Sherman Jackson – Muslims and Mental Health – Islam and the Black American P1

Sherman Jackson
AI: Summary © The "immaterial" concept is a movement that advocates for black religion as a means of addressing racism and other issues. The "immaterial" concept is a movement that advocates for humanity as a core aspect of humanity, and the "immaterial" concept is a movement that advocates for finding one's own cultural matrix and finding one's own success in performing religion. The "immaterial" concept has caused dis understands among some groups and is beneficial for black American Muslims.
AI: Transcript ©
00:00:09 --> 00:00:18

Welcome to Muslims and mental health with Sister Heather. A groundbreaking program looking at mental health issues through the bio psychosocial spiritual paradigm.

00:00:20 --> 00:01:00

Welcome to another episode of Muslims on mental health. Today we will be discussing the book Islam and the black American with Dr. Sherman Jackson. We in honor of African American History Month, like to do episodes around the African American Muslim community and the mental health issues affecting them. And particularly, we're going to delve into culture today, a little bit and religion with Dr. Sherman Jackson. Dr. Sherman Jackson is the King Faisal, Chair of Islamic thought and culture and a professor of religion and American Studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California. He was formerly the author F Thurnau, Professor of nary studies and visiting professor of law and

00:01:00 --> 00:01:42

professor of African American Studies at the University of Michigan. He received his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, and has taught at institutions such as the University of Texas, Austin, Indiana University, Wayne State University, and again the University of Michigan from 1987 to 1989. He served as the Executive Director for the Center of Arabic study abroad in Cairo, Egypt, and he's the author of several books including Islamic law in the state, the constitutional jurisprudence of she have a lien alkyl Rafi, on the boundaries of theological tolerance in Islam, Abu Hamid Al Ghazali, Faisal al tuff Rica, Islam and the black American looking towards the third

00:01:42 --> 00:01:47

resurrection and Islam and the problem of black suffering, to name a few.

00:01:48 --> 00:02:31

He has also been featured on the Washington Post, Newsweek blog on faith as well as the Huffington Post. In 2009, and 2012, he was named among the 500 most influential Muslims in the world by the Royal Islamic strategy Studies Center in Amman, Jordan. And he has also been recognized by the Religion News Writers Association, religion link as among the top 10 experts on Islam and America. His students include Muhammad Hassan HollyWell, currently an associate professor of religious studies at Michigan State University. And he has many other works, which we may discuss later. But right now, I'd like you to join me in welcoming Dr. Sherman Jackson to our program. Welcome. Thank

00:02:31 --> 00:02:31


00:02:33 --> 00:02:46

So I want to talk to you today about Islam and the black American. And I want to the first question I have for you is why did Islam spread amongst African Americans, and not whites and Latinos in the same way?

00:02:47 --> 00:02:49

Hmm. Well, I think that

00:02:50 --> 00:02:55

enhancer one gives will be subject to

00:02:56 --> 00:03:17

further analysis. But I think that it is quite phenomenal that Islam does spread among black Americans in ways that it does not spread among white Americans or Latinos. And quite frankly, I think that that has a lot to do with these two things. One, black Americans, given their

00:03:19 --> 00:03:23

social, cultural and political experience in America,

00:03:24 --> 00:04:11

beginning with slavery, and moving on to Jim Crow, etc, have always had an appetite have always been open to alternative locations for identity building, and indeed, self building. The fact that the dominant white culture in America, monopolize the power of definition, always placed them in a position to put black Americans in places where they themselves did not feel that they could fully engage their own being. So they always, as WEB DuBois would say, would always have to sort of measure themselves to the tape of another's measurements. So standards of beauty,

00:04:12 --> 00:04:26

understandings of intelligence, what it meant to be an American, all these things are, or were, and to some extent, still are defined by the dominant group. So Black Americans have always been open

00:04:27 --> 00:04:45

to finding ways from getting out from beneath the hegemony of, of the dominant culture. And that means that they've been open to ways of thinking civilizational connections to other places.

