“We’ve Never Heard of You”

Posted: March 9, 2008 in Uncategorized

Since beginning this blog, a number of people have emailed me to inquire about my identity and background. Specifically, they want to know “where did I come from”? “How come they’ve never heard of me before”? “They love my commentary” or “why don’t I work with this or that organization”? So many comments also read something like this, “brother, your writings are a breath of fresh air, why aren’t you teaching or doing lectures” or “where can I hear you speak on the topics you write about?” This post is an attempt to provide a satisfactory answer to the question of why only now is my work reaching the public, despite whatever misgivings I may have regarding its frankness.

The question ought more appropriately be addressed to the so-called “leaders”, those well known personalities on the scene today who throw interference and at times positively impede the work of independent writers and activists like myself (and that of many others). And this for no other reason than we refuse to “follow the immigrant script“. The brass truth, whether one is prepared to deal with it or not, is that every aspect of Muslim discourse in this country (perhaps with the exception of Imam W.D. Mohammed) is COMPLETELY dominated and controlled by what I call the immigrant Muslim syndicate (read CAIR, MAS etc.). Anyone who has ever attempted to do independent Islamic work, especially in the African American community, has at one time or another come up against it. This syndicate decides who becomes “famous” and who does not. Whose CD lectures are allowed to be sold in Islamic book shops and whose are not. Who is going to be on the “A-1 speakers circuit” (yes, that is exactly what they call it) and who is not. In essence, who is worthy of being heard and who is not.

This syndicate operates like a well-oiled political machine which rewards its “friends” and punishes its enemies. So to be a Blackamerican Muslim “leader” on the lecture/fundraiser/convention circuit means that you have been carefully vetted and screened, and can be relied upon to tow the immigrant line, or at least not criticize it.Blackamerican Muslims must begin to realize that the interests of some immigrant Muslim groups are not necessarily their interests. One recent example of these conflicting interests concerned the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama. Due to certain positions he holds on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, Blackamerican Muslims were expected to march in lock-step with their immigrant brethren who, in general, are not for him, and completely disregard any positive impact this candidacy might have on Black America.

The hand-picked Black Muslim leaders will never buck the immigrant machine because their livelihoods depend on it. Does it hurt me to have to say this? Of course it does, but you asked me. These brothers were carefully selected, not by their predominantly Black Muslim constituencies (those that ever had one), but rather, the vast immigrant power structure which tightly regulates their access to Muslim audiences and closely monitors what they say, especially when they’re blindly shilling for Palestine. At times, the machine even plays these Black Muslim leaders off one another to its own benefit. More importantly though, it is the job of these select individuals to BLOCK independent voices whose views do not conform to, or in some instances contravene, the aims and objectives of the powerful immigrant establishment. This is accomplished in one of two ways, either by simply ignoring the individual’s work, thus planting suspicion in the minds of the people concerning it, or co-opting his ideas outright once they’ve achieved popularity with the public (which is of course an old communist technique). These Imams live in desperate fear of loosing their “celebrity” status, which could ultimately mean for them a cessation in fund-raising engagements (for which they receive a healthy percentage), first class flights to, and hotel accommodations for the big Islamic conferences, opportunities to hawk their CD lectures, and of course all the public adulation that high profile personalities naturally enjoy. They view any new talent as  a mortal threat to the comfortable niche that they’ve carved out for themselves as apologists and operatives for the Immigrant Muslim syndicate. I have felt the heavy hand of this deeply entrenched machine in more ways than I am able to catalogue at this moment. Another post for another day (inshallah).   

  So there you have it. One man is simply no match for a well-funded, heavy-handed syndicate that has worked tirelessly to silence dissent or any serious intellectual engagement. However upon invitation, and for a modest remuneration, I am availiable to come and discuss at length with any group the ideas found on this blog.

Comments
  1. Sister Seeking says:

    Salaam’Alaikum Wahrahmatullah Brother Abdur Rahman Muhammad:

    You make me PROUD–yes I said it “proud”- dear brother! Please don’t allow others to stomp your spirit into the ground. Please don’t give up. If Allah, Yal-Quddus, decrees a matter- NO ONE, NOTHING can stop it! It is human nature to fear change… It is human nature for groups to not want to share power.. It is human nature for people to fear what they don’t understand. But please don’t stop your blog, your books, and the salon meetings. You’re a well read man, remember, the segregationist down south, reacted the same way, when Medgar Evers, and others that followed him tried to change things.

