It’s a Jazz Thing
(See: Have we Abdicated..pt 1)
Mahmoud Andrade Ibrahim
The stage was set, in the minds of many Blackamericans , this Islam was new and a little strange but somehow related to notions of upliftment and social development (do for self) . So the Orthodox novices, many of whom were cultural, intellectual and political activists gravitated towards Islam as a personal discipline to aid in their own individual and community struggles. Many were impacted by the life example of Malcolm X.
But what actually happened in our earnest efforts to learn this new religion, this new way of life, was the complete and utter destruction of any notion that the communities from which we came, mattered. This is not because there is any deficiency in Islam but because we brought on board a new set of managers that cared little for our well being or that of our communities. We were instructed in the primacy of lands distant and alien to our collective experience. These opportunistic managers / handlers, with titles like doctor and sheikh, managed to re-direct our energies away from the concerns and issues that were of primary importance to us such as racial parity in public education, the acquisition of technical skills to compete in the labor market and uplifting the race by giving back to our communities. These professionals minimized all of those efforts in order to place into focus the injustices that occurred in Palestine, Pakistan, Kashmir, Iraq etc. These spin doctors substituted their collective concerns for ours. In the language of the ivory tower, their dysfunctional political and social problems became the focus of our religious contemplation. And we were satisfied, we became complacent in the knowledge that we were ‘global’. The truth is we got played. (click here)
When I say that we have Abdicated*, I mean that we failed to make this thing of ours, ours. We didn’t own it. We didn’t take the classical standard and improvise on the theme. We didn’t alter the rhythm or the tempo, and improvise in the nooks and the crannies, we didn’t look for the melody in the spaces between the notes. No ! What we did was try to play the very same tune in the very same way, that was in the wrong key and in a different register because those very same handlers and managers, the self-appointed standard bearers couldn't read the sheet music correctly themselves.
And so… like bebop, like jazz, I’m playing a different tune. A variation on a theme. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes a bit raggedy, sometimes familiar and sometimes not. But it’s mine. And in the face of all who would say that I can’t,
I’ll call it Islam.
For Part 1, click below