to revolution, specifically for Black Americans who have been marginalized, dehumanized, and oppressed in the United States for over 400 years. This revolution is not to be understood in the context of the masses suddenly rising up and overthrowing the ruling class. Rather, it is a suttle and spiritual revolution of the hearts. Imam Al-Amin argues that only through the revolution of self can a person be able to revolutionize the community around them. He writes that “It is said in Islam that the greatest struggle is the struggle against the evil of self. The struggle against the evil of self is the great Jihad, the foremost holy struggle,” alluding to a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad(Peace be upon him). The book’s quotations are almost completely from two sources: the Qur’an and ahadith, which are sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. Revolution by the Book is adorned with these two sources of Islamic knowledge. It is seldom impossible to find a page of the book without either a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad(Peace be upon him), or a verse of the Qur’an. Imam Jamil Al-Amin’s book begins with Surah Fatihah, the opening chapter of the Qur’an. Following them come the 10 chapters of the book all deal with a particular aspect of this program. Each chapter begins with a particular set of verses of the Qur’an.

The first chapter, “God Alone” stresses the importance of belief in God in transforming society. Without this belief, society cannot move forward in improving itself. It is followed by a chapter entitled “Born to Worship” which emphasizes the importance of prayer. Thereafter comes a chapter titled “Holy Money” which speaks of the importance of charity, which morphs into a discussion on the sociopolitical imperative of investing one’s money in the community. Then comes “God’s Diet” which speaks of the importance of fasting and eating healthy food. The fifth chapter is titled “Pilgrim’s Progress” and mentions the Hajj, and how Islam connects Muslims to a broader community of brothers and sisters around the world. The book is then followed by a chapter titled “God Natured” which speaks of the importance of the fitrah, or original nature of submission to God that all human beings possess, described in a hadith by the Prophet Muhammad(Peace be upon him). The book then presents a chapter titled “Turn Right at the Light” which emphasizes the importance of repentance when one commits a sin. Chapter 8, “In Your Family” emphasizes the importance of the nuclear family, and is followed by a chapter titled “Everybody Can Fight But Everybody Can’t Win” which emphasizes the importance of practicing the program and living by an Islamic epistemology, as opposed to ascribing to secular ideologies such as nationalism and Marxism. The book ends with a chapter titled “Finish Lines” which accents how death can come any day for a human being, and how the Muslim must prepare for it, each and every day. The book then culminates with Surah Asr, a three verse chapter of the Qur’an dealing with the importance of time, and making the most of the limited time that man has on Earth. Revolution by the Book serves as a call to action, intended to resurrect the soul of the reader, so that they can ultimately resurrect a broken society. The text reads in the voice of a powerful figure. In order to understand just how powerful of a figure the author is, one must understand both his contributions as both an Imam and leader of American Muslims as Imam Jamil Al-Amin, as well as his contribution to the freedom struggle of Black Americans as H. Rap Brown.

Imam Jamil Al-Amin is a leader within the Dar Al Islam movement, a Sunni Muslim, predominantly Black American, Islamic movement in the United States. Founded in 1962, the Dar Al Islam movement was the single largest Sunni Muslim organization in the United States until Imam Warith Deen Mohammed transitioned his father’s formerly pseudo-Islamic Nation of Islam to Sunni Islam in 1976. The Dar Al Islam movement’s ideology can be seen in the sources that Imam Jamil Al-Amin cites. He uses very few sources outside of the Qur’an and ahadith of the Prophet Muhammad. This is because the Dar Al Islam movement overall did not affiliate itself to any particular madhab, or school of Islamic jurisprudence, nor did it affiliate itself to any Sufi order. However, the organization is distinct from Salafis in the sense that they are not anti-madhabb or anti-Sufism. But one can see the ideology of not following a particular Sufi Shaikh or school of thought in this work of Jamil Al-Amin. Rather, he focuses on preaching to people the Qur’an and authentic sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. This is not necessarily an issue as he is preaching very rudimentary and basic Islamic teachings, and means of purifying oneself in this book.

