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Moinul Abu Hamza & The Incompetence of Colonized Muslim Critiques of Critical Race Theory!

 

Moinul Abu Hamza & The Incompetence of Muslim Critiques of Critical Race Theory!

Imagine the following scenario based upon the notorious torture ring that Jon Burge conducted against Black men.   A Black American, who happens to be a Christian, is apprehended by the police in the street. He is taken into police custody where the police call him the n-word. They apply electric shock to his genitals and suffocate him in order to force him to confess to crimes that he did not commit. The judge does not believe the African-American Christian brother when he says his confession was obtained through torture and allows his confession to be utilized by the prosecution against him. He is found guilty and spends 20 years of his life in prison on false charges before defense attorneys are able to help to overturn his conviction.

Upon leaving prison, the African American Christian brother stumbles upon self-proclaimed “Muslim intellectuals” dedicated to fighting the supposed “secular liberal” influence of critical race theory upon society.

The African-American Christian brother explains what happened to him and remarks “The police really did me wrong. Many think civil rights legislation ended structural racism but its clear that structural racism was able to maintain itself post jim-Crow.”

The self proclaimed Muslim intellectual responds “Structural Racism? Where is your evidence for this structural racism in the Qu’ran and Sunnah. Stop being a liberal social justice warrior. You aren’t qualified to speak on this because you haven’t studied Islam and believe in the trinity. Plus, by talking about racism you’ve only reinforced racism.”

As absurd as this sounds, this is the underlying logic of recent efforts of self-proclaimed Muslim intellectuals to refute critical race theory.  In a recent discussion I had with a critic of my previous article titled Why Muslims Need Critical Race Theory, Moinul Abu Hamza preceded to lambaste critical race theory as a western & secular liberal theory but not substantive analysis.

I explained to him that critical race theory is functionally a critique by African-American legal scholars of how structural racism was able to maintain itself in  a “western” and “secular liberal society” in a post jim-crow era. I explained how African-American critical race theorists have critiqued foundational secular western liberal thinkers from John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Thomas Jefferson, Jean Rousseau. Therefore, the categorization of critical race theory as being a western secular liberal theory is both ignorant and untrue. Moinul Abu Hamza responded to this by stating:

 

“If you think ive not educated myself about CRT, tell me your qualifications in Islamic sciences. Where have you studied and with who?”

 

Continuing, Moinul Abu Hamza writes:

 

Hakeem, please tell me your qualifications to say Islam has not addressed these issues and is bereft of answer so that you need to crawl up to CRT.

 

Instead of addressing my argument for why the categorization of critical race theory as a “western liberal” theory was inaccurate, Moinul Abu Hamza preceded to ask me about what my qualifications are in Islamic sciences. Additionally, Moinul Abu Hamza preceded to argue from a fundamentally unfounded assertions that by turning to critical race theory one is somehow implying Islam is bereft of answers to societal problems.

This is fundamentally untrue.  Critical Race theory, as posited by Derrick Bell, is literally a theory that posits that structural racism against African-Americans was able to maintain itself in a jim crow era after the passage of civil rights legislation. Moinul Abu Hamza never explains why the acceptance of this basic premise means one must be a “liberal Muslim” who does not believe Islam has answers to societal problems. He makes conclusory remarks which he never cares to substantiate.

I am admittedly not a scholar of Islam. Given the role of Moinul Abu Hamza role as the founder of the Qu’ran institute and his copious lectures he has providing tasfirs of the Qu’ran, he has likely studied under more Islamic scholars than me in traditional Islamic sciences.

The basic assumption of your argument is that somehow one needs to be an ulema or Islamic scholar to have a valid perspective on white supremacy and structural racism in American society.  African-Americans descend from Islamic civilizations in West Africa which were rich in Islamic heritage and learning. Unfortunately, the process of the transatlantic slave trade prohibited the ability of Africans to transgenerationally transmit Islamic knowledge.

Moinul Abu Hamza argument is essentially the equivalent of telling Fredrick Douglass, W.E.B Dubois, or Martin Delany, individuals who emerged from slavery, that all of what they say about white supremacy or racism is erroneous merely because they are non-Muslim or not learned in the Islamic tradition. Its a stupid and nonsensical argument.

