The events now unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri that resulted from the murder of Michael Brown, an eighteen year-old unarmed black youth by white police officer Darren Wilson, causes me to reflect on the reasons why I accepted Islam in the first place. In those days, Islam was presented not as some mere religious creed, but indeed a revolutionary program that promised to deliver social and economic justice to the suffering black people of America. My series of articles entitled Why Black Americans Don’t Stand for Justice was an attempt to explain the reasons why those early, ideal aspirations were ultimately thwarted by the immigrant Muslim establishment. Through sheer numbers and deep pockets, immigrant Muslim organizations were able to co-opt the best and the brightest of our Black Muslim leadership, a trend that continues to this day.

And even then this was not the whole story, for there has always been a strain of criminality in black Islam which further crippled the movement for racial justice and sadly, constituted an internal weakness which in the end proved deadly .

Nevertheless, I’m watching events in Ferguson and find myself asking “where are the Muslims?” or again, “where is the clarion voice of Malcolm?” This used to be our field of work, so just when did we forsake our mission to bring Islam to our people, and struggle to make their lot better in this racist country called America?

If we remember, this is what the Muslim Alliance of North America (M.A.N.A) was suppose to be created for, but lack of clear vision and goals, ineptitude, a top-down dictatorial leadership style, lack of commitment, slavish reliance on immigrant money, and a disturbing alliance with N.O.I types, profoundly limited its impact.

That said, it is now time for a M.A.N.A type organization (if not a reorganized M.A.N.A itself) to rise up and meet the challenges of the hour, make the call to Allah’s Oneness, and fight like hell the vicious onslaught of murder against our people.

After twenty years of the immigrants’ controlling the Islamic agenda in America, by the year 2000 Blackamericans had clearly taken the “back seat” when it came to community issues. Having taken up this knotty and controversial question of why “Black American Muslims don’t stand for justice”, we’ve learned that one of the most important factors in our failure to develop and maintain a community activist, social justice tradition has been the overwhelming dominance and influence of the immigrant Muslim community. In arriving at this conclusion it has never been my purpose to demonize any group of Muslims or resort to racial demagoguery, nor assail the feelings of anyone. It is my firm belief that the Muslims in America are essentially good and well meaning people, nevertheless, I have always held to the principle of telling the truth as best I understood it, and let the chips fall where they may.

However after having looked at this issue from all angles, its also becoming clear to me that immigrant dominance does not fully explain why Blackamerican Muslims don’t stand for justice. The record reflects that the immigrant organizations’ power-play for control of the “Islamic” agenda in America met little to no resistance from Blackamerican Muslims. The question then is why.

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With the inauguration of the 1990’s, the Muslim American community was in the firm grip of the immigrants, a result of being better educated, better organized, and awash in cash. They grew so dominant in both strength and numbers that the small, humble communities of Blackamerican Muslims could no longer compete, and over time completely lost their baring and focus. Perhaps not consciously, but by the sheer weight of immigrant dominance and its insular outlook, Blackamerican Muslims were influenced to turn a blind eye to the grievous conditions of their neighborhoods and communities. Some however did not require much pressure, but were themselves all too ready to assume an “alien identity” (Arab, Pakistani, or whatever) in order to facilitate an escape (at least in their own deluded mind) from the realities of being Black in America (more about that in the final installment).

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By the 1980’s “The Dar” and the Islamic Party had completely run out of steam, leaving in their wake a gaping void in the Blackamerican Muslim scene. While there remained some committed brothers (and sisters) who carried the work forward – brothers like Imam Khalid Griggs of Winston-Salem, N.C. (former DC Islamic Party) – there were no Islamic initiatives forthcoming which could project a national vision. At the same time, immigrant Muslims were streaming into the country in larger and larger numbers, and the masjids they (and their movements) established began to take on a new ethnic flavor. The immigrants were not interested in things like community involvement, and generally speaking, were of a much more insular frame of mind. They affected an air of being the “real Muslims“, had more money and education, and began to take the leading role in the American Islamic movement.

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By the middle of the 1970’s, American racial politics had undergone sweeping changes. The strident, urban street protests had given way to a strategy of “working within the system”, allowing movement leaders and activists (those who were not killed or imprisoned) to take full advantage of the hard-fought successes of the previous decade. Many went back to college and qualified themselves to take cushy jobs in academia and government, but there were other reasons for the change in strategy as well. Movement workers witnessed with horror the cold-blooded, ruthless tactics of the government to crush what it called “urban rebellions”. Most illustrious of this type of brutality was the vicious police slaying of Chicago Black Panthers’ Fred Hampton and Mark Clark while they slept. Blackamerican Muslims, like Blacks in general, realized the times were changing and simply sought a new direction.

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In changing the site’s design a couple of years ago, I somehow lost one of my important works, the series you are about read here. Published in the winter of 2007 and 2008, many consider it a classic study and its impact at the time unprecedented. I now post it again for those who did not get the opportunity to read it the first time. One important note: Apologies to Al Sharpton and the black radio hosts who we were a bit unkind to in this piece.

On Nov. 16th in Washington, DC, your and my favorite James Brown preacher, the right Reverend Al Sharpton, will be leading a protest demonstration on the steps of the Justice Department to highlight its gross negligence in enforcing the nation’s civil rights laws in a year that has witnessed scores of un-investigated racial incidents. From the Jena 6 trials in Louisiana, to noose sightings in a number of different cities, to the brutal rape, kid-napping and torture of a young, mentally challenged Black women in West Virginia, racism in America is once again rearing its ugly head. Taking the lead in a resurgence of civil rights activism is a tightly-knit coalition of Black radio personalities (Micheal Basden, Warren Ballentine, and Sharpton himself) and church leaders, who’ve been raising public awareness for the past year about these disturbing incidents.

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Soup Kitchen at the Muslim Center in Detroit, the Real Message of Islam.

Despite whatever else I may choose to write about on this site, it must be remembered that it began primarily as a forum for Muslims to address the glaring contradictions between what we say we are all about, and the actual reality of our condition. It is indeed sad and heartbreaking for me, a Muslim convert for over a quarter of a century, to see the image and reputation of Islam in America reach such an all time low. Of course we all know the reasons for this sad state of affairs so there is no need to rehearse them all here. Suffice it to say, we have a lot of work to do to regain the footing we once had in the 80’s and 90’s, those wonderful days when our beards were all black and our idealism and hope for the future prospects for Islam in the U.S. shined its brightest. It is mostly for that reason that I launched this blog many years ago now, to correct the mistakes that we made in the zeal of our youth to share this beautiful religion with the people, and to most importantly declare it innocent of the blood cult that lunatics bearing Muslim names had introduced.

Service to Humanity is the Core Message of Islam

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