Am I Just a Muslim?

While my heart is at home, some things right now seem more real to me than some of the things that are preoccupying my friends and loved ones.   I am not saying that I’m not interested in this historic moment. There is something amazing about a Black man making it this far in a presidential election.  But, the lack of nuance in media representations of race and gender in the presidential election is not as real to me as making sense of being a Black woman in the Middle East. I know everyone is a buzz in the US. But being in a predominately Muslim society puts a lot of Muslim issues to the forefront. I am constantly wondering if there is a spot for me in this imagined community of ours, as a Black American Muslim woman.

There are times when I felt like there wasn’t room for me and that my experiences were dismissed. Two recent pieces have reminded me of the pressures I experienced as an early Muslim. But at the time of the articles, the country’s internet was either down or I was in transition. Since these pieces were published, I have had some time to reflect on how a Black American Muslim identity causes a lot of dissonance in an Arab Muslim society. Abdur Rahman wrote a very insightful and historically grounded piece called, I’m Just A Muslim Muslim Tariq Nelson also contributed to the discussion with his take on, Just A Muslim. He wrote:

It is this understanding of being “just a Muslim” that I reject. You must – like the brother in the meat store – become a pseudo-foreigner of some type and adopt a hodge-podge of immigrant cultures rather than adopting Islamic values. Being “just a Muslim” has essentially come to mean running away from one’s family, and history in some attempt to “pass” into “non-blackness”. In addition they adopt a parochial and reactionary attitude and a paralyzing suspicion of all things American or Western.

Years ago,  a young Arab American woman was pretty upset with me. She was mad because of the paper I wrote in a sociology class on inequality and social stratification. The paper was about multiple identities. Much to my suprise, the title upset her.  I had felt it was a pretty inocuous title. I don’t even think she really read too far into my paper. Besides at that time, I was still pretty new to the religion. I was naive and wet behind the ears. So, my paper definitely didn’t have the sharp critique you might find in my writing today. But still, the following bothered this young woman enough for her to tell me how much I sucked:

“My Multiple Identities as an African American Muslim Woman”

It got under her skin. To her, it showed where my loyalties were. “You didn’t put Muslim FIRST!” She said in a distressed and judgmental voice “The Most IMPORTANT thing is that we are MUSLIM!” This kind of bothered me. Because at the time, of almost all the Muslims in this little circle, I was the most identifiably Muslim Muslim. I wore hijab at the time. I participated in the Muslim Student Association, as well as the Black Student Association. Despite my efforts, my loyalty as a Muslim was constantly called into question by my Arab and Desi peers.

Someone called me a nationalist because I still participated in the Black Graduate Student Union. When I used to point out that they go to ethnic picnics, Lebanese iftar, Egyptian Day, Libyan picnic in the park, Bangladeshi dinner, Pakistani gathering, not to mention the ethnic after-eid-after parties. These were places I was never invited to. I pointed out that they all these ethnic functions. The argument someone made was that the people in their closed ethnic gatherings were all Muslim. For them, their ethnicity was intrinsicly tied to being Muslim. They were preserving their culture and language because one day, they hoped to go back home. Their functions or fundraisers could be completely secular and or for some nationalistic. But they were helping other Muslims.

Me, on the other hand, I was encouraged to divorce myself from the Black community. At the same time, I was told to give dawah. In fact, I was encouraged to give dawah. But dawah basically meant repesenting some Muslim issue overseas in some campus event. I’m not saying that no immigrant Muslims cared about African Americans. There was one who took an active interest in supporting the cause of a young Black man who happened to be Student Body president was arrested for showing up to a Senate meeting on campus.Many of the people who put those pressures have since changed their views. In many ways they too had utopian visions of what the Ummah looked like. Their own cultural practices were illegible to them, because for them they operated within an Islamic cultural matrix.

While some Muslims were mad because I didn’t claim I was just a Muslim-Muslim. I was never really allowed to be just a muslim-muslim. I was constantly referred to as “The Black” sister in a community that was diverse, but Black American were underrepresented. I was sort of relegated to Black things, like marrying ex-cons and being broke all the time. I was even told that I wasn’t just a Muslim indirectly in some not so nice ways.