The title of the book may also seem strange to some. As opposed to a revolutionary manifesto, the book seems to rather be a book on how to change one’s own self and how to restructure society from there. Before his conversion to Islam, Imam Jamil Al-Amin was known as H. Rap Brown, a charismatic and nationally-known leader within the civil rights movement. He would be mentored by now-Congressman John Lewis, who was then Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. At the young age of 23, H. Rap Brown became Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, succeeding Stokely Carmichael. Under Brown’s leadership, SNCC entered into a working relationship with the Black Panther Party. Brown took the nonviolent out of the name of the organization, and renamed it the Student National Coordinating Committee, lamenting that “violence is as American as cherry pie” and that they would “use violence, if necessary” and fight for freedom “by any means necessary.” 

While chairman of SNCC, Brown simultaneously was appointed Minister of Justice of the Black Panther Party. In 1971, Brown was sentenced to 5 years in jail for “inciting a riot”, a crime that many suggest came out of the Cointelpro program that specifically had the goal of “neutralizing” him. It was in jail that chaplains from the Dar Al Islam movement invited him to their weekly Friday prayers. Familiar with Islam because of Malcolm X, H. Rap Brown attended Friday prayers without becoming Muslim. After a few Friday prayers, H. Rap Brown converted to Islam and took the name Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin. Upon leaving jail, Imam Jamil Al-Amin studied the classical Islamic sciences in West Africa, India, and Pakistan. Following that, he became Imam of a community of around 400 Muslims in the West End neighborhood of Atlanta. The title Revolution by the Book comes from Imam Jamil Al-Amin’s credentials as a revolutionary. He is alluding to how he feels that his Islam is the culmination of his revolutionary days in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Black Panther Party, and that he has now finally found a means of making this revolution possible. He says in the prologue of the book that becoming Muslim did not mean a shift from his revolutionary lifestyle. Rather, he says that Islam was a “continuation of a lifestyle” of the struggle for freedom for Black Americans.

Imam Jamil Al-Amin writes that:

It became evident that to accomplish the things we had talked about in the struggle, you need a practice. Allah says He does not change the condition of people until they change was is in themselves. That is what Islam does, and it points out right from wrong. It points out truth from falsehood.

He continues on to say that:

It is criminal that in, in the 1900’s, we still approach struggle…sloganeering saying, “by any means necessary,” as if that’s a program. Or “we shall overcome,” as if that’s a program. Slogans are not programs. We must define the means which will bring about change. This can be found in…[what] Allah has brought for us in the Qur’an and in the example of the Prophet. Our revolution must be according to what Almighty God revealed…Successful struggle requires a Divine program. Allah has provided that program.

The remainder of the book outlines the ingredients for successful struggle. Imam Jamil Al-Amin claims that the most important aspect of revolution is belief in God. Without this, none of the other objectives such as prayer, fasting, charity, repentance, and pilgrimage to Mecca can be actualized and implemented. He also goes on to argue a divine command morality. If a person does not have belief in God, they lack an objective morality to base their lifestyle on. As a result, they fall into a subjective morality that makes it very easy for them to stumble and constantly reinterpret their values in accordance to their whims and desires when faced with pressure to compromise their values. To successfully mount a revolution, a person needs to be solidly grounded and not constantly reinterpreting what is right and wrong. Such an action could jeopardize the struggle and place the one engaging in the revolution in danger of selling out his or her values. Divine command morality serves as an anchor for the person revolutionizing society. This is why Imam Jamil Al-Amin believes that Imaan, or faith in God is the single most important ingredient to successful struggle. It is also interesting to note that the Arabic word “imaan” which means faith comes from “Amaan”, a root word that means safety or security. Through faith, believers are strongly anchored and have safety and protection from being misled by their whims and desires.

Imam Jamil Al-Amin writes that:

Iman is an essential ingredient to success, for a fearful, doubtful person is unable to struggle; he gives up easily, submits to every oppressor, compromises his integrity, acquiesces in injustice, and accepts enslavement. In contrast, a person who has taqwa, God-consciousness, fears only the Ruler of the Universe, Almighty Allah; he perseveres against the greatest of challenges, maintains his integrity, resists injustice, refuses enslavement, and fights oppression without regard to man-made standards.