    You ( Charles, Margari, Jamerican, and yes Marc) MOTIVATE, INSPIRE, CHALLENGE, and BELIEVE in the people- this is what we need– a YES WE CAN attitude. As a mother, my heart leaps with joy, when I think of the good going on. I have waited for this for nine years and I’ve spoken with my elders, who have waited longer.

    No matter what people will say and will do to you–keep going. Remember the Prophets, Socrates, Thoreau and other great thinkers were persecuted in some way.

    Salaam Alaikum

    I love all of you “for the sake” of Allah

  2. Sh. Mahmoud Ibrahim al-Amreeki says:

    Dar ul Islam / Iqaamatiddeen

    “Until they change themselves..”
    About 15 years ago, on a web site that was designed to stimulate dialog within the muslim-africanamerican community, there were several articles posted that suggested that there were enough masjids in our communities, and what was needed were ‘issue-specific’ organizations to emerge, such as in the areas of homelessness, hunger, aids. racism, the war, etc., and that from such organizations, a leadership would naturally rise to the top. Not enough of this has occurred.

    At the time, I was producing several radio programs for WBAI fm in New York, and along with Barbara Nimiri Aziz, co-produced one program called, Tahrir: Voices of the Arab / Muslim world (she representing the arab, I the muslim). One of the problems in producing programs that represented the viewpoints of the muslim african-americans, was that for the most part, the only organizations to which we belonged, were that of the masjid. There was of course Muslims against Hunger and the Wellness Institute here in NY, but the point is that there were very few, so what I had to rely upon were our academics, of which we have many., al hamdullilah! At the same time, I was part of an organization, ADAM (african decendants awareness movememt) and along with it’s founder, Bro. Shine, we sponsored ‘spoken word’events ( pre- Def Jam ) and used the proceeds to feed the hungry. What impressed me was that here we had a bunch of young black and latino intellectuals that were clear about their direction and their politics and they were confident that they could speak for themselves ( a radio producers dream). However, we did not have that same parallel in the africanamerican muslim community then or now. In our muslim communities everyone waits to hear what the imam thinks. And if he is inactive then the community, especially the youth, are inactive.

    Which brings me to you, Abdur Rahman. You and those with you, Tariq, Amin and others are an important part of our emerging intellectual leadership. Whether you are aware of it or not, so its important that your VISION , not only your position, be correct. Because others will follow. Always seek the Guidance of Allah and His Messenger(pboh), and work to distinguish the Muslim community from oppression of all kinds from within and from outside. And wisdom will tell you that what works outside sometimes has to be modified to work inside.

    May Allah continue to keep you in His Grace.

  3. As salaamu ‘alaikum..

    Your post here has given me much to think about. I have often felt that the organizations you have mentioned [and the ones you have not] have very limited and short-sighted goals, suing companies that discriminate agaist Muslim women wearing Hijaab, etc.. whereas American Muslims [read African-American] have, until reletively recently, pursued the greater goals of social and economic reform within an Islamic context.

    All of these sort of organizations have their uses even now, Alhamdulillah, but perhaps what is needed is a more broad agenda formulated that will be supported and followed by the leadership. I actually feel that the Mana conference was a good step in the right direction, to have organizations that have ecomonic, cultural and religious goals in mind, devoid of charismatic personality worship.

    I would also like to add that blogs such as yours will create much thought in the minds of people, and that perhaps the bloggers themselves may end up being the leaders we need to fulfull a wholistic agenda.

    Regards,

    S.Waheed

  4. Safia says:

    “Blackamerican Muslims were expected to march in lock-step with their immigrant brethren who, in general, are not for him”

    Seriously?? I agree he’s gotten criticism for the pro-Israeli stance, but Obama is going to get the majority of the immigrant Muslim vote. This is the impression I’ve gotten at least, from talking to people. I didn’t even think this was in doubt.

  5. Safia,

    I’m talking about the official postions of the large organizations. The second generation are pretty much just like the young whites who love him.

