Unprotected and Risky Religious-Social Intercourse
and the spread of
Religious & Socially Transmitted Diseases
by Mahmoud Andrade Ibrahim
American sports wisdom states that ‘the best offense is a good defense’. In looking at the condition of Islam in America through the eyes of a blackamerican-Muslim, I would agree with that advice.
The 1950’s and 60’s witnessed the emergence of African and Asian countries from colonial rule. The evolution from colonial domination psychologically and philosophically supported blackamerican efforts to assert themselves for human dignity right here at home. Many blackamericans began to investigate in earnest the liberation personalities and movements of Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta, Ahmed Sekou Toure, Amilcar Cabral, Patrice Lumumba, Mahatma Ghandi and Jawaharlal Nehru among others.
Impressed by the courage of these movements, blackamericans resisted and challenged white segregation particularly in the South known as the ‘jim-crow’ laws. Blackamericans were active in the movements to reform America such as the NAACP (national association for the advancement of colored people) and CORE (congress of racial equality) . We also exhibited equal and divergent attitudes of resistance. Our spectrum of resistance included sit-ins at lunch counters across America, integrating high-schools and colleges, agitating nationwide for economic parity within the nation’s railroad services etc. On the other hand, the blackamerican involvement in revolutionary movements such as the Republic of New Afrika, the Black Panther Party, the Communist Party and various anarchist efforts all inform us of a collective social consciousness. The target of the reform, counter-reform and revolutionary movements was white structual racism. Count among these socially conscious counter-cultural-religious efforts The Nation of Islam founded by Elijah Muhammad, The US Organization headed by Ron Karenga and the Orthodox Muslims. The sub-divisions of the Orthodox Muslim movements in the late 1950’s and early 60’ were comprised of the Sunni, Shia and the Ahmeddiyah movements.
In an effort to appease the growing resistance movements in America President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law a document known as the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The aim of this instrument was to curtail or at least obscure the open manifestation of white racism.
On the heels of this important act of legislation was the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. This document ended the preferential treatment given to European nations that allowed unrestricted immigration to America and served to widen the door for immigrants from Asia , Africa and Latin America. Again, the United States was very conscious of its image around the world as the chief spokes-nation for democracy and equality and needed to bring into line some of its more overt racist policies.
Enter the New Muslim Immigrant
With the gates of immigration open, peoples and cultures from the Muslim world began to trickle in. The blackamerican Muslim welcomed these fellow travelers with opened arms only to discover in most cases that these new arrivals displayed the same disdain for them that they had already experienced from white americans. Racism is nothing new for the blackamerican Muslim, consequently the antenna for even the most subtle forms of this behavior is extraordinarily sensitive and tuned in for any possible breach of trust. The un-guarded condescension of these newbies was apparent and hurtful to him.
As the numbers of these new immigrants began to increase so did the organizations and institutions that they formed to represent them. The most ubiquitous of these organizations was the masjid. Every new masjid that popped up in the various towns and cities all across america reflected the very specific cultural orientation of its’ founders. Thus these masjids became known as the Pakistani masjid, the Arab masjid, the Turkish masjid , the Filipino or the Indian Masjid. Other organizations such as the Muslim Students Association (MSA), The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and many others made their appearances.
While these organizations outwardly espouse the tenets of global brotherhood and fraternity Blackamericans have come to recognize, all too painfully, the exclusion from the inner-circles which determine the direction and focus of these national groups. This even as some prominent BlackAmerican are featured at sponsored events which draw large crowds and increase the revenue for these organizations.
The primary function of these national immigrant-driven organizations is to serve as a catalyst to transition the immigrant experience into an American experience and provide a social network while at the same time keep strong relationships and connections ‘back-home’.
