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Black Women at the Forefront of Islamic History.

When Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was still in the womb of his mother, Aminah, it was Umm Ayman a.ka Barakah, an Ethiopian woman who told her “You shall give birth to a bless child who will bring about much goodness.” Barakah was the first person to hold him when he was born and the only person who knew him from birth to death.

As his mother Aminah was dying, she stated, “O Barakah, I shall depart from this world shortly. I commend my son Muhammad to your care. He lost his father while he was in my abdomen. Here he is now, losing his mother under his very eyes. Be a mother to him, Barakah. And don’t ever leave him.” The Prophet, peace be upon him, referred to Barakah as, “my mother after my mother”.

Umm Ayman served several important roles in Islamic history.  When the Muslims migrated from Mecca to Medina to escape the religious persecution from the idol worshippers, Umm Ayman’s feet were sore, swollen, and her face covered in dust. Upon seeing her, the Prophet, peace be upon him, told her, “Oh my mother, indeed for you is a place in paradise.” The Prophet, peace be upon him, wiped her face, eyes, massaged her feet and rubbed her shoulders.

When the Muslims retreated during the battle of Uhud, Umm Ayman rebuked them and urged them to go back and fight.  Her son, Amin was martyred in the battle at Hunayn and her husband, Zayd, was martyred in the battle of Mutah against the formidable Roman empire. Despite this, when the Prophet, peace be upon him, asked Umm Ayman how she was doing, Umm Ayman would always reply, “I am well, O Messenger of Allah, so long as Islam is.” When the Prophet, peace be upon him,  returned to Allah (swt), Umm Ayman began to cry. When asked why she was crying, she replied: “By Allah, I knew that Rasulullah SAW would die but I cry now because the revelation from on high has come to an end for us.”

Another important Black woman in Islamic history is the great Sumayyah bint Khabba. Sumayyah was also of Ethiopian heritage and has the distinction of being known as the first martyr for Islam.  She was a slave who was one of the first to embrace Islam. This declaration of faith in one God subjected her to persecution and torture by Abu Jahl, a hater of Islam. Summayah witnessed Abu Jahl murder her husband, Yassir, just because he too confessed there was no  God but Allah and Muhammad was His Messenger. Abu Jahl would then torture Sumayyah to coerce her to renounce her faith but she refused. He persisted. Abu Jahl stabbed Summayah with a spear, and she became a martyr, someone killed for the cause of Islam.

 

 

Centuries later Nana Asmau, emerges as a Muslim military leader, political figure, and Islamic scholar, of the Sokoto Caliphate in modern day Nigeria. She worked zealously for dawah throughout West Africa. Nana wrote a biography on the life of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, which was read throughout West Africa. She wrote, “The glory of our Prophet Muhammad..his light exceeds the light of the full moon. There is no light like the light of Muhammad.”

​Historian Jean Boyd declares that within the Sokoto Caliphate, “To deny women equal opportunity to develop their God-given talents was to challenge God’s will.” Nana Asmau is lauded even by non-Muslim African feminists and is considered to be the precursor of modern feminism in Africa—even though she was a Muslim woman with an Islamic worldview.”

As an Islamic scholar, she issued legal verdicts known as fatwas concerning what was halal (permissible) and what was haram (forbidden). She spoke out against the use of tobacco, stating that, “It dries one up, it is a waste of money, it affects a person’s facial features. It leads to immodesty, it makes a person look undignified; it is not a common sense thing to do. Anyone who smokes is a fool. It originated in Pagan countries.”

Nana wrote a poem about Aisha bint Abu Bakr, the wife of the Prophet, on women’s education.  It states, “I bring all women to Aisha; Aisha, the Noble Daughter of Al-Siddiq. She was held in esteem by the Prophet. She had a mastery of learning and exceeded all women. She was the outstandingly pious woman person of her time.” Her poem call’s upon her community to study the life of Aisha bint Abu Bakr to encourage women’s learning and scholarship.  

