The Danger of Delegitimizing Black Political Thought to Muslims: Why Muslims need Critical Race Theory!

“The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.” Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 5665, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2586

There are Muslims in Black neighborhoods impacted by the legacy of Jim Crow, black codes, blockbusting, redlining, and a litany of other racially discriminatory policies. They include Muslims such as Rafiq, a former gang leader of Chicago, from the neighborhood of Altgeld Garden, a segregated community that racist city planners intentionally placed toxic waste dumps and garbage incinerators, who stated, “If it hadn’t been for Islam, man, I’d probably be dead.” It includes Jon, from a black neighborhood in Minnesota that was subjected to racially restrictive covenants and exclusionary zoning policies, who once stated “I lost my oldest brother to gang violence when I was six years old, I have five older brother all of them have been shot, and been to prison. I’ve been shot. I have been to jail. Learning about Islam has given me a purpose. Learning about the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and the companions of the prophet, pbuh, these were soldiers who were all about uplifting the community.”

Moreover, it includes perhaps the most famous of African-American Muslims, Malcolm X. Who upon noticing his former gang hideout spot on his way to lecture to Harvard Law school, thought to himself “I had sunk to the very bottom of the American white man’s society when–soon now, in prison– I found Allah and the religion of Islam and it completely transformed  my life.”

These Muslims are just as part of the Muslim Ummah as Palestinians children forced into brutal interrogation rooms by Zionists settlers and Uyghur Muslims in China.  For such Muslims, critical race theorists from Derrick Bell to Dr. Tommy Curry have provided indispensable political insights into understanding the shift of racism from de’jure to de facto and the failure of liberal legal theory to provide adequate redress to structural racism. When it comes to understanding school desegregation, Derrick Bell’s analysis in Serving Two Masters and Dr Tommy Curry’s applications of critical race theory to understand police brutality has been instrumental to Muslims in communities impacted by Jim Crow.

In as much as Muslims who reside in communities impacted by Jim Crow are part of the Ummah. Instead of reacting to this part of the Ummah’s oppression with sleeplessness and fever due to blockbusting, predatory lending, and redlining, several popular Muslim public speakers have taken it upon themselves to render un-Islamic critical race theory and to speak and write about critical race theory as though it its usage by Muslims represents some threat to the faith.

As of recently, U.K based Muslim speaker Abdullah Andalusi stated that there is no need for critical race theory in Islamic discussions. Though, the initial critique of Abdullah Andalusi and Daniel Haqiqajtou was that critical race theory was Liberal, with Andalusi saying it part one of his reviews that “Derrick Bell himself admits he isn’t against liberal ideology per se, only some modern liberal projects that he sees hasn’t properly attained the objectives of complete equality they promised.” After lamenting the liberalism of Derrick Bell in part one of his critique, in part two, Abdullah Andalusi declares Bell and critical race theorists to be part of a neo-Marxist movement.  In this article, we respond to Abdullah Andalusi’s latest critique of critical race theory.

The Evaluative Framework  In Determining The Usefulness of Critical Race Theory to Muslims

 It is essential to note that African-American Muslims are both racial and religious minorities. According to the 2010 U.S census, African-Americans constitute 12% of the total American population. Within the African-American community itself, the majority of the population is Christian, with only a minority being Muslim.

In local struggles against manifestations of institutional racism, it is inevitable that African-American Muslims take from, are influenced by, and incorporate from concepts that may have been pioneered by African-American political thinkers who are not Muslim. Derrick Bell  writes that “Critical race theory is a body of legal scholarship, a majority of whose authors are both essentially people of color and ideologically committed to the struggle against racism, particularly as institutionalized and by law.” Critical race theory was not coined by Derrick Bell but is the name given to a vast field of legal scholarship that began to analyze post-jim crow oppression of African-Americans. The vast body of legal scholarship offers important political insights to Black people. Abdullah Andalusi declaring this body of knowledge to be unislamic because it has egalitarian sentiments or Derrick Bell said X that contradicts Islam downplays the ability of Black Muslims to incorporate and draw from this knowledge in ways that do not contravene Islam.