00:04:46 --> 00:04:58

And I think that this is partly where, I mean, we see this impact to African movements. We see this in Pan African movements. In fact, in the early part of the 20th century, we even see it in terms of black intellectuals in their connection with

00:04:59 --> 00:04:59

even calm

00:05:00 --> 00:05:01

In Islam and Marxism,

00:05:02 --> 00:05:15

so I think that's that's one of the factors, the other factor has to do with some very imaginative and charismatic individuals who happen to be able to craft a,

00:05:17 --> 00:05:40

an identity that both connected blacks to an alternative modality of being black in America, a modality of being black that was not defined by the dominant white culture. And secondly, connected them to a civilizational anchor that happened to be Islam. And I think that those two factors,

00:05:42 --> 00:06:02

religion on the one hand, Islam, and the ability to escape the hegemonic deployment of the definition of reality, as wielded by the dominant group, I think that was really sort of the major factor that contributes to the spread of, of Islam among black Americans. And I think that,

00:06:04 --> 00:06:25

however, we want to understand or try to explain the phenomenon of Islam among black Americans, I think one of the things that we have to do is to understand that Islam among black Americans is unique in the Western Hemisphere. In fact, it's unique among all the major Western democracies in existence. In as much as

00:06:26 --> 00:06:34

among black Americans, Islam enjoys what I like to refer to as a communal conversion. Now, that does not mean that

00:06:35 --> 00:06:45

all black Americans or even black, or most black Americans, even on mass convert to Islam. That's not what we mean by a communal conversion. But what we do mean is that

00:06:46 --> 00:07:34

the any perceived contradiction or dichotomy, between being black and being Muslim, have been pretty much erased, such that blacks who come into Islam are not perceived as being either cultural, or racial apostates from Black Cultural orthodoxy. In fact, there seem to be perfectly consistent with that orthodoxy. And that facilitates avenues to conversion among black Americans to Islam. And I think that when we compare that with the situation among whites, or even Latinos, you have any number of individual whites and a number of individual Latinos who convert to Islam.

00:07:35 --> 00:07:52

But you don't have I don't think the phenomenon of communal conversion among whites or Latinos, such that whites who do convert Latinos who do convert still tend to face from among their own sort of indigenous community.

00:07:54 --> 00:08:01

Sort of questions about how can you sort of be a Muslim like what attracted you to Islam? What?

00:08:02 --> 00:08:13

And in the most hostile form? The question is, you know, how could you leave us to go and join them? And I think this is the impulse, like you're saying that

00:08:14 --> 00:08:42

to be an African American convert, it's more legitimate? Oh, absolutely. And it's more legitimate than it would be for a white convert with the white community or Latino with the Latino community, right? I'm saying that the generality of black Americans look upon black American Muslims, I'm far more favorably than the generality of white Americans look upon white American Muslims or Latino Americans, among Latino American Muslims.

00:08:43 --> 00:08:49

And I think that that's not an accident that is due to the efforts of, you know, some very imaginative

00:08:51 --> 00:09:08

personalities in the early part of the 20th century, who succeeded in making that connection between Islam and black cultural orthodoxy. And in some ways, in doing so redefined Black Cultural orthodoxy, or at least open up a space in it, where Islam could find a home.

00:09:09 --> 00:09:27

So that brings me to my next question, actually, because I wanted to ask you what is black religion, I want to be very careful in trying to define black religion. Black religion, is a concept that I discuss in the book Islam on the black American. And quite frankly, I mean, I'm not the originator of the concept.

00:09:28 --> 00:10:00

I picked up the concept. There are several scholars who speak of it, but I think that I was probably most informed by the concept of black religion, as discussed by Joseph R. Washington, Jr. In fact, he wrote a whole book entitled black religion. Now Black religion is not the equivalent of the black church, or it's not even what one might call either sort of African American religion. It's not the mother set of all expressions of religion within the black community. Black we

00:10:00 --> 00:10:09

Religion, essentially, is a sort of holy protest against anti black racism.

00:10:10 --> 00:10:46

Its fundamental key focus is on appealing to God as that power outside of this earthly existence, so transcending, yes, it's an appeal to that transcendent power to intervene into the crucible of American race relations, to straighten out this mess that perpetuates both white supremacy and the subjugation of blacks here in America. And it is a thoroughly American phenomenon. It is not organically connected to

00:10:47 --> 00:10:52

religion, as it was predominantly practiced in Africa.

