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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.

 

Black Heroes

As Black people continue to suffer psychologically, economically, and socially under the confines of an anti-black  society, there has always emerged strong black heroes who resist white supremacy and tirelessly work to inculcate within blacks a sense of pride and dignity, and to correct the Eurocentric distortions that masquerade as truth

The song, “Black Heroes” by Alia Sharrief featuring Aminah Bell, is a notable tribute to such courageous individuals who have been at the forefront in the battle against white supremacy, seeking to liberate the minds of Black men and women from the shackles of mental slavery, and spread useful knowledge about the true history of black people.

 Alia Sharrief,  from Sacramento California, raps upon a platform of modesty—something she refuses to compromise due to her strongly held Islamic  beliefs. “There is no God but God and Muhammad is his messenger” she joyfully exclaims on twitter. Alia Sharrieff epitomizes lyrical piety and her modesty does not at all take away from the strength of her vocal denunciation of white supremacy but only enhances it.

Like her black foremother Nana Asmau, who once stated in a  poem “knowledge enables you to follow God and the Prophet”, the lyrics of Alia Sharrief  stays true to a trans generational theme within  the black-Islamic  tradition which emphasizes the importance of knowledge.With a black power fist held high in the air, Alia Sharrief proclaims, “We come here with knowledge which is power.”

Mansa Musa of West Africa.

The imagery in the Black Heroes video is laced with Afrocentric Islamic themes conveying a spiritual message of Black love, an authentic depiction of black history removed from Eurocentric delusions, and an adamant rejection of white supremacy and its value system.  Through this powerful video,  iconic images of black figures display throughout different epoch’s world history, from Sister Souljah to Mansa Musa, from Malcolm X to H. Rap Brown, from Muhammad Ali to Assata Shakur.

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Aiyana Jones assassinated by white police officers.

Furthermore, Alia Sharrief unabashedly indicts white racism and its destruction of black lives. “Every 28 hours a Black man is assassinated” she informs her listeners.  Some of these victims of  assassination include Emmit Till, Travyon Martin, Amdala Dailou, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Micheal Brown,Aiyana Jones,  Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice.  This  powerful line from Alia Sharrief confirms that in the eyes of white America, black life has no value or worth, and that the killings of blacks are not accidental, but intentional, political in nature, designed to maintain the white supremacist status quo.

In addition to the physical impacts of white supremacy, their are also psychological ways in which  the system seeks to instill within the psyches of blacks that they are inferior, animalistic, and barbaric. The naps in the hair of black people to their well-defined lips, and their black skin, it is these attributes that have come to serve as a scarlet letter to white society denoting ugliness and filth.

White supremacy has caused many blacks to internalize anti-blackness leading to self-hatred. This is painfudolltestlly shown in a study in which a young black girl is asked whether she prefers a white doll or a black doll. The black child prefers the white doll, lauding it as “pretty”, and the black doll, she debases as “ugly”,  yet, when asked what doll most looks like herself, she painfully points to the  black doll.

To combat this self-hatred, Alia Sharrief embraces her blackness  calling upon prophetic traditions to do so, “I’m black like the first man who called the Adhan.” Alia Sharrief  proudly calls upon the black companion of the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace, Bilal Ibn Rabah, who called believers to prayer.  She draws upon this black history to spiritually fortify her self against  self-hatred.  For when it comes to oppression,   Alia Sharrief says,”black heroes won’’t stand for it.”

Alia Sharrief  sends a powerful message through her poetry. We should all strive to be black heroes of our own by enjoining the good of black love  and forbidding the evil  of white oppression,  being firm in fighting anti-blackness even if it be perpetrated by black themselves who have internalized this self-hatred (we see you Charles Barkley ), and vigilantly challenging racism and classism by  calling for justice  regardless of whether an individual is white and rich or black and poor.   Though Willie Lynch sought to rewrite history and instill within blacks hatred of themselves, black heroes must not swerve nor falter  in their battle against  white supremacy, for Allah is well acquainted with what we do.

Jay Electronica: Back to the Roots!

