Author Archives: Hakeem Muhammad

Can you be Pro-Black and Believe in the White Man’s Map?

(“Can you be Pro-Black Believing in the White Man’s Map?” is an excerpt taken from a Black Dawah Network lecture of Professor Shareef Muhammad. )

 

Maps are inherently political, always have been. Maps have always been political. They’ve always reflected the politics of the people who are making the maps.  The idea of making Europe north up superior, Africa south bound down below sub; even the word sub-Saharan. The word sub implies subpar. That this is a completely arbitrary demarcation in relationship to the cosmos. Because there is no up and down, left and right.

So the decision to exclude the Arabian Peninsula entirely from the continent of Africa, from the historical, cultural, geographical, and genetic content of Africa is as should be by Afro-centrist standards just as problematic as excluding Egypt from the rest of Africa. The same rocks and trees that are on one side of the Red Sea are on the exact immediate other side of the Red Sea. The languages that are spoken on one side of the Red Sea are phonetically similar to the languages immediately on the other side of the Red Sea. The phenotype of the people on one side of the Red Sea are very similar to the phenotype of the people on the other side of the Red Sea.

The problem with Afro-centrism is it’s not a real discipline. It never became a discipline with theory, criteria, and methodology. It’s sort of grasped in the dark or in very dim light to pick up whatever it could use as a tool to sort of fashion a view or perspective on history that undermines and offset the extremely biased view of the white established an academic view of history.

Professor Shareef Muhammad has taught history at Georgia State University and Islamic studies at Spelman University.  He has a masters in history at Kent State University with his thesis on The Cultural Jihad in the antelbellum South: How Muslim slaves preserved their religious/cultural identity during slavery.

How the Black Conscious Community Got Islam Wrong.

(How the Black Conscious Community Got Islam Wrong is pulled from excerpts of Black Dawah Network Podcast by Professor Shareef Muhammad  titled “How the White Power Structure Duped Afrocentrist Against Islam?“)

It was inevitable that Afro-centrist historians in the mid-1900s though claiming to correct Eurocentric narratives about the world would encounter Orientalist writings and lean on them uncritically without taking into account how the power struggle between the Muslim world and Europe colored these writings.

Orientalism is the representation of Asia and the Middle East in a stereotypical way that embodies the colonialist attitude. It was a field that has an artistic side to it, in terms of paintings but it also was a field that was dedicated to studying Asia, in particular, Arabs in Islam. And it appeared around the late 1700s on through to the 1800 and it is an outgrowth of the East India Company. Which was this joint stock company. A joint stock company, it was the first example of a modern corporation. This joint stock company, East India Company, sort of the first corporation in the world and the first European intrusion on the sovereignty of the so-called Middle East. And it swept the ground for the British colonization of India.

And so, the first orientalist scholars were British officials of this company. And while they asserted that they intended to study the culture and religions and languages of the region objectively, the reality is that their scholarship always had a political agenda. And it was written, they wrote on these subjects in such a way that supported their subjugation later on. Portraying them as inferior, as in need of being reconciled with the progress that is happening in the world, i.e. British values etc. I mean, and their opposition or their gripe with Islam would necessarily be reflected in their writings. Because the major obstacle to the objectives of Britain and India was the Mughal Empire which was the last Muslim dynasty of India.

And as the Mughal Empire Empire declined, the East India Company, i.e. Britain became more aggressive and influential over the region. So let’s not forget that the Age of Exploration was in part the desire to regain Asian territories that were lost with the expansion of Islam. And access to new territories like West African gold, which belonged to the Muslim realm of Mali and Songhai.

So from the beginning there were political motives in this scholarship. And you can read people like Gramsci and Foucault who theorized the relationship between knowledge and power and how it’s exhibited in the way in which language is used. Even by the marginalized who are challenging the power structure, they often reinforce the basic logic of the power system in which everyone is functioning. This is the case with Afrocentricity. That it was inevitable that Afro-centrists would come to rely on these writings. And in doing so, they would end up reflecting the colonialist mentality towards Islam that they claimed to be trying to reject and undermine with regarding Africa.

So what are some of the ways that Orientalism functions with a Eurocentric logic? I would identify three ways that Afro-centrism functions with a Eurocentric logic. Briefly, the first is the belief that sophisticated architecture and literacy, what I call temples and tablets, are the only markers of civilization. And so this has caused them to have a tunnel vision that focuses exclusively on Egypt and ignores the rest of Africa’s genius, as you pointed out. I mean, how many people know that the man who the European is credited with the computer age; that he was inspired, his binary code revealed, was inspired by the divination scale of the Congo.