00:10:54 --> 00:11:33

In fact, it is a a thoroughly American phenomenon. In fact, see, Eric Lincoln would make the statement that had it not been for slavery, there would have been no black religion. So Black religion has been sort of the, the common sort of religious orientation, or a common religious orientation among black Americans. And we find that it informs how blacks practice not only Islam, but Christianity as well. So Black religion, is the basis for the fact that blacks in America

00:11:34 --> 00:12:06

while engaging religion, for reasons of spirituality, having to do with salvation, I mean, other worldly salvation, having to do with purification of the self, all of the reasons that other communities embrace religion, in addition to that, religion, must be effective in addressing the crucible of anti black racism in America. And that's where the black religion element comes in. And I think that I mean to get, are you saying that is to address

00:12:08 --> 00:12:21

the social construct of race is that what I'm hearing or No, it's not a matter of the social construct of race, race, in and of itself is not the problem, the problem is racism, and particularly racism,

00:12:22 --> 00:12:40

as practiced by the dominant group in America, that sought to and in many ways still seeks to privilege. Whiteness, not as a skin color, but as a set of

00:12:41 --> 00:12:46

preferences, presuppositions, assumptions, standards,

00:12:47 --> 00:13:07

to the point where those standards become normal. And everybody else is judged in terms of whether they're normal or not, in reference to those standards. So white supremacy basically says that were as whites are simply human beings in the sort of abstract universal sense.

00:13:09 --> 00:13:41

Blacks are humans, who are the product of a particular culture and particular history. And because of that, Latinos as well, and because of that, whites can speak for humanity. Blacks can only speak for their group, Latinos can only speak for their group, because they are the product of and they represent a particular history, a particular culture, whereas the assumption is that whites represent human culture, period.

00:13:43 --> 00:13:56

So in the title of the slide, when the black American looking toward the third resurrection, the third resurrection part, what does that mean? And what were the first and second? Wow.

00:13:58 --> 00:13:59

These are excellent questions, by the way.

00:14:02 --> 00:14:04

This is a reference to

00:14:06 --> 00:14:08

the fact that in my view,

00:14:09 --> 00:14:13

the spread of Islam among black Americans owes

00:14:14 --> 00:14:15

a huge debt

00:14:17 --> 00:14:25

to the efforts of early what I consider to be proto Islamic movement. And the most important among those is the Nation of Islam.

00:14:27 --> 00:14:34

I'm sorry, what does proto Islamic movement mean? Well, movements that might be considered to be

00:14:35 --> 00:14:39

not fully Islamic in the sense that they have not embraced

00:14:41 --> 00:14:59

the essential doctrines, the orthodoxy of historical Islam, but they could be presumed to be on their way to doing so. So they are in the process of making their way to Islamic orthodoxy.

00:15:00 --> 00:15:05

Um, the Nation of Islam, you know, advocated all kinds of things that

00:15:06 --> 00:15:18

an orthodox Muslim, even an orthodox African Muslim, in Timbuktu, or Sierra Leone, or Senegal, would not recognize as being a part of Islam.

00:15:19 --> 00:15:45

So the idea that the white man was the devil, that Elijah Muhammad was a prophet after the Prophet Mohammed bin Abdullah of Arabia of 1400 years ago, and other doctrines, none of these would have been accepted by orthodox Muslims. Having said that much, and terms of the sociological significance of, of the movement.

00:15:48 --> 00:15:55

Elijah Muhammad in my estimation, and scholars, by the way, differ on this point of view, like are just different on this point.

00:15:57 --> 00:16:18

Elijah Muhammad, I think, was perhaps the most effective individual in making the connection between black religion and Islam. He is the one that made that connection, and in so doing, lay the groundwork for communal conversion among black Americans. In fact, I can remember

00:16:19 --> 00:16:49

many decades ago, that the Nation of Islam was able to argue that the real authentic religion of blacks period is a slap. And those blacks who are not Muslims are really not being true to themselves. Now, of course, not all blacks accepted that. But that kind of proclamation had quite a bit of resonance in in black communities.

00:16:51 --> 00:17:05

So sounds empowering. It was very empowering. So I want to pick this up, I have to actually take a break for our sponsors, but this really important conversation. So we're going to take a short break for our sponsors, and we'll be right back.

00:17:19 --> 00:17:26

Welcome DONILON say, this is Otto on, say recovery. And my name is Yvette Cooper. And I'm part of the staff

00:17:27 --> 00:18:04

adelante Recovery Center has helped people dual diagnosis for five years, we accept most PPO insurances, and provide luxury accommodations and 24 hour support, to speak with an admissions counselor call 1882424450 A lot of times, we don't even know what's wrong with us. And sometimes we need to get away, figure that out. So if you want to go for a little retreat out and Corona del Mar, which is a confidential location, we're here to help. So rolling from Cali, thank you.