Therefore, Muslim anti-critical race theorists pointing out certain beliefs that Derrick Bell holds that run contrary to Islam is not saying much anything as to whether Muslims can accept critical race theory. Bell was not Muslim, it’s inevitable he may have a statement or two that doesn’t comport with Islamic teachings. Still, African-Americans including African-Americans Muslims, he offers indispensable insights on issues such as school segregation and the operation of racism in American society.

Thus, the crux of this debate cannot be whether every critical race theorist is a Muslim, whose every theory is rooted in Islam but he larger question is whether African-American Muslims can incorporate critical race theory in ways, which do not contradict foundational Islamic beliefs, to both understand racism, and combat it, and the answer is a resounding yes as critical race theory does not require one to compromise any Islamic belief.

 How Abdullah Andalusi misses Critical Race Theory’s Critique of Marxism

 Abdullah Andalusi outlines the basic premises of critical race theory, such as 1) racism is central to American society. 2) The disproportionate wealth gap between Afro-Americans and Euro-Americans is indicative of race-based domination, and 3) the U.S government’s decision to repeal racial segregation being rooted in need to improve its image in the context of the cold war and not because the government was generally interested in improving African-American plight. Abdullah Andalusi has not demonstrated how any of these foundational principles of critical race theory contravene any Islamic tenant.  Abdullah Andalusi has not even attempted to falsify any of these key concepts of critical race theory as false through deploying any Islamic knowledge.

Abdullah Andalusi himself admits that “CRT may not explicitly contain ideas that contradict foundational Islamic beliefs,like belief in One God, it is fundamentally based upon premises intractably connected to Neo-Marxism….”   Just what are these links to Neo-Marxism? Abdullah Andalusi says Bell’s work is rooted in egalitarianism.

How Abdullah Andalusi Makes The Same Argument Against Critical Race Theory as Marxists Whilst Claiming Critical Race Theory is Marxist.

Contemporary Marxists themselves do not see critical race theory as being part of a neo-Marxist movement. Quite the opposite. In the article, Critical Race Theory: A Marxist Critique, Marxist writer  Mike Cole writes that  critical race theory leads to the “homogenization of all white people” because “we should not lose sight of the life chances of millions of working-class white people who, along with racialized groups, are part of the 99 %, not the 1%.”

Abdullah Andalusi makes this exact argument against critical race theory in his lecture, The Middle Way: How Muslims should navigate Western society polarized between Right and Left Wing, where Abdullah Andalui proclaims “Not every white American is rich and powerful. Many of them are hillbillies and rednecks. These people are poor and looked down upon; they are called poor white trash.”  Both Marxist thinker Mike Cole and Abdullah Andalusi make the same argument that critical race theory homogenizes white people as being rich whereas most whites are working class.

What both Abdullah Andalusi misses in his marxist-like critique of critical race theory is the ways in which structural racism aids poor whites at the expense of upper class blacks.

As to the Abdullah Andalusi argument of critical race theorist being part of a neo-Marxist movement, he merely intentionally ignores or, more likely, is deliberately ignorant of the ways that critical race theory has been deployed to render Marxism as an ideology insufficient to redress structural racism.  The fact that Abdullah Andalusi inaccurately  perceives critical race theory as being part of a “neo-Marxist movement” impugns his ability to critique it accurately.

In Affluent and Black, and Still Trapped by Segregation, John Eligon and Robert Gebeloff note that “Black families making $100,000 or more are more likely to live in poorer neighborhoods than even white households making less than $25,000. This is particularly true in areas with a long history of residential segregation.”

A study from the Equality of Opportunity Project found that upper class Black folks face inequities in access to the health care system. Additionally, due to the history of racial segregation in housing and the deliberate placing of African-American neighborhoods in undesirable areas by white city planners, race and not class status was the largest factor in determining factor in exposure to  P.M 2.5, a damaging health particle created when fossil fuels are burned. The Environmental Protection Agency notes, “Black Americans are subjected to higher levels of air pollution than white Americans regardless of their wealth.”

