Stamp Out the Criminal Culture

Posted: March 25, 2008 in Uncategorized

As we move foreword in our endeavors to build a strong and vibrant Muslim community in America, at some point in time – and I am convinced the time is now – we must address an ugly truth that we’ve all known to be true yet are too embarrassed to admit, namely, that our community is full of criminals. I didn’t say “reformed criminals”, for that would be one thing. No, I’m talking about a dark subculture that has somehow managed to harmonize completely lawless activity with a Muslim identity.


At first this would appear an oxymoron, a complete contradiction in terms, but it is true, and has been for an incredibly long time. We must confront this issue head-on, and break the back of this perverse culture which has retarded our growth and development for far too long.

Along the east coast corridor of the United States – New York, New Jersey, Philly, Baltimore, and DC – God only knows the percentage of Blackamerican Muslims who are either incarcerated, on parole, or have a criminal record. The numbers are absolutely staggering. This is because one of the few places an African American Imam can earn a full time living is as a “prison chaplain”, not a university professor, writer, businessman, or any other middle-class profession for that matter. This creates a very serious imbalance in the kind of brothers who come to populate the Blackamerican masjids, since the only “skill set” most of them seem to have is robbing, raping, beating, and murdering – crimes they continue to commit even after being released! There are no institutions on the outside to inculcate in these men any real sense of manhood, responsibility, integrity, honesty, and respect for the law.

Where are our real estate brokers, professors, lawyers, health care workers, teachers, accountants, business executives, government employees, the kinds of people you need to build a balanced, healthy and strong society. How did Blackamerican Islam come to be identified with the criminal underclass and what is the ideology that produces this strange orientation? Why is it so common, for example, to hear talk of “rival jamaats”, “karate and military training”, “security teams”, “co-intel-pro”, “the police and F.B.I.”, the “evil system”, and all manner of bizzare conspiracy theories? Where does this stuff come from? Where is the emphasis on education, maintaining gainful employment, respect for ones wife and family, and genuine remorse for one’s unsavory past? Again, how is it conceivable that a dispute between two Imams, in a masjid no less, ends up in bloodshed and death (as what happened at the Yasin Masjid in 1974)? What is it about our understanding of religion that creates this sick, dysfunctional culture? Can we imagine, for example, a heavily armed “security team” from 1st African Methodist Church led by its pastor going to 2nd Missionary Baptist Church to physically harm or even kill its parishioners?

In my humble judgement, a significant aspect of the problem can be traced to an inordinate glorification of Malcolm X and his legacy. Even though for most of his short, public career he was a dedicated member of the NOI, he nevertheless came to be seen as the “convict-turned-Muslim” archetype, later turned stereotype, which we are all familiar with. It is for this reason that even today his autobiography is one of the most widely-read books within our nation’s correctional facilities. It is this book which leads many of these convicts to accept Islam. Of course no one is saying that there is anything blameworthy about brothers accepting Islam in the joint. Not at all! However, the image of Malcolm X (and his criminal past which he always reminded his audiences of) looms so large in the consciousness of Blackamerican Muslims that he completely overshadows other equally note worthy personalities like Congressman Keith Ellison or the Police Chief of Philadelphia, Sylvester Johnson, for example. In other words, Malcolm cannot be the end-all be-all of Muslim heroes or role models.

Most importantly though, we must root out the pernicious ideology which says that the “kafir system” under which we live is illegitimate and not worthy of respect. All these romantic, Utopian notions of the “Islamic State”, “The return of the Khalifah”, and all other unrealistic dreams must be dispensed with. My own view is that after affirming the five “pillars of Islam” everything else is suspect. Of course that is an exaggeration, but not much. We must divest our Islam of all this imported political ideology, and return it to its message of monotheism, worship, goodness, kindness, compassion, mercy, fellow-feeling, and love for humanity. THIS IS THE TRUE MESSAGE OF ISLAM, not all that political crap like we see overseas.

Once you teach brothers who are already given to lawlessness and living on the margins of society, that the system is illegitimate, their crazy minds come to rationalize all manner of nefarious dealings. The idea here is that “I’m harming the system to bring down the system”, but in truth they remain nothing but criminals. Any foul deed becomes “halal” if it is perpetrated against the “kafirs” to enrich the “Muslims”. Robbing a bank for example, according to this twisted logic, becomes an act of virtue inasmuch as the wealth of the “kafirs” is decreased while that of the Muslims is increased. All of this kind of crazy non-sense must be exposed for what it is, a gross perversion of this great religion. Last I checked, we are followers of the final Prophet and Messenger to humanity, not Red Beard the pirate!

In conclusion, let me just say that it is time for us to fly straight and get our house in order. We must reject the “boot-leg”, criminal culture that has for all practical purposes been accepted by Blackamerican Muslims. “Boot-leg books, CDs, clothing, purses, movies, sweat shirts and tee shirts are the common wares of Muslim vendors everywhere. This has to stop. The hour has arrived for all of us to become productive, law abiding citizens, and useful members of society.

Comments
  1. “that our community is full of criminals.”

    Every earthly community has criminals. Some have more, some have less, and their criminal activities will vary from community to community.

    “The idea here is that ‘I’m harming the system to bring down the system’, but in truth they remain nothing but criminals.”

    The same can be said for some of the standard-bearers in the War on Terror — they say they are trying to keep us safe, harming terrorists to bring down terrorists, but in reality they are criminals, furthering their own criminal enterprises.

    It is important that decent people in the world do not allow themselves to be divided up in an “us-vs.-them” mentality; i.e., “either you’re with us, or you’re with the terrorists.” I am very much against the terrorists, but I also believe that many of our political leaders need to be removed from office and placed on trial for racketeering, money-laundering, influence-peddling and treason, among other crimes. In fact, I name names at my blog.

    If each community dealt with the criminals in its midst, that would eliminate the cause of a great deal of inter-community strife.

  2. Sister Seeking says:

    “However, the image of Malcolm X (and his criminal past which he always reminded his audiences of) looms so large in the consciousness of Black American Muslims that he completely overshadows other equally note worthy personalities like Congressman Keith Ellison or the Police Chief of Philadelphia, Sylvester Johnson, for example. In other words, Malcolm cannot be the end-all be-all of Muslim heroes or role models.”

    One behavior I notice amongst the laity in both the non-Muslim and Muslim community is “pre-texting”– not only with the revelations but with any literature. The fact that this mentality is so prevalent amongst BAM’s is evidence of people who disregard basic research, and study methods. I personally feel this mentality evolved out of a misunderstanding of what Brother Malcolm meant when he did refer to his past. If people would have read his autobiography in context of history, and asked basic political theory questions, this would not have occurred. Pre-texting is dangerous because it opens up the door for manipulation, and destruction. Credentialed people are guilty of this as well, but by and large it’s very prevalent amongst this group you speak of. This is one of my biggest Pet Peeves’. Arrrrh! : (

    “This creates a very serious imbalance in the kind of brothers who come to populate the Black American masjids, since the only “skill set” most of them seem to have is robbing, raping, beating, and murdering – crimes they continue to commit even after being released! There are no institutions on the outside to inculcate in these men any real sense of manhood, responsibility, integrity, honesty, and respect for the law.”

    Two points:

    1) BAM’s need to start a campaign (and sustain it for the long term) to reach out to the black middle class. I was basically raised with the NAACP (my farther is a board member for his branch and my grandmother is very active). I once tried to invite a BAM sister with me to a fundraiser event in which Dr. Eric Dyson (love him so much) would be there but she declined the offer. Her reason was that she felt organizations like these were too churchy. That’s fine, and I respect her choice. At the same time, the situation has come down to those of us who are willing to be uncomfortable and think about the communities long term interests. MSA’s on college campuses is not going to do it. My story illustrates two additional points: 1) You’re series on why BAM’s don’t stand for justice and the gap that behavior has left and 2) the silent rift that has grown between being black and being a BAM. Those of with “solid marriages”, financial stability, and skills/resources/education etc need to participate in the African American mainstream more often as a “Muslim” first. IMO

    2) BAM’s in leadership positions need to seriously re-examine the organizational practices of the NOI. Many of the NOI’s methods would be successful into reforming individuals. The “main stream” Muslim community is to refer these individuals to non-Muslim social services agencies because these individuals are regarded as burdens, and can not contribute economically or politically. To do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result is insanity. It’s pretty obvious that approach isn’t working. I have personally witnessed Imams marry men with a criminal history of rape to women with children. I don’t like that. The way we treat our children is the future we build for ourselves.