00:18:08 --> 00:18:32

Welcome back to Muslims on mental health. Today we are discussing the book Islam in the black American looking toward the third resurrection with Dr. Sherman Jackson. And I want to pick up with you just where we left off and talking about the Nation of Islam and Elijah Muhammad. Well, the point of the question I was trying to answer had to do with the whole notion of third resurrection and where that came from.

00:18:33 --> 00:18:36

The first and the second, the first resurrection.

00:18:37 --> 00:18:49

Allah Elijah Muhammad taught the arm Elijah Muhammad taught that, that blacks were in a state of mind that

00:18:50 --> 00:19:02

was a state of mind created by their slave masters, and that they needed to be awakened from the state they needed to a mental resurrection.

00:19:04 --> 00:19:26

And that mental resurrection, entailed there recognizing their true place in the cosmos as Muslims and embracing Islam. So the first resurrection was the resurrection of the black mind out of its slave mentality into its true Constitution as a black Muslim.

00:19:27 --> 00:19:32

That's really interesting, because we actually have post traumatic slave syndrome,

00:19:34 --> 00:19:36

which we talked about in previous episode, but,

00:19:38 --> 00:19:52

you know, this just, you know, brings a lot of that up for me, because it's about the vestiges of what slavery cause, you know, African Americans around post traumatic stress

00:19:53 --> 00:19:55

and it sort of shaped and molded

00:19:56 --> 00:19:59

certain personality characteristics and ways of being

00:20:00 --> 00:20:08

In particularly for black women, but also for black men. And but, you know, this sounds like along the lines of what

00:20:09 --> 00:20:12

the Honorable Elijah Muhammad came to address,

00:20:13 --> 00:20:16

in a part at least, it's still an ongoing

00:20:17 --> 00:20:32

syndrome that we haven't current times. But yeah, I would say two things about that, first of all, in terms of understanding this history, we do have to understand the historical context, out of which this emerged.

00:20:34 --> 00:20:47

Americans in general, tend to think of the experience of slavery as ancient ancient ancient history, it might well be as old as you know, you know, Greek and Roman civilization.

00:20:49 --> 00:21:38

But this is really, still very much a part of our recent modern history, Elijah Muhammad comes on the scene, sometime around the 1930s, he takes over the Nation of Islam around 1930, we have to remember slavery only ended in 1865, then you have that period of reconstruction, which was horrific. And then you get the mass migrations of blacks from the south to the north, where they had very little education, they were discriminated against. I mean, it was a really dislocated situation. And Elijah Muhammad, you know, attempts to bring some relief to this kind of situation to address this situation. So one of the reasons why his message resonated so broadly among the people

00:21:38 --> 00:21:48

had to do with the existential realities that they were that they weren't that they were living. The second thing that I would say about the impact of slavery.

00:21:49 --> 00:21:54

I personally think that one of the missing links in contemporary

00:21:56 --> 00:22:06

discussions of racism, the vestiges of slavery, etc, is that we are very quick

00:22:07 --> 00:22:37

to recognize the impact of slavery on blacks, but we're not as quick to recognize the impact on whites. And by that, I mean, that slavery must have affected the white psyche in such a way that these these feelings of superiority these feelings of being being entitled to define normal, really took root. And in some ways, I suspect that we're still dealing with vestiges of that today.

00:22:38 --> 00:22:41

And part of the challenge in American society

00:22:42 --> 00:23:05

is to become a truly pluralistic society where there is not one normal, but there are several normals, and they can all peacefully and effectively and even constructively coexist. But But you're absolutely right. And Nigel, Muhammad was addressing very specific, horrific circumstances involving blacks.

00:23:06 --> 00:23:19

And he was trying to, to wean them away from the psychological dependence on the very mentality that kept them subjugated. And this was

00:23:20 --> 00:23:49

the meaning of the resurrection, resurrecting the black mind. So this was the first resurrection. Now under the first resurrection, Elijah Muhammad was both the leader and the definer of what would constitute Islam, as practiced by the Nation of Islam. In 1975, he passed away and he was succeeded by his son, Imam WD Muhammad, may rest in peace.

