When I first started this blog about three years ago, I knew it would be a subject of controversy because Muslims are not accustomed to being honest with themselves. We like to hide behind all these rules of “adab” (Islamic etiquette) and delude ourselves into thinking that everything is fine when they are not. Certainly Muslims are taught to be optimistic and to work for the good, but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the morbid tendency to not look at things as they are, and the belief that conditions will magically change without the benefit of hard introspection, honest criticism, and a very determined effort.
I was not the first to begin the conversation about the completely dysfunctional nature of the African-American Muslim community, but the writings of others inspired me to take up the challenge. I recognized very early on that if any progress was going to be made, it would have to require a kind of self-revelation that Muslims – especially black Muslims – were not used to. It would require doing something that others did not do, begin to identify the people responsible for the malaise and hold them accountable. This was absolutely necessary if we were going to break the strangle hold they’ve had on the affairs of Black Islam all these decades. This approach has never been taken before, and I knew that I would be attacked for doing so. I would have to go it alone for while until eyes began to open, thus the name A Singular Voice.
But thanks and praise be to Allah eyes are now beginning to open, and the things we said years ago which seemed so inappropriate and harsh are now the common opinion of the old guard leadership and their dismal failures. Today it is quite easy to recognize that failure, but even three years ago it was not at all clear. Recently I’ve gotten many emails asking me to lay off my criticism of these leaders for fear of overkill, as if to say, “we get it Abdur-Rahman, but what’s the next step”? People now take it for granted that they’ve been profoundly mis-served by the irresponsible, ego maniacal, incompetent, and dictatorial leaders.
But it took quite a bit of time and toil to get to that point. All types of malignant motives were ascribed to my efforts, from being called a jealous malcontent hungry for fame, to just a plain hater bent on creating fitna. And even though I wrote many thousands of words I was nevertheless called lazy, and accused of merely sitting on the sidelines while others “did the work”, as if writing is not work. And when I exposed flagrant criminals (like Khalid Yasin) who were robbing the Muslims blind I was branded a “back biter”, and so on and so forth. But alhumdulillah all the work is beginning to bear fruit, and people are now hungry for a change in direction.
But change requires courage, and a completely fresh take on where we are at this present moment and where we want to go in the future. It also requires sustained effort in order to achieve the goals and objectives we set. A new reality for African-American Islam will be no bed of roses, and will call for strong, tough-minded men and women to see the struggle through. But with the help of Allah and believers of integrity, honesty, discipline, and competence, we will be successful inshallah.
In coming articles, we’ll be looking at the concrete steps that must be taken in order to create a viable future we can all be proud of, by Allah’s permission. To that end, we will all have to work together to leverage ALL of the skills and talents we have, with no concern for fame or status, only the pleasure of Allah. Ameen.