African American History In Circumspect
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(Imam W. Deen Mohammed made this presentation at the Annual Conference of the Islamic Committee for Palestine using as example the African-American plight. He compared it to the possible outcomes the Palestinian people face. The following are excerpts of this December 23, 1989 lecture.)
Fuel For Dignity
For us, we should not depend on a racial (color) appellative to fuel race spirit or to fuel race dignity for us. We will expect the term Muslim will have that fuel in greater potency and greater quantity.
It hurts me to tell you the truth about our identity crisis. We are still not pleased. The only name that pleases me is "Muslim". It is the only name I feel perfectly comfortable with. I don't feel perfectly comfortable being called an African-American or a Black man or a Colored man or a Negro.
Deep in our genetic memory we don't like it that we have been called something without the natural honor of having had it (choice of name) grow out of us rather than put on us.
Throwing Off Artificiality
We have thrown off the attachment and dependence of the false idea of our superiority. We are happy to be rid of that and to say that we are brothers with every man, and Adam is the father of all of us. We are happy to say that we are brothers with the Christians and the Jews and the Muslims and with Abraham as father to all of us. We are brothers indeed with all Muslims, because the Qur'an is our Book and Muhammed is our Prophet.
Do not take on artificiality. Do not try to be something that you are not. We are not Arabs, we are African-Americans. We are not Pakistanis, we are African-Americans. We are not Sudanese, we are African-Americans. So keep that in our minds. Be what we are. But we will not have that unique identity, if we look for artificiality and if we just copy other people. We are not to copy anybody. Our unique identity will come naturally.
Understand the African American's History
Imagine a people brought to a strange land as slaves, cut off from their language they had before, whatever it was — I'm sure we had many different languages, but I also believe that many of us were Muslims. There is history to back that up. Here was a people cut off from their language, cut off from their cultural past, and cut completely off from all memory of what life principles there were before, cut off from their native life. Imagine those people given a picture as babies of themselves just as I have described to you....(as cursed by God.)
We (African descendants) were rejected in heaven and on earth. Low-down stories were backed up by so-called science — pseudo science of America, and at that time passing itself off as legitimate science. The coward's (Satan's) lie was saying that we (descendants of Africans) were genetically inferior and? that was it.
You can imagine how a people so overwhelmed could feel and think till they feel and think themselves out of the race. Imagine their burden then and now. The world and our nation folded their hands and were silent, while Africa and her children were being set up for a worldly price.
... I thought we were really overlooking the best material (help) for us. We were trying to do it alone (racially) and were trying to dignify ourselves with our limited race logic. The best answers were already provided for us by the Mercy of Allah ..., (in) the Qur'an and the Last Prophet.
The Burden Remains
The main burden that was on the African-American people was not the discriminating laws and courts and K.K.K. terror against us. The Klu Klux Klan and the savage beatings for nothing oftimes, the murders for nothing oftimes, the lynchings and burnings were demonic, horrible. Still that was not the worse burden we carried. The worse burden was cruel misinformation, absence of knowledge of our past and of our identity. Who are we? Where did we come from? Where should we be? This ugly void was the greatest burden on us, and I believe that it is still the I greatest burden on us.
Your Identity Is Muslim
Have the strength and courage to say 'I am Muslim first.' I am Muslim before I am African American. And that which is rejected as Muslims must be thrown away Though we are African-Americans, we are Muslims. All Muslims should be having the same heart and the same aspirations for the Muslim people wherever they are on earth. Whether they are in America, in the Middle East, in the Far East, or in Africa, the hearts of Muslims are united. If we are truly sincere, the Qur'an, which is the Word of Allah, and Muhammed, who is the Messenger of Allah, bring us into unity. We should have one heart and shared aspirations.