    “My own view is that after affirming the five “pillars of Islam” everything else is suspect. Of course that is an exaggeration, but not much. We must divest our Islam of all this imported political ideology, and return it to its message of monotheism, worship, goodness, kindness, compassion, mercy, fellow-feeling, and love for humanity. THIS IS THE TRUE MESSAGE OF ISLAM, not all that political crap like we see overseas.”

    You are NOT exaggerating…

    As BAM’s we need to send the message that we are not an ideological dumping ground, or charity project to be experimented on. We are real people!

    “We must address an ugly truth that we’ve all known to be true yet are too embarrassed to admit, namely, that our community is full of criminals. I didn’t say “reformed criminals”, for that would be one thing. No, I’m talking about a dark subculture that has somehow managed to harmonize completely lawless activity with a Muslim identity.”

    It’s funny you mention being embarrassed. Every time I meet an African American non-Muslim with a Muslim relative they always have a horror story to tell me, that usually includes criminal behavior. I some times wonder if BAM’s realize how bad our reputation is… Many middle class blacks associate the deen with being trashy and low class…

    Another trend I’ve noticed is the many non-Muslims with suspect backgrounds who have Muslim names. This is apart of the phenomenon you speak of. I REALLY hate this practice. I don’t see any one doing this to the Jewish community.

    I always encourage BAM’s to try find Muslim or even African names that aren’tso popular with this group of people so their children won’t be associated with that culture.

  3. Charles says:

    Abdur-Rahman! Salaam brother!
    You know I’m looking for you. We need to get moving on a couple things.

  4. salafiburnout says:

    The “noble brothers” are known for selling all the bootleg material in my parts

  5. kameelah says:

    Salaams,

    “We must address an ugly truth that we’ve all known to be true yet are too embarrassed to admit, namely, that our community is full of criminals. I didn’t say “reformed criminals”, for that would be one thing. No, I’m talking about a dark subculture that has somehow managed to harmonize completely lawless activity with a Muslim identity.”

    There was a time where Muslims engaged in Prison Dawah and supported brothers transitioning out of the prison. Instead of casting these PEOPLE aside as damaged goods without the hope of being transformed, we need to invite them into our community and mobilize Islam as it was meant to be mobilized–as a way of life that brings spiritual guidance, introspection and moral fortitude. Our prison system in grounded in punishment, not reconciliation which is part of the reason why Black men are leaving prison without skills to better themselves. Under the Clinton Administration Pell Grant and college prison classes were cut and Clinton made folks with a drug conviction ineligible for federal financial aid. Now we can argue about whether our limited funds should be spent on “criminals,” but we need to reflect on how our attitudes towards criminals are highly problematic and speak to the type of exclusion, labeling and stigmatizing that causes greater rifts in the ummah. Instead of harping on how many Muslim brothers are coming to our masjids with records we need to be talking about getting these brothers on the right track. Continuously labeling them as nefarious criminals who infiltrate the masjid in my opinion does not seem very productive; rather it creates a hierarchy within the masjid where folks self-elect themselves to castes that serve divisive purposes.

    In the article you ask “Where are our real estate brokers, professors, lawyers, health care workers, teachers, accountants, business executives, government employees, the kinds of people you need to build a balanced, healthy and strong society.” Folks leaving the prison system need to be part of this process and exclusion from this process reinforces a fringe society of folks. Without seeing these people as part of the community that builds a new society we are doomed to reproduce the same problems we have today. And I would argue that these people are not fringe members of society. With 2 million people locked up and another 4 million under parole or probation in America, the incarcerated are even more “mainstreamed” then before.

    “Once you teach brothers who are already given to lawlessness and living on the margins of society, that the system is illegitimate, their crazy minds come to rationalize all manner of nefarious dealings.” I get what you are saying here but I find it useful to examine the argument that the “system is illegitimate.” There are many things WRONG with the way the American economy and social system work and none of us should be able to deny this. There is nothing wrong with speaking this truth, however the problem emerges with how that truth is understood. If this truth is understood as a rationale for destructive and self-destructive behavior then clearly there is a problem. However, if this information empowers folks to build the right kind of society then we are going in the right direction.

    Instead of spending our energy distancing ourselves from Black Muslims with criminal records, we should be doing more to bridge that gap.

    Sister Seeking you make an interesting point about connecting with the Black middle class. I would disagree and say that the Black middle class has always been reached out to in lieu of “having to deal with poor black folks.” What do we gain from reaching out to the Black Middle class? Why are we reaching out to this community and not the community that is often cycled throughout the prison system? Again, I feel like and please correct me if I am wrong because Allah knows best, that there is so much emphasis on maintaining a certain image of BAMs that we are willing to sacrifice necessary relationships and bypass some of the heavy lifting to create an inclusive BAM ummah.

    The reality is that we do have many brothers coming out of prison with one foot in Islam and the other foot in the streets, but this is not something we should be embarrassed about; rather Allah (swt) has given us the opportunity to see how we can deal with our challenges and bring folks into the fold.

    And yeah, there are brothers with “Muslim names” who aren’t “really” Muslim–many of the brothers approached me and D.C. and its a real problem. However, I think we need to reflect and ensure that our attempt to “clean up” the ummah is focused not on making ourselves look proper or decent and more so focused on a spiritual and social transformation that speaks to a sincere desire to see us to better. Far too often we are too concerned with how we look to others and as such are attempts to “clean up” are like the attempts to clean up NYC in the 90s–a lot of superficial cleaning, and removing folks from visibility without addressing endemic problems.

  6. Sh. Mahmoud Ibrahim al-Amreeki says:

    Dar ul Islam / Iqaamatiddeen

    Sister Kameelah, you have been blessed with insight.

    “They (the disbelievers and punks) said,’Shall we Believe in thee when it is only the meanest ( low-lifes ) that follow thee?’

    He (Noah) said, ‘And what do I know as to what they do?, Their account is only with my Lord, if ye could but understand. I am not one to drive away those who believe. I am sent only to warn plainly in public.” Sura Nuh 26 (ayats 111-115)

    We get too concerned with what others think about us.

    “They ( the disbelievers and the punks) say,’Shall we believe as the fools believe?” Nay of a surety they are the fools, but realize it not” Sura Baqarah 2 (ayat 13)

    The point is that the fools that the unbelievers were talking about were people like Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali and the rest of the Companions (as). What we have to do is be more concerned with our own personal understanding of Islam and the vision that was understood by the Prophets and the righteous ‘people of understanding’ and use this as the method of cleansing our community. That is the success.

    As for the Imams in the prison system, in the late sixties through to the early eighties, we were going into the prisons without the expectation of a paycheck in order to bring the light of Islam to anyone of any color who was interested in making it right with their Lord. No matter what the result, that is our responsibility as Muslims. We were on a mission. And the pioneers of that endeavor, particularly in NY, like Sh. Ismail Abdur Rahim (ra), made sure that those who accepted Islam ‘inside’ were governed by New York State policies directly related to Qur’an and Sunnah. Revolutionary, I’d say.

    If brothers take on the task of going into American Prisons and people accept Islam, then our job is not to distance these new converts but help them in completing the reformation process.

