Mahmoud Andrade Ibrahim
In a 2006 review by Ayman Fadel of Sherman Jackson’s book, Islam and the Black American: Looking Toward the Third Resurrection, which appeared in an online blog, he writes that “The Blackamerican Muslim today has lost control of the definition of Islam to Immigrant Islam in the United States, not because immigrant Muslims and their descendants practice a “purer” Islam but because of their relative affluence, their ideological self-assuredness and weaknesses in Black Religion*. ... Immigrant Islam, by devaluing “the West”, prevents Blackamerican Muslims from contributing positively to Blackamerican's struggle against white supremacy. The psychological dislocation of abandoning their own selves in exchange for a foreign, identity-based Islam leaves Blackamerican Muslims ineffective in both the secular and religious spheres.”
"To be a BlackAmerican Muslim once conjured up images of progressive, sober, community active men and women who had their fingers on the pulse of the Black Community. I fear that this is no longer the case." m.a.ibrahim
*Black Religion in this regard is the God centered-protest of and opposition to white supremacy that began the moment the first African landed on these shores in bondage. No movement in America among black people has ever been successful without paying proper respect to Black Religion. (click here)
Below is a reprinted essay from my book: The Dar ul Islam Movement : An American Odyssey Revisited (Jummah Productions)
Mahmoud Andrade Ibrahim
The anti-establishment rhetoric of the 1960’s, as far as African American Muslims are concerned is crystallized in the quote by Malcolm X when he said, “we are not Americans, we are the victims of Americanism". The statement was meant to underscore the inequities of a society that went around the world spreading the gospel of democracy and presenting itself as an advocate of human rights while denying 22million Negroes those same rights and protections at home. These words however, would be internalized by many of the African American Muslim leadership as a 'truism' which then allowed a discourse of alienation and psychological distance from the only homeland known to them, America. But in taking this notion of homeland away and replacing it with ideas of the universal 'ummah', that nebulous collective ’state of brotherhood’, the African American Muslims are left empty with no emotional connection to their real and tangible homeland and no physical geographic location to call their own.
And understandably so, the present leadership is unable to motivate and mobilize their respective congregants because this membership feels that they have no vested interest in constructing anything here. The result is that there is no viable school system or sustainable social services offered within or by the American Muslim Community and the prospects for healthy and vibrant contributions to the America’s tapestry of experiences remain questionable.
The lesson that got lost here is that the words of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Fannie Lou Hammer, Daisy Bates, Frederick Douglas and all the other warriors of freedom and justice in this country were born in the deepest part of American patriotism. And found in the nooks and crannies of the deepest kind of love for this country is Americas most honored tradition, dissent. At the center of the struggle for freedom in this country is a love so great that we want America to live up to it’s best principles. We criticize the U.S domestic agenda so that it can correct itself and become a better place. We protest and boycott American policies here and abroad because of it’s failure to live up to its' potential. To be the best it can be.
The lesson that was missed by this African American Muslim leadership is that being Muslim and adhering to Islamic principles is the spiritual and moral foundation that would enable us to make America a better place, or in the language of the Qur'an, to 'establish what is right and forbid what is wrong'. In other words, promote justice.
Because of this sense of alienation and emotional distance or disconnectedness, the African American Muslim community through it’s leadership, has been sidelined in the efforts at bettering our condition and has been absent altogether in the struggles for a more just society. We have hundreds of Imams and only a few human rights activists of note. This gap must be bridged. Community architects or developers are far and few between. The discourse about human dignity and social equity has been divorced from ongoing discussions in the Muslim community and replaced with ideas of a ‘global ummah’, which like ‘world peace’ is a most elusive commodity but which can be talked about in lectures and conferences in the noblest of terms and with absolutely no forum for accountability.
Part of the prescription for this malady is to recognize and embrace our unique American-ness. Embrace the notion that like those African Muslims who were captured and forced into a system of slavery and with their blood and sweat helped to build this nation, we have more than a passing interest in America, we have a right to America. We have a right and responsibility to ensure that America lives up to it’s stated principles as articulated in it’s Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Those noble ideals are shared ideals and founded in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. And while we, as American Muslims, hold ourselves to a higher Authority, we can participate in the construction of a more equitable and just America. (click here)