  6. Salaam alaikum,
    Thank you for your kind words sister seeking. I’m definitely not a role model. Rather, I hope that a number of people avoid the pitfalls I fell into and find wisdom in what I share. Anything good in what I write comes from Allah and any bad or harm comes from my own self.

    Brother Abdur Rahman,
    The lecture circuit… I’m glad you brought this up. I’ve been existing on the margins for so long, I never really knew the inner workings of these machines.

    The thing is that people operate without really thinking about the implications of their processes of exclusion. We need to be more self reflective and more open. Recently, a few of us have been talking about new models for leadership. I have a problem with these leaders who are more interested in building large followings, as opposed to leading communities. We need people who are not just riding on charisma, but making effective changes in the people they have day to day contact with. We need teachers, guides, and counselors not just people who get us all riled up at conferences and talks which are more pep rallies than anything else.

    A lot of American born Muslims also are feeling the same way. Many of the Muslim community centers and national organizations are more interested preserving their back home culture, rather than forging a truly American Muslim community. The thing is, their children are increasingly identifying with Black American culture (i.e. Urban culture) while Black American Muslim issues remain illegible.

    Barak Allah fikum!

  7. Little Green says:

    I don’t know where you have gotten the idea that Muslims are not backing Obama because of his stance on Palestine-Israel issue. This is completely misinformed. Whoever I have talked to among Muslim immigrants support Obama’s presidency. It is unfortunate that even Obama has to show his commitment to preserve Israel’s interests in order to stay in the race but Muslims are mature enough to know this reality and live with it. At this point, we are not hoping that the next president will push for a just solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict. We are just hoping that the next president will not stop new unjustified wars in the region. And that’s why we support Obama.

  8. Peter says:

    Abdur, I truly believe you can get yourself media attention, you are just looking at the wrong outlets.

    As strange as it might sound to you, I believe the conservative radio shows are where to start. Those guys are constantly questioning why they do not hear Muslim Americans condemning attacks like this week’s and the sickening celebration of it by children. Well you are a Muslim American who thinks on his own, and you probably represent the vast majority of Muslim Americans, not CAIR or any of those other clown organizations.

    You are courageous in our times. For some reason we live in a sick world where it is courageous to come out and say that you condemn the killing of kids in school and the subsequent celebration of it. But that is the way it is, and you are doing what you believe is morally right. Good for you.

    This blog is a great start, now if you can create a community to go along with it, you should have merit enough to promote yourself to those outlets. Someone will bite. From there you grow.

    Best of luck.

  9. Say What Now? says:

    Margari Aziza Hill writes:

    “Anything good in what I write comes from Allah and any bad or harm comes from my own self.”

    This is a really, really sad way of looking at yourself. There are many non-religious people who are not Muslims who are kind, decent people. They speak peace and love, and do all kinds of great things for mankind. Are you going to credit Allah for their good works as well? But they are not even Muslims! Why does Allah create atheists who are better than you, a Muslim?

    Don’t sell yourself short, and don’t give credit to your god when he hasn’t earned it. There is goodness within you, not from above, but inside you. Please think about it, Ms. Hill.

  10. Say What Now? says:

    Thank you for your words, Abdul-Rahman Muhammad. Looks like you’re one of the lone voices in the wilderness of political correctness and religious tyranny.

    The sad thing is the media is helping groups like CAIR and the Muslim American Society, not free thinkers like you. They’re touted as “mainstream” Muslim groups, but in this day and age, “mainstream” means supporting Islamic terrorist groups and intimidating everyone who disagrees with you.

  11. Abu Walid says:

    Salaam. I pray for you because this writing smacks of nationalism. FYI there are black Palestinians and you might want to read up on the situation in Somalia, the black Islamic country that the USA has again rained bombs on while supporting an Ethiopian invasion. Are you a 5%er who believes the black man is Allah or basic NoI who believes the white man is a shaytan? I’d say your writing on this page would make WD Mohammed and those who had Malcolm killed proud but Allahu Alam. Insha’allah you’ll return to the straight path, the path followed by the Muslims from around the world who supported black struggles for equality in segregationist America and apartheid South Africa. Iran refused to recognize only two countries after its revolution: South Africa and Israel. Doing so didn’t benefit ethnic Persians who had previously enjoyed strong relations with both countries — it brought sanctions and threats. It was and in the case of Israel still is the right thing to do however.