  7. As Salaamu Alaikum Sister Kameelah and Bro. Al-Amreeki,

    Both of you have completely missed the point and I will respond to both your comments in a full post probably tomorrow. In short, this is not a comment on class or trying to look good and decent. What I am talking about is a full-blown criminal culture that is flourishing in the Muslim community. If it was about “looking good” I wouldn’t even air this dirty laundry in public. Perhaps if you were a victim of one of these thugs, as many women and children have been, you would think differently. Kameelah. Not to belittle you, but I know that you are young and well meaning, and I would actually agree with you if that were the topic. But class is not the issue here! Again, I will respond soon in another post (inshallah)

  8. As Salaamu Alaikum Bro. Charles,

    I apologize brother. Just email me a number I can reach you at and I will get back with you in a timely manner (inshallah)

  9. kameelah says:

    salaams,

    i do wish you would have phrased that differently and not dismissed me as “young and well meaning”–a phrase that often is just a euphemism for naive and basically not knowing what i speak of. i responded to what i perceived to be the subtext of the post. Allah knows best and i take responsibility if i have in fact missed the crux of your argument. i do look forward to your response if for no other reason than that ad hominem is not necessarily a well founded method of disagreement. a simple “i disagree,” clarification or redirection of the conversation would have sufficed. productive dialogue is founded on all parties feeling valued and heard, something that i cannot completely say i feel at this moment. while you took the opportunity to premise your dismissal of my ideas, the comment was nonetheless beliting rendering your premise just a courtesy. i will limit my comments here and elsewhere to areas where my opinions seem most valuable and not too naive.

    jak,
    kameelah

  10. dawud says:

    wa Salaam;

    I think the question is the wrong emphasis on Malcolm X’s life, and that’s partly due to the film. I found the book very interesting, and that’s a combination of Alex Haley’s conservativism and skepticism about black nationalism, and the fact that Malcolm was revising his autobiography as he was relating it, at first to emphasize how the NOI and Elijah had changed his life, and later as he became a Sunni muslim, to correct the propaganda he had earlier given out. Given that he died only 6 months after his Hajj, and violently in what can only be described as a combination of police negligence or criminal conspiracy with the NOI – I wouldn’t blame Malcolm so much as his inability to correct the way his image was abused. Spike Lee leaned so much on the ‘thug-turned-radical’ image that his spiritual and moral inclinations were diminished, and that film has so dominated the public image of Malcolm (in my understanding) that the proper spiritual and moral teachings that Malcolm was taking in the latter part of his life are largely ignored in favor of the political and social critiques that he was also engaged in.

    I’m white, so that makes it difficult for me to be a reasonable observer of the black muslim community, but I did want to speak about brother Malcolm, rahimuLlah, because he did influence me to accept Islam, as he did many, many others.

    We should emphasize the moral, character-building, and spiritual teachings of Islam, of the Quran and Sunnah, while allowing Malcolm and other American muslims to show us how being from America doesn’t change Islam or mean that practice has to be attenuated or weakened to allow us to be unapologetically (North) American muslims, with an emphasis on both. And that has nothing, as you correctly note above, about appeasing critics of the muslim community (although I’d be careful about encouraging the LGF-types, those of us who’ve been aware of them for years know that there’s no love or respect for Islam from that community, and Charles is disingenous in saying that he respects you, he’s only happy with secularized Zionist non-practicing right-wing muslims… wait and see if you don’t believe me, or go read Umar Lee’s experiences with them)…

    umarlee.com/2007/04/17/the-ragheads-did-it/
    umarlee.com/2007/04/09/1950s-little-green-footballs-gathering/
    umarlee.com/category/american-politics/

    http://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&channel=s&hl=en&q=lgf+site%3Aumarlee.com&meta=&btnG=Google+Search

    otherwise, I’m happy to read and endorse what you’re saying, and oppose criminal behavior and anti-Semitism while not apologizing about being a muslim or thinking that Islam encourages or even allows for these sorts of behaviors – with the caveat that a sinning muslim is still a muslim, but with weaknesses.

    may Allah rectify our actions and purify and bind our hearts – Allahumma islah umurul muslimeen wa alif bayna qulubuna –
    Amin, bi hurmati sayyidul mursaleen,
    Amen, by the honor of the Noble Messenger,
    AlhamduliLlahi Rabbil Alameen

  11. salafiburnout says:

    There are Muslims that feel that because the “system is corrupt” therefore they can rob and steal on Islamic grounds. “They are only going to use it to fight the Muslims anyway” is the excuse provided for this evil. Let’s not forget the thug culture of boycotts, insults, and brutally beatings all in the name of Islam from this culture as well

  12. Sister Seeking says:

    “Productive dialogue is founded on all parties feeling valued and heard something that I cannot completely say I feel at this moment.” “I will limit my comments here and elsewhere to areas where my opinions seem most valuable and not too naive.” Kameelah

    Salaam’Alaikum Kameelah,

    I can’t speak for Brother Abdur Rahman, but I do want to hear what you, and others think. I value every ones opinions even if I don’t understand or disagree. I’m not perfect and in the past I have fell out with Brother Abdur Rahman and especially Tariq Nelson. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m so frustrated I’ve quit. But I came back refusing to be bullied or intimidated by any one. I came back refusing to remain firm on what I believe, what I can offer, and what I can learn. I came back, because I believe our time has arrived. I came back understanding that others may not like me and I may not like them but it’s not about me, it’s about US. Please don’t drop out of the discussions sister. Again, I’m not perfect; I have the tendency to snap off some times but hopefully not too bad. You matter, WE all matter. Don’t go away sister, we half to get beyond the point of feeling offended and get beyond the point of being sensitive so that we can we accomplish something. I’m going to respond to your other comments in a moment. Don’t leave, stay on and help out.

    Sister Seeking

  13. Salaam alaikum Kameelah,
    For the most part, the Muslim community has not cast aside the ex-cons who came into Islam while locked up. Many of the brothers have been embraced, especially in our more militant mosques. If you have people normalizing criminal, anti-social behavior in the mosque, you will never see programs that will assist re-integrating into society. Instead, a lot of these brothers use Islam to make an excuse for not integrating and leading normal lives. Their conversion is not improving their lives nor our communities. And we must provide better role models for you BAMs.

    It’s a personal issue for me too. I’m not saying that I’m superior or anything. I could have been like any number of my friends who have records for boostin, fraud, and petty dealing. But, alhumdulillah I chose a different wrote–education. I’ve written about how often it was suggested that I marry one of the newly released brothers in Oakland. Oh, but he was reformed and making an honest living selling incense and oils and maybe a few books at a flea market booth. Now, I know a few brothers who tried that route and resorted back to criminal activities when push came to shove. They found themselves with 5 kids to feed, nobody willing to hire them, unable to get financial aid, and so many things stacked up agains tthem. I agree that the Muslim community needs to work on real programs to reintegrate Muslims who have been processed and chewed up in the prison industrial complex system. There needs to be half way houses, job training programs, alternative means for credit, pyschological support, etc. The thing is, that I think some Christian communities made head way in this area. They did so, because there were enough wealthy donors to make stuff like this happen.

    Abdur Rahman is not dissing on prison chaplains or the services they are doing. And yes, some people did it without pay. But I do know that the well developed prison dawah has left some disparity in the demographics of BAMs. These demographics are the things that negatively effect both of our chances of finding a suitable marriage partner. That is, unless you feel like you can help in the reformation and reintegration of some these brothers with long wrap sheets.

    Have you seen experienced the horror stories? Do you personally know someone who has received the death threats for trying to straighten out the nonsense some of our criminal brothers commit? Or have you helped the women rebuild their broken faces and lives after getting the major beat down by their husbands? I think we are a bit shielded in the West Coast, and Bay Area especially, because we are not seeing this type of Gangster-Islam festering in our communities. But I know this is doing a lot of damage in East Coast communities. Maybe you wouldn’t have had such a knee jerk reaction to what the brother was saying.

  14. Kameelah,
    Just another note. Your ideas are valuable. Just know, when they are powerful that they will resonate with people and effect change. Even when your elders sound condescending, it is your role as a youth to push. The push to effect change and the elders impart wisdom and check us, always. I’m not saying I’m the wisest person in the world–cause I’m not. But the whole process of public discourse is both engaging and humbling. It is clear that you are one of our brightest and sharpest minds. Don’t be discouraged when your opinions are challenged by someone’s whose opinions arise from experiences. By engaging in this discussion, you will develop well grounded ideas full of fresh thought and drawn from the wisdoms of OGs like Abdul Rahman.