The roots of hip-hop trace back to impoverished African-American communities in New-York; economic deprivation, social ostracism, as well as jay344
police brutality directly influenced the hip-hop scene.  The golden age of Hip-Hop was replete with Islamic themes and imagery, perhaps, best highlight ed in the profound lyricism of Rakim, the militant spits of public enemy, and the Afrocentric themes of Brand Nubian. As Hip-Hop began to transition to more Mafia-oriented ‘gangsta-rap’ consisting of materialistic melodies, the socially conscious nature of hip-hop with provocative political commentary would began to fade.   However, we may be entering a new era of conscious rap signified by black consciousness and Islam, and revival initiated by an incredibly talented Jay Electronica!

 

electornicaJay Electronica describes himself as growing up in a crime ridden, drug infested, New Orleans Community that consisted of “fighting, shootin’ dice, smoking weed on the corners trying to find the meaning of life in a Corona.” Finding this alcohol-oriented life empty, along his journey of life, he turned to Islam. Now at the top of the Rap game with his sharp unrivaled lyricism, Electronica can only relented “Alhamdulillah, it’s strictly by faith that we made it this far,” using the Arabic phrase to express his praise to God for having overcome so much adversities.

 

Islam in Black America has always led to social discipline, righteousness, and improving ones life.  The leader of the Nation of Islam, The fruitofislam43Honorable Elijah Muhammad instructed black men concerning their wives,” “Stop them from using unclean language in public (and at home), from smoking and drug addiction habits.” Malcolm X, a once  drug-dealer to clean Muslim, proclaimed,”Gambling! You don’t find it around Muslims. Profanity!  You don’t find it around Muslims.”  It is due to this, that many criticized Electronica  for misrepresenting the Fruit of Islam by his performance which included frequent swear words.  This led to  the Honorable Louis Farrakhan, issuing a letter  in which he ask,” Has any of us who have accepted Islam and its required high degree of moral excellence and civilization ever said or done anything that is less than representative of what we believe?”  He calls for mercy and compassion over the ordeal  and for brothers to reconcile with each other to recognize that all humans have shortcomings.

 

naselecontricaIt was one profound  influence of Electronica’s,  Nas, who on the controversially titled,”Nigger Album” proclaimed,”They did not have the power to stop Louis Farrakhan.”  Rather than using the profanity by Electronica as a point of attack, one should heed Louis Farrakhan’s emphasis on compassion, indeed Electronica’s performance  and other Islamically theme raps, conveys much about the state of Black America. On Nas’ most recent album, “Life Is Good,” the socially conscious rapper Nas spits:“New-York Is Like and Island, The cops be out wilding, all I hear is sirens. It’s all about surviving. Try to stay alive when they be out robbing. I been out rhyming since born knowledge. Like prophet Muhammad said the ink from a scholar. Worth more than the blood of a martyr. So I’mma, keep it on ’til I see a billion dollars.”

 

nasprojecctwidowsIn the ghettoes of America, the situation is chaotic and characterized by a lack of stability. The mentality that it breeds is one of pure survival. Dead Prez once stated, “Cops shot you just because you black, that’s war.” In the government sanctioned police war on black youth, many Afro-Americans from Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, to Eric Garner die as martyrs in the continuous police occupation of black ghetto neighborhoods. As a hip-hop artist then, Nas is significantly influenced by Prophetic Traditions emphasizing the importance of knowledge and scholarship.  For the hood, the hip-hop artists  are the organic intellectual who must convey the social plight of Black America.   As for Nas, since the Prophet Muhammad(Peace Be Upon Him) taught that the ink of a scholar is worth more than the blood of a matyr, he would rather write socially conscious lyrics than die as a martyr in the continuous war against black youth.

 

naskingtutOn the Stillmatic Mixtape, Nas’ song, “H-To the HOMO,” a diss at his then rival Jay-Z who released the song ”H to the IZZO,” Nas tells a story in which he must prepare himself for war: “Loaded up shells, one by one, you smelled blunts from my room door.”  Nas is furious and prepared unleash his rage through the barrel of the gun: “Little Nasir was at war, Crew deep with a few heat, now it’s time we settle the score.” His lifestyle is marked by vengeance and violence, but just as Nas is about to carry a hit, an astonishing event occurs: “But in the projects, I envision Muhammad, in linen garments. Preaching Man, Woman, and Child, the living Prophet.” Nas has a vision of the Prophet Muhammad(Peace Be Upon him) who calls him to a higher level of existence beyond drugs, black on black crime, and senseless violence.