00:23:51 --> 00:24:01

Now, when Imam WD Muhammad became leader of the Nation of Islam, he abandoned the unorthodox teachings of his father.

00:24:02 --> 00:24:23

And he was the son of Elijah Muhammad. And he redirected the movement into orthodox Sunni Islam. And that abandonment of those unorthodox doctrines and the redirecting of the movement into orthodox Sunni Islam, that became known as the second resurrection. So

00:24:25 --> 00:24:39

and people who are affiliated with the movement actually identified, you know, the first resurrection, and the second resurrection, some people will say, Well, I came into the movement during the first resurrection, and follow the into the second resurrection.

00:24:41 --> 00:24:59

So that's the first and the second resurrection. Now still, the second one still have to do with the mind. While the second resurrection was very interesting, in in many ways, it was the beginning of a shift from black religion, to orthodox Sunni Islam.

00:25:00 --> 00:25:30

Whereas black religion used to define the agenda of groups like the Nation of Islam, once you make the move into orthodox Sunni Islam, black religion is no longer a defining element, it may be an influencing element but not a defining element. And Sunni Islam, or the tradition, the intellectual tradition of Sunni Islam becomes the basis of authority, and how you define what is and what is not Islam.

00:25:31 --> 00:25:32


00:25:33 --> 00:25:35

under the second resurrection,

00:25:36 --> 00:25:41

Imam WD Mohammed was still the charismatic figure.

00:25:42 --> 00:25:54

The idea of the third resurrection was based on my notion that following the death of Imam WD, Mohammed,

00:25:55 --> 00:26:50

Bin black America, Muslims would have to enter into a third resurrection, where religion was not what Islam was not defined exclusively by a charismatic leader. But that religious literate literacy would be much more diffused among the masses of Muslims. And you would have black American Muslims who became proficient in the Religious Sciences of Sunni tradition. And they would be able to produce a conversation about Islam, that enabled black American Muslims at large to navigate and negotiate their way to the kinds of solutions that they needed. That would be both effective in an American context and dressing the ills of the black community. And in fact, addressing the

00:26:50 --> 00:27:12

opportunities confronted by the black community on the one hand, and yet thoroughly authentic from the standpoint of Sunni tradition on the other. So that's the first, the second and the third resurrection. So I want to go back to the second for just a second because I pun intended, no pun intended. But because it almost sounded like and maybe I'm wrong.

00:27:14 --> 00:27:28

But when you move from black religion into classical Islam, or traditional Islam, is there any sort of loss happening there of authenticity? Or so I mean, because it sounds like

00:27:30 --> 00:27:39

I don't know that there's has a feel about it to me that you're you're giving up something? Yeah, this is this is part of the challenge. And this is the challenge that the third, the third resurrection,

00:27:42 --> 00:27:45

has the responsibility of addressing

00:27:48 --> 00:28:08

orthodox Sunni Islam had no real sensibilities about the challenges that went along with coming out of the black tradition in America going all the way back to slavery. And it wasn't simply slavery, per se. It was, again,

00:28:09 --> 00:28:13

white supremacy as a dehumanizing element

00:28:14 --> 00:28:21

that produced a permanently stigmatized slave class, I mean, slavery and other civilizations, including Muslim civilization.

00:28:22 --> 00:28:23


00:28:25 --> 00:28:30

you could not tell who as a class as a general people, I mean, if I were to ask you,

00:28:32 --> 00:28:39

which people constituted the majority of slaves and Muslim civilization, what would you answer you think?

00:28:42 --> 00:29:25

I have no idea that very, very hesitation, makes my point. So it did not produce a permanently stigmatized a permanently stigmatized people. And the same way that American slavery did. So in other words, you could actually change the perception of people by just changing your clothes or changing Yes, in other words, I could be I could be I could potentially be a slave today, and a businessman tomorrow, and my slave past what not necessarily stigmatize me as a member of of a slave class in the same way that being a slave in America would if you were black, right? Because I could have actually been from a family that was never a part of slavery, but because you're black. That's

00:29:25 --> 00:29:59

right. That's right. You're part of a slave class right now. I don't want to whitewash slavery in any in any civilization. That's not the point that I'm trying to make. But in terms of discrete and insular classes, that, you know, the very fact that you are black, I can assume certain things about you, based on these historical assumptions about you, all right. Now, so Sunni tradition didn't have any of that. And so it was not very well attuned to addressing those kinds of or realities that came out of that.