Perhaps I felt pressures more intensely because of the relative isolation. But the pressure I experienced raised some important questions. Does participation in a community entail that you give up who you are? Should we end our participation in other communities, our ties with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, associates, sorority or fraternity brothers and sisters. Do we give up affiliations, inclinations, cultural tastes and affinities and adopt others? How do we talk about who we are? What are we? Can I be just a Muslim, while holding on to those descriptors that make me unique? I think my stance on some of these questions is quite clear. I also believe that these broad communities and categories do not make a human. But they are a part of who we are and our being in this world. At times I feel like a composite of many different things and experiences. Some of them intersect and and reinforce what I feel is the true person inside. At times my experiences and things conflict. But never once have I felt like a Muslim divorced from my cultural context as a Western woman of African descent who became Muslim as an adult. Once I become Just a Muslim, I lose my voice and am lost to some authoritarian dogma.

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29 thoughts on “Am I Just a Muslim?

  1. Pingback: More on “Just a Muslim” « Tariq Nelson

  2. Its a pity you missed the Stanford MSAN events this year. The speaker last Sunday, Dr Sherman Jackson, who I’m sure you’ve heard of, said something that really pinpointed what I’ve been feeling for the last decade or so.

    He said that before anything else happens, Muslims in America have to indiginise, meaning that they have to form some identity of themselves as Americans, and not just Desis/Arabs/whatever/ living in America.

    My family arrived in Australia as immigrants from Turkey when I was ten years old. They made a semi-conscious effort to make sure that we weren’t isolated to the Australian Turkish community. They didn’t go out of their way to keep us totally away from it, but they made sure we weren’t stuck in an environment that was overwhelmingly Turkish either. Kind of neutral I guess.

    For years, I went through different identity crises. I had my being embarrassed of being ‘ethnic’ stage (I didn’t feel like I fit in with the ‘ideal’ Australian look of blonde hair and blue eyes, a throwback idea to the racist years of the White Australia Policy which has mostly weaned away now thankfully). I had my black power stage (mostly due to Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali etc, because they made me feel proud to be connected with them as Muslims. Also because I never quite felt ‘white’, so naturally I leaned in the other direction). Then kind of through my university years, I started to feel like, you know what, I’m not really Turkish (by nationality), but I am a Turk (by race), and my nationality is Australian. Especially after going for a visit to Turkey when I was in my early 20s, I realised that I didn’t quite fit in there either. Thus, around my mid 20’s, I started realising that there’s nothing wrong with considering myself Australian, but being a Turk by race. It didn’t have to be mutually exclusive. Now that I’ve moved to the US, I believe that there would once again be nothing wrong with wanting to be an American, and still retain my identity as a Turk (and also an Australian!).

    The kind of exclusivist thought that some people are promoting, ie you must be Muslim, but not black anymore, because Islam has no race, is utter crap. It is such a linear mindset, and in fact, I believe that it will turn people away from Islam rather than bring them to it.

    On the whole, its my view that a lot of Turks follow a somewhat observant (somewhat observant as in they pick and choose a little bit) version of Islam, because they’re sick of being told to live Islam like Arabs. Our culture existed for thousands of years before Islam, and a large part of the way they lived was not unIslamic (at least in my opinion :). They were influenced by the existing Islamic cultures (Persian, Arab etc) when they became Muslim, that’s for sure, but they retained their own identity as Turks. They were the flagbearers of the religion for a long time, and added their own unique influence to it. What really turned things sour was at the beginning of the 20th century, some perverted groups in what is now Saudi Arabia decided that the Ottomans were not ‘Muslim enough’ so they decided to side with the English, and you have the so called legend of Mr T.E. Lawrence (and what an outstanding result he has produced in the modern Middle East, clap clap clap).

    Ok, so I’m a little biased, but you know what, there’s is nothing wrong with being Muslim, and being something else other than Arab as well (whether that’s Black, Turk, Chinese, Eskimo, etc). I’ve seen this issue firsthand in Australia as well, with my Indigenous friend being told that he is ‘Just a Muslim’ now, in ignorance of the fact that his people were the oldest surviving civilization (40000 years!) in the world, living a lifestyle that was (mostly) in the spirit of Islam for most of that time.

