This past weekend during MANA’s first annual conference, I had an opportunity to weigh in on a deeply troubling trend that’s developed among a growing number of African American Muslim men who jettison to Morocco in search wives. As this phenomenon continues to gain currency among the brothers, I’m afraid that no account is being taken of the negative impact it may inflict not only to the African American Muslim woman (may Allah bless her and give her strength), but also the very existence of the African American Muslim as a separate and distinct ethnic group.I must say that the stage was perfectly set for the verbal “Molotov Cocktail” that I was about to hurl into the unsuspecting crowd. During the Q&A segment of the marriage session of near capacity, I simply walked to the mike, turned to the brothers on my right and said very deliberately, “brothers…..going to Morocco is not the solution”. As the words sunk in, a burst of applause, laughter, and “that’s right brother” surged through the gathering from the women’s side of the room, evoking smiles and chuckles from the men’s side. I then turned to the sisters on my left and made some balancing comments about “good Muslim wives obeying their husbands”, and some more stuff they weren’t really feeling (I should have quit while I was ahead). Salvaging the joke, I quickly reiterated my riotous one-liner and got off the mike to another thunderous applause.
Though I offered the comments in a spirit of light-heartedness and fun, the underlying truth of what most of the audience thought was hilarious, namely that Black men are turning away from their own Black sisters at an alarming rate, is a disquieting commentary on the unrelenting social, economic, and indeed spiritual problems that simply defy solution. We need to explore what is really at the bottom of this tread, for to my mind it seems to betray a disturbance in the natural workings of nature.
In the first place, I would like to offer an unpleasant thought for my African American brothers to consider. What if the shoe were on the other foot? What if African American Muslimahs decided that we were no longer worthy of them, purchased expensive flights half way round the world, only to return with an Arab Muslim husband. To expand the thought further, what if the sister with a completely straight face insisted that her new Moroccan husband, who she knows little or nothing about (the infamous and hopefully by now discredited “stranger-marriage”), is in fact a better Muslim than you are! Just think over that for a minute, in as much as that is exactly what we do to them. Imagine the hurt we would feel being abandoned by our own sisters, daughters, cousins; being told that we’re defective, baggage-carrying rejects that nobody wants. Can anything be more outrageous, nay, un-Islamic even, than that? How then does the pain become any less palpable simply because it is a man in search of a wife, and not the other way around? Aren’t we repeatedly taught to love for our brothers and sisters what we love for ourselves? There is simply no denying that jumping over the heads of our struggling African American Muslim sisters to run after the “other”, smacks of the ” I ain’t nobody til I got me a white girl” syndrome. It sends a loud and pernicious message to the world that our Black women are too unruly, uncouth, unmanageable, unlovable, unredeemable to take as a wife and to build a life with. I’m sorry, I believe she is not only lovable, but worthy of love. She’s crazy at times, but who isn’t. You can’t be a Black man or women in America and not be a little crazy. And if she happens to be in a lowly condition, isn’t it our responsibility as men, followers of the final Prophet and Messenger to humanity (pbuh), to raise her up by Allah’s permission and place her in her proper station. Does it ever occur to us, or do we even care really, that her lowly and unrefined condition stands as an indictment on our own manhood. I should like to know what other people turn their backs on their own women, heaping scorn and invective on her, calling her vile and despicable names (“chicken head”, “Safire”, “B*#th”).
At some point (and hopefully soon) we’ll wake up and realize that the work of reforming, teaching, and molding the lives of our Black Muslim women into a model of refinement, piety, and Islamic elegance, is the work of Islam.
More to come