00:30:00 --> 00:30:35

that kind of experience, black religion was, that was part of the whole point of black religion to remain focused on to address those kinds of issues. And I personally believe it's true. And this is what I talked about in the book, I believe that the move to Sunni Islam, did dislocate black American Muslims ability to address the specific needs, problems and opportunities are affecting the black American community. So this actually leads me into my next question,

00:30:36 --> 00:30:53

which was how does not understanding the socially constructed classification of race in America cause issues between the indigenous Muslims and the immigrant Muslims? I'm not really sure where to start, let me let me try it out this way.

00:30:54 --> 00:30:58

One of the more

00:31:01 --> 00:31:07

difficult points to to make and gain acceptance for

00:31:08 --> 00:31:51

is the fact that while America may have produced its own particular form of white supremacy, white supremacy is not a strictly American phenomenon, it is a global phenomenon. And the same forces operating on the basis of that white supremacy, then, in a sense, produce blacks, as that discrete into the class in America produced the phenomenon of the Third World, for example, right we have British colonialism in India, we Gyptian colonialism. So now what, what what that can produce

00:31:53 --> 00:32:06

is, is a predisposition towards viewing the world through the lens of a white supremacist psyche.

00:32:07 --> 00:32:08


00:32:09 --> 00:32:19

of course, the the, the most immediately recognizable opposite of white is, of course, black.

00:32:21 --> 00:32:30

And, especially when you take the fact that in America, whiteness as a class, as a, as a as a category

00:32:32 --> 00:32:34

has been open to expansion,

00:32:35 --> 00:32:52

ever since America began. So there are lots of people who are considered white today who are not white 200 years ago, right? Like the Irish in a time, right. Blackness, on the other hand, has pretty much stayed the same, no new groups have sort of joined blackness, as it were. Now.

00:32:54 --> 00:32:58

What this can produce is that immigrants coming to America,

00:32:59 --> 00:33:05

from the Muslim world, having experienced, either consciously or unconsciously, their own.

00:33:09 --> 00:33:33

Coming to terms with or being affected by white supremacy, can come to America and view America, or life in America through that prism. And this can produce certain stereotypes about blacks. And along with it certain impulses in terms of, well, how do I position myself in this society

00:33:34 --> 00:33:51

to gain the maximum amount of respect, social mobility, comfort, public glory, etc. And what we can find is that, to the extent that immigrant Muslims are

00:33:52 --> 00:34:07

affected by the enticements sort of to join American whiteness, that can put them on a on a on a course that sets them in the opposite direction of blacks, because blacks are never going to become white, as it were.

00:34:08 --> 00:34:21

So this can, this can cause quite a bit of quite a bit of tension. That's on the one hand, the other thing is that the very move from black religion, to orthodox Sunni Islam

00:34:24 --> 00:34:33

produced a situation whereby, under black religion, blacks could be assumed to be the definers of the communal agenda.

00:34:34 --> 00:35:00

Under Sunni Islam, blacks could no longer assume that they had the most authority to define community or communal agenda, rather, Muslims from the Muslim world would be assumed to have that authority because after all, they were I mean, if they weren't Muslims who were and what this what this oftentimes led to, was a situation

00:35:00 --> 00:35:20

Asian where Islam has been interpreted in an American context, but through the prism of people who don't necessarily understand the American context. All right now, let me imagine for African Americans that's very discombobulating because it is for white converts as well. Well, I mean, look,

00:35:23 --> 00:35:26

I'm sure that there was

00:35:28 --> 00:35:30

any number of instances where

00:35:31 --> 00:35:38

there was outright prejudice, prejudice, and bigotry, and racism, etc. But

00:35:40 --> 00:35:46

I'm not convinced that that was always the case. Or that even has to be the case. And let me let me share with you

00:35:49 --> 00:35:56

an experience I actually had myself, I talked about it in the book I was studying in Egypt

00:35:57 --> 00:36:00

many years ago, decades ago.

00:36:01 --> 00:36:06

And I happened to be standing in a line to buy a soda.

00:36:07 --> 00:36:15

One very, very hot day. And it's very hot, very sweating. And we're just standing there, the lines moving very slowly.

00:36:17 --> 00:36:33

Out of nowhere, comes a young white woman. And she just prances right up to the front of the line. And the guy behind the counter, just picks up the soda pops off the cap and gives it to her. Now I'm standing there looking at that.