That African fractal helped influence the way in which the technological age would sort of model itself. But everybody’s so focused on Egypt. There’s a wonderful lecture given by a mathematician, Ron Eglash – where he’s talking about the African origin, the modern African origin, of the computer age. But no one knows this because everybody’s so focused on Egypt.

What they’re alleging is that Africans, ancient Africans, dealt with spirituality and outsiders, Arabs and Europeans, introduced something called religion. This would be a very strange thing to say to our ancestors several centuries ago who would have no idea; A, what you’re talking about and B, what this has to do with anything.

Afro-centrist do not even have a working definition of the word religion, first of all, which we can make sense of how they’re applying it. But if we take the word religion to generally refer to a system of rites, rituals, taboos, doctrine, cosmology, and sacrifices that all reinforce an idea about the spiritual aspect of existence. Then the historical reality is that Africans have always practiced spirituality in connection with the aforementioned. That religion was the conveyor of spirituality and its purpose was to reinforce one’s relationship with the tribe, the land of the tribe, and the spirit world.

And so this mantra we often hear ‘I’m spiritual not religious’ is not an African concept at all. But it has its origin in what we call the Theosophical movement of Hellena Blavatsky, who was a Russian occultist. And this whole movement, known as spiritualism, all of this started when people who worked with the East India Company, began translating religious texts from Sanskrit in India into European languages. And that sparked an interest in spiritual concepts outside of Christianity. This, of course, took them into ancient Egypt. They became very obsessed with the idea of magic and having power over the material world.

And so the occultism of Aleister Crowley was a result of these efforts. So theosophy, theology and philosophy, which concentrates on the esoteric concepts of world religion. Hellena Blavatsky states that the goal is to replace these world religions with this spiritualist point of view. So the dichotomy of religion versus spirituality is a purely Orientalist and modern concept, it’s not ancient African at all. And yet it’s something that Afro-centrist has assimilated into they’re sort of talking for.

Now the third and last thing, which is how Afro-centrism functions with a European logic and this is what is most problematic about the contras enterprise and it’s the subject of what we’ve been talking about here today or is their ideas on this level. I mean, Afro-centrist, conscious community, assert that Islam is the usurper of native Africa. And they argue that it was foreign, it’s sort of a foreign pathogen that undermined the cultural and racial purity of Africa and African people. And according to them, the Muslims destroyed and occupy native Egypt, completely undermine indigenous African culture wherever they went. That the Arabs were the first to exploit Africans and the Arab slave trade was equal, if not worse, than the transatlantic slave trade. Making Islam just as culpable in the destruction of African civilization.

And as we’ve been talking about that is completely false, it is beyond an exaggeration. It’s found nowhere in the literature, it’s not anywhere in the literature that would justify it. It is a byproduct of leaning on these orientalists anti-Muslim sources that were created or written to justify the subjugation of Muslim lands in which Islam was the primary opponent against. They did it. The orientalist got Islam wrong and so Afro-centrist, who borrow from Orientalism, are getting Islam wrong.

Islam entered sub-Saharan West Africa by way of merchants via the Trans-Saharan Trade. These Berber merchants attracted West African merchants who converted. The kings converted and then other elites, those under and around him followed suit. The Arabs did not conquer and colonize the Sub-Sahara. The Arab slave trade involved mostly Eastern European slaves not Africans.Black Africa was never conquered by the Arabs. I repeat: Black Africa was never conquered by the Arabs. The sovereignty of black Africa was untouched with the spread of Islam which was an indigenous affair.  There was no conquest of sub-Saharan West Africa by Arabs and the Arabs certainly did not have free range to go around slave raiding.

Professor Shareef Muhammad has taught history at Georgia State University and Islamic studies at Spelman University.  He has a masters in history at Kent State University with his thesis on The Cultural Jihad in the antelbellum South: How Muslim slaves preserved their religious/cultural identity during slavery.

The Muslim Blueprint for debating Afrocentrists and conscious-community

Blueprint for debating Afrocentrists and conscious-community by Professor Shareef Muhammad

1. Assert that Islam in sub-Sahara was an indigenous affair. There were never any Arab-settler colonies, conquering armies, or puppet-African rulers in sub-Sahara west or east. Islam entered sovereign black Africa on their terms, applied on their terms, and disseminated by them.

