Islam & Black Power

Recently I've been asked alot about how i came to Islam. While in college, I became aware that I was born Muslim and made the conscious commitment to practice the religion. Since then I hadn't done alot of reflection about my reversion experience. Probably because no one actually probed into why I made the choice, what the feeling was etc. Since i've been a community organizer, i've been challenged to be clear about past experiences and how they have led up to this point. At a work related training colleagues from across our national network asked me how i came to Islam. The sudden interest was sparked by a faith reflection I gave one morning before our plenary session. As I reflected on it, I realized that the door to Islam for me was Black Power. Everyone comes to Islam through different doors. And the door they come to the religion through shapes their experience and expression of the religion. I've matured in alot of ways since my initial reversion and yet I still must own how I came into the religion and be able to express its relevance to my development in the religion. Islam helped me to be more clear about who I was not just as a human being but as a BLACK human being in a country that has systematically oppressed and denied the humanity of blacks. It empowered me to feel secure in my identity as a black person because Allah created me black. Blackness has always represented a mark of oppression and a badge of shame in the western world but with the rise of Islam in America came a shift in discourse around what it meant to be black. Blackness in connection with the divine. And so i would be amiss if I didn't lift up the honorable Elijah Muhammad and his introduction of an adapted Islam that fit the unique African American cultural experience with oppression by the white power structure. Orthodox Muslims, Christians, Jews and others can say what they will about this man, but he did more for the economic, political, and social development for black people in America than many acknowledge, understand, or want to give him credit for. 
sleep140 sleep140
22-25, M
7 Responses Jul 9, 2010

Asalamualaikum, i see nothing racist or whiny about this post. I am white, and I am Muslim. Black people in the United States do face a lot of oppression to this day. co,img from a WASP-ish family, and having a Father who is reluctant to see all races and cultures equally.....i can see where many white people would have no clue what its like to grow up in a black household, live in a black neighborhood...try to find a job, succeed in school.....etc. because I myself have no clue. moving from a town in Colorado, to a racially divided city in the south as a teenager however has made me at least partially aware of the truth. in Colorado i knew 3 black people my age, none of them were any different than the rest of us. like many of the people in my town their parents were scientists, and doctors and college professors. they competed in triathlons and went rock climbing. in fact i was more of an outcast because i was poor. <br />
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i moved to Florida just before high school...thrown into a classroom environment which consisted of self segregation, racial slurs, fighting and lots of other things i didn't understand. and like most kids, i settled into my place amongst my own color. Ive been intimidated, and robbed, made fun of, skipped in line, and Ive seen some pretty despicable behavior coming out of the black community. Despite this i am not willing to ignore the fact that the black community is clearly oppressed. I will not allow myself to believe that there are neighborhoods full of starving people, with underfunded elementary schools, and gas stations and liquor stores on every corner by their own choosing. NO grocery stores in sight. these neighborhoods have been systematically abandoned and ignored. and we wonder why the kids cant read upon entering the large county high school. the black community has every right to demand better. and we need to listen. If you think for a second that this man is whining you have no worldly clue. its the same ignorance that allows you to look away when you pass a black neighborhood.....and in all likelihood youve never seen one. <br />
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these people live in the neighborhoods that you would be reluctant to drive through. they are tough, they have to be, they are brought up with a different mentality...and you cant just expect them to shake it off. it despicable that in this country we allow these conditions to exist. and scold the people who shine a spotlight on it. <br />
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and Brother, in regards to your journey into Islam congratulations, and thank you for sharing your experience, i enjoyed your article. However i would like to emphasize that while the Nation of Islam did indeed bring many people to Islam, it was not a genuine example of Islam. And we should go to great lengths to disassociate ourselves from the ideologies contained within it that are not in line with the Sunnah. while simultaneously giving vast amounts of credit to those who are responsible for bringing us to it. InshaAllah, we can all be forgiven for our flaws. <br />
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Islam is for everyone.

Thank you my brother. Hope to hear more insight thoughts from you.

al-humidlilah. beautifully said nourradiance

I personally don't see sleep140's statement to be a racist one. Just because he is asserting his hard-earned comfort in being who he is doesn't mean he is being prejudice towards people of other races. God doesn't create us all to be equal in this world, because this world is simply a test to qualify us for the permanent Abode. I find being a female, challenging sometimes - challenging to my faith and my ego. But this is something God is testing me with. I allow myself to sink down in humility in order to rise up to be with God the Most High. And being Black, we all know - it imust be tough to be black (I'm Asian) - because we know many people with racist thoughts around us - perhaps even ourselves, if we can admit it. God doesn't look at our skin color - and there are many times in history that God raised the Black race as superpower nations as well - for example the Fatimid of Egypt, the Sankore Nation, and in fact many slaves that came to American shore were African Muslim princes, people of dignity from our human perspective. I believe that Elijah Muhammad did much to progress the cause of Islam and Blacks in America - however, I believe the plea to God for Islam dated even earlier. Those Muslim princes, fathers and mothers who were forced into slavery and Christianity, must have made urgent appeal to Allah to preserve their progeny as Muslims. The nature of du'a or supplication to God, is that it sometimes take a while.. Perhaps, only now Allah answers their du'a/supplication and turn the hearts of many African-Americans to Islam, their primal religion.<br />
May Allah continue to guide us to the path of Truth, and purify our hearts from racism, jealousy and greed, and embrace one another for His sake. Amin.

Oh, and Crass-ter, the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920. If my memory serves me right, the voting act that permitted African American's the unhindered right to vote wasn't passed until the 60's. While the 15th amendment was ratified in 1870 that prohibited denying the right to vote based on race, we all know that Black folks were systematically denied that right up until the voting rights act. C'mon lady, we are NOT on the same page. and to suggest that we are is denial of experiential differences, one of the typical forms of modern day racism/oppression.

lol and even more difficult for you to refrain from commenting at all, i'm sure. its racist whining nonsense because a perspective you don't agree is not valid right? how arrogant.

It's really hard for me not to say something very offensive in response to this racist whining nonsense.