    As a closing point, in a closely related point, there is nothing wrong with a Muslim being proud to be an American. We can all criticize the foreign (or for that matter domestic!) policy of the American government, but that doesn’t mean being American/Australian is a bad thing. I happen to love both of these countries. That doesn’t make me a Kuffar. There are many Muslims who are born in this country, some whose families have been part of these lands for hundreds or even thousands of years. They’re not ‘going back’ to their home country, they ARE in their home country. This does not make them any less Muslim, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to fix things ‘here at home’ first. For one, there’s not going to be justice abroad until there’s justice at home, and for two, its rather arrogant of people coming from another country and assuming their problems are automatically more important than local issues (notice that I’m not saying problems in other countries should be ignored, I’m just saying problems here shouldn’t be ignored).

    Lastly lastly, the one thing that really makes me cringe (and I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume what they’re really criticizing is American foreign policy), but if you hate everything that is America, why did you or your family come here in the first place. I used to think this only on the inside because I thought that somehow this made me anti-immigrant or something, but there’s criticism of what’s happening in American, then there’s complete outright rejection of everything in America. If you want to criticize, go right ahead, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done, but don’t enjoy what it provides you and at the same time hate everything about it. There’s a lot of things that are right about America (and also Australia!), and sure enough there are some problems to be dealt with (and you might find that a lot of Americans agree with you). Put your energy toward fixing it.

    As a last last last point, this idea of exclusivity is actually a disease born of the philosophy of rationalism (European in origin but that’s neither here nor there) taken to the extreme. Its the kind of thought that says two (or more) seemingly contradictory ideas can not possibly coexist. If you look at some other philosophies, for example Eastern (actually its in a lot of cultures, not just Eastern), you will notice that they don’t quite think the same way. The simplest example I can think of is the Yin/Yang concept. If you’ve ever seen the famous symbol for it, you see how well two opposite things can fit together. Thinking of it on a concrete level, can you think of any human who is entirely good or entirely bad in their hearts.

    In the same way, Sister Aziza can be Black, Muslim, a Woman, and a whole host of other things, with all of them fitting in nicely together! (most of the time 🙂

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  3. BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    as-salaamu ‘alaikum. Wow! Thank you for writing this, it is so interesting to read about the life experiences of other African-American Muslims. But what I am always so shocked to find is how different my experiences are compared to what I read on the internet. It amazes me sometimes that things are so different and I can’t exactly place my finger on why?

    I grew up in Michigan, lived in big cities like Philadelphia and New York. I went to NYU, but I cannot say that I share the same life experiences that I find other African American’s agreeing on, at least in the Muslim blogging scene.

    I was talking to my brother about this recently and he says the same thing… I’ve never thought about it much but maybe I should. If it is story worthy perhaps I will blog about it. But right now… it doesn’t seem worthy of more than a comment here. Anyway, good post and again thanks for letting us in.

    -Saifuddin

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  4. K-dude probably said it best, but I just want to ring in and say I agree. There is no such thing as just Muslim. Nothing stands alone everything is interconnected.

    After all where do we get the nuances attached to our religious practice? Why is fried-chicken or collard greens a staple at some iftaars while kibbe or Biryani are the most important parts of others.

    I don’t think I buy the argument that those people gave you “no matter what their events were held with other Muslims/fundraisers were to benefit Muslims.”

    Not that this isn’t true, but I wonder to what extent that was at the crux of reason for the people who attended. When I think of encounters with Muslims in non-religious Muslim or Muslim majority settings (if that makes sense). It seems that Islam becomes the backdrop (albeit a very important one) but not necessarily the fulcrum of their actions and interactions.

    Of course there should be love for the Ummah and but self-expression/identification is important too. Even past generations of Muslims identified themselves with communities based on where they were from, occupation etc. So how much more an individual living in the U.S., the land of hybrids and hyphens?

    Keep asserting yourself as African-American Muslim woman.

    God knows best.

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  5. As-Salamu Alaykum,
    I just stumbled onto your blog. My sister it is so nice to see a woman of your ehnic background living abroad in such as fascination muslim country.
    I envy you so. I love your blog by the way and was wondering would you mind if I added you to my blog roll. I also wanted to say I agree with you totally with the
    “My Multiple Identities as an African American Muslim Woman”
    my experiences may be a little different but I do understand.
    Can’t wait to read more from you…

    Subhan’Allah

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  6. My sister how are feeling now on “being divorced from the Black Community”? And do you think it is better to identify as a Muslim first then as ethnic second.? Sometimes I think people fail to realize the gravity of their words. The things that the muslimah said weren’t bad just insensitive. But again I have heard that nonrasicm and other ethnic nationality plight sympathy aren’t looked highly upon in middle eastern or Islmaic countries.

