Here are the facts; 80% of American Muslim converts are African American, and African Americans are dead last in virtually every socio-economic category that measures well being; unemployment, access to health care, illiteracy, education, single parent households, broken families, incarceration rates, diabetes, hypertension, home ownership, and infant mortality, and the list goes on and on.
Indigenous African Americans have been converting to Islam for decades ; however, the phenomena of massive and continious conversion amongst African Americans to Islam has not evolved generationally into indigenous Muslim families, extended families or home grown institutions that reflect our faith and it’s principles, and serve the best interests of the new Muslim .
Why is this important? Well, it matters because as each subsequent generation of practicing Muslims evolve within the family, the moral and religious values of Islam takes hold and are reinforced within the family unit and the extended family.
It’s one thing when a person is the only Muslim in their family, and becomes the odd man out at family functions, and must deal with the issues of doctrine, values, diet, and holidays while being the only believer. It’s something entirely different when a child grows up and not only are their parents muslim; but so are their grandparents, their aunts and uncles, their cousins, their siblings, and even their great-grandparents. This will not make it a perfect world or a perfect family. However, it will help ensure that the values of tawheed , proper guidiance, islamic lifestyle, good upbringing will be preserved in the family. It also lays the foundation that helps to reinstate the notion of clan and tribe into the indigenous American Muslim family dynamic.
Families, tribes and clans are the natural order upon which Allah has assembled human beings;”Oh mankind , verily We have created you from male and female, and made you into nations and tribes in order to know one another” .
A great number of indigenous american muslim converts to islam are not making it to the next generation. The religion and value system of islam is not being passed on and subsequently, new converts are having to reinvent the wheel over and over again . We will never be able to effectively address our condition unless we prioritize strengthening these two essential elements that contribute to the healthy practice and preservation of deen ; family , and community . Muslim families are important because they are the building blocks of society, and it is where the generational flow of
Islam occurs. When muslim communities fail, the family will still prevail. The muslim family is a community by itself, and nurtured a sense of belonging, and identity. For many converts to islam, there is an expectation that they will find a family, community and a sense of belonging amongst their new found co-religionists. in other words; a spiritual support system. When that doesn’t happen , their is an almost immediate disconnect and disorientation coupled with isolation . This leaves the new Muslim in a very weakened state. The weakened and isolated condition of many converts contribute to Islam not taking hold and moving on to the next generation. Thus when you enter many masaajid populated by indigenous American Muslims, it is either full of older people, or full of young converts starting from scratch.
Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad 12/21/2010