2. The Arab slave trade took place between mutually autonomous nations where the Africans were not subjected to Arab rule or compelled by Arab or Eastern powers. During the duration of the Arab slave trade African sovereignty was not undermined.

3. Do not attack traditional African religion but rather attack the Afrocentrists’ understanding of traditional African religion. Challenge their assumptions that:

a) Islam completely eradicated traditional beliefs. Explain that because Islamization was an indigenous process the Africans  made decisions about what aspects of  native practices they would keep.

b) Demand that they tell you which traditional  African religion they practice and prove  that their practice and understanding  have legitimacy anywhere in Africa.

c) Point out that Egypt was never the cultural  center of Africa in the eyes of Africans  and there were other Africans such as the Nubians who saw them as colonizers  and the Dogan who viewed them as persecutors. After all, that is why Dogan left and came to Mali.

d) Spirituality in Africa was never understood  and practiced as something apart from
religion. The “I’m not religious, I’m  spiritual ” claptrap is American. No tAfrican.

4. Afrocentrism is a cultural product of Western Diaspora. It’s not indigenous to Africa. It is an interpretation of African history based solely on the psychological needs of African-American (particularly) with no regard for historiography or even the facts. It has no probative methods of research.

This is a basic outline of the approaches to the most common Afrocentrist arguments. These can be explored in more depth but the contain the basic logic with which to counter which is: Islam in African was always indigenized and Afrocentrism is an illegitimate and none-indigenous view of Africa and its past.

Professor Shareef Muhammad has taught history at Georgia State University and Islamic studies at Spelman University.  He has a masters in history at Kent State University with his thesis on The Cultural Jihad in the antelbellum South: How Muslim slaves preserved their religious/cultural identity during slavery.

Why Islam Is the Religion For Black People.

In his lecture, What is the Religion for Black People, Ismael Saleem provides an Islamic critique of Afrocentrism. Ismael Saleem states:

If they believe that the Kemetic Laws were so superior, they should be following that themselves. They should listen to Osiris and Isis and they should be praying to the god of the Ma’at god, right. But they don’t because they are aware that Al-Islam is superior to this but they want to give you spirituality, individualism where you do what you want to, where you decide what the rules and laws are. So, all of us believe what is true and what is false, what is good, what is right and what is wrong and ultimately, we are going in different directions. Again, spirituality can’t unite people as Al-Islam does.

So, Dr. Ben who was a popular, who is a popular a popular afrocentrist and scholar has been mentioned several times and he wrote a book is we the black Jews. So, the name itself talks about the lineage of Black Israelites. The same is true of the doctor that I mentioned earlier Cheikh Anta Diop. He was a Muslim and Dr. Ben writes in his book, The African Origin of Major Western Religion. He says, “I shall show that Judaism, Christianity and Islam or as much African or as they are Asian and in no sense whatsoever are they European”, because at this time that was called Western religions whether it was Christianity, Al-Islam or Judaism.

But as I say, these African scholars and Africans themselves recognize these religions as African in origin because initially, everything; human beings, humanity itself and all religions came from Africa. So, if Adam is our true father and Adam and he came from Africa, then he was learning and teaching Al-lslam in its inception and only thing that happened was the Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alaihi wasallam perfected this religion.

So, ultimately, this was Al-Islam in its different stages and it was perfected with Prophet Muhammad, it was not began with him so it can’t be the stepchild of any other religion.

And finally, it’s always a topic of provocation when we talk about the slave trade and about slavery. Now, this is one of the things that is used by people who are anti Islam, who are afrocentrist to talk about the slavery and the slave traders saying how this religion isn’t for African-Americans, isn’t for African people.

Now, again, I would suggest to you that the importance of something or the truthfulness of something has nothing to do with the people who adhere to the religion and do things outside of the religion. So, if I say that I’m a Muslim and I sell drugs, you can’t attribute that to Al-Islam, you attribute that to me. The same way if I’m a Christian or Buddhist or whomever, there are Buddhist right now who are killing Muslims, they are massacring them. But we don’t suggest that Buddha taught to massacre Muslims. So in the same sense, Al-Islam does not– though the Arabs were slave traders. In fact, they were slave traders before Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alaihi wasallam was ever born.

So, we can’t say this is the Islamic slave trade. It was the Arab slave trade of African-American people but Al-Islam again has no disparity or has no distinction between Black people, White people, Asian people, any of those people. So to suggest that you can’t accept Al-Islam because Arabs even before Prophet Muhammad and after him had slaves is to be disingenuous particularly when adherents to indigenous African religions had slaves.