Moreover, upper class Black people are subjected to racial profiling by police officers of lower income, including incidents where black folks of higher incomes have been arrested going into their own homes, and a wealthy African-American NBA player went into an expensive jewelry store and was subsequently harassed by police who thought he didn’t belong there.  Therefore, the critique that critical race theory has of Marxism, which Abdullah Andalusi misses, are how the white proletariat and white upper class perpetuate the oppression of black people.

Abdullah Andalusi’s accurately notes that W.E.B Dubois was influenced by Marxism but omits to mention W.E.B Dubois’ famous essay, titled Marxism and the Negro Problem, where Dubois indicated that Marxism failed to conceptualize how the white proletariat and white capitalist class equally exploited the Negro. In other words, Marxist emphasis on analyzing oppression through the lens of class and economics obfuscates how structural racism helps the white poor at the expense of even the black of upper economic classes. Andalusi replicates this error of Marxists by mentioning how there are poor white people in America in his critique of critical race theory.

Frank Wilderson, a prominent critic of Marxism within Black political thought, indicates that Marx’s concept of workers is inapplicable to Black people, writing: “Work is a white category. … The point is we were never meant to be workers…” In other words, the fact that Black people were brought to America as slaves as a source of unpaid labor. The fact that structural racism has compelled large segments of Black communities in inner cities into the position of the sub-proletariat, which Marx believes had no role to play in the “communist revolution” and was in fact a “threat to the revolution.”

This why many critical race theorists have seen Marxist ideology as unable to provide adequate to understand and redress to institutional racism.

Applying Abdullah Andalusi’s Association Fallacy 

What Abdullah Andalusi  makes  is an association fallacy whereby he concludes that elements of Marxist influence on critical race theory make the theory part of a  neo-Marxist movement.  Influential Muslim brotherhood thinker, Sayyid Qutb called for the creation of a vanguard that modeled themselves after the pious companions of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him that would implement Islam in the world, which on the surface level may seem similar to the Marxist Leninist call to establish a class conscious vanguard party composed of the working class. Of course, one can also see traces of Leninist influence in the way Hizb Tahrir’s Taqi al-Din al-Nabhan set up the organizational structures.

Interestingly enough committing the same association fallacy of Abdullah Andalusi, was Hamza Yusuf, who in a lecture titled “Framing Islam Into Marxist Thought”  referred to Qutb and Ali Shariati as both being  “repackaged Marxists” to the displeasure of many Muslims.

Of course, one may note that Ali Shariati wrote an entire book titled Marxism and Other Western Fallacies: An Islamic Critique and Sayyid Qutb viewed the proliferation of Socialist thought among Muslims as being indicative of jahiliya. Yet the association/influence fallacy deployed by Hamza Yusuf allows him to refer to Qutb and Shariati  as “repackaged Marxist” based upon perceived elements of Marxist influences in their works is also continuously committed by Abdullah Andalusi in his efforts to label  the black political thinkers in critical Race theory as being part of a neo Marxist movement.

Simply put, Abdullah Andalusi hasn’t done sufficient analysis to prove that critical race theory is a neo-marxist movement. Here is a challenge for him. Let’s take a specific analytical piece within critical race theory titled Serving Two Masters: Integration Ideals and Client Interests in School Desegregation Litigation by Derrick Bell.   In this article, Bell discusses the failure of school desegregation efforts. This article is considered a foundational work within critical race theory that brought attention to systemic school segregation against African-Americans.  What Marxist,  neo-Marxist, or Post-modern tools does Bell deploy to come to his legal analysis and how will the faith of an African-American Muslim be contravened by adopting Bell’s application of critical race theory to understand school desegregation? Lastly, how is neo-Marxism promoted through this work?