Blackamerican Muslims in America
The early days of Orthodox Islam in America among blackamericans can be traced back to the late 1920’s and early 30’s with Sheikh Dawud Ahmad Faisal in New York, Sh. Wali Akram in Ohio and Sh.Muhammad Ezaldeen in Pennsylvania . The History of organized Sunni Movements, most notably the Dar ul Islam Movement, begins to take off around 1960-1961 and our attempts to establish the sunnah or practice of Muhammad (pboh) as a viable lifestyle were froth with obstacles. Besides not having enough supportive literature translated into English and essentially no one among us who was proficient in Arabic, the lingua franca of Islam, we nevertheless forged ahead with all of the best intentions, and at least in New York established a place of worship-the masjid, a school with grades from pre- K to the eighth grade, the first American halal meat-store with animals that were purchased by the movement from a farm upstate NY and then slaughtered by us, transported back to Brooklyn, in our own truck. We owned and operated Dar-ul Miska, an incense factory with national distribution. We had a magazine, Al Jihadul Akbar with national distribution. The Dar ul Islam Movement also maintained a state wide Muslim prison chaplain's organization that serviced State, Federal and City prisons and in the 1980's was folded into the New York State Department of Corrections. It should also be noted that the Dar ul Islam Movement had a presence in over 40 American cities all reporting to one Imam, Sh. Yahya Abdul Karim.
The rhetoric of the Movement was to establish Islam and institute the shariah. Having been converts from Christianity we were already familiar with this concept as it is contained in the Lords Prayer, "Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven". Given our limited understanding of the complexity of the legal systems within Islam, we were satisfied with the idea that the shariah was the Law of Allah and that we should try to implement it in our daily lives and in our collective dealings with each other.
Islam, for most blackamerican Muslims both then and now, is viewed as a religious- moral platform from which we can begin to address our spiritual needs and many of the social ills in our various communities. Quality education, racial inequality and the premeditated economic stratifications that are clearly intended to keep blackamericans away from entering the security of the American middle class are the issues of uppermost concern to us. However, with the constant interactions with members and organizations from the around the Muslim world, the impetus for the up-liftment and the betterment of the Blackamerican community has been redirected to the concerns in far off and distant lands. The blackamerican Muslim now funnels his or her energies towards the injustices in Palestine or the events in Kashmir or the Hindu-Muslim conflicts in India or the Muslim-Christian troubles in Nigeria . It seems that Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Egypt have been dominating our discussion as of late.
When an individual no longer cares for his personal well being, when he neglects his hygiene, when his personal appearance such as grooming no longer matters to him, these are all symptoms of disease. Of an illness usually related to his mind. Mental illness. So too when a community neglects those areas of activities that insures its well being, such as sanitation, quality education and safety, these symptoms too reflect a disease. A social disease.
The blackamerican Muslim has been victim to some very specific social diseases. These social diseases are airborne. They can be contracted almost anywhere Muslims tend to gather. They can be contracted at your local masjid, at your favorite halal restaurant. They can certainly be found at various Muslim conferences. These diseases are manifest whenever a blackamerican is encouraged or prompted to be concerned about any social condition that is outside of his or her experience. Blackamerican Muslims should be careful not to engage in ‘risky’ or ‘unprotected’ religious-social intercourse.
This RSTD (religious-socially transmitted disease) can be spotted in an individual or community when:
that individual or community no longer cares for the immediate neighborhood in which they find themselves
he or she acts aloof and distant from the needs of their immediate surroundings
an individual takes on the behavior of someone from different lands and cultures
self hating attitudes are present
khutbahs (sermons) are given that suggest that there is some justification to cause harm to his neighbor rather than help and aid them
an individual tries to persuade another into acting in a destructive way which puts the safety of his fellow citizens, Muslim or not, in harms way
Condoms ( Preventative Apparel for fighting the spread of infection )
Islam encourages social intercourse among Muslims throughout the world. However, some relationships contain hints and or traces of RSTD and precautions should be taken to avoid infection and or compromise the integrity of the blackamerican Muslim communal body:
acquire knowledge of Islam and its relationships to social justice
acquire knowledge of the blackamerican struggle for human dignity in the face of white racism
be familiar with the various social movements and the roles played by blackamericans to emphasize the nobility of the human spirit
don’t waste time on issues that are not in the interest of yourself, your family and your community
develop a strategy to identify what the problems in your community are and a methodology to resolve those issues
don’t allow others from dysfunctional and backward cultures to have any impact on solutions that you have determined are best to remedy a particular malady in your environment or community
Put your trust in Allah and wear a condom!