 

 

elcotnrica2222In contrast, Jay-Z, a once rival to Nas, stated, “Never read the Qur’an or Islamic scriptures. Only Psalms I read was on the arms of my niggas.” Growing up in the hood, Shawn Carter in the midst of drug dealing, gang violence, and other social mayhem that accompanies inner city life, was never able to read the divine scriptures. This is in contrast to Nas who is not only named after a verse in the Qur’an, but also frequently invokes Qur’anic themes in his socially conscious songs. Yet Jay-Z takes a stab at Nas, stating, “Cause the nigga wear a kufi, it don’t mean that he bright.” Kufis are worn by West African scholars of Islam; Nas often wears this attire when performing some of his socially conscious music; Jay-Z does not want fans to be fooled by his attire and seeks to cast Nas as inauthentic, raising the rhetorical question?

Is it “Oochie Wally Wally” or is it “One Mic” Is it “Black Girl Lost” or shorty owe you for ice?

nasgaveyoupowerJay-Z points out the multiple contradictions of Nas’ career highlighted in his music. In “Black Girl Lost,” Nas seeks to uplift black women who are involved in the street life, but in ‘Shorty Owe You” he objectifies black women. The selective quoting of Nas’ lyrics enabled Bill O’Reilly and Fox News to label Nas as an ignorant “gangsta rapper” responsible for violence in the black community, despite the fact that many of his tracks are uplifting. This theme of contradictions can also be found on the theological views promoted in his music. On the Illmatic album, Nas states: “God I don’t believe in none of that shit, your facts are backwards. Nas is a rebel of the street corner, Pulling a Tec out the dresser, police got me under pressure,” clearly expressing anti-religious views while running the streets. Yet, on another track, Nas tells a story of a song in which he is engaged in the midst of a shootout and states, “Started praying to Allah, Muhammad, the most beneficial through you all things as possible, I know your listening,” clearly calling upon God, and invoking the Prophet Muhammad(Peace be Upon Him)  during this troublesome moment of his life.

In “Black Zombies,” Nas states, “Bismillah al rahman al Rahim” and “ Islam’s a beautiful thing … helps us to bring peace against the darkness, whichfe871-nas2b22b32bhero5b15d is ungodly.” The beginning of this bar is the opening line of the first Surah in the Qur’an. Nas also begins his Stillmatic “Smokin’” song with the opening of the Qur’an but then proceeds to discuss smoking blunts and getting high with his friends.  How does one make sense of the blatant contradictions of Nas’ music? Sometimes commercial, other times politically conscious, sometimes anti-religious and other times Islamic themes? Political conscious rapper Immortal Technique sheds answers in his song which expresses solidarity with the third world,”I’m from where they lost the true meaning of the Qur’an cause heroin is not compatible with Islam. And niggas know that, but grow that poppy seed anyway cause that food drop parachute does not come every day.”  Immortal Technique notes that in many Muslim countries, poor inhabitants often sell narcotics despite the blatant contradiction with Islam.

immortaltechniqueIn “Black Zombies,” Nas states, “Bismillah al rahman al Rahim” and “ Islam’s a beautiful thing … helps us to bring peace against the darkness, which is ungodly.” The beginning of this bar is the opening line of the first Surah in the Qur’an. Nas also begins his Stillmatic “Smokin’” song with the opening of the Qur’an but then proceeds to discuss smoking blunts and getting high with his friends.  How does one make sense of the blatant contradictions of Nas’ music? Sometimes commercial, other times politically conscious, sometimes anti-religious and other times Islamic themes? Political conscious rapper Immortal Technique sheds answers in his song which expresses solidarity with the third world,”I’m from where they lost the true meaning of the Qur’an cause heroin is not compatible with Islam. And niggas know that, but grow that poppy seed anyway cause that food drop parachute does not come every day.”  Immortal Technique highlights that in many Muslim countries, poor inhabitants often sell narcotics despite the blatant contradiction with Islam.This is because their countries are so impoverished that narcotic selling is done from desperation.