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  7. I might be misinterpreting the grammar in the previous comment which mentions ‘better to identify as a Muslim first then as ethnic second’. That is, is that a question or a quote from someone else?

    Anyway, the answer is, NEITHER first nor second, its both, there is no order. Somebody can be Black and Muslim, there doesn’t need to be an order or a choice.

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  8. As Salaamu Alaikum Sister:

    I have been thinking to write a similar post about my Jewish identity since I’ve come to Islam. I am told I am not Jewish anymore. Yes, Judaism is not my religion, but what of my Jewish ethnic background?

    You make us wait between posts, but when you speak you certainly “wow” us!

    Jazaka Allahu Khayr, Sis. Great, thought-provoking post.

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  9. K-dude,

    It was a question. Not a statement. And I don’t recall myself saying whether it was wrong or right. I was just asking her what she thought because someone else had asked her and she really couldn’t say what she was going to say before they answered it for her with the answer they thought to be correct. If you would have correctly took the time to read her entry and my statement you would have understood more.

    I am just curious that’s all. Personally for myself I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer.

    So yes you misinterpeted…but it is all love..I don’t want to use the sister’s insightful entry or blog for negativity or duress.

    My apologies if my words complexed things. I digress on the topic.
    No harsh blog feelings peace and blessings…

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  10. No harsh feelings at all. Its been a few days since I read the original post. I wasn’t sure if you personally were posing that particular question, or you were quoting someone else’s question.

    Either way, rereading your post, and my response, I feel that perhaps even my answer is subjective to my experiences and view point. Now I’m the one guilty of attempting to answer for her!

    Certainly gives me pause to ponder.

    Peace and blessings to you as well.

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  11. Sister, Jazakallah khair for writing this article. You expressed so succinctly how I feel. I have felt like this for sometime but have had such a hard time expressing it in words. Your post brought tears to my eyes.

    Saifuddin, you said you lived in Philly. I lived in Philly too up until a couple of years ago and I think maybe part of the reason you haven’t experienced some of this is because I think the black Muslim populations in cities like Philly and NYC are huge. Now that I’m in Cleveland, I have experienced what the sister is saying and I think part of it is because black Muslims are a minority both in the city and on the college I attend (Case Western). I guess what I’m saying is that the dynamic of the Muslim populations in various parts of the country may be different.

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  12. BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    as-salaamu ‘alaikum. Faith you wrote,

    “I think maybe part of the reason you haven’t experienced some of this is because I think the black Muslim populations in cities like Philly and NYC are huge.”

    And then there is the other side of that coin. I went to HS in Salem, OR where I was one of 13 ethnic people in a population of 1500 + students. Check it out South Salem High School. Just to give you an idea of how ethnically uniform this part of the country is… my HS mascot was called the Saxon. The neighboring schools were… Vikings, Celts and Francs! So be sure to factor that in.

    Don’t get me wrong, I experienced lot of racism. I’ve been shot at over race. But it was always funny to me because it seemed to me that the people who racially attacked me were really ignorant because they didn’t know what I was. They just saw me how they thought of me not how I thought of myself or was raised to think of myself… a Fulani of Sokoto the former Islamic State… the people who inspired nearly all of Kanem-Borno to Islamic Orthodoxy (though they may say it was Shaykh Muhammad al-Kanem… trust me it was the Fulani).

    If I tried to explain this to people who made race such an issue – black or white – they wouldn’t even know what I was talking about, so I felt sorry for them… like they were people living in a black bubble (or a white bubble) and completely unaware of what has happened to the world over the past 500 years from the beginning of the Ottoman period to the end.

    However, when I speak to SOME native Africans, usually very religious people, about this they welcome me with open arms as a brother. And marvel at the fact that someone who grew up in this country knows something about where he came from. I would be flattered at that but I’m not because it just tells me the state of affairs for African-Americans and heritage… that state being bad. No other way to say it.