00:36:34 --> 00:36:39

This is decades ago, I was still in my 20s then, and

00:36:40 --> 00:36:47

I looked at this and I, I was outraged. And I yelled up to the guy, basically, what the heck is this?

00:36:48 --> 00:36:56

And the guy looked back at me with the most pathetic look on his face. He said, What's wrong with you? This is a woman.

00:36:57 --> 00:37:12

Back then, women in Egypt did not stand in all male lines. Anytime there was an all male line, a woman had a cultural right as it were, to proceed to the front of line. Now the point that I'm trying to make here is that

00:37:14 --> 00:37:45

I was simply looking at reality through the only prism I had, right, you're a planar American I was I was applying, I was looking at that Egyptian and reality through an American lens. And I wasn't trying to be disrespectful of Egypt, I wasn't trying to be racist or anything like that I was simply viewing the reality through the prism that I had as a black American, the only understanding the only understanding I could possibly come up with for that kind of situation, it turns out, I was totally objectively wrong.

00:37:47 --> 00:37:54

Well, Muslims coming from the Muslim world, and it doesn't matter how educated you are, I was very educated, when I went when I went to Egypt

00:37:56 --> 00:38:01

may oftentimes think they're looking at or think they're seeing certain things.

00:38:02 --> 00:38:03

But the phenomenon

00:38:05 --> 00:38:18

at play is totally different from what they think they may be looking at it from, or through the prism of their own experience back home, as it were, and the American reality may be very, very, very different. So lots of dislocation

00:38:20 --> 00:38:26

took place in this, the shift from black religion, to

00:38:27 --> 00:38:39

orthodox Sunni Islam. I think that much has changed in that regard, however, by the fact that over the last three decades or so, there have been

00:38:40 --> 00:38:46

rapidly increasing numbers of black American Muslims who have themselves

00:38:47 --> 00:39:13

gained facility, if not, in some instances, mastery of that classical tradition, and are now beginning to try to, to deploy that classical audition classical tradition in the context of America for themselves. And I think that this has been actually helped along by the

00:39:15 --> 00:39:19

by the reality of 911. Because I think that 911

00:39:21 --> 00:39:29

Although it had a very negative impact on the Muslim community, in obvious ways, it really,

00:39:31 --> 00:40:00

I mean, Islamophobia sort of came into its its own subsequent to 911. But I think at the same time, it did a lot to narrow the gap. I won't say, obliterate the gap, but to narrow the gap between black American Muslims and immigrant Muslims, because the phenomenon of Islamophobia really did Empower immigrant Muslims to begin to see America from a person

00:40:00 --> 00:40:05

vector that are a lot more in common with the way that black Americans had experienced it.

00:40:06 --> 00:40:11

So we're in a very interesting, a very interesting period now.

00:40:12 --> 00:40:13

And I think that

00:40:15 --> 00:40:21

the real advantage now, of of Sunni tradition is that,

00:40:23 --> 00:40:31

contrary to what many might think, I believe it to be a leveler, it levels the playing field.

00:40:32 --> 00:41:10

It says that, if you want to argue that Muslims should do X or should not do Y, then you have to authenticate that on the basis of sources that everyone has equal access to. Anyone can master those sources. If you take that away, what we end up trying to do is negotiate these issues on the basis of culture. And the culture from the Muslim world and American context, will almost always be deemed to be more Islamically authentic than American culture, American, even American Muslim culture. And

00:41:11 --> 00:41:20

in that way, those who want to promote cultures on the Muslim world will always have a sort of undeserved and unearned upper hand.

00:41:22 --> 00:41:25

Which is one of the reasons I personally advocate

00:41:26 --> 00:41:33

the grounding of the Muslim narrative in America in that classical tradition, not because

00:41:35 --> 00:41:37

I'm a romantic or anything like that.

00:41:38 --> 00:41:40

But because of two reasons. One,

00:41:41 --> 00:41:49

I see the power and the capacious sense of that tradition. And two, I think it really is important that we have a level playing field.

00:41:51 --> 00:42:13

Okay, well, this is a great place to break we're going to go do we're going to have a part two to this discussion. But we like to end all episodes with fun questions. And so I'd like to transition to those for this first part. And the first questions I have for you are, who is your favorite Muslim? And why?