  15. Sister Seeking says:

    “Sister Seeking you make an interesting point about connecting with the Black middle class. I would disagree and say that the Black middle class has always been reached out to in lieu of “having to deal with poor black folks.” What do we gain from reaching out to the Black Middle class? Why are we reaching out to this community and not the community that is often cycled throughout the prison system? Again, I feel like and please correct me if I am wrong because Allah knows best, that there is so much emphasis on maintaining a certain image of BAMs that we are willing to sacrifice necessary relationships and bypass some of the heavy lifting to create an inclusive BAM ummah.” Kameelah

    Sister Kameelah,

    I do feel I have been misunderstood. I probably shouldn’t have rushed through my response and took more time to explain my points more thoroughly. (By the way thank you for at least giving me the benefit of the doubt!)

    Concerning the issue of “image and reputation”:

    1) I believe that our image as BAM’s should be associated with both righteousness, and achievement. I believe the two are interrelated if your intention is to serve the Master by serving mankind. In order to do that it requires one to utilize their own G-d given talents to the best of their abilities which is achievement. I’ve said on this blog and Brother Charle’s blog that we can all be of service—that to me is righteousness. Recall the hadith that spoke of Muslims being warriors during the day, and monks at night. That is my personal approach to my life.

    2) I believe in the sheriah ( of course my family’s interpretation) and I
    believe in the “spirit” of the sheriah as well. In extension of that belief, and understanding it requires that I respect the laws of the land I’m a citizen in or reside in. Too often in the entire Muslim community there is a “I don’t care” about the law attitude that in my belief is not at all apart of the deen. I do believe that when a non-Muslim sees us they should see a person who upholds Yal-Malik’s laws and the laws of the land. They should see some one refined, and disciplined. My understanding of the Qur’an is that Allah swt commanded us to be vicegerents upon this earth; Allah swt commands us to enjoin the good and forbid the evil. Apart of that is being known for what we believe. I don’t believe there is anything superficial about being known for your good works.

    “The reality is that we do have many brothers coming out of prison with one foot in Islam and the other foot in the streets, but this is not something we should be embarrassed about; rather Allah (swt) has given us the opportunity to see how we can deal with our challenges and bring folks into the fold.” Kameelah

    Again, sister, I feel I have been misunderstood. In my second point I brought up re-examining or re-evaluating some of the practices of the NOI as a method to help reintegrate people back into society. I also mentioned that many in leadership positions regard these brothers (and there are sisters too) as a burden. They direct them to social services agencies that allow them to fall through the cracks of the system. I didn’t say “I” feel they are a burden. All you half to do is look at how many are treated in the entire Muslim community. My heart was in the right place when I made the suggestion. My goal is see our brothers and sisters assisted so that they can serve, and contribute.

    Like it or not, sooner or later we are going to half to deal with financial issues. I’m not implying that money is the only way one can serve or contribute. Some of the best things in life are free. I believe that in order to have a functional community all members need to financially contribute to keep it going. I believe that a successful community will empower its members through economic educational programs. This to me is basic social justice.

    I believe one major reason BAM’s have been at the back of the bus in the Muslim community is because we have no economic power, and thus lack leverage. I will keep saying this. My goal is to see ALL of us economically empowered including the population seen as a burden by many in our community. These are brothers who will marry, and have children. They half to be economically empowered.

    “And yeah, there are brothers with “Muslim names” who aren’t “really” Muslim–many of the brothers approached me and D.C. and it’s a real problem. However, I think we need to reflect and ensure that our attempt to “clean up” the ummah is focused not on making ourselves look proper or decent and more so focused on a spiritual and social transformation that speaks to a sincere desire to see us to better. Far too often we are too concerned with how we look to others and as such are attempts to “clean up” are like the attempts to clean up NYC in the 90s–a lot of superficial cleaning, and removing folks from visibility without addressing endemic problems.”Kameelah

    : ) lol I’m hanging firm on this one sista!
    I just personally do not like to see non-Muslims with Muslim names.

    By the way thank you for at least giving me the benefit of the doubt!

  16. Sister Seeking says:

    “Sister Seeking you make an interesting point about connecting with the Black middle class. I would disagree and say that the Black middle class has always been reached out to in lieu of “having to deal with poor black folks.” What do we gain from reaching out to the Black Middle class? Why are we reaching out to this community and not the community that is often cycled throughout the prison system? Again, I feel like and please correct me if I am wrong because Allah knows best, that there is so much emphasis on maintaining a certain image of BAMs that we are willing to sacrifice necessary relationships and bypass some of the heavy lifting to create an inclusive BAM ummah.” Kameelah

    Sister Kameelah,

    I also forgot to add here that I mentioned we should be more active in the mainstream BA community but show up as Muslims first. Religion has traditionally been associated with service, and again I don’t see what’s superficial about non-Muslims being able to turn to a Muslim for social justice.
    To me this is being a vicegerent upon the earth and working righteousness.

    Salaam
    Sorry long winded
    I spent so much time typing this I forgot to eat breakfast, and misfiled some records online! Yikes!

  17. kameelah says:

    salaams,

    as i said, Allah knows best and i premised my comments with “maybe i misunderstood” and “please correct me” because talking past one another is always a possibility when not speaking face to face. and there is a possibility that i did not speak to the crux on the article–for that i apologize. i have no problems with being challenged because that is the nature of life; rather, my issue was with the condescending manner in which the challenge was delivered. that’s all.

    -kameelah

  18. musa abdul malik says:

    salaam
    brother ABDUR RAHMAN the statement you made about
    the imams have to get jobs in the prison because that’s the
    only thing they could do is a slap in the face to all the
    good Muslim brother’s who came out and never went back.
    thank ALLAH for the imam’s who went into the prison doing
    the early day probably before you were muslim and they
    did a good job a lot of good came out of it.
    i don’t know what you are trying to start by attacking the
    muslim’s but its no good some of us have been in this Deen
    for over 40 yr and we don’t agree with what you said.

  19. Kwame Madden says:

    I guess brother Abdur Rahman that why it was so easy for many brothers to boycott other brothers in name of defending the purity of the islamic aqeedah.Much of this boycotting carries over from the days when many of these brothers were in rival gangs before Islam.So these same brothers were easily to be lead and manipulated by irresponsible imams who refused to weigh the
    damage this would have on our unity and abilty to build viable Islamic communities in North America.Many of these same idiots
    would stand outside of Masjids condemming Imams and congreates
    in the name of this masjid not on the haqq.Just imagine if all this not
    on the haqq talk and condemation had instead concentrated on
    education,commerce ,law, tradeschools,and other things we African American muslims who your pen is speaking to would be much further along in our self development as a muslim people in North America.I may not agree with every thing you have put forth but this fringe element and type of thinking that exist must be challenged.May Allah reward you for at least writing and talking about a subject many in our community find painful and dont like
    to talk about.

  20. Safiyyah says:

    As Salaamu Alaikum:

    I agree with Brother Musa Abdul Malik. I am a Muslim prison chaplain in a state prison for women. These days, brother, especially after 9/11, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get hired as a Muslim prison chaplain, especially in the state and federal systems, where the chaplain is paid well and is viewed as a professional. They do criminal background checks, etc. The prison chaplain must serve all faith groups as well as prison staff. This also applies to military, hospital, and university chaplains. The Muslim prison chaplains and imams you are speaking of are becoming a thing of the past in most areas.

  21. Kwame Madden says:

    Sherman Jackson has also address the challenges facing the black american community forthrightly and honest straight talk.Just cheack out the talk he did at the Mana conference.

  22. IBN ABDUL HAQQ says:

    Asa Br. Abdur Rahman i enjoy most of your posts but when you start disparaging certain hadiths and ayats of Quran questions arise”

    ” All these romantic, Utopian notions of the “Islamic State”, “The return of the Khalifah”, and all other unrealistic dreams must be dispensed with. My own view is that after affirming the five “pillars of Islam” everything else is suspect.”