    -Saifuddin

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  13. Salaam,
    “it just tells me the state of affairs for African-Americans and heritage… that state being bad.”
    I disagree..I mean, that’s cool you have your own particular heritage. But I do not see anything wrong with my identity or heritage. I celebrate being Black American. It is a beautiful thing, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. For me, it is not lineage that makes someone noble or worthy of honor, but their graciousness, their struggle over adversity, and their humility. We struggled against inhumane conditions and fought for Civil Rights and the Immigration act that allowed for the descendants of the Sokoto, Yoruba kings, etc. and all those Muslim from South Asia and the Middle East to be in America. We established institutions of learning (HBCs) that includes medical schools. We have some of the most profound thinkers and are among the greatest inventors in the world. Just check out the number of Black American patent holders. I have a clear identity that is not based on lineage, but experience. I can’t ride off the success of others, but on a legacy of noble struggle tha continue to inspire me. I know that some African soceities value lineage highly. And once you are attached to a slave lineage, you are nothing in their eyes. Whether someone looks down on me or won’t give the time of day cause I am a descendant of slaves, that is pure arrogance. At the end of the day, it is only about how Allah sees me. I know he sees me as I am, a humble servant.

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  14. Don’t get me wrong, I experienced lot of racism. I’ve been shot at over race.

    Would you like a medal? ‘Cuz if so, then I want one to. I’ve been thrashed by the racist white cops in Wisconsin where I lived, tossed in jail and handcuffed with a loaded firearm held to me with only a prayer between me and Allah!

    And forgive me, but this whole Fulani thing is fulani-somethin’ else. Because you think you can trace your heritage back to Africa that makes you better than those of who can’t?! Every think about WHY the hell we can’t? It’s call, SLAVERY!!! You might not have been there for it but obviously not only was your high school the haven of white supremacist hate, it also lacked his-tory and social studies. I mean, c’mon, man. This is just like bruthas that wanna “go over seas” so they can stamp themselves with the seal of approval. To me, you’d be no lesser or greater a Muslim if you can or can’t trace your heritage. And in fact, it would seem you’re wrestling with the identity crisis that so many [young] blacks are wrestling with since you had to add the fact that when you met some “real black folk” from Africa, the embraced you and kissed you on your forehead for acing your genealogical geography lesson. For one that proclaims loudy how proud he is of his tasawwuf, I fail to see where lineage fits into the equation. The Prophet’s greatness comes not from his family but from his character. That’s the final playing field for on the Day of Reckoning, ain’t gon’ maddah none where yo’ daddy came from – I don’t if yer grand pappy started some ancient Muslim kingdom in Africa or he kick stared a Harley.

    If I tried to explain this to people who made race such an issue – black or white – they wouldn’t even know what I was talking about, so I felt sorry for them…

    Grow up – get some heart – dig deep. This is drivel. You’re better than this. This has really pissed me off.

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  15. BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    as-salaamu ‘alaikum. Marc if you are getting angry than you have really missed the point. I’m nothing and lets leave it at that.

    -Saifuddin

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  16. Looking at some comments…. Hence the reason I call myself a Blackamerican and not an African-American or something else. I got a nasty post written against me by a sister who called herself African-American and thats fine. But what I don’t think people ever ask is: How long can we hold on to the African tag in our progression? Its been over 400 years, thats one thing. But what about 200 more years from now? Do we still call ourselves African-Americans after 600 years of living squarely in America as an American with virtually no clear unbiased understanding of the Africa our ancestors hailed from? Many of us have more Irishness than Africaness in our blood. I’m not trying to get anything started though.

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  17. Saifuddin – you can’t “bow out” simply by stating a tacit, “You didn’t get it.” Explain to me how I have not “gotten it”? In what way with my comments, having presented a counter statement, have I not “gotten it”. Your feeble tap out does not consummate a rebuttal. You made no effort to respond to the points in my criticism – which speaks volumes. And yes, it pisses me off because in my opinion, we’ve had enough of this kind of thing. Brothers and sisters come into Islam and now they start saying, “well, I’m the descendant of so-and-so, and such-and-such.” Apologizing for the current condition as Blackamericans. I understand the psychological pressures to create an identity that fosters dignity. Believe me, I really do. But so make yourself some prodigal son – naw, son. Can’t get down with that one…

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  18. BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    as-salaamu ‘alaikum Marc. You wrote,

    “you can’t “bow out” simply by stating a tacit, “You didn’t get it.””

    I had no intention on “bowing out”, however you declared your anger. Not much can be discussed after that. If you would like to continue this conversation, which I would be very pleased in doing, perhaps its better to take it offline.