Next, Imam Jamil Al-Amin claims that the most important aspect of this struggle is prayer. He says that prayer is the center of the community. He quotes the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad that prayer is what separates a believer form a disbeliever. He also quotes verse 11 of Surah Raad which states that “God does not change the condition of people until they change was is in themselves.” This is the most quoted verse of the Qur’an in his entire book, emphasizing the change in self that is required for the revolution that SNCC and the Black Panther Party imagined. He asserts that prayer is the key to this change, and that prayer is also what binds his mosque together.

Imam Jamil Al-Amin writes that:

Any building is just an edifice. The mosque is built to make prayer. Prayer is the key to the community, not buildings…Prayer is a practice, a program, that begins to make you aware, that makes you conscious of the Creator; it makes you fear Allah, and that brings about within you a transformation, a change that is necessary to throw off that whole system that you have become accustomed to. It is the beginning of a revolution in you which expands to other aspects of you reality.

Following his emphasis on prayer as the foundation of successful Islamic practice, Imam Jamil emphasizes other very important aspects of Islam, cemented with verses from the Qur’an and ahadith. Aside from just emphasizing the religious obligation of the action, Imam Jamil Al-Amin connects the idea to a sociopolitical imperative. It is not just his goal to explain to the reader why the action is religiously mandated. But he also seeks to connect it to why it is important for the social resurrection of the community in which a person resides. For example, he presents many hadith and the verses of Qur’an on the importance of charity. But beyond that, he connects the idea to the spiritual and social resurrection of Black Americans. 

Charity — you cannot have an effective social struggle, a successful movement, if you don’t have charity. You cannot have a successful revolution if people don’t have charity, if you are not willing to sacrifice. Sacrifice deals with giving, with sharing those things that Allah places in your trust? 

Beyond just laying out religious obligations, Imam Jamil Al-Amin points out many flaws in modern society, particularly those of materialism and corporatism. In his view, modernity is filled with many diseases that have deprived people of who they really are. People just go around consuming food, drugs, and entertainment, and are unable to cultivate their souls, or even ponder the fact that they have one. He writes about how society is devoid of values and how Americans have become a people who just go from one holiday to another without contemplating their existence. Americans have become a people not just intoxicated by drugs. More prominently, they have been intoxicated by holidays and entertainment.

We talk about intoxicants. We reduce the problem to cocaine and crack. But indeed, it is more than cocaine and crack. In fact, the problem is not crack and cocaine, the problem is that we live in a society that has made a virtue out of being high. This society arouses within you desires and passions that make you seek to escape reality by being high. Everything is geared toward keeping you in a state of euphoria. One holiday follows the next: Christmas to New Years, to Easter, to Mother’s Day, to Father’s Day, to the NBA playoffs, to the Superbowl, to championship fights, to Olympics. Everything keeps you high. Everything is geared towards keeping you away from encountering reality, everything is geared to keep you from remembering God.

He advises parents on the dangers of this corporatism also. Imam Jamil writes that: 

Your child must stop eating what the media sells; the television, radio, comics, magazines, recordings, etc. You must help them control their lives; you must take control of your children’s lives away from their enemy. You strive hard to teach your children right, then you turn the television on and allow everything that is against your religion, against your Lord, to be propagated in your house. You lock your doors and windows then turn on the TV.

One weakness in this text comes with regard to who Imam Jamil Al-Amin’s audience is. One review referred to it as “A valuable text for new Muslims and an excellent introduction to the fundamental teachings of Islam for non-Muslims.” So perhaps it is a text aimed at introducing non-Muslims to Islam, while also allowing Muslims to review the basic teachings through the context of his unique life experience. But which non-Muslims is he specifically speaking to? Is he speaking to Black revolutionaries who are not yet Muslim? He could be speaking to past colleagues of his from SNCC and the Black Panther Party. Is he making the case to them that Islamic practice presents a necessary program for them to actualize what they want in regard to this revolution?  Is that the purpose of this book? Or is he is referring to Islam as the continuation of the struggle in a rhetorical way. He is saying to his people that they do not need to wage revolution through protests and the ballot box. Rather, by the practice of Islam, each and every person transforming themselves will transform society. After all, society is merely the summation of a bunch of individuals. If all parts of the whole have revolutionized themselves, the whole too should revolutionize itself.