    For example you may lose popularity with the modern muslims ,and the following verse may not be politically correct, but myself and countless other Muslims believe it to be true.

    It is He Who sent His Messenger with guidance and the Religion of Truth to exalt it over every other religion, though the idolaters hate it. (Surat as-Saff, 61:9)

    Allah has promised those of you who believe and do right actions that He will make them successors in the land, as He made those before them successors; will firmly establish for them their religion, with which He is pleased; and give them, in place of their fear, security. “They worship Me, not associating anything with Me.” Any who disbelieve after that, such people are deviators. (Surat an-Nur, 24:55)

    The Prophet Muhammad sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam mentioned that just before the end of this world, the Muslim nation will be ruled by a Caliphate that will follow the guidance sent with the Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam.

    Hudhaifah bin Al-Yaman reported that the Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said,

    “Prophethood (meaning himself) will remain with you for as long as Allah wills it to remain, then Allah will raise it up wherever he wills to raise it up. Afterwards, there will be a Caliphate that follows the guidance of Prophethood remaining with you for as long as Allah wills it to remain. Then, He will raise it up whenever He wills to raise it up. Afterwards, there will be a reign of violently oppressive [The reign of Muslim kings who are partially unjust] rule and it will remain with you for as long as Allah wills it to remain. Then, there will be a reign of tyrannical rule and it will remain for as long as Allah wills it to remain. Then, Allah will raise it up whenever He wills to raise it up. Then, there will be a Caliphate that follows the guidance of Prophethood.”

    Then Hudhaifah said, “The Prophet stopped speaking.” [As-Silsilah As-Sahihah, vol. 1, no. 5]

    Allah also ruled that those rulers who do not rule by what Allaah sent down are unbelievers, wrongdoers, and rebellious. He says: “And he who does not rule by what Allaah sent down, it is they who are the disbelievers.” (5:44) And He says: “And he who does not rule by what Allaah sent down, it is they who are the wrongdoers.” (5:45) And He says: “And he who does not rule by what Allaah sent down, it is they who are the rebellious.” (5:47)

    While we may live in america many of us belive that Islam has the perfect system of government. Before any one gets on that love it or leave kick, I paid for the right for your blog with jungle rot and dysentery,when Dick Nixon sent me on an all expenses paid trip to S.E. Asia. That was another stupid war over nothing.

    p.s I am also a former movement muslim, Dar ul Islam and proud of what we did at a time when others were afraid.

  23. musa abdul malik says:

    salaam
    my brother Abdul Rahman i would like to just say a few more
    thing’s about those bad Muslim element’s that you spoke
    about that slip into the Muslim community.
    one thing i do know about that is some of those Muslim’s
    you talk about who are out there on the street’s of those
    city’s kept those unbeliever in check they did not let them
    them disrespect the Deen of ALLAH these are the one’s
    i think you are talking about. i know that the power of the
    pen is great and it can do a lot of good and a lot of evil it
    all depend on what you go with it. i have been Muslim fore a
    long time and have went forth out there in those street’s
    with those type of brother’s you spoke about and i new that
    some of those brother’s you spoke about were in thing’s.
    but win it came to defending ISLAM they were right there.
    so you have brother’s that set back and write and you have
    brother’s that go forth in battle so may ALLAH save us all.
    but you it hard to get that type of element out of the Muslim
    community with out a strong jamaat and that’s something that
    don’t exist with in the Muslim community jamaat.
    when you ask a lot of our Muslim brother’s what Mosque they
    go to ,they response is O i go all over the place here there
    everywhere. so how can we stabilize the Muslim community
    if there is no balance among the muslim community’s out
    there.so that problem remain among us the criminal factor
    when you have brother’s out there not attach like the hadith
    say’s one Muslim no Muslim two Muslim maybe Muslim three
    Muslim -Muslim that mean if you walking around out there
    not attach to a jammat it’s like not being a Muslim .

  24. Shakeer says:

    Salaams. Firstly, I am an educator in the Montgomery County Public School system but I formerly worked as a Probation Officer in Detroit, Michigan. In the criminal justice system, I got the opportunity to see my fair share of muslims, new shahadahs as well as muslims who proudly flaunted about “”being in the deen for long time.”” I would like to make a couple of points of observation as someone who has witnessed this phenomenon and is particularly sensitive to it.

    1) As muslims, we are supposed to uphold the noble truths and character traits that were exemplified by all of the anbiya, especially Muhammad, saws. In Suratul Hujurat ayat 7, Allah, ta ala, mentions “And we have made hateful to you disbelief, WICKEDNESS, and REBELLION”. Moreover, Prophet Muhammad, made it clear when he said, “I have been sent to perfect GOOD CHARACTER”.

    2) We as Blackamerican muslims really have to examine and reexamine again the way in which Islam was transmitted to us. For many of us, Islam was given to us in a manner in which it was not acceptable to aspire to get a degree from the “kafir” institutions such as Howard University (the place where I was blessed to accept Islam and, in the process, meet Br. Abdur Rahman Muhammad). Many of us were made to feel guilty about “kafir” degrees, jobs, etc. and as a result, the emphasis and societal pertinence on acquiring knowledge and skills to gain employment was not negated, it was often publicy lambasted and berated.

    3) The crux of this misguided way of thinking often stems from the way in which certain groups amongst the Jamaatul Tabligh, the Salafiyyah, and the Tariqas, (Nagshabanti, Tajanis, etc.) seem to tailor their dawah for African American muslims with the “its sinful and a waste to pursue higher education, economics, political office and community responsibility since “this is the dunya, and you must not allow these to distract you from the hereafter”. What’s interesting about this is that the immigrant brother (or sister) espousing this is usually educated and financially well-off themselves and have their children following in their footsteps, all from the “kafir schools” no less.

    In short, we need to, as has been stated to reappropriate Islam for ourselves and address our own specific concerns. This is the sunnah and anyone who denies that does not have our best interest at heart.

  25. salafiburnout says:

    “What’s interesting about this is that the immigrant brother (or sister) espousing this is usually educated and financially well-off themselves and have their children following in their footsteps, all from the “kafir schools” no less.”

    This is 100% true. You know in the salafi movement back in the 1990s, one of the immigrant leaders had a PhD in Nuclear Physics while at the same time encouraging the BAM brothers to follow a course of dead ends in utopias over seas. Meanwhile his family is well educated and prepared to deal with the world, while the black families suffered from not having strong heads of household.

  26. Sh. Mahmoud Ibrahim al-Amreeki says:

    Dar ul Islam / Iqaaatiddeen

    It is He Who sent His Messenger with guidance and the Religion of Truth to exalt it over every other religion, though the idolaters hate it. (Surat as-Saff, 61:9)

    Allah has promised those of you who believe and do right actions that He will make them successors in the land, as He made those before them successors; will firmly establish for them their religion, with which He is pleased; and give them, in place of their fear, security. “They worship Me, not associating anything with Me.” Any who disbelieve after that, such people are deviators. (Surat an-Nur, 24:55)

    Brother Abdur Rahman

    As my notable Brother, Ibn Abdul Haqq reminds us, with the above ayats is, this is the vision of the Muslims, and to use a phrase that you have used in another blog, this is ‘what you have signed on to’. This is the vision that Allah has given us. And to work for any vision is counter-productive. And counter-productivity is suspect.

    The issue of a ‘thug culture’ being acceptable by any standard of Islam is wrong. Where do we receive our regular dose of Islamic advice? In the masjids and at classes in various communities. I don’t believe in any masjid in America, the leadership of those communities, American or otherwise, condone thug or criminal behavior. So the thugs and the rapist and the bank-robbers are acting on their own. Noah (as) said, “Their account is with their Lord, if you can but understand” 26:112

    In the movements communities that I have been part of, the issue of these kinds of elements mixing with members of the community is almost non-existent because the discipline of the movement causes these elements not to find a safe haven for themselves. Now they may come to Salatul Jummah, but all they get is a salaam, which is their right, and some serious advice about reforming themselves.

