Black American Muslim Independent Thought.
For hundreds of years, even since the time of the Prophet (SAWs) the Muslim world were sworn enemies against the Christian and non-Muslim world and vice versa That hostility and conflict continued through the crusades. colonization, the toppling, and overthrow of Muslim states through western military and political hegemony, intervention, subjugation and dominance by world powers and manipulation by majority Christian nations. Hating non-Muslims became embedded Muslim political reality into religious teachings and aqeeda. In fact, hatred is part of much of our religious teachings that we get from abroad, especially the teaching of aqeeda. The result of all that is indifference, hate, opposition, and contempt towards anything, or anyone not labeled with the ‘pure Muslim’ label. That is how the majority of Muslims in America were taught for the last 50 years. Since, we essentially operate as a leaderless mob, with few exceptions, no one bothered to upgrade our thinking our adjust it to life, as American citizens, born of this soil. Many of this are simply just along for the ride down the raging rapids.
Black American Muslims are a new, and distinctly different civilization of the Muslim world. Although as descendants of slaves, we are aware that we come from Africa but the none of the countries of Africa do not assume ownership over us as other countries take ownership over their former citizens. Much of our thinking and approach to our own religion is not purely based on our scriptures, but an amalgam of scripture, theology, political and cultural norms, biases, of Muslims in the Muslim world and Muslim immigrants to the United States. Black American Muslims have inherited 1400 years of history, culture, politics, theology, religious teachings, politics, culture and thinking, dumped upon us in varying dosages all at once, without a direct line anywhere. The line was cut with slavery.
Undoubtedly, there is an ancestral, anthropological connection between Black American Muslims and Africa. However, the direct connection of lineage, religious, culture and known ancestry was severed by slavery and import to the United States. Most Blacks, Muslim or otherwise have no idea which part of Africa they are from and have no direct chain of lineage or familial relationship with Africa, and when Black Americans were fighting vagrancy laws, Jim Crow, police brutality, civil rights violations, and institutional racism in the United States, the countries of Africa were nowhere coming to our aid, despite that we were sons and daughters of the great continent of Africa. They had their own struggles against colonialism, and for independence to deal with. Even after African nations became independent states, the state of the Black American was not on any of their lists of priorities.
Fortunately, there is an antidote; accepting that we are a new civilization. Black American Muslims are in fact, a new, yet frail, and emerging civilization. The newest civilization of the Muslim world. We are the bastards of the ummah at this point, and pretty much treated as such. Hardly noticeable because we’re used to it, but certainly consequential, and impacts nearly every aspect of our moral and civilizational trajectory in the United states. No one is claiming us, and no one is coming to our rescue. Not from Africa, not from the middle east, and not from the Muslim world.
A new type of independent, yet Islamic thinking is needed. The kind of thinking, critical reasoning, and analysis, that is required for us to break away from this zombie like stagnation of Black American Muslim independent thought. Legitimate and theologically compliant Black American Muslim thought is going to be audacious, partly liberationist and revolutionary in nature, and rejected by many. That is an evolutionary normalcy considering that Black American Muslims are descendants of slaves and have largely adopted an Islamic moral psychology that is born of subjugation, colonialism, a clash of civilizations, immigration, and racism. We’re still arguing over aqeeda. Someone has to sift through all this mess because as a group of people, a frail and emerging Muslim civilization, we are a basket case. In sha Allah, not for much longer.
Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad
Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, is an Imam and resident scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Toledo, Ohio. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org