    What is happening to Muslims in Palestine, Afghanistan, the Caucasus, Iraq, Kashmir, Somalia, East Turkestan and the Philippines should be of concern to Muslims of all races. Are there Arab-American Muslims who seem fixated on Palestine above all other wounds of this Ummah? Yes. They are scared to support, even in their hearts and minds I fear, Muslims in less known [even] more demonized locales. Those brothers hardly constitute a ‘syndicate’ though, they are a handful of people who are regularly slapped around by the real syndicate of Judeo-Christian lobbies and media.

  12. Karridine says:

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if al-Mahdi had taught that “The Oneness of Mankind” is “the pivotal point round which all other Teachings’ revolve?

    Then we could turn toward The Mahdi, come in The Glory of God, and honor Prophet Muhammad, Jesus of Nazareth, and Moses and the Patriarchs, by relating to humans as spiritual beings, in the image of God, with knowing and loving capacities; each with a personal responsibility to treat men & women as equal in the sight of God…

    But then, that IS what His Holiness the Qaim AND the Mahdi taught, sacrificed their lives to bring to us, and suffered in order to free humankind from our slavish-selfish ignorance…

    Today, our imams, mullahs, priests, ministers, monks and other ecclesiastics STAND OBSTACLES BETWEEN us and The Glory of God, fearful of letting us know of the Coming of al-Qaim (May 23, 1844/1260 AH) and The Mahdi (1853-1892). Today’s clergy colludes and collaborates with the chain-makers and slave-masters, to cripple and enslave us TO THEIR WILLS, and not the Will of God!

    Keep up your principled, courageous work, for yours is a voice of reason amid a sea of selfishness!

  13. IBN ABDUL HAQQ says:

    Asa Abdul -Rahman this little poem i found on a blog called Thoughts
    of a Griot at e. blog . It speaks the thoughts of a lot of grass roots muslims.

    I’d rather see a Khutbah

    “I’d rather see a Khutbah than to hear one any day,
    I’d rather one should walk with me than just to show the way;

    The eye is a better pupil and more willing than the ear;
    Advice may be misleading, but examples are always clear.

    And the very best of teachers are the ones who live their creeds
    For to see good put into action is what everybody needs;

    I can soon learn to do it if you’ll let me see it done.
    I can watch your hand in motion, but your tongue too fast may run.

    And the khutbahs you deliver may be very fine and true,
    But I’d rather get my lesson by observing what you do.

    For I may misunderstand you and the fine advice you give,
    But there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.”

    Follow THE SUNNAH OF PROPHET MUHAMMED P.B.U.H

  14. Observer says:

    Abdur-Rahman, is there not an element of covert, intolerant hostility from traditional Muslims towards black Muslims?

  15. Karridine says:

    Ibn ‘Abdu-l Haqq… excellent guidance…

    I turn to ‘Abdu-l Baha, the Servant of the Glory.

    Born May 23, 1844, he is no messenger from God, but IS a perfect example of how we can ‘live the life’…😀

  16. Mats says:

    “Say What Now?”
    Theproblem of course is that an atheist has no way to absolutly determine what is “good” and waht is “evil”.
    The question was never if atheists can be good people. the question is that they are good people DESPITE beign atheists, given that in the atheist worldview, there is no reason to be a good person.. It’s all survival of the fittest. Breed the best, kill the rest.

  17. Say What now?
    Your little intervention utterly lacks any depth. This is when you should have remained silent, as opposed to displaying your profound ignorance on Islamic spirituality and humility.

  18. Fareed Numan says:

    Alhamdulila

    We’ve never heard of you. I have also felt this sting and could not have put it in better words. For the first time lets do it right, by the Book so to speak and let the chips fall where they may. Let’s tell the whole story now, because history for us is in record mode. This article proves further the edvidence that Allah ta’ala is the best of planners. Abdur-Rahman, keep the light on for us we will be home soon, insha-Allah.

