يارب دع الكلمات من أفواهنا و نوايا قلوبنا مقبولة عندك
Oh My Lord! Let the words from my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you. Ameen
The Year was 1968
After becoming Muslim I began having trouble with my father, mostly because what I was bringing into the family was really ‘foreign’ . A different way of living, of ‘being’. My dress and my diet had changed and I wasn’t giving up an inch. And my father was stuck in his ways and couldn’t see what is was I was trying to do. AND, I couldn’t articulate or explain it to him the way it should have been explained. I was ‘young, dumb and full of ……..’
But part of what I was looking for was a way that we, as black people, could break out of some of the negative behaviors that I felt that was holding us back and live as a new revolutionary people with our own habits, rituals, dress, diet, holidays, ideas and values that were not rooted in the traditions of our oppressors. Some of this had to do with the existing stereotypes of black people and my reaction to them. But this journey meant ‘leaving’ all of those things that belonged to our previous lives, the negative baggage and taking on a new life that we called Islam. Malcolm X had already suggested that Islam was a total humanitarian lifestyle which held at its core the equality of all men before Allah and to a young black kid growing up in New York City in the 1950’s and 60’s who was well aware of the societal limitations placed on black people, this spiritual and cultural revolution was and still is a perfectly viable option. And so my journey began…..
The essays that follow are an attempt to aid in understanding the task that we as Blackamericans have in practicing Islam here in America. I draw a lot of my inspiration for our Prophet Dawud (as) who had to face similar circumstances, that of being a member of a stolen or captive people and the struggle to maintain his obligations to his Lord , his people and to the hostile powers that be. In one lament he is uncertain about the direction to take after being asked to entertain his captors by singing one of his songs of worship. His meditating upon this particular issue leads him to ask the question, “How can we sing our holy song in a strange land?”
The ‘song’ in this instance represents for me a life of human dignity. How do we as Black American people and as Muslims, live a life of dignity in a land that has in the past and continues to be in the present, aggressively hostile to our presence here? Our lives are the sum total of the struggles that we face and overcome in order to realize a truly dignified existence for both here and in the hereafter. And much of this has to do with our individual and communal intention. And so like Prophet Dawud (as) I offer this du’a, Oh My Lord ! Let the words from my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you. Ameen