So, if we are to suggest that Christianity is false because they had slaves when in fact there were people who were Christians who considered themselves Christian who were abolitionists. The abolitionists themselves were using Christianity as a means to fight against slavery.

So to suggest that Christianity and slavery are something that is intertwined and they can’t be pulled apart as something that is false in the same sense of Al-Islam. If that is the case, then you are also saying that all indigenous African religions are also false under the same pretenses. So again, Al-Islam does not promote the persecution of people. In fact, Al-Islam is the antithesis of it. In fact, it says oppression is worse than death, oppression is worse than slaughter. It is better for you to fight and die than to live a life of submission.

So, this is the reason that they didn’t want slaves to continue being Muslims, that’s the reason that they fought and tried to break them and it took conscious of years to break them out of this cycle. In fact, there was laws made for slaves made to suggest any slaves who are from African descent, they could not come to America because they were rounding other slaves up saying to fight against the slave masters. They realizing that their slave, that they are servants to nothing but God. No human beings made them want to fight and persevere.

And when we look back at all the revolts, African Muslims were people who were at the forefront, who was spearheading these things or were in some form of leadership in these roles. If you look at Amistad, you look at the revolts that were done in Brazil, it is all because of the Spirit of Al-Islam. So again, Al-Islam in conjunction with Africans made the Golden Age for Al-Islam. We, African Muslims, are the only group of people who invaded Europe and conquered it for 800 years. So, the combination of them two together is so potent and this is the reason why we must understand and accept Al-Islam.

 

Mr. Campbell was raised attending both the Christian Church and the Muslim Mosque. He was always inquisitive about religion. Around the age of 14, he decided that Islam was the path for him. However, he was rather secretive about his belief due to the negative perception many had of the religion. When Islam became the topic of any discussion, he maintained the Islamic sympathizer role as the son of a Muslim, while being careful not to be identified as a Muslim himself. The stigma surrounding Islam and Muslims only intensified throughout the years, but so too did his desire to announce to the world that ISLAM IS THE TRUTH.

 

Important Black Muslim Voices You Must Follow

What happened to those strong Black Muslim voices speak forcefully against white supremacy and who call to Islam? They are still here although strong Black Muslim voices are not represented in the mainstream American Muslim establishment. This is to be expected.  Nonetheless, we must work to amplify strong Black Muslim voices.  Subscribe to follow the following Black Muslim voices.

 

Muslim Empowerment Institute Youtube Channel

Muslim Empowerment Institute is actively working for the revival of Islam in the Black community. We seek to restore Islam to having the uplifting transformative effect it once had in eradicating social problems and pathologies in the Black community. Follow the Muslim Empowerment Institute’s  Youtube Channel.

Black Dawah Network Facebook Group 

Follow the Facebook Discussion group  Black Dawah Network to join important conversations and initiatives for Islamic Outreach to Oppressed Black Communities.  To join group you must request access and demonstrate a commitment to Dawah in Black Communities.

Black Dawah Network Podcast 

The Black Network Network podcast brings forth important Black Muslim speakers to discuss Islam and its relevancy to Black America.

 Truth To Power

The Truth to Power Youtube channel of Hakeem Muhammad seeks to continue the Black  Islamic tradition of fighting oppression, tyranny, and structural racism.

M.A.B.I.A.

MA.B.I.A. is an acronym for Muslim and Black in America.  A broadcast put together by Bilal Abdullah where he speaks on news and issues from the perspective of a Black Muslim living in America.

Flamin Crescent Blog Talk Radio  of Salim Abdul-Khaliq

The Flaming Crescent Society was founded  by Salim-Abdul Khaliq in honor of Malcolm X. The Flamin Crescent seeks to uplift the  memory of Malcolm X and correct the misunderstandings people have of Islam.

Only is God by Ismael Bilal Saleem – I.D. Campbell

Mr. Campbell was raised attending both the Christian Church and the Muslim Mosque. He was always inquisitive about religion. Around the age of 14, he decided that Islam was the path for him. However, he was rather secretive about his belief due to the negative perception many had of the religion. When Islam became the topic of any discussion, he maintained the Islamic sympathizer role as the son of a Muslim, while being careful not to be identified as a Muslim himself. The stigma surrounding Islam and Muslims only intensified throughout the years, but so too did his desire to announce to the world that ISLAM IS THE TRUTH. 