  19. […] March 10, 2008 by Lance Here’s great post today at Singular Voice, the Muslim blog whose owner posted a brave denunciation of the ugly Palestinian celebrations following the Jerusalem terror attack: “We’ve Never Heard of You”. […]

  20. brnaeem says:

    AA- Abdur-Rahman,

    Thanks for the background. I must admit that as I was reading your post and your understanding of the dynamics between the immigrant community and the BAM community, I immediately thought about the way Malcolm X viewed the politics of the civil rights movement, where the white establishment handpicked and vetted the black leaders who were approved to deliver a controllable ideology.

    Does that sound about right?

    But then my second thought was to question your suppositions. While no one can deny the outright racism that exists in the immigrant community against the BAM community, am I being naïve to suggest that talk of a conspiracy to subjugate the BAM is a bit too much?

    Of course there are problems between the various communities, but to talk of a conscious effort to suppress the BAM voice is taking it to a paranoid extreme, IMO

    I agree that the BAM voice needs to be heard and included in the larger American Muslim conversation (and simultaneously developed outside of that conversation, similar to the Arab and Pakistani communities who are forging their own identities).

    I agree that the immigrant community had a role in advocating the ‘Just Muslim’ attitude that has stifled the growth of the BAM and resulted in a general identity crisis.

    I also agree that for too long, the immigrant community has hijacked the dialogue within/out the American Muslim community and that a balance desperately needs to be achieved.

    But a conspiracy? Really? Do you believe that accusations of a conspiracy are productive towards redressing these wrongs? Instead of working constructively, your approach comes off as a tad bit negative.

  21. salafiburnout says:

    Br Naeem

    If I may jump in, I do not feel that it is a conspiracy in that immigrant Muslims consciously decided to suppress the BAM agenda. I do feel that they had their own agendas coming over here and many saw themselves as foreign agents working for their country’s agenda here in America. In doing that, the immigrant Muslims used the BAMs as pawns in their own agenda while telling the BAMs that their local concerns were “unIslamic”. Why the BAMs blindly accepted this thinking wholesale is another subject.

  22. Yursil says:

    BismillahirRahmanirRahim
    Salamu’alaykum,

    This syndicate decides who becomes “famous” and who does not. Whose CD lectures are allowed to be sold in Islamic book shops and whose are not. Who is going to be on the “A-1 speakers circuit” (yes, that is exactly what they call it) and who is not. In essence, who is worthy of being heard and who is not.

    Well, this is completely true! However, I wouldn’t identify this as an immigrant syndicate. Although definitely immigrants run a good amount of the show, and the wealth funding machine is coming from wealthy immigrants and also money from overseas, almost everyone on the A-1 speakers circuit is a non-immigrant.

    This shows that the wealthy are indifferent about who gets the spotlight as long as the message stays ‘comformative’. Therefore, this is far wider than immigrant vs non-immigrant.

    In the end, this is a tightly controlled battle of ideals and philosophies.

    It is a battle (a futile one, in my opinion) of what is defined as ‘mainstream’ Islam in a land which is empty of an definitive or long-standing Islamic history.

    This is just the latest means that mainstream Islam of tradition, and even heterodox understandings of the faith, will be kept at bay in the public discourse.

  23. […] in the United States for at least the past 25 or 30 year . I’ve discussed in detail, and with scathing criticism, how that syndicate systematically appropriated Black Muslim leadership resulting in the complete […]

  24. Abu Abdillah says:

    Salaamu ‘Alaikum,

    Why expect any group formulated by non BAMs to take up the agenda or fill the needs of BAMs? They took the initiative to form their own organizations because THEY had needs that no one else could meet better than themselves show BAMs should do the same. I am not an advocate of nationalism but the reality after all is said and done is that no one else has devoted themselves to the particular needs of BAMs up to now so why do they expect it? We are all Muslim yes, but we are NOT all the same.