    And regarding sisters getting involved with these kinds of brothers, in our communities ( movement) we don’t give any sister an endorsement for any brother that has not proved his worth as a contributor in the pursuit of establishing Islam in this country.

    And if a sister is interested in a brother who ‘comes-around’ the masjid, she is warned and counseled. Then her decision is her decision, not our responsibility.

    And so the real culprit in this scenario is, as our notable brother Musa suggests, are those muslims that don’t feel that they need to be part of a jamat, with leadership. Like free floating electrons, brothers and sisters who feel that they are above such affiliations. They bounce from place to place and are disgusted with what they see as dysfunction in the BAM communities. Their non-commitment is the dysfunction.

    The Prophets’ community would not have been what is was had it not been that the Companions were committed to him. Those of his (pboh) time that did not commit themselves to him and the work , or who stood on the outside and complained, were the hypocrites.

    The strength of the Muslims has always been when the Muslims were committed to the leadership ( and if its’ weak, stay there and help make it strong). Help put those programs in place that is needed, not just talk about them. We have already, a lot of intellectual positioning, what the BAM community needs is the workers to operationalize what we know.

  27. Sh. Mahmoud Ibrahim al-Amreeki says:

    in above piece:

    As my notable Brother, Ibn Abdul Haqq reminds us, with the above ayats is, this is the vision of the Muslims, and to use a phrase that you have used in another blog, this is ‘what you have signed on to’. This is the vision that Allah has given us. And to work for any OTHER vision is counter-productive. And counter-productivity is suspect.

  28. IBN ABDUL HAQQ says:

    As salaamu alaikum my dear Brother here is more advice, from one who you may disown like a crazy uncle(Rev Wright). You mentioned in your piece ” “the police and F.B.I.”, the “evil system”, and all manner of bizzare conspiracy theories? Where does this stuff come from? ”

    According to Harriet Washington in her book Medical Apartheid, such experiments that date back to the days of slavery continue. Tuskegee was just the tip of the iceberg. Unequal Treatment; How African Americans documenting how unwitting victims of were used in medical experiments was reviewed in The Washington Post on Jan. 7, 2007 by Alondra Nelson. She wrote:

    “J. Marion Sims, a leading 19th- century physician and former president of the American Medical Association, developed many of his gynecological treatments through experiments on slave women who were not granted the comfort of anesthesia. Sims’s legacy is Janus-faced; he was pitiless with non- consenting research subjects, yet he was among the first doctors of the modern era to emphasize women’s health. Other researchers were guiltier of blind ambition than racist intent. Several African Americans, including such as Eunice Rivers, the nurse-steward of the Tuskegee study, served as liaisons between scientists and research subjects.

    “The infringement of black Americans’ rights to their own bodies in the name of medical science continued throughout the 20th century. In 1945, Ebb Cade, an African American trucker being treated for injuries received in an accident in Tennessee, was surreptitiously placed without his consent into a radiation experiment sponsored by the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission. Black Floridians were deliberately exposed to swarms of mosquitoes carrying yellow fever and other diseases in experiments conducted by the Army and the CIA in the early 1950s. Throughout the 1950s and ’60s, black inmates at Philadelphia’s Holmesburg Prison were used as research subjects by a University of Pennsylvania dermatologist testing pharmaceuticals and personal hygiene products; some of these subjects report pain and disfiguration even now. During the 1960s and ’70s, black boys were subjected to sometimes paralyzing neurosurgery by a University of Mississippi researcher who believed brain pathology to be the root of the children’s supposed hyperactive behavior. In the 1990s, African American youths in New York were injected with Fenfluramine — half of the deadly, discontinued weight loss drug Fen-Phen — by Columbia researchers investigating a hypothesis about the genetic origins of violence.”

    The CIA admitted to having knowledge that US allies brought drugs into the urban areas. The late Gary Webb was ridiculed by the American press for his “Dark Alliance,” yet as Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair disclose in their book Whiteout: the CIA, Drugs and the Press, two years after Webb’s series ran, the CIA’s inspector general confirmed that the agency had in fact been aiding those very same Contra drug-runners (and many more).

    Many Americans—black and white—are unaware of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger’s Negro Project. Sanger created this program in 1939, after the organization changed its name from the American Birth Control League (ABCL) to the Birth Control Federation of America (BCFA).

    The aim of the program was to restrict—many believe exterminate—the black population. Under the pretense of “better health” and “family planning,” Sanger cleverly implemented her plan. What’s more shocking is Sanger’s beguilement of black America’s crème de la crème—those prominent, well educated and well-to-do—into executing her scheme. Some within the black elite saw birth control as a means to attain economic empowerment, elevate the race and garner the respect of whites.

    Margaret Sanger aligned herself with the eugenicists whose ideology prevailed in the early 20th century. Eugenicists strongly espoused racial supremacy and “purity,” particularly of the “Aryan” race. Eugenicists hoped to purify the bloodlines and improve the race by encouraging the “fit” to reproduce and the “unfit” to restrict their reproduction. They sought to contain the “inferior” races through segregation, sterilization, birth control and abortion.

    Yeah young brother some of us have seen some “bizarre conspiracies
    ” Please don’t sleep on what we are up against.To my dear and
    respected brother Sh. Mahmoud Ibrahim, and all others who are still on post until properly relived, i leave the words of the beloved

    Narrated Abu Hurairah: Allah’s Messenger said, “On the Day of Resurrection, Allah the Exalted will say: ‘Where are those who have mutual love for the sake of My Glory? Today I shall shelter them in My Shade when there is no shade but Mine.”’ ( Muslim )

  29. musa abdul malik says:

    salam
    my good brother Abdur rahman what i would like to here
    in some of your analysis is hadith and QURAN because
    what we talk about on this blog is about the state of the
    Muslim. what ever go’s on with in the Muslim community
    any place any problem’s that might come into play the
    prophet spoke about it. so we should use more QURAN
    and hadith when we talk about the affair of the Muslim’s
    because we must refer back to ALLAH and his prophet.

  30. Sister Seeking says:

    As salaamu alaikum my dear Brother here is more advice, from one who you may disown like a crazy uncle (Rev Wright).- IBN ABDUL HAQQ

    Br. Haqq when are you going to create your blog? I personally think you’d make a wonderful {crazy} uncle if I may say so! lol I enjoy reading your responses here. It’s the crazy uncles that add spice to life, and challenge us to think outside of the box.

    : )

    – I paid for the right for your blog with jungle rot and dysentery, when Dick Nixon sent me on an all expenses paid trip to S.E. Asia. That was another stupid war over nothing.- IBN ABDUL HAQQ

    Ma’sha’Allah…

    <>

    “It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the prophets; and giveth wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and observeth proper worship and payeth the poor-due. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere. Such are the Allah-fearing.” 2:177

    “And serve Allah. Ascribe no thing as partner unto Him. (Show) kindness unto parents, and unto near kindred, and orphans, and the needy, and unto the neighbor who is of kin (unto you) and the neighbor who is not of kin, and the fellow-traveler and the wayfarer and (the slaves) whom your right hands possess. Lo! Allah loveth not such as are proud and boastful,” 4:36

    “And as for those who believe and do good works, We shall make them enter Gardens underneath which rivers flow – to dwell therein for ever; there for them are pure companions – and We shall make them enter plenteous shade.” 4:57

    “O ye who believe! Endure, outdo all others in endurance, be ready, and observe your duty to Allah, in order that ye may succeed.” 3:200

    “Establish worship, pay the poor-due, and bow your heads with those who bow (in worship).” 2:43

    “Allah tasketh not a soul beyond its scope. For it (is only) that which it hath earned, and against it (only) that which it hath deserved. Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget, or miss the mark! Our Lord! Lay not on us such a burden as thou didst lay on those before us! Our Lord! Impose not on us that which we have not the strength to bear! Pardon us, absolve us and have mercy on us, Thou, our Protector, and give us victory over the disbelieving folk.” 2:286

    My points:

    1) I do not see Brother Abdur Rahman calling others to any other vision. I do not see Brother Abdur Rahman calling others to worship any One but Allah nor do I see Brother Abdur Rahman calling for a reformation of our deen. What I do see Brother Abdur Rahman, and other bloggers calling others to is to return to the spirit of the ayahs I’ve just quoted, and understand that IS Islam; what I do see him calling others to is to embrace a vision of ourselves as Muslims (especially BAM’s who have been injured by pathological movements) to empower ourselves through a healthy understanding of Islam so that we can pass the torch to the next generation. What is wrong with that Vision? Again that is my opinion only I am not speaking for him or anyone else—just as I see it.

