My thoughts on the subject are more of a commentary and less of a history lesson. A fellow Muslim blogger brought up the very interesting subject of the origins of Islam in America on his site Wa Salaam which is entitled “The Unknown Islam in America“. After reading this insightful blog I felt moved to comment on my feelings on being a decendent of slaves and the importance of the Islam they brought with them and the associated movements that kept Islam alive and well in America since.
Im a firm believer in reverencing the womb that bore me. Not so much the physical womb of my mother, but the spiritual womb of the circumstances, people, and experiences that have shaped and birthed me into the man that I have become. For this reason, I could never see myself completely angry or sad about my past, regardless of the 20/20 clarity of hindsight. I believe that Allah (swt) allows us to be in situations to shape us into what we are to become. I believe that every choice, action, and situation, good or bad, is a necessary step in our eventual perfection, whatever that is.
Therefore, I don’t regret being a Marine, I don’t regret being a Christian, I don’t regret being an American, or regret any of my past experiences, trangressions, etc. In fact, I love the Marine Corps, I love the black Church that raised me, I love being an American, and I am thankful to Allah (swt) for allowing the ability to grow and given me the wisdom and the knowledge to appreciate the blessings of Allah (swt). It is said that you can never know pleasure until you know pain, you can never know happiness until you know sadness, and you can never know life until you know death. For these reasons and many more I am proud of the womb that bore me.
My point in all this, is there is a womb that bore Islam in America that is hardly recognized, given the attention needed, and in many instances out right insulted. The brother on Wa Salaam has done Muslims and non-Muslims alike, a great service by opening up this dialogue on the history of Islam in America. May Allah (swt) bless him for that.
Before there was a Malcolm X or a Muhammad Ali or even a Warith Deen Muhammad, there was Elijah Muhammad. Before Elijah Muhammad and Master Fard Muhammad, there was Noble Drew Ali, before Noble Drew Ali there were many others from immigrants, to explorers, to shipwrecked Moors in Maryland, to the Wahhab brothers in North Carolina, to the Muslim Slaves that suffered in the Black Holocaust, and the list goes on.
We would be wise to research and seek out this knowledge.
As a Muslim and specifically as a Black Muslim, I believe the history of my people is just as important as the history of Islam, especially when its the history of Islam as experienced bymy ancestors. From the early Islamic conversions and conquests in North Africa to West Africa and beyond, to the blood and tear soaked shores of the Eastern Coasts of America, all of this is an integral part to understanding and in truth, reverencing Allah (swt) more for the rise of Islam in America.
To seperate or to make distiction(s) between those who belong in this history, brings not only the history an injustice, but helps fester the ignorance that is in the Islamic and broader American societies that pretend that Islam existed in a vacuum prior to the immigration of foreign born Muslims to these shores.
I am bewildered, hurt, and oft times upset, when people blatantly insult who I consider not only black heroes but Islamic heroes, because of their lack of adherence to the Sunnah or their definition of Islam. Sure, Elijah Muhammad and Noble Drew Ali, were not Sunni or even Shia Muslims. However, what was the effect of what they did produce and spread? Babies don’t come out the womb walking do they? Nor does the sun rise in one instant. So should we get angry with the baby for crawling? Should we get upset with the sun for not rising on our command? These things happen in Allah’s (swt) time and according to His will Alone.
Noble Drew Ali, Elijah, and others, while debateably Muslim or non-Muslim did a great work that if it were not allowed by Allah (swt) would most certainly have not spread as it did, producing the great Muhammad Ali or Malcolm X. I doubt if I would have come to know Islam or many blacks in America in this day and age. These men helped usher in a consciousness that made blacks want to know their history, want to know their culture, their God and religion. It made entire communitiesof former slaves who were still oppressed by their former slave-masters and their children, seek their Islamic roots that were brought by our ancestors. It made us go research and study the works of former Muslim slaves who stayed Muslim, it made us proud at what we found, and helped shape and grow us into our Islamic identity.
I find it particularly insulting, when these people are looked down as insignificant. To me, its like saying my mother is insignificant in my birth.