    I have written an article on my blog (link) which may explain a bit more but I would rather not discuss this further on Margari Aziza Hill’s blog do to the high intensity that has resulted. I pray you feel the same way.

    Allah hafiz

    -Saifuddin

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  19. Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of God said, “The honor of a Muslim is his religion, his lineage is his good character, and his virtue [muruw’ah] is his intellect.”

    That is what I’m talking about Saifuddin. That is what I’m referring to in terms of lineage. Blood ties are fine but they should not be held above those who cannot trace their lineage. I think the above Hadith, which comes from Ibn Hanbal’s Musnad, is a beautiful example on how God’s Messenger wanted to include all folks – give everyone a shot at noble lineage, if you will.

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  20. This was a great post. I experienced many of the same feelings you describe. Muslims from other countries often seemed to have no respect for the fact that black (and white) American Muslims have cultures of their own, and can be Muslim without adopting Desi or Arab culture, or seeing it as superior. But the “Just Muslim” designation did NOT apply to them. It was the very, very rare foreign born or 2nd generation Muslim indeed who would not refer to him/herself as Pakistani, Saudi, Jordanian, Lebanese, Indian, etc. No one was ever asking them to give up their ethnic and cultural identity, activities, and customs.

    Sad to say, experiencing this kind of falseness around race and culture was one of the things that caused me to question Islam’s effectiveness as a transformative religion.

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  21. I have one question for you Margari. Why would you divorce yourself from the black community? It shows me and others who may read this blog of yours, that you are just another black woman whose embarrass, ashamed and haven’t embraced the beauty in being black and that my friend is to bad. In your own words this is how they feel about you but you divorced us. ” I was never really allowed to be just a muslim-muslim. I was constantly referred to as “The Black” sister in a community.

    Still have love for you

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  22. Marion,
    Perhaps you read my blog wrong. I think the accusation that I am ashamed is unfair.

    “But never once have I felt like a Muslim divorced from my cultural context as a Western woman of African descent who became Muslim as an adult. ”
    These means that I have always felt a strong attachment to my identity as a Black woman in America.

    Nor I have never divorced myself from the Black community. For 15 years I have s striven and participated in the Black computer on various campuses. This is why some people had a problem with me. They felt that I should focus on Muslim issues. As a Black American Muslim woman, I have served as officers for the Black Graduate Student Association and Black Graduate Student Association. I have worked to increase numbers and support incoming students. My work deals with the Black Diaspora and is in direct relation to my experience as a Black woman in a global society.

    So, while I am abroad I keep an eye to what’s happening to Black America and what part do Black American Muslims play in transforming our communities. Even as I struggle to scrape and get by to accomplish the things I set out to do in a country that is not my own. I made these sacrifices to participate in a greater discussion on race, gender, and religion. That is not a divorce, but a real commitment to the communities I am part of.

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  23. Assalaamu alaikum,

    I can relate to your blog in many ways, both for myself and my sons.

    I’m a white American convert of 28 years. A year after my conversion I married a Thai Muslim. We have six sons.

    For the first 20 years after becoming a Muslim, I tried to adapt myself to the strict overseas (Arab) Muslim lifestyle. I gave up many things from my previous life, including friends, and concentrated on being just a Muslim. It didn’t work. I became frustrated and even a little angry at the loss of my identity. For the last eight years I have proudly reclaimed who I am. I’m the same person as I was before my conversion, but with the richness of Islam added in.

    My sons struggle with their own identities. My older three graduated from an Islamic high school with a black Muslim population of about 60% and they all identified themselves as black in a way. They lived in Thailand for a short time when they were young, but it’s not real to them. Everyone says they look Hispanic. What they know for sure is that they are American Muslims. My fourth son just started studies at a college where he’s the only American-born Muslim. He gets frustrated with the “back home” mentality. I remind him that it’s good training. Though it frustrates me too.

    I don’t understand why some people stay here when they hate everything about America. The politics, the food, everything. I once invited two Arab families for Thanksgiving dinner and the women complained, saying Arabic food is better. Of course. Arabic everything is better, isn’t it?

    As a white American Muslim, I have really no community of my own. Most of the sisters I know are married to Arabs or Pakistanis and have adopted their husbands’ cultures. I hang out with African American (or black) Muslims because I feel more comfortable there than anywhere else. Lately, though, I’ve been completely isolated because of the insistence of many Muslims to wear heavy scents which make me violently ill.