    2) We all need to seek to understand first, and than be understood. Have you ever asked why a Muslim or Muslimah is reluctant to move beyond the Five Pillars and Six Articles of faith? There is a reason. Understand, the problem is not that individuals don’t believe Islam has the ability to inspire, and empower us- the problem is that some leaders and lay people do not dig for sources in our tradition that do so. People pick and choose hadith’s to support their own personal agendas—often times people who do this also pre-text ( I REALLY HATE THAT) the manner in which they do is an abuse of the Qur’an, and of the Prophet sws.

    3) We all need to look re-examine the life of the Prophet sws again, and again- each time we see and learn something new. If we did so ( and I know many do) we will find that the Prophet sws consulted with Muslims, and non-Muslim; the Prophet sws negotiated and compromised; and the Prophet sws applied methods outside of the continuing message he came to remind mankind. This attitude that we can no use or even just explore ways to organize, and heck strategies to succeed outside of Islam betrays the successes of earlier Muslims. Have you ever thought where Muslim astronomers, and other scientist sought their knowledge from?

    This is just my opinion again, and I’m not speaking for him. This is just how I understand what I’ve read.

    Salaam
    Sister Seeking

  31. Sister Seeking says:

    @ Shakeer

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

    I so agree with all you wrote!

  32. IBN ABDUL HAQQ says:

    As salaamu alaikum Sister seeking, you have just adopted a crazy old
    uncle(smile). Thank you for your kind words ,may Allah make the way easy for you and yours. I love your spirit and Br. Abdur- Rahmans,you
    young muslims give me hope.

    But like that crazy old uncle, we worry bout y’all. The enemy said he would lay on the straight path. Take care of the people the world has forgotten.The values of the Qur’an and the Sunnah, demand the protection of the poor and the needy. There are many hadith of Allah’s Messenger, the Prophet Muhammad (saas) that bid the believers to protect the poor. One of them reads thus:

    Narrated Ibn ‘Umar : Allah’s Messenger said, “ A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim. So he should not oppress him nor should he hand him over to (his satan or to his self which is inclined to evil). Whoever fulfils the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfil his needs; whoever removes the troubles of his brother, Allah will remove one of his troubles on the Day of Resurrection; and whoever covers up the fault of a Muslim, Allah will cover up his fault on the Day of Resurrection.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

    As to the blog its coming , your brother is new to the 21st century

  33. Abu Usamah al Aswad says:

    Assalaamu Alaykum, Br. Shakeer,

    InshaAllah you and your family are well. First let me say you may not remember but about five or six years ago you, Dawud and I were talking about what would be needed in assisting “our people” and you insisted that there needed to be institutions other than the Masajids to assist “our people” [those with a shared historical destiny], while my position was we could work from within the Masajid.

    However I am with Br. Abdur-Rahman we must reject boot-leg DVDs not because it’s criminal but for the sake quality. There’s nothing worst than watching a movie where people are standing or laughing so hard you can hear the movie. LOL

    Plus brothers need to stop frontin yall know yall were liking the sisters with those gucci and luise-vutton hijabs back in the day on the east coast LOL or trade mark infringning tee shirts with the logo of the brother in salaat like the NBA logo LOL

    Well you were right, I now see the wisdom in that. Schools and social organizations that are external to, yet still collaborate with, the Masajid, are whats needed.

    I would argue one point however we can not make blanket assumptions about everyone who follows a particular methodology, there are BAM among the Salafi and Tijani that I know personally that college educated including doctors and lawyers, not to mention professional and business people.

    The problem of criminal behavior stems from that fact that historically in trying to offer sanctuary to brothers and sisters with crushed psyches these movement communties accepted everyone despite their level of material success. Since most were already poor and unskilled or young and struggling, so poverty was simply viewed as part of the test. And many who eshewed college education were able to still provide for their families. This created two situations one where being a merchant who didn’t pay taxes wasn’t veiwed as crimnal, and secondly it created a permissive attitude where material success wasn’t promoted.

    Fast forward 20 yrs now material success while not spoke against, nothing is in place to create it. And now it’s difficult to near impossible or improbable that a brother will be able to make a good living without some form of training or education beyond high school. So for many selling bootleg “anything” particularly DVD and CD isn’t seen as criminal.

    Also to be quite honest many of the college educated must share some responsibility as well as since many once graduated turn their backs on their community to such a degree that college educated began to become equated with sellout.

  34. Abu Usamah al Aswad says:

    Assalaamu Alaykum, Br. Shakeer,

    InshaAllah you and your family are well. First let me say you may not remember but about five or six years ago you, Dawud and I were talking about what would be needed in assisting “our people” and you insisted that there needed to be institutions other than the Masajids to assist “our people” [those with a shared historical destiny], while my position was we could work from within the Masajid.

    Well you were right, I now see the wisdom in that. Schools and social organizations that are external to, yet still collaborate with, the Masajid, are whats needed.

    I would argue one point however we can not make blanket assumptions about everyone who follows a particular methodology, there are BAM among the Salafi and Tijani that I know personally that college educated including doctors and lawyers, not to mention professional and business people.

    The problem of criminal behavior stems from that fact that historically in trying to offer sanctuary to brothers and sisters with crushed psyches these movement communties accepted everyone despite their level of material success. Since most were already poor and unskilled or young and struggling, so poverty was simply viewed as part of the test. And many who eshewed college education were able to still provide for their families. This created two situations one where being a merchant who didn’t pay taxes wasn’t veiwed as crimnal, and secondly it created a permissive attitude where material success wasn’t promoted.

    Fast forward 20 yrs now material success while not spoke against, nothing is in place to create it. And now it’s difficult to near impossible or improbable that a brother will be able to make a good living without some form of training or education beyond high school. So for many selling bootleg “anything” particularly DVD and CD isn’t seen as criminal.

    Also to be quite honest many of the college educated must share some responsibility as well as since many once graduated turn their backs on their community to such a degree that college educated began to become equated with sellout.

  35. Abu Usamah al Aswad says:

    I am with Br. Abdur-Rahman we must reject boot-leg DVDs not because it’s criminal but for the sake quality. There’s nothing worst than watching a movie where people are standing or laughing so hard you can hear the movie. LOL

    Plus brothers need to stop frontin yall know yall were liking the sisters with those gucci and luise-vutton hijabs back in the day on the east coast LOL or trade mark infringning tee shirts with the logo of the brother in salaat like the NBA logo LOL

  36. Abu Usamah al Aswad says:

    delete 33 lol

  37. musa abdul malik says:

    salam
    sister kameelah i think that what you heard
    and how you responded to those statements was right
    on the money i don’t know your age but i think your
    observance of that matter was right on.you understand
    and i myself don’t write you off as being young and if by
    chance you are young it don’t matter you were right on it

    my salam.