Safiya Buhkari worked to challenge oppression as a devoted member of the Black Liberation Army.  She joined the Black Panther Party for self-defense after witnessing poverty and police brutality against Black people in Harlem. For her courageous role in Islamic resistance to white supremacy, Safiya Bukhari was incarcerated and later placed in solitary confinement.  

While in solitary confinement, she refused to live in fear stating “ I studied hadith (written traditions of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him,) on shirk.  I read the Qu’ran on faith and the oneness of God.”  Though solitary confinement has been deemed a form of torture, designed to break ones will, through Islam, Safiya Bukhari states “I grew stronger and my fear abated until it was gone.  I could truly say with conviction, with a rock-solid belief system in place, “There’s no God but God and Muhammad, peace be upon him, is His messenger.” With complete trust in Allah (swt), Safiya Bukhari escaped from prison.  Though Safiya Bukhari, would eventually be recaptured, her Islamic resistance to white supremacy should inspire us all.

The Black Dawah Network honors Black Muslim women who have struggled to make Allah (swt)’s deen the highest. We ask Allah to bless these strong Black Muslim women who endured persecution, fought oppression, worked to expand the dawah, and who operated with a pure determination that idolatry shall never prevail over Islam.

In honor of these great Black women, Black Dawah Network will be launching an interactive that will revolutionize how Dawah in the Black community. Please donate to support.

The Inextricable Anti-blackness of the American Muslim Community

Logo for CAIR

The mainstream American Muslim community is inextricably anti-black. This anti-blackness of the American Muslim goes beyond the casual references to Black people as abeed(slaves) among Arabs. It goes beyond Asian and Arab Muslim not wanting to pray near Black people. It goes beyond the lack of Black Muslim representation on speaking panels at major Islamic conferences.

The entire mainstream American Muslim community is actively upholding political positions and practices that actively perpetuates the oppression of Black people. By mainstream American Muslim establishment I am specifically referring to the agglomeration of institutions that have significant influence in determining Islamic discourse in America. This includes but is not limited to CAIR, ICNA, Zaytuna Institute and ISNA.

CAIR Honors White Politician Who Supported Apartheid South Africa. 

On August, 25th, the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR ) which claims to be “largest Muslim advocacy and civil rights organization” published a statement in honor of  John McCain.

CAIR’s national executive director Nihad Awad asserted “The American Muslim community joins all Americans in mourning the death of Sen. McCain, a man of principle who served our nation with honor and dignity for so many decades.”

Former senator John McCain voted on six different occasions against placing sanctions on Apartheid, South Africa.  McCain actively supported U.S firms who were doing  business with the racist apartheid regime of South Africa. Simply put, McCain was a white oppressor who deserves no praise or honors from Muslims. CAIR engages in the lauding of this white oppressor as a “man of principle” because their focus is not in aligning with black people in the struggle against white supremacy but they seek to make Muslims more palatable to the white dominant class.

Did Bilal Ibn Rabah mourn over the death of  Umayyah ibn Khalaf and eulogize his former slave master as a “man of principle”?

The Leader of the First Accredited Muslim College Disrespects the Black Struggle 

The mainstream American Muslim establishment actively appoints for leaders in the Muslim community white racists like Hamza Yusuf who has disrespected the struggle of Black Americans on numerous occasions.  This purported “Islamic Scholar” asserted the true problem facing Black Americans is not institutional racism but the break down of the Black family. Consequently, in response to Black people being brutalized by police officers Hamza Yusuf merely asserted that not all police officers are racist.  Hamza Yusuf who actively obfuscates the oppression of Black people leads Zaytuna Institute which is the first accredited American Muslim college. 

 The anti-Black political stances of ICNA 

In a lecture titled A Proud, Patriotic Sharia Practicing Muslim given at an ICNA conference, prominent Muslim leader Yasir Qadhi asserted that “It is obligatory for Muslims to be patriotic in whatever land they live in.”  The question is: how does this political stance account for Muslims who are the descendants of enslaved Africans who were forcibly brought to America against their will?   Yasir Qadhi calling Muslims to be “proud American patriots” stands in sharp contrast to Black Muslim revolutionary Safiya Bukhari and Sekou Odinga who believed in the creation of the Republic of New Africa.