    Let’s be more self critical as well. If we want the cooperation and support of non BAMs we have to step to the plate prepared to go to bat. You can’t step in front of a traditionally Muslim community whose ethnic roots are outside of the US without wielding a strong command and knowledge of Islamic texts or you WILL not be taken as seriously over the long run or even the short run. Indeed this strong grounding in Islamic knowledge is lacking. It is not to say there aren’t very intelligeent and sharp BAMs who don’t deserve to be passed off, but the truth is BAMs of this calibre (intelligence and capability and training in Islam) are in SHORT supply in ANY case. It is a cop out and it undermines BAMs to NOT get thoroughly grounded and skilled in the language of Islam because they often have to go to non BAMs to do it!

    Loud, fast, passionate talk will take you only so far and you may be a crowd pleaser but in the end not a shot caller. You will be a ‘novelty’ i.e. Siraj for many who have not heard that down home preachy style and finds black language so ‘colorful’ but ask him if all that capital he should have built up by now has gotten him the multi-million dollar facility the BAM community needs in Brooklyn.

    Black males are already assumed aggressive. Strong and strident speech is misinterpreted as coming on too strong as it is – Obama and Rev. Wright anyone? That approach toward non BAMs comes off just the same and it makes them nervous. Additionally there is the real issue that some BAM speakers are full of themselves and seem too self-absorbed to listen to or consider anyone else’s agenda anywhere near as important as their own. They come of even to other BAMs as egotistical. BAMs often want to sound off or ‘go off’ and have not yet disciplined themselves enough to know when to turn it down or patient enough to give their message time in a steady and methodical way and that is often because they are unwilling to listen or compromise or seem subservient to non BAM agendas.

    Again, the solution is form our OWN groups and somehow conveying that they are there to fill a void and real needs and NOT to separate ourselves from other Muslims from the angle of having no mutual interests ro common causes. Blogs like this can be or are part of that.

  25. Sister Seeking says:

    Again, the solution is form our OWN groups and somehow conveying that they are there to fill a void and real needs and NOT to separate ourselves from other Muslims from the angle of having no mutual interests ro common causes. Blogs like this can be or are part of that. – Abu Abdillah

    Brother I agree with you. We need to form our own groups, but I believe we have to establish ourselves first, and then be willing to reach out to other Muslim groups. The second part of your statement is kind of tricky: who defines what those mutual interest and common causes are? I’d like to say the Qur’an, but people are constantly pre-texting, and manipulating religious texts for personal agendas? Ever heard of the cliché “the devil is in the details?” I personally see much of our failure due to a break down in communication in which a major part of that is deemphasize on details which leaves GIANT loop holes to crawl through. For example: “A common goal of Muslim is to the feed poor” people who are manipulators will stretch that “a common goal of Muslims is to the feed poor in Palestine.” My apologies if I explained my self to the ground.

    Black males are already assumed aggressive. Strong and strident speech is misinterpreted as coming on too strong as it is – Obama and Rev. Wright anyone? That approach toward non BAMs comes off just the same and it makes them nervous. Abu Abdillah

    This is a very good point. Let me throw a few other issues in here from the other side of the spectrum:

    1)Despite pressure Obama did not denounce his pastor nor his church—for people who are awake that is triumph in and of it’s self.

    2)Pressuring black men to tone down their rhetoric (unless they are inciting violence which Abdur Rahman is not) is a subtle way of emasculating them. Matured men traditionally were boisterous, stern, charismatic, and aggressive with aim of focusing on their target—it’s their nature unless it’s been corrupted and destroyed which is very prevalent in the entire black community. This is just like saying “Boy”!

    3)Any American of any color who believes in the constitution, independent thinking, and freedom of religion can deduce that the outrage from the mainstream white community and mis-educated black people is nothing short of using Christianity to control black people, and telling black people what ideology they can or can not believe in—the same is true of the non BAM’s do not tell us what we can or can not believe in.

    Let’s be more self critical as well. If we want the cooperation and support of non BAMs we have to step to the plate prepared to go to bat. You can’t step in front of a traditionally Muslim community whose ethnic roots are outside of the US without wielding a strong command and knowledge of Islamic texts or you WILL not be taken as seriously over the long run or even the short run. Indeed this strong grounding in Islamic knowledge is lacking. It is not to say there aren’t very intelligent and sharp BAMs who don’t deserve to be passed off, but the truth is BAMs of this caliber (intelligence and capability and training in Islam) are in SHORT supply in ANY case. It is a cop out and it undermines BAMs to NOT get thoroughly grounded and skilled in the language of Islam because they often have to go to non BAMs to do it! – Abu Abdillah

    This is an excellent point brother. It would be nice if we could produce our own Islamic colleges and even open up distance learning programs like the Yeshiva colleges. Not every one is “called” to be a theologian but we need to provide opportunities for those who are.