  38. Bismillah wal’hamdulillah wa’salaatul was salaamu 3la Rasuolillah,

    Indeed this is a very interesting and thought-provoking post you’ve put forward brother. I also agree with Sister Kameelah on most, if not all of her response. As far as the idea of embracing and aiding in the re-building and re-assimilation process of these individuals back in to the free world, let alone the Muslim community. Discussion of this type is very much needed not only on this Blog, but in every Muslim community in the US. There is a sort of ignorance involved where it concerns the education of non-Muslims as well, reverts. I think what needs to be addressed first and foremost is the idea of disassociation. Indeed one cannot help their pre-Islamic doings; however, I do agree that there is no excuse for perpetuating others’ wrong doings by writing it off as, “he or she is from prison” or the other extreme – boycotting them entirely. If we do not take up the responsibility of doing it, then who will? I find that the Christians have made head-way in their endeavors to re-assimilate and re-educate their followers (re-formed Christian brethren from prison), who often make the most strides in calling others to the Christian faith – as do Muslims in the same fashion. We see now it is more of the re-formed Muslims who are out really making “street da’wah” pushing Islam through the often ignored areas of our cities.

    Verily Allah does not change the condition of a people unless they change it themselves.” 13/11.

    Despite this, the “middle class” Muslim considers these to be chance occurrences or mere coincidences, thus never pausing to even consider the actual cause and reason behind said actions. At the most, a few concerned affluent individuals, who are momentarily stirred by the state of affairs in their seemingly decent communities, call up some fancy conference, pass a few vague resolutions and disappear back into oblivion, contented that they have fulfilled their duties towards Islam and their brethren. I do not believe those from the Arab/Indo-Pak community fully understand this problem and therefore completely ignore it.

    In my experience, when one accepts Islam there seems to be a conflict as to what exactly is allowable in terms of past behavior and how they can fuse their past with Islam. We must understand and take in to consideration the background and up-bringing before judgment is passed. Again, Alhamdlillaah for the Qur’an and Sunnah of our Nabi, and when I mention Sunnah I am mostly speaking in the context of his character and mannerisms (sal Allaahu aleyhi was’salaam). How patient he was with both his companions and enemies’. We may see criminal behavior from our brother/sisters with a shady past, but how many of us have really invested time in to aiding said individuals into becoming productive citizens? How many of us sit with them on a one on one basis in order to encourage the inculcation of “Islamic behavior” as opposed to criminal in their daily lives? Often times, and for lack of a better word, we have to re-program ourselves because our culture becomes that of Islam (at-least whatever does not coincide with the Shariah should be abandoned). This is a very un-natural idea for some people, and we can see it in ourselves. Islam forbids a thing that we so easily indulged in prior to Islam.

    A dire need exists for us to study the Qur’aan and Hadith and thereby realize the primary cause for our disgrace and downfall. It is an undisputed axiom of reality that no incident occurs in our communities by mere accident. We as Muslims believe that every occurrence is directly by the command and doing of Almighty Allah azza wajall. However, every occurrence has been assigned an outward cause, that apparently seems to control and govern it. Thus our difficulties are also governed by causes which Allah and His Rasul (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) have explained to us in the Quran and Hadith:
    * “And whatever calamity befalls you, it is due to your own doings and Allah forgives many of your shortcomings.” 42/30.

    “Where are our real estate brokers, professors, lawyers, health care workers, teachers, accountants, business executives, government employees, the kinds of people you need to build a balanced, healthy and strong society”

    Indeed, where are these individuals and what exactly are they doing for the Black Islamic community? As well, I do not think any sincere Muslim can say the wanting of an Islamic State with a Khalifah is an “un-realistic dream.”

    Thereis merely a framework and a totally elementary program for general uplifting and reforming Black Muslim community.

    1. Every Muslim, male and female, must immediately resolve to at least fulfill the basic requirements of Islam, salat in particular.

    2. A massive educational program to be specially launched on an organized basis with emphasis on religious education and education of adults. Assimilation in to Muslim/Non Muslim society.

    3. Basing our social life on the sunnah and our economical activities solely on the laws of Shariah.

    4. To amicably solve any problems through proper arbitration. Referring all matters back to the Quran and Sunnah and those with ilm.

    5. Dissociation from all customs and rituals that are contrary to Islam.

    8. Particular emphasis on work ethics, cleanliness, family dynamics, health education and physical fitness.

    The aforementioned are merely my opinions based off my own observations in Da’wah. You can agree or disagree – whatever I said of good is from Allah and the mistakes are mine. I ask Allah ta 3la to guide us, rectify our actions and reform our communites in order to received His baraka.

  39. One last thing,

    I do not believe there is any such thing as a Muslim criminal. This is because every well intentioned Muslim who really fears Allah azza wajall puts his/her best foot forward to re-form themselves. Let us not forget that some of our Muslim brethren were once career criminals, it is a matter of “The reminder benefits the believer”. This is always the case, at-least it should be.

    End of Rant.
    Jezzakum’Ullahu Khairan!

  40. Sh. Mahmoud Ibrahim al-Amreeki says:

    Dar ul Islam / Iqaamatiddeen

    A mandate in our ‘way of life’ is that we invite all to the way of Islam. This means that people will come into our communities at VERY DIFFERENT LEVELS OF ECONOMIC RESOURCES, EDUCATION, UNDERSTANDING, BEHAVIOR, ACCEPTANCE,etc. and so we will always, as a ummah, be concerned with how to best to bring all of those disparities into a middle ground.

    As BAM we might consider the utility of a national organization that all communities are connected to , with a governing board of BAM leadership,to hammer out policies which all in the organization are bound to put into place in their local communities. We also must begin to recognize that in our various communities we have experienced BAM leadership, scholarship and statesmanship to implement such a national agenda.

  41. naila says:

    Why are we the only community that is made to feel guilty for keeping away from criminals. I find some masjids actually glamorize this criminality as some have mentioned. Why are we not encouraging them to be ashamed of being ex-cons and moving on. Its not something to be proud of. We should hide their sins help them to become productive members of society. But personally I am not going to seek out socializing with ex-cons. Yes there are people who made mistakes but usually they move on and hide their past, they are embarrassed as they should be. The ones to worry about are the ones who only hang around other ex-cons and they seem proud to be ex-cons. Sorry I do not my children around those kind of people.

  42. Abu Usamah ibn al-Aswad says:

    Sh. Mahmoud

    Ameen I agree with your statment thats why I work with MANA with its minor blemishes and all

    Shahada AbdulMughni – yes indeed there are “criminal Muslims” or Muslims who habitually commit crimes no matter how often a person commits a crime this does not take them from the fold of Islam.

    Furthermore you make some great points although I would say the need for salaat goes without saying, after that we need to actually help people, not just advise.

    At the end of the day the hierarchy of needs are going to kick in, and a homeless hungry person can’t focus on salaat so the real question is what is each of us doing to resolve the issue “yeah talk and type” are fine. OK cool. Then what?

  43. Abu Usamah ibn al-Aswad says:

    to be clear there have been some very good points made but to be sure everything isn’t as black and white as being made out to be. cases Muslims returning home from incarceration should be handled on a person by person basis.

    the focus shouldn’t be on stamping out criminal culture as much as it is about educating and employing. when you exclude the action of some of those in the US govn’t you see groups of college educated or other gainfully employed people running commiting crimes. robbing dope houses or selling bootleg merchandise

    so again I ask (rhetorically) Who are YOU helping in YOUR community. Thats where change starts

  44. “Furthermore you make some great points although I would say the need for salaat goes without saying, after that we need to actually help people, not just advise.”

    As’salaam Aleykum Wa’Rahmat’Ullah,

    Ahkee not every Muslim prays, let’s be serious now. Furthermore, I am proud to be a Houstonian because we have various resources and programs set up to aid these types of individuals – as well as other low-income Muslims. Not to PLUG but check out: http://www.dawahcorps.com for your dawah materials (PLUG)!

    Ma Salaama

  45. The next stop was an eyebrow wax and a perm for herself. Signing the 164. 76 charge “June Roberts,” she told the stylist she was on a “shopping spree.” She spent 511 on a black suede jacket and several pairs of cowboy boots, 161 on a pair of diamond drop earrings– all charged to Roberts. Heading home, she swung by a drugstore and picked up dog treats and two bottles of Smirnoff. Ten days later, Dorinda Hawkins, 57, was strangled while working at an antiques store in Lake Elsinore and left for dead. But she…

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