How Abdullah Andalusi misreads critical Race theory

The very fact that Abdullah Andalusi inaccurately perceptive critical race theory as being part of a “neo-Marxist movement” impugns his ability to comment on it legitimately. Abdulah Andalusi writes:

 

If “Whites” have more wealth than African-Americans do, CRT explains this as “domination.’. However, wealth disparity alone does not necessarily mean the domination of one group by the other. When the Muhajireen (emigrants) came with the Prophet (ﷺ) to Yathrib to start the Islamic polity, Al-Madinah (the City – a normative title if ever there was one), the Muslims of Madinah (the Ansar, helpers) had vastly more wealth than the emigrants, and this remained mostly the case. The Islamic concern was not to equalize wealth, but to ensure that the emigrants had their basic needs and requirements met…”

 

Critical race theory’s claims are reversal causal of what Abdullah Andalusi claims. critical race theorists look at manifestations of structural racism against black people from slavery, sharecropping, predatory lending, real estate discrimination, the disproportionate placing of loan sharks in black communities, racist banking practices and other forms of racially based oppression and from that concludes that whites having more wealth than Blacks are rooted in this larger  racial domination.

Additionally, critical race theory looks at ways in which the system of white supremacy grants even poor whites better-living arrangements than even upper-class blacks. Perhaps, most demonstrated by how the ability of racial segregation to confine even upper class Black Americans in neighborhoods wherein they are subjected to devastating health toxins on a much higher level than either poor whites.  Both critical race theories analyze how structural racism influences Blacks of the higher classes and the specifics as mentioned earlier as to how critical race theorists arrived at their conclusion that the white-Black wealth gap is a form of domination renders the rest of Abdullah Andalusi’s argument null and void.

Black-Americans have such minimal wealth that at current trends even two whole centuries from now they will continue to lag in terms of household wealth in comparison to whites.  Abdullah Andalusi’s analogy between Black Americans and White Americans, and the Ansar and Muhajireen is absurd for several reasons.

First, Black Americans was brought to America through forced migration on slave ships,  whites were able to accumulate and pass on transgenerational wealth through slavery, and even after slavery, the U.S government financially compensated white slave owners for losing their former slaves whereas former black slaves received nothing.  After slavery, Blacks were subjected to Black Codes that prohibited them from establishing businesses and other enterprises for socio-economic advancement, and many were forced into a de facto system of slavery known as sharecropping. The G. I Bill, which aided White Americans to have a path to homeownership, was denied to Blacks. The New Deal passed during the great depression to provide economic relief to American citizens were also denied mainly to Blacks.

Additionally, the American socioeconomic system facilitates white people building wealth from Black people in explosive ways that Islam would find objectionable. For example, the bank Wells Fargo steered Black people whom they referred as white people into obtaining high-interest usurious home mortgages. In Bank Accused of Pushing Mortgage Deals on Blacks,” Michael Powell notes “for a decade, systematically [singled] out blacks in Baltimore and suburban Maryland for high-interest subprime mortgages.” Option One, the mortgage wing of H & $ Block, charged a Black borrowers with a credit score of 523 $10, 635 to finance $167,000, while a white borrowers with a credit score of 520 paid $2275 to finance.  Black people with higher credit score were still given higher interest rates on mortgage loans than whites with lower credit score were once against demonstrates how structural racism facing Black Americans regardless of their economic class. In “The Collapse of Black Wealth,” by Monica Potts, she notes that the subprime mortgage crisis, in which many Black borrowers defaulted on high usurious loans, the devastated wealth of African-Americans.  Economic Policy Institute indicates, “black households had a median net wealth of just $4,900 in 2010, compared with $97,000 for white households. A third of black households had zero or negative wealth.”  A recent study from the Institute of Policy Studies also found that by 2083, the median wealth of Black households would likely fall to zero.

Though, while Islam does not seek to make human beings “absolutely equal” in terms of wealth such as Marxism when the source of wealth disparities are rooted in exploitative practices. Neither Islam would find objectionable and outright haram, i.e. the discriminatory racial issuing of high usurious loan, challenging such wealth inequality is not Un-Islamic, nor would the only goal of Muslims be to ensure the population at the receiving end of these unjust economic practices have their basic needs met. Theoretically speaking, if African-American families had their basic needs met in terms of food, clothing, and shelter (which is not the case), yet wealth disparities were still being facilitated due to racially discriminatory high-interest loans, this would fail to live up to Islamic standards of justice.  The fact that Islam emphasizes earning one’s wealth in ways which are halal (Islamically permissible) is an indications of this fact. On the day of judgment, humans will be questioned as to their wealth and how they earned it.  