    Why expect any group formulated by non BAMs to take up the agenda or fill the needs of BAMs? They took the initiative to form their own organizations because THEY had needs that no one else could meet better than themselves show BAMs should do the same. I am not an advocate of nationalism but the reality after all is said and done is that no one else has devoted themselves to the particular needs of BAMs up to now so why do they expect it? We are all Muslim yes, but we are NOT all the same. – Abu Abdillah

    You know, I’m not sure where this attitude of diversity and innovation being un-Islamic came from? Perhaps a little from the salafi movement, a little from others interpretation of the deen being mixed in with socialism?

  26. Abu Abdillah says:

    As-Salaamu ‘Alaikum

    I am not advocating separation from other Muslims to the point of creating exclusively BAM masaajid or even learning institutions but I meant that there are issues of importance that have not and will not get addressed by other than us and it cannot be expected. Even if non BAMs want to address these issues they will not necessarily even be accepted by BAMs which is another issue in and of itself.

    From a broader perspective, the issues of BAMs are indeed issues of all Muslims especially those living here and the ummah is suffering from seeing our interests as mutually exclusive. However, be that as it may, nevertheless, despite it all, even so and in any case, NOBODY is going to deal with the problems or issues of BAMs better or with as much urgency as THEY can themselves.

    Should we prioritize the Palestinian issue over our own, or that of Kashmiris or Chechens or any other downtrodden and oppressed Muslims? How CAN we be expected to be effective or even helpful with those issues if we are not functioning as we should among ourselves? How can I prioritize issues so far away when there are brothers and sisters right here with serious needs of all types? This is NOT saying BAMs should not be concerned or care about the issues of other Muslims. That would simply be un-Islamic. BUT… we can’t fix someone else’s house when my own home is burning. The same goes for non BAMs in dealing with issues particular to them. No one can afford to neglect their problems to deal with somebody else’s. In fact, I may at times resent being told ANYTHING by people who clearly have major issues of their own.

    We have to stop being ‘baby men’ anyway (sorry sister but I think as MEN we need to take responsibility and not depend on our women to take it, but we do need to learn to respect and support each other – which is another one of our issues). That is, expecting anyone to take care of us and coddling us. This has crippled too many of us. We do have an Islamic right to expect being shown some regard and given assistance with gaining the tools we require to be complete men. Mutual cooperation is what is desired, not co-opting or domination.

    We should be able to effectively communicate that there are needs in the BA segment of the American Muslim community that must be met or addressed that should not be ignored by American Muslims. We need to clearly articulate what we need and expect but we can’t wait on somebody else to do what we have to do for ourselves. If that means we have to start an organization focused on BAM issues, so be it, but that DOES NOT mean it should be closed off to the cooperation or assistance from any other Muslims who should have some concern for BAM issues as we should about theirs.

    Finally, I am not one to blame salafis as a whole, but I do blame a significant segment of claimants to salafiyyah because I believe that the problem is not the concept of following the deen (in principle and practice) of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions and the best of the Muslims after them, I mean what else is Islam based on? No, the problem is viewing that concept so narrowly and rigidly as to make the claim of being salafy the main issue while misapplying the very principles one claims to follow such as limiting the knowledge of Islam to a handful of shaykhs that changes every few months or making adherence to a particular scholar’s statements a litmus test that carries the weight of absolute law and visciously attacking those who differ (incidentally, I also see that as a BAM problem as well, but not exclusively so).

    We often bring our disfunction into the deen and that warps our perspective and ability to connect heart and mind or achieve balance in our practice of the deen. Sometimes we refuse or CANNOT recognize this, but others sure do and it a time stunts our progress and feeds frustration, depression and yes extremism.

    Subhanallah, now I am going off on a tangent. I’d better stop.

    Jazakallah Khairan Sister Seeking and I pray you find whatever it is, ameen.

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