At the forefront of a futile effort to inhibit the rise of Islam in Black America are two individuals in the “Black Conscious Community”: Young Pharaoh and Sara Suten Seti. Without realizing the irony, Seti routinely gives lectures with a Malcolm X or Dr. Khallid t-shirt on whilst speaking against Islam. The basic reality reveals an incontrovertible fact: even anti-Islam Afrocentrist in the Black conscious community cannot escape the Islamic influence over the Black Liberation struggle.
Whilst Seti continuously promotes the writings and teachings of Marcus Garvey to Black people hailing him as one of the greatest Black leaders, he ignores the Champion Magazine- March issue of Marcus Garvey’s Negro Improvement organization, 1917, which reads, “The negro is crying for a Muhammad to come forward and give him the Quran of economic and intellectual welfare. Where is he?” Speaking laudatory of Islam, Marcus Garvey states, “Muhammad suffered many defeats at certain times but Muhammad stuck to his faith and ultimately triumphed and Muhammadism was given to the world”. Marcus Garvey’s United Negro Improvement Association looked to Islam as a source of inspiration and influence.
In another video discussion, Seti speaks against Donald Trump for calling for an extradition of Black revolutionary: Assata Shakur. Seti praises the Black revolutionaries who got Assata Shakur out of prison stating they were real Africans. He failed, however, to mention that the brother who was convicted for the liberation of Assata Shakur, Sekou Odinga who stated “Al-Islam is a comprehensive religious, political, and social way of life. I believe that Al-Islam, as taught by the Koran and Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (a.s), is the best-organized system to free New Afrikan people and build the New Afrikan Nation.”
He ignores the words of Assata Shakur who said “I had always said that if i had any religion, it was Islam” and that “the Islamic influence over our struggle has always been strong.” In fact, during Assata Shakur’s trial, she went as far as to file a court motion so that her trial would not take place on Friday, simply so she could attend Jummah Prayer.
Yet, Sara Suten Seti and Young Pharaoh speak negatively of Islam yet are unable to present any ideology to Black people that can compete or rival Islam in any, way, shape or form.
Islam has an established track record of producing revolutionaries: Safiya Bukhari, Sekou Odinga, Malcolm X, Dhoruba al-Mujahid bin Wahad. On the other hand, Seti and Young Pharaoh would be hard pressed to name a single “Maatic revolutionary” the Black Conscious Community has produced that has struck fear in the white power structure.
Islam has an established track record of producing institutions that have transformed the Black community for the better. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam established a Fish import business, cleaners, bakeries, a Muhammad University of School system, and drug rehabilitation centers. From the teachings of Islam, individuals like Malcolm X and countless Black people were inspired to leave drugs. On the other hand, the Black conscious community has produced powerpoint slides on the pyramids and history lessons on ancient Egypt.
Umar Ibn Khattab, a companion of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said “Verily, we were a disgraceful people and Allah honored us with Islam, so if we seek honor from other than Islam, then Allah will humiliate us.” Since the Black Conscious Community began abandoning Islam in favor of reviving a pseudo-ancient Egyptian spirituality, nothing but one humiliation after humiliation has befallen the Black conscious community.
Take for example Natural Tehauti. After Sara Suten Seti went ducking Dr. Wesley Muhammad for a debate, he had Natural Tehuti replace him to spew the same debunked “Islam ain’t for Black people, its for Arabs” drivel. What happened to brother Natural Tehuti?
Natural Tehuti is currently incarcerated for selling drugs and has even recently been convicted of homicide after an inmate died of an overdose from drugs he smuggled in the prison. Consequently, Seti himself has admitted to using cocaine and he stated he sold drugs in order to afford his trip to Egypt. The fact of the matter is anti-Islam Afrocentrists in the Black Conscious Community cannot compete with Islam with it comes to revolutionary praxis against white supremacy, cleaning up black communities of drugs, or building institutions to transform black life for the better.
The best they can do is the same powerpoint slides about the pyramids and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, and videos disrespecting Islam whilst simultaneously wearing Malcolm X shirts.
Instead of just wearing a Malcolm X t shirt, Young Pharaoh and Seti: should look into why Malcolm X said Islam was the best religion for Black people, why Marcus Garvey said the Negro was yearning for a Muhammad; why Sekou Odinga said Islam is the best religion for New African People.
Brother Seti, Pharaoh, and Nehuti, the door for you to become a Muslim and repent of your prior transgressions is still available. The Black Dawah Network strongly advises you to take your Shahadah and become a Muslim.
(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.
Read part one of the Flops of Chancellor William’s Destruction of Black Civilizations here.