 

 

 

 

 

An open letter to GhostFace Killah: Help the Dawah to Islam.

To my Muslim brother Ghostace Killah,

My name is Hakeem Muhammad, I am an student attorney from Chicago focusing on criminal defense and prisoner’s rights. But more importantly, I am a Muslim and was deeply inspired by  a 2013 interview of yours in which you describe your conversion to Islam.

You were asked about books you enjoy reading and you stated “I like reading stuff about the Prophet Muhammad, pbuh and the Qu’ran and stuff.” You were asked about the many multiple issues facing many inner-cities from the drug economy to homicides. You stated  that among many youth “They have no spiritual guidance so they not afraid of anything.” One of the things which our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, taught us is that, “None of you will believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.”

As a very influential rapper and also someone who has studied the life of Prophet Muhammad, pbuh and the Qu’ran, I believe you can have a monumental impact in providing spiritual guidance to oppressed Black youth throughout America.  The Black Dawah Network, a Muslim Empowerment Institute Initiative, would like for you to join our efforts to propagate the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, throughout oppressed inner-city communities as part of an ongoing Islamic movement to combat white supremacy.

In one of your songs that has always touched my heart All I Got Is you, you describe your upbringing growing up in Staten Island, New York growing in poverty.  You stated there were days you had to rely upon your neighborhoods for food, and using newspaper instead of toilet paper. You  discuss New York Housing Authority harassing your family by seeking to throw you out of your place after you caught a case. The wretched conditions you describe in your neighborhood growing up emanate from the white oppression of Black communities. A recent study found that  fifty years after the Fair Housing act of 1968,  New York City is in a defacto state of segregation  and poor Blacks were more likely to live in neighborhoods with higher poverty neighborhoods than whites.  

Brother Ghostface Killah, The Black Dawah Network, which  focuses on Islamic outreach to oppressed Black communities,  would like invite you to work with us on a series of dawah videos on the life of Prophet Muhammad pbuh targeted to oppressed Black youth.

We want you to help teach the masses of the people how the  practice of Islam can enable oppressed Black masses confined in inner-cities to challenge wretched conditions the white power structures imposes on Black communities. Lastly, we would like to invite you to join the Dawah and to use the platform you have to call the disenfranchised Black communities throughout the hoods of New York to Islam.

Remember brother,  this life is transitory and our deeds will be weighed by Allah(swt) on the Day of Judgment. If someone becomes Muslim as a result of your actions this will benefit you greatly on the day of judgment.

Contact hakeemmuhammad498@gmail.com to get involved in the dawah.

Sincerely,

Hakeem Muhammad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open Letter to MoneyBagg Yo: Welcome to Islam Brother!

Say, [O Muhammad], “If you should love Allah, then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” 3:31

To my Black Brother MoneyBagg Yo,

My name is Hakeem Muhammad, I am an student attorney from Chicago focusing on criminal defense and prisoner’s rights. But more importantly, I am a Muslim and was overjoyed to learn of your decision to embrace Islam.  I pray that Allah (swt) blesses you to remain strong in your faith.

In your video you attested to the fact “Muhammad is Allah’s last Prophet and Messenger.” One of the things which our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, taught us is that,  “None of you will believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.”
In one of your songs you mentioned growing up in South Memphis where you  “had to hustle just to eat, got my knowledge out the street.” As allude to in many of your rap songs, Black youth throughout South Memphis are living in many wretched conditions. In Memphis, Black youth endure poverty rates at four time the rate of white youth and Black families earn an average income that is roughly half that of whites. These widespread disparities in wealth are directly attributed to the history of white supremacy and it forces many of our black brothers on the streets to hustle. Many of young brothers end up incarcerated as result. In fact one study determined that “While black Tennesseans make up 16.8 percent of the state’s population, they make up 44.1 percent of its prison population.”

The Black Dawah Network, a Muslim Empowerment Institute initiative, focuses on Islamic outreach to oppressed Black communities,  would like invite you to study more about the life of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, through watching the lecture Looking Towards The Prophetic Biography For Black Liberation” by Professor Shareef Muhammad. Please consider watching the videos dear brother to learn how the practice and propagation of Islam can enable oppressed Black masses confined in inner-cities to challenge wretched conditions the white power structures imposes on black communities. Lastly, we would like to invite you to join the Dawah and to use the platform you have to call the disenfranchised black communities of South Memphis to Islam.

Please reach out to HakeemMuhammad498@gmail.com to get involved.

Your brother Hakeem Muhammad

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