I am an African-American Muslim human-rights attorney. I have worked to bring litigation against correctional facilities that have perpetrated human rights abuses against incarcerated African-American converts to Islam.  I have worked to defend African-American males who were falsely arrested and victims of police misconduct.   I have assisted in efforts to exonerate African-American males who have been falsely convicted of crimes. I see value in critical race theory in guiding my work as an attorney.

Prior to law school, I taught courses on Black political thought, including critical race theory at programs held at Harvard and U.C Berkeley.  I do not see any conflict between my Islamic faith and basic conclusions of critical race theory.

The basis premises of critical race theory are not really even a question of theology. What one does the insights and conclusions offered by critical race theory is the question of theology.  For example, one can accept the conclusions of critical race theory and say “this is why we need a Marxist-Leninist revolution” or one can accept the basic conclusions of critical race theory and say “This is Why we need Islam.” My position is the latter.

I am not foreclosing the possibility that there may be meaningful critiques of the critical race theory from the perspective of Islam. All I am saying, is that neither Moinul Abu Hamza or Abdullah Andalusi have presented such critiques. All that has been presented is an academically lazy categorization of critical race theory as a “western, liberal, social justice warrior philosophy”  when critical race theory is in fact a serious critique of the racism within western, liberal society by African-American legal scholars and political theorists.

Muslims: Improve Your Knowledge of Critical Race Theory 

Whether it be Moinul Abu Hamza or Abdullah Andalusi, Muslims are critiquing critical race theory from a position of ignorance.

This Sunday, Daniel Haqiqatjou, of the Muslim Skeptic Podcast, will be addressing the topic of “Can Muslims Accept Critical Race Theory?” and God-Willing, I hope to call into his show to clear up misconceptions that Muslims are presenting concerning Critical Race Theory. In a past statement, Daniel Haqiqatjou has stated:

 

There is this video of an ex-marine who hated Islam but then converted to Islam that is being shared widely.

Don’t take the wrong message from that video.

The ex-marine didn’t stop hating Islam and Muslims because an activist told him he suffered from islamophobia and he is a racist bigot who doesnt understand his white privilege, etc., etc.

He stopped hating Islam and Muslims because he read the Qur’an. And not only did he stop hating, he actually became Muslim.

Insofar as our dawah abandons the Qur’an and, instead, aligns with leftist activism with its reliance on critical race theory, decolonial studies, intersectional gender justice nonsense, etc., the less effective it will be. In fact, it will not be dawah at all. It will just be victimhood whining, which only breeds more resentment and hatred of Muslims and Islam.

 

I believe Critical Race Theory is very useful in giving Dawah to Islam.  I give dawah in very economically desolated African-American housing projects and inner-city neighborhoods. These are often neighborhoods where the drug economy and gang activity is rampant. Prior to speaking with brothers from such neighborhoods about Islam, I do research regarding these communities from the realm of critical race theory

In doing such research, you will often find that such communities have a history of being subjected to discriminatory and racist social policies. When I give dawah to brothers in these neighborhoods, I describe in concrete terms the ways in which the white power structure has worked to foster the desolated conditions of these neighborhoods. Then I talk about how Islam can empower them to rise above and transform the conditions that they are in. These response that I have received from brothers in such communities has only been positive and Allah knows best, but I believe it has only increased loved for Muslims and Islam.

As for the issue of the white marine, I mean sure. Someone isn’t going to read Derrick Bell’s article on Racial Realism, and be inspired to convert to Islam.  That was not the purpose of his research or writing. Nonetheless, reading Derrick Bell and other critical race theorists is a meaningful endeavor if one seeks to challenge historical racial injustices against African-Americans.

Derrick Bell, wrote in order to give insights into the African-American political tradition.  Additionally, there are Black critical race theorists who are very critical of the left and leftist politics. Therefore, it is inaccurate to paint critical race theory as a liberal or leftist social justice project.

The real question is absent the insights of Black political theorists in critical race theory: what type of Muslim is this ex-Muslim marine going to be? Is he going to be a Muslim that seeks to challenge white supremacy on a structural level or someone who continues to uphold it even after taking his shahada?

On another note, I find it quite odd that this ex-marine went from wanting to bomb an Islamic center to being placed as the head of the Islamic center after being Muslim for less than three years. Was there really not Black brother more qualified for the position to run an Islamic center than someone who three years previously wanted to blow Muslims up?