Similarly for Nas and Electronica, they highlight a reality in the inner-city of black America, that the damage is even worse. Black people werejayz5percent separated from the Qur’anic revelation for so many years that Jay-Z in the streets has been unable to read it; despite Islam’s re-emergence demonstrated in the hip-hop scene, the prescribed way of life has not developed and often people struggle to live up to the Islamic way of life.  In his,”My World(Nas Salute),   track with Electronica, Jay-Z states,”Now I’m banging on Rumsfeld and bells ringing Him and Dick’ll be in hell singing.  Woe to the hypocrites and infidels screaming niggas can’t handle.”

Jay-Z, calls out Dick Cheney and Ronald Rumsfeld for their neglected of the black community borrowing a rhetorical device from the Qu’ran which in the English translation says,”Woe to every fault-finding, back biter..who sees himself above others because he has amassed wealth and counts it fruitthein greedy love for it.” This is a clear jab at U.S Politicians, who have longed neglected the black community and pursued imperialistic wars for wealth. Then,  the Brooklyn rapper demonstrates that since his The Dynasty: Roc La Familia days, he has now read the Qu’ran,”  “I can make a true believer outta curious dyke. She’ll be wearing hijab singing ahmaduillah”, bragging about his profound Dawah  skills.  Thus, despite struggles highlighted by the contradictory nature of Nas; criticism of Electronica for using profanity in a FOI uniform;, nonetheless,  the frequent Islamic themes in their songs, as well as even Jay-Z’s devotion to dawah  indicates that we may be entering a new era of hip-hop, in which, Hip-Hop revives   its Islamic roots.

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“Indeed the human being is lost, except those who have faith, do righteous deeds, and join together in the mutual teaching of truth, patience, and constancy. “ (Al-Asr)

Trapped Black Youth: Prison or Death

Germany forcibly destroyed the food source of African nations.

Contrary to popular imagination, white “civilization” has been the most destructive entity on the planet for at least past five centuries of human history. It is single single-handedly responsible for two world wars, the genocide of Native Americans, the transatlantic slavery trade, colonial wars, the destruction of Australian Aborigines and numerous other genocides. The unrestricted technology associated with white civilization that has been unleashed on the world (often utilized to showcase the culture’s supposed superiority) is responsible for global warming, destruction of the ecosystem, and environmental pollution. One avenue of this mayhem is its economic system of capitalism. Europeans seeking control over most of the world’s wealth sought to accumulate capital through the creation of colonies. Colonies served as a place that would bring in wealth for the mother country.

The ghettoes within America should not be viewed as an accidental social arrangement. Rather, it was intended for the purposes of the global Euro-America project, which succeeded the period of slavery, followed by black codes/Jim Crow, etc. It is characterized by gross inequality, poverty, and oppression – black people are systematically isolated and separated from mainstream American life. “Some how, some way, we gotta make it out the hood some day. Some how some way, we gotta make it out this life,” were the words of Jay-Z who grew up in the internal colony of Brooklyn. Like nations in Africa yearning for independence during the ‘60s, so do blacks colonized internally within America who face the pain of police brutality, lack-luster schools, unemployment, false chargers, and discriminatory sentences. They live in a social system that has two fundamentals: prison or an early death.             It is important to characterize what is commonly referred to in African-American discourse as “the hood” or “ghetto” as an internal colony of America to expose the erroneous notion that blacks are within mainstream American society.