    I don’t have an answer. My sons tell me that they and their generation will make a difference. I hope so. If we could break through this immigrant-American barrier, that would be wonderful.

    P.S.–This is something else I don’t understand about the whole immigrant Muslim thing. My grandparents were Greek immigrants. My grandmother missed Greece, but my grandfather loved this country. He spoke English with his heavy Greek accent, sent a son to fight in Korea, and preferred being here. Why are immigrant Muslims so different than my grandfather?

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  24. Salaam alaikum LInda Jamilah,
    It is an honor that you stopped by my humble blog and I appreciate your kind words about my often rambling rants. I dropped by your blog and I am so impressed by your creativity and obvious wherewithal raising 6 sons. Your work is so important! We need to tell our brothers and sister to lay up on the oils and perfumes. I know exactly what you mean!!
    I have a lot of hope in your sons generation and I hope to support them in their endeavors. Perhaps we can begin laying the foundation. I feel like you are doing that, with your writing, your creative production is making the basis of an indigenous American Muslim culture.

    My Muslim friends come from all walks of life and all ethnicities. That is the beautiful thing about Islam. I agree one of the biggest challenges white converts face is that they do not have the numbers or leaders who are really addressing their needs and interests. I have heard from numerous white converts that they have had negative experiences, such as distrust, from the Black community. It not only makes me sad, it upsets me.

    I think there are many lessons immigrant Muslims can learn from the successes and mistakes of other immigrant communities. Personally, I think that it is not about me assimilating into immigrant communities, but for them to learn to assimilate and adapt to American society. And that would mean being more open to the culture and social patterns that indigenous Muslims like ourselves, rather than maintaining that old world culture.

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  25. Sister, we elder african american muslim women feel dummed down too because of following a structure places restraints on social expressions. Yet, in Islam one must be with Allah swt, and His guidance, so the question is who is? Do the simple muslim have this connection, be male or female? The answer is yes, but we are not ready to step up on the next level of metaphysical islam. Muslims say harram on everything that they cannot understand, yet islam is common sense, motherwitt, science, reality all that is from Allah but we tend to think in segments not getting the big picture. Muslims should continue their expressions like yourself, but first as human from the principles of Truth, Islam, all what else will fall into its natural place, such as gender, race etc. Placing Allah swt first, then the priority chains will always keep you in a right path perspective. After studying the human race, we came from one pair, adam and eve, and this is the appropriate response to all the divides because we belong to Allah as one soul, one race, one humanity, one group, and the divides are from Shatan. Yes, defend who needs it, even the socalled white man, or jew, because Allah’s son shines on them, they are our brother and they need healing too. Be safe my sister, and go with Allah (swt) and hiss messenger muhammas (as). As Salaamu Alaikum.

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  26. As Salaam Alaikum, sis. I am also partially Jewish thru my Mama’s Mama, partially black through my grandpa from Cuba, a Muslima sister, and I have a pure Native American paternal grandma and a meztizo grandpa from the Mississippi Delta. I love black people, especially men, but negroes have to go. Also, I get mistaken for every race but black in my physical appearance. I look like a Gremlin with Miles Davis’ musical ability before he started drinking haram. When black sisters really want to be hateful (as when they see me next to a good looking brother they wouldn’t even value unless they think I want him) I automatically become that white B****-I’m sorry if I offend anybody, but it is exactly what it is. By the way, while we’re at it, I will offend somebody saying this; but many black sisters in Philly where I’ve lived and DC where I lived too and NY treat black men like GARBAGE if he can’t pay for everything and anything she wants-and if he treats her with real respect and dignity instead of paying her off for everything and even if he does pay her needs, they treat them even WORSE! I know I will make somebody mad saying this; but it is a little bit more true than you’ll ever imagine-especially for the Philly brothers here. Why would a brother want to be treated like and told he ain’t s*** just because no matter what he does? There is competition, and ostentatiously black women are not the only ones with a big butt. Even in NY this summer I went on a shopping trip on Ramadan in NYC with some black sisters. With their husband’s money, they went to Hindu stores in Queens without him tagging along to veto anything (some of those clothes were pretty haram) and said all kinds of things behind their backs that were very abusive and disrespectful. I was so disgusted that I excused myself and went home to Hamilton Heights. This kind of experience that Black brothers have been through more often than anyone wants to admit might be large part of why they don’t want it anymore. Just something to think about. I often don’t have much of a crowd, and it is hard to make friends with other women insha’Allah.
    Actually, I am very much for Islamic Polygamy in a true Islamic context (which by the way, isn’t Philly) and I think that would strengthen the black man and family in an Islamic society-but the USA is a kuffar society. I am a chess player. Chess was a game devised in Mali about 1000 years ago when it was a great Islamic civilization. When the black king gets both queens, he has even more power and the family is stronger. Something to think about-we in the USA dignify two men marrying each other to argue about it at all; but even in PA which is over 50% Muslim we will not bring up this issue being the law of the land. After all, money talks….