Abdullah Andalusi’s Critique of CRT is just as applicable to non-CRT, Antiracism Scholarship

Like Muslim anti-critical race theorists Daniel Haqiqajtou, Abdullah Andalusia also posit that Muslims can learn about structural racism and “without having to read a single book of Derrick Bell or any of the coterie of CRT writers.” He then discusses how several of the studies I cited are outside the realm of critical race theory.  Abdullah Andalusi like Daniel Haqiqajtou fails to explain how scholarship on structural racism and studies on structural racism would not be a victim to the same critique as Bell. For example, the study I cited on wealth disparity between Blacks and Whites comes from an organization titled Equality of Opportunity Project, whose research is rooted in some liberal egalitarian premises that Abdullah Andalusi finds problematic in Bell. Abdullah Andalusi, based upon his same contentions against Bell would be forced to argue how the liberal assumptions of this study mean Muslims should reject it.

Additionally, several studies on institutional racism are conducted by Civil Rights Organizations that have foundational egalitarian premises that Abdullah Andalusi would find problematic. With the liberal egalitarian principle that human beings should be free from unreasonable intrusions of privacy, the ACLU conducted a study finding Blacks are subjected to police harassment at alarming rates. The study is rooted in liberal and not Islamic foundations as to why police harassment of Black people is wrong.   Is Abdullah Andalusi going to pen his next article why Muslims cannot accept the ACLU’s studies on police harassment of black people because its bases the notion that police harassment is bad on liberal concepts? If no, why are Bell’s insights on structural racism and how it operates to be rejected because he has egalitarian ideas influencing his work?

Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, where she discusses how various drug policies have mostly resulted in Black American men being subjected to a new Jim Crow. Her belief in Democratic Socialism guides much of her scholarship on the subject; Abdullah Andalusi could just as well argue this means Muslims cannot accept Alexander’s analysis on the Jim Crow because the Democratic socialist ideals undergirding her work, if adopted by Muslims, can inhibit the Caliphate.

Well, perhaps, Abdullah Andalusi and Daniel Haqiqatjou can present us with scholarship in the field of anti-racism wholly devoid of influences in western sociology or liberal assumptions of egalitarianism, or any un-Islamic influences whatsoever. Whose authors and researchers hold views, which in 100% conform to Islam in every way on topics ranging from slavery, predatory lending, black codes, redlining, Jim Crow… etc…  Present us with an Islamic alternative on understanding school desegregation so that Derrick Bell’s work is unnecessary.

 Remembering the Lessons of Imam Abdullah Haroon

The efforts of Muslim public speakers to render “unislamic” a body of knowledge that provides legal analysis on oppression of Black people should be a wake up call to Muslims.

Muslims should do well to remember the valuable lesson in the life of Imam Abdullah Haroon. He was an Imam in Apartheid South Africa who urged the Muslim community and Islamic scholars of his day to join in the effort of resisting apartheid. The Islamic scholars and the broader Muslim community at the end were apprehensive about joining blacks in fighting apartheid, concerned with Marxist influences on organizations such as the African National Congress and Pan-African Congress.

The Muslim Judicial Council of South Africa declared “Has the government forbidden the worship of Allah and spreading of Islam? Has the government closed down or ordered the demolition of any Mosque in a declared white area?”  So long as the Apartheid South Africa government did not prevent Muslims from their ritualistic acts of worships, the Muslim Judicial Council did not believe in joining the armed resistance against apartheid. The Muslim Judicial Council of South Africa did not perceive the ways in which apartheid hindered dawah to Islam, by segregating Blacks into Bantustans and forcibly subjecting them to Christian education.

The Muslim Judicial Council legal verdicts for why Muslims shouldn’t join the struggle against apartheid mirrors how Daniel Haqiqatjou while viewing critical race theory as threatening the aquidah of Muslims, failed to conceptualize how racial injustices have historically treated the aqidah of African-American Muslims. Though forced conversions to Christianity and corporal punishments being issued to enslaved Africans who openly practiced Islam.