I also question if it weakens Islam or sells the deen short to present it as a means of good revolutionary praxis as opposed to salvation. The objective of Islam is to get close to God, not to restructure society. But establishing justice and ridding the world of this oppression is a result that comes from closeness to God. One begins a Muslim out of belief in God, and out of realization that the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is the messenger of God, the last of prophets, and the greatest human being to ever walk this Earth. It is obvious that Imam Jamil Al-Amin understands. He emphasizes that the self must be transformed before anything else and that it is important to be aware of one’s close proximity to death. I wonder if maintaining the notion of a revolutionary self is to essentially say to those from his past days in the freedom struggle that he has not changed as a person. The H. Rap Brown who asserted that “violence is as American as cherry pie” has discovered what real revolution is all about—the greater jihad against the nafs. It is a sign that he has not committed some sort of political apostasy towards the freedom struggle, or cultural apostasy towards Black people. Rather, he has discovered that this materialism and lack of spiritual ethic guiding the freedom struggle can be purified and best applied when put into Islamic guidelines. 

For Muslims, this is an especially important text. It reminds them to fulfill the basic obligations of their religion and the evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah for fulfilling these basic obligations. It also connects to a figure who is seldom forgotten. Many know of Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, but few know of the Imam Jamil Al-Amin. In addition, the Dar Al Islam movement which he was a leader in provides a model for dawah and Islamic institution building. But moreover, Imam Jamil Al-Amin’s book exemplifies to the reader that purification of the self does not have to take place in a vacuum of political quietism. Rather, in purifying themselves, the reader too can purify the community around them. Revolution by the Book is a seminal text representing a seminal figure.

Both Imam Jamil Al-Amin and his manifesto will be etched in the American Muslim imagination for years to come as symbols for purification of self, and the purification of society, insha Allah. 

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Your contribution to MuslimMatters is building a reputable, credible source of news that other outlets look to for clarification.Click To Tweet

8. Articles published on MuslimMatters have appeared in Supreme Court Briefings, reading requirements for College Classes, and Interfaith Education events, granting their authors reach beyond what micro-blogging could ever accomplish.

9. Many of our pieces have inspired Friday Khutbas, and Khateebs from all over the country have shared how something they read gave them insight and inspiration to write a more informed, more relevant sermon than they would have been able to otherwise.

10. MuslimMatters brings difficult and otherwise taboo issues to the table for discussion, not shying away from the responsibility of trailblazing and myth busting in the Muslim community.

MuslimMatters is provided for free, and supported entirely by readers like you. So please, help us continue our work.

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#Current Affairs

A Letter From The Executive Director

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

AssalamuAlaikum Dear MM Fam,

Alhamdulillah in 2007, I was fortunate to be a part of the team that started up a little website called It’s hard to believe it’s been over a decade. In that time MM has grown from a group blog into a full-blown media entity giving an independent and authentic Islamic voice to contemporary spiritual, social, and political issues that we face.

MM's work has been featured in CNN, Washington Post, ESPN, Buzzfeed, and more. This platform has grown tremendously and now reaches millions of readers every year.Click To Tweet

With 2020 around the corner, we are at a critical juncture. Traffic has grown beyond our current capacity – yes, we’re basically the masjid that now has an expansion project lol – and we have to grow in order to meet our community’s media needs.

Your help is needed to invest in the MM infrastructure so we can not only keep up with our current growth but also develop new content such as podcasts and videos to continue to reach more readers all across the globe.

Your contribution on #GivingTuesday is particularly vital as it will count as double with a Facebook match. We need your help to make vital improvements that will enable MuslimMatters to continue being a voice for the voiceless and a platform for mainstream Islam in the media.

This #GivingTuesday I’m raising money for Muslimmatters Inc and your contribution will make an impact, whether you donate $5 or $500. Every little bit helps. And on GivingTuesday Dec 3, Facebook will match a total of $7 million in donations first come, first served. Thank you for your support.

Contribute what you can, and please share this post to help us hit our #GivingTuesday target to keep MuslimMatters strong for 2020.


Omar Usman

Executive Director

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