Indeed, it stands in sharp contradiction to Malcolm X who told Black people “You are not an American. You are a victim of America.” 

The fundamental reality is that Black people are not nor have they ever been part of mainstream American society. In the Political Economy of the Black Ghetto by political scientist William K. Tab, the author explains that the Black ghettos have a relationship with America that is similar to   a colonial power to its colony. Since Black people are not part of mainstream American society, Black people can never truly be part of the “American Muslim establishment.” Moreover, Black people have no business being patriotic towards a country that has oppressed them for centuries.

The American Muslim Establishment: An Affront to the Legacy of Malcolm X

The entire mainstream American Muslim establishment is an absolute affront to everything that Malcolm X stood for. The masjids and institutions of the mainstream American Muslim establishment  are more concerned about getting white folks to like Muslims than they are continuing about Malcolm X’s focus of an Islamic commitment to uplifting disenfranchised Black communities.

Our focus as  Muslims should not be seeking to make Islam more palatable to white oppressors. It should be to focus on Islamic outreach and liberation of oppressed Black communities. I invite all Muslims to support these initiatives focused on Islamic liberation  of oppressed Black communities instead of seeking to appease the white ruling class.

 

The Unmet Challenge of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan

At a local Masjid I attended recently, I told some brothers that they could greatly benefit from listening to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. They loathed the idea, bemoaning theological differences between the Nation of Islam and Sunni Islam. However, I contend that the Third Resurrection of Islam in Black America, as Dr. Sherman Jackson called for in his book, Islam and the BlackAmerican:  Looking Toward the Third Resurrection, will only occur when the Black Muslim community has a better understanding of Minister Farrakhan.

In a story narrated by Minister Farrakhan, he shared an experience when he was overseas and was told by some Islamic scholars, “you really need to learn the religion of Islam a little better”. In response, Minister Farrakhan stated he would like like to meet the scholars of Islam in Mecca.  In the meeting was several Islamic scholars but of particular note is Muhammad Qutb, the younger brother of Sayyid Qutb, the chief ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the most influential Islamic revivalist organization of the 20th century. ( Muhammad Qutb’s writings influenced many Black socialists in the Black Panther Party to embrace Islam)

The next day, Shaykh Zindani, a leading scholar of Islam told Minister Farrakhan that he could not sleep all that night. The chief scholar of the meeting  Muhammad Qutb, was asked by the group to speak in refutation of Minister Farrakhan. However, in a display of humility, Qutb responded, “I did not come to speak. I came to listen and to learn, and I have both listened and learned.” I say it is about time that the Ummah did more listening and learning from the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.”

What about Black Muslims?  Is it time we started listening and learning from Minister Farrakhan?

In “Islam and The BlackAmerican: Looking Toward the Third Resurrection,” Dr. Jackson writes that the departure of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the mass conversion of African-Americans to Sunni Islam under Imam  W. D. Muhammad coincided with the massive influx of immigrant Muslims who “introduced theological, juridical, and revivalist discourses that effectively banished native Black American instincts and understandings to the periphery. ”

What is noteworthy is that the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan whom Dr. Sherman Jackson states during this time was the only Black muslim leader who, “refused to recognize immigrant and overseas authority” articulates during this time a profound critique of the inability of the shaykhs of Sunni Islam to grapple with the theological issues emerging from the Black experience of transatlantic  slavery in a manner that quenches the spiritual thirst of Black people and inspires in them a way to address their socio economic political conditions, a critique of how Islam became a tool of Arab cultural imperialism over black people, and of course the ubiquitous anti-Blackness in the Muslim writ large. In other words, what immigrant Muslims brought to America did very little to address the needs and concerns of Black Muslims and in some regards further oppressed Black Muslims with Arab and South Asian anti Black cultural imperialism.