In an effort to end apartheid, Imam Haroon reached out and built bridges with Black communities and liberation movements, such as the African National Congress and Pan-African Congress.  His stance, according to Ursula Gunther, represented, “A break with the ulama’s hegemony.”  Soon, Imam Haroon became a member of the Pan African Congress and was “dedicated to the overthrow of apartheid by all means at its disposal, including violence.” Imam Haroon was arrested under the Terrorism Act of 1967 and because of his struggle against apartheid; he would be assassinated by apartheid South Africa’s police force while under interrogation, because of him being classified as an embarrassment to the ulama of his day, “Haroon was virtually forgotten by Muslims.

Like the Muslim anti-critical race, theorists of today, the “scholars” of the Muslim Judicial Council were concerned about the Marxist influences of various Black anti-apartheid movements. As long as the apartheid government didn’t prevent them from religious acts of worship, they did not see it as obligatory to overthrow apartheid. Imam Abdullah Haroon was viewed as an embarrassment to the Muslim community of his day that few Muslims attended his jannazya.  Only years later, after the fall of apartheid, would Imam Abdullah Haroon’s name be honored with his Islamic scholars who criticized him being viewed as cowards.

The Muslim anti-critical race theorists of today mirror the Islamic scholars during the era of Imam Abdullah Haroon, a cowardly episode in Islamic history.   These Muslim anti-critical race theorists have little engagement with Muslims in blacks communities impacted by jim crow today, they dismiss a body of work dedicated to analyzing the oppression of black people as “nonsense”, they promote misconceptions of black political thinkers, and they demonstrate utter apathy towards actualizing Islamic resistance to white supremacy.

Muslims have a choice of deciding as to whether they will follow the path of Imam Abdullah Haroon and his unapologetic support of black resistance to structural racism, or follow in the way of the Muslim anti-critical race theorists.

The answer to this question will have major implications in terms of Islamic outreach to oppressed black communities and Dawah in African American communities.

Muslims: The choice is yours. What path will you take?

Boko Haram: What would Nana Asmau say?

Boko Haram has egregiously violated fundamental tenants of Islam.   They’ve bombed churches and Muslim critics as they continue to wreak havoc Boko_haram1in Nigeria . Recently, Boko Haram has added another deplorable act to their long list of atrocities, – the cowardly kidnapping of female students while they were in school! A poem from a female  Islamic scholar Nana Asmau entitled,”Be Sure of God’s Truth”  is very relevant today.  In it Nana Asmau powerfully writes,” Those who disrupt family harmony are nothing but firewood to burn, Be Sure of God’s Truth.” Though claiming to represent Islamic interest,  Boko Haram has forgotten God’s truth by completely disrupting family harmony stripping female students away from their family.  The family of these kidnapped women have been earnestly protesting,”bring back our girls” to no avail. In reality,  rather it be the incompetent Nigerian government or the “Islamist”  organization Boko Haram, they both fundamentally represent two sides of the same useless extreme.  They both are extremist groups, the Nigerian government represents the capitalist extreme;  as its leaders are mainly western puppets who have been given access to oil, even going as far as to remove Nigerian people from their land to give corporations more access to resources. The organization Boko Haram represents  a reactionary organization with a bankrupt ideology.