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  27. I really enjoy coming to this belief to stand for our Muslim brother. We have announced our acceptance of democracy that acknowledges political lives of muslim leftist activist, anything that comes from our own views on how to worship the same god or Allah. The actual Arabic comes from “fitna” which can mean disbelief, in and how have you come to this belief? In college, I often felt like most of the really interesting in academic. (A faithful believer) as: “O sinner”, or “O wicked”, etc. Would they like to answer my challenge to all Muslims in public life your wives and daughters and the believing of women.

    This process of examination is essential when they stand up for As-Salat (the prayer), to hold a debate with pro-choice people “Islam is essentially a religion of violence, right?” shows it off to the other women at present, full light of reality as especially when it comes to the poor of the world. Thinking that anything that comes out of our “secular pro-life” is a serious argument thought in some Muslim has been evident was created in the image of Allah. Even thought I don’t like God knows them all, and shame comes over you and when it comes to war, and our brothers and sisters who share our way of life.

    While I am in a fortunate position to have the presence of people are quite proclaimed a minority orientation, and supporters of Muslim. The believer has no choice in the matter but to obey. So the argument is comparing the Crusades to Islamic conquests. People have different opinions media are going against Islam guide of the perplexed on the rulings for something as basic prayer? The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse leads to the significant predictor of a person’s moral behavior is the quality of the person.

    What do you have to say about Islam and jihad maintain any social relationship on separation in other countries? Can someone please tell me? There have been people in the Islamic history who have not only made a difference in this world. Many people, Muslim, Christian, and those of no faith and implements the prayer, he is still considered a Muslim. Pro-democracy and even their prayers are an “abomination” to God. Implausible that someone would blurt out “my Muslim faith” name of God of Islam and is one of the main things separating a Muslim from a disbeliever.

    Our progression argument states that the Qur’an did not allow the use development of religion and views about religion have a uniquely human connection to Islam. Consequently, they have also studied Islam to a level by which they have acquired a greater just finished “Does moral action depend on reasoning? Some people have views of God that are so broad and flexible that it is inevitable was not uncommon to speak in this connection of ‘the Muslim religion’ religion but were primarily concerned with territory and power.

    They have also been challenged by the tradition views expressed ideologies can and are used to serve social functions. Democracy and Islam and it should be lived in the pursuit of human kindness. Religion he believed did not arise in the explanations of animism also contributed to blurring human rights, culture and development preservation and dissemination of traditional culture. And had they not happened and I made aware of them, I think it is also self-defeating as it does not allow for interpretation.

    The progressive wings of Christianity as well as Muslim Islam with a few alterations, broad interest in religion according to these teachings of Allah identify the values that have universal religion. Essentially, there are no reasons not to allow changes lives abroad and argues that the Islamic religion promotes declaration of rebellion against religion altogether. They should therefore be sensitive to the transformations revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature.

    “It is entirely legitimate god is omniscient, why are you supposed to tell “him” what to do, again?” Pairing of the adjective ‘Islamic’ is used to refer to the religion of Islam. Those who know do not speak; those who speak do. People can be classified according to their religion (Muslim, Christian,) you know of what I speak. But they were enemies because they had ways of thinking though belief that Allah of our every religion or philosophy of our Christian reaction. I wish they you say Islam is the religion of peace! Come under your protection but if it had been Allah’s Will, belief in God and religion of the founder of Muslim our prophet Muhammad. All I know is that I raised my son I wasn’t talking of my Muslim philosophy.

    Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him!

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