During Louis Farrakhan’s rebuilding of the Nation of Islam, he frequently cited the inability of eastern Islamic scholars to teach Black folks Islam in a manner that would encourage them to continue to struggle for their liberation.  “They were satisfied only if you said your prayers and read the Qu’ran in Arabic, they didn’t know what to make of you Black people other than that. But Islam is not just to make you an Arabic reader of the Qu’ran, it is to bring you back to what you were.”

Black Muslims learned the rituals of the faith and the Arabic language but very little if anything to change the social, political, and economic conditions of Black people.  Farrakhan asks the following question,”You’re in the Mosque by yourself. You learned Arabic, you can say the prayers perfectly but what are you doing today for yourself? ” Black Muslims walk past the worst conditions our people suffer to get to a masjid, say prayers, and keep going.  We can do better.

Whereas most theories of Islamic revival are predicated upon geo-political changes in the “Middle-East,”, Minister Farrakhan is the only Muslim who has posited a theory of Islamic revival centered upon oppressed inner-city Black communities.  He tells another story when he traveled to the Gulf States and several Muslims told him that despite growing up in the Muslim world, they never really practiced their faith or cared for their faith until they came to America and observed the zeal for which Black Muslims practiced Islam.

From this, Minister Farrakhan gleans that by making our communities the finest Muslim community in the world, the faith of the entire Ummah can potentially be reawakened, “We are going to be made that which will make the Islamic world admire us and become revived by the Islam that comes out of the hearts of those classified as dead.” The outcome of this theory of Islamic revival leads to the Black community’s engagement by the Nation of Islam that is frankly unrivaled by other Muslim communities. They manifest this in conflict resolution efforts, drug rehabilitation programs, schools, businesses, a newspaper and other community services.

As to his critics, Minister Farrakhan states bluntly, “If you have the proper tawheed and the proper aqeedah, you got to have the proper actions that bares witness to your aqeedah.”  It is a daily challenge and struggle to actually use Qu’ran and Sunnah to uplift Black communities instead of embracing reactionary American assimilationist politics that ignore the fact that Blacks are outside of mainstream America.   Black Sunni Masjids unfortunately have been driven to complete irrelevancy in many Black communities due to their lack of engagement. How can we meet the challenge to save our people?

When one looks at the Black Sunni intelligentsia who have positions of influence in the “American Muslim”  community they largely take political positions that are not in the best interest of Black People.

I believe, and Allah knows best, Islam in Black America will never thrive until the unity of Black Muslims includes Minister Farrakhan and together we work to give our people Quran and Sunnah in a manner that quenches their spiritual thirst and inspires them to address their socio economic and political conditions.

Who taught you to hate yourself? (Political Comic)

 

After studying “Islam” in the white supremacist proxy state of  Saudi Arabia, Toby Muhammad returns to the United States on a determined mission to ensure Black American Muslims replace their forks with their fingers and their polos for Middle Eastern thobes.  Toby  will not stop until all Black Muslims are Arabized and Islam is completely detached from the Black Liberation struggle completely.

 

 

Though African-Americans are already divided due to the syndrome of Willie Lynch with hostilities between light skinned first dark skinned; male vs. female, Toby is determined to create further division by  introducing  to newly forming black Muslims communities medieval Islamic theological and juridical  debates and educate all  black Muslims on all  the deviations of Islamic scholars from the past to the present. Black folks used to ride on the back of the bus but if Toby is not stopped soon they could very will be riding on the back of the camel.

Can Toby be stopped?

Are you a Black Muslim who wants to stand up for the future of Islam in Black America?

       Do you want to Fight Toby Muhammad?

1)Follow the official Muslim Empowerment Institute Facebook page.

2) Subscribe to  Patheos’s Truth To Power. 

3) Purchase,”Toby Muhammad: From the Back of the Bus to the Back of the Camel,” August, 1st!