Nigeria is a fundamentally a western neo-colony. In the Niger Delta, Shell Oil was allowed to accumulate oil from their lands without any of it Boko_Haram_930039119going to the needs of the people. Large environmental destruction were caused by Shell Oil, hurting the food source of locals, resulting in malnutrition. The government is largely corrupt and paid by Shell Oil. Ken Saro-Wiva, who organized non-violent protests, was subsequently arrested by the Nigerian government who works hand in hand with Shell Oil..The Nigerian government has increasingly been dealing with corruption as a result of neo colonial regimes supported by the west. Many politicians squander money – the Gowon administration, the Shagari administration, the Buhrari administration, and Abache administration all squandered the wealth of the people and their policies led to massive social problems. It is the inequities of the Nigeria society, which breed violent extremist groups such as Boko Haram as noted by the Nigerian univerty professor Chris Kwaja,”religious dimensions of the conflict have been misconstrued as the primary driver of violence when, in fact, disenfranchisement and inequality are the root cause.”  The neo -colonial media then utilizes the antics of Boko Haram, to demonize Islam and promote the flawed belief that islam oppress women.  However, the media never focuses on capitalist extremism  when the previously existing Islamic societies in Nigeria with a strong tradition of female scholars was destroyed by the British Empire.    The media  never focuses on   “capitalist extremism”  in Nigeria when Shell Oil places profits above human lives?  Nor do they give media attention to capitalist extremism in Africa  when Shell Oil orchestrated the assassination of Ken Saro Wiwa? It is these social conditions which give birth to organizations such as Boko Haram. Abdulkarim Mohammed a senior researcher on  Nigeria notes

“Boko Haram is essentially the fallout of frustration with corruption and the attendant social malaise of poverty and unemployment… The young generation sees how [the nation’s resources] are squandered by a small bunch of self-serving elite which breeds animosity and frustration, and such anger is ultimately translated into violent outbursts.”

This is not to excuse Boko Haram’s actions, what they have done is despicable and none of their antics can be justified from Islamic texts.These conflicts must be looked at holistically and western imperialism in these areas must be condemned. Malcolm Fabiyi, make an excellent point on Boko Haram noting:

  Some inconsistencies in your position on education need to be addressed. Your discussion with journalists was carried out by mobile phone, a technology developed by “western education.” You use improvised explosive devices that incorporate timer mechanisms developed by western education. These explosives derive their destructive power from violent chemical reactions and exothermic processes that have been tamed only through a deep knowledge of chemistry and physics. The cars that you load your bombs in are powered by an internal combustion engine developed from thermodynamic principles which we understand only because of “western education.” The rifles that you carry, the camera that you use to record your messages, the computers on which you type and process your messages, the internet that allows you to reach the entire world with your views, the printers that publish your positions, the compact disks and thumb drives that you use in sending your messages – all these are products of the western education that you claim to despise.

educating-muslim-women-the-west-african-legacy-of-nana-asma-u-1793-1864Lastly, Boko Haram claims to be reviving the legacy of Uthman Dan Fodio. This is outrageous,  in actuality Boko Haram like British  imperialists of the past are actively working to destroy his legacy. The dogmatic belief that all western education is forbidden halts one’s ability to spread knowledge which is obligatory in Islam. It should be noted that the son of Uthman Dan Fodio, Sultan Mohammed was an avid reader of Euclid’s text on mathematics and other Greek classics despite them coming from outside the Muslim World. Uthman Dan Fodio’s daughter, Nana Asmau encouraged the women of her society to actively seek knowledge writing, “In Islam, it is a religious duty to seek knowledge. Women may leave their homes freely for this.” Yet  in Nigeria today, women leaving their homes to pursue their studies can result in brutal kidnapping by a senseless group  ironically claiming that they want to revive  her father’s legacy!

 

caliphsisterInterestingly enough, In “Be Sure of God’s Truths”,  Nana Asmau   condemns the rape of female prisoners of war and sex slavery which Boko Haram has actively participated in. In the society that Uthman Dan Fodio established, women played an active role in politics, scholarship, and education.  Women  lived within a safe enviroment unlike in modern day Nigeria with Boko haram terrorizing women . Speaking the tradition of female scholars in Sokoto, Jean Boyd writes, “Asma’u was a pearl on a string of women’s scholarship that extended throughout the Muslim world. This chain of women scholars originated long before Asma’u’s lifetime and stretched over a wide geographic region from the Middle East to West Africa.” However, Boko haram has barbarically kidnapped these studious women during their studies completely disrupted family harmony and damaging Uthman Dan Fodio’s legacy. Both Boko Haram and the Nigerian Government represent two corrupt extremes, and the Nigerian people deserve a better alternative and that alternative is to be found in the life of Nana Asmau.