The end game of this global white supremacist project is to secure the majority of the world’s resources and wealth for the benefit of a few white elites. The American Empire often utilizes faulty rationalizations to justify wars for imperialistic purposes. For example, “The War On Terror” was utilized as a pretext to invade the Middle East and secure the financial resources for rich capitalistic corporations. Dick Cheney, the vice president who labeled Nelson Mandela a terrorist and opposed sanctions on apartheid in South Africa, also made a bundle for Halliburton during the Iraq War.Like the “War on Terror,” which was waged against the Middle East for profits and resulted in the death of millions of innocent people, the War on Drugs waged on the black community should really be called “the War on Blacks.” The campaign was waged by the mother country America against its internal colonies throughout America for the purposes of luring blacks into the prison industrial complex. Many blacks growing up in the ghetto turn to the drug economy out of economic necessity and, despite creating the social situation in which this is the only viable economic choice, the state would rather start a war against them than seek to create opportunities for them. Blacks within these colonies often describe the horrors of growing up under police occupation. Freeway, who was raised in an internal colony within Philadelphia, raps, “Don’t you know cops’ sole purpose is to lock us down?And throw away the key.But without this drug shi* your kids ain’t got no way to eat, huh?” “What We Do is Wrong” provides insight into the ethical paradox facing inner-city youth; many people can’t survive holding on to morals. Colonies seek to exploit and “lock us down” in a similar situation of Britain  with their colonies.

Big L, of the internal colony of Harlem, elucidates this point further. Speaking from the state of mind he developed as a 10-year-old, Big L states, “Nobody knows how I feel, it’s quite ill, Cause I had to steal to fill my stomach with a nice meal.” Food distribution occurs within the mother country, but in internal colonies, like many third world nations, dire hunger is an everyday issue for those living there. Many of these areas are food deserts; while those outside the internal colonies look to Christmas as a fun family time to be showered with gifts, Big L describes his situation as follows, “on Christmas I asked Santa for a father and a hot sandwich.” At age 15, Big L turned to the drug economy and theft as the only to survive, describing it as follows, “Now everyday  I creep with the heat, Ain’t nothing sweet, I rob for meat, If I don’t steal I don’t eat.” Soon, Big L became a victim of the billion dollar prison industrial complex (which brings in wealth for white elites); he states, “Then I realized I’m better off in a prison cell. Now I can eat, now I can sleep.” When he left prison, Big L was not given any chances for social mobility, but instead had to turn the same activities that got him in jail, “And can’t get a job cause of my jail record, Before you know it, I was robbing them same ducks.” Then he states, “I hope I don’t get snatched by the beast again.” Like people in the Middle East dealing with U.S. military occupation, within internal colonies blacks at any time can be shot at or rounded up by the police. Big L then makes a very profound statement, “My whole life was deserted. Either I’mma go back to jail or get murdered, but do I deserve it? All I tried to do was live the one life that I got. But it seems like I can’t get a fair shot.”

Why couldn’t Big L get a fair shot? He, like millions of others, found himself born black in an internal colony of an economic system befit on benefiting white people. Big L ends by challenging the common myth of steady progress for African-Americans, “In the ghetto, all you can wish for is a better tomorrow  It ain’t getting no better, it’s only getting worse, word up…” The dominant lifestyle in internal colonies is hustling between being a drug dealer to putting in time in jail. In “We Will Survive,” Nas discusses the bleak opportunities for social mobility: “Nothing left for us but hoop dreams and hood tournaments… either that or rap… we want the fast way out of this trap… rather a 9 to 5 or slinging crack…”   So why should black ghettoes be viewed as colonies? It is clear that black youth within America certainly does not feel as though they are a part of mainstream America. Rather, America maintains an exploitative relationship with them, forcing them into the drug economy via its exploitative economic system for the purposes of making them a victim of the prison industrial complex.

Many black mothers growing up in the ghetto face the fear that their male child may grow up and be “accidentally” shot by the police. When blacks step outside their colonies, they can be killed by white vigilantes (like jojoTrayvon Martin) and have the judicial system let them off scot-free.  As in colonialism, the businesses in the black community are all owned by foreigners who take wealth back to their native countries from the inflated goods they sell to ghetto inhabitants. Moreover, the ghettoes serve as a place which hounds the worst behaviors and social habits that result from capitalism — crime, shootouts, etc. — from the larger, mother society. It’s a segregated place that seeks to separate the larger white elites from the chaos their economic system has caused. Like plantations, ghettoes are intended to maintain a segregated space and utilize black bodies as nothing more than commodities in the U.S. Empire. The discriminatory prison sentences, discriminatory hiring purposes, red-lining, and sub-prime mortgages are all purely to maintain a colonial relationship. Within these black colonies, the option for blacks are bleak; they are “trapped,” as Tupac states, and the system destines for them to face either prison or death.