00:42:15 --> 00:42:18

It Muslim hero if you have one on why, you know?

00:42:21 --> 00:42:33

I've watched your shows before and I knew this question. I don't know about the other questions. I knew this question was coming. And I've actually thought about it. But my problem is that I don't tend to think in terms of favorites.

00:42:35 --> 00:42:38

You know, I could say somebody like ezeli.

00:42:41 --> 00:42:57

But, but then I'd find myself but wait a minute. I also I mean, it'd been tamed me as one of my favorites as well. But then even Alta, Alaska, a secondary and so it context, mood, the situation, the issue?

00:42:58 --> 00:43:04

I'm not sure I have a favorite Muslim.

00:43:05 --> 00:43:12

To narrow that question, though, to an American context, or just in general, as you like.

00:43:13 --> 00:43:19

See, that's I don't, I don't know if I can answer that question. Let me just say this.

00:43:20 --> 00:43:21


00:43:22 --> 00:43:26

one of in an American context, one of

00:43:28 --> 00:43:32

the most important Muslims, someone whose legacy

00:43:33 --> 00:43:35

continues to inspire me,

00:43:37 --> 00:43:37

is Muhammad Ali.

00:43:39 --> 00:43:40

I think that

00:43:42 --> 00:43:43

he has this

00:43:45 --> 00:43:47

combined capacity

00:43:48 --> 00:43:50

to represent

00:43:53 --> 00:43:58

a religious personality, because he's, he's a celebrity and he happens to be Muslim.

00:43:59 --> 00:44:11

But at the same time, he is a cultural authority. And I think that Islam and America, in order to find its footing firmly,

00:44:13 --> 00:44:18

will have to be more than just religion. It will have to

00:44:19 --> 00:44:26

it will have to carve its own cultural matrix, it have to

00:44:27 --> 00:44:42

feel put on the field, a culture that can carry the values and the virtues of Islam as a religion without having to be didactic and preach to people every time you see them. So Muhammad Ali is one of my

00:44:43 --> 00:44:44

one of my secret.

00:44:46 --> 00:44:47

I'm a secret admirer of him.

00:44:49 --> 00:44:53

And what about your favorite concept in Islam and why?

00:44:56 --> 00:44:59

Again, favorites, I'll try and add

00:45:00 --> 00:45:05

So this question, but I'm sure if you see me tomorrow, you asked me the same question. I'm not even sure that I give the same answer.

00:45:07 --> 00:45:11

But among the really important

00:45:12 --> 00:45:13


00:45:15 --> 00:45:16

to me

00:45:18 --> 00:45:23

is humility. Because humility to me

00:45:25 --> 00:45:31

really does go a long way and staving off a prophecy.

00:45:33 --> 00:45:34

People become hypocritical,

00:45:36 --> 00:45:39

when they're not humble enough just to acknowledge that

00:45:40 --> 00:45:50

I'm not all that on the scale of one to 10, I'm just a four. And maybe on a good day, I'm a I'm a five.

00:45:52 --> 00:45:59

And I humbly accept that fact and humbly turn my my issue over to God and try to do the best that I can.

00:46:02 --> 00:46:06

If I'm not humble, then I have to always be trying to be a 10.

00:46:07 --> 00:46:12

And that can take me into performance. I'm performing religion, I'm not really being religious.

00:46:14 --> 00:46:15

So I would think that

00:46:18 --> 00:46:18


00:46:20 --> 00:46:30

and what is your favorite word and why? And Arabic or whatever language you like, if you're gonna if it's a foreign language, you need to translate. Oh, my favorite word.

00:46:32 --> 00:46:33

My favorite word.

00:46:36 --> 00:46:37


00:46:42 --> 00:46:48

Wow, these are tough questions. I mean, they sound simple, but they're tough. If I had to pick a favorite word, a single word

00:46:53 --> 00:46:54

How about

00:47:00 --> 00:47:01


00:47:03 --> 00:47:04

Toba, and why?

00:47:06 --> 00:47:15

I'm because again, I mean, it goes Toba, or repentance just goes along with the fact that one is able to

00:47:17 --> 00:47:18

accept one's

00:47:23 --> 00:47:26

reality of being human. So

00:47:27 --> 00:47:29

one does the best one can

00:47:30 --> 00:47:33

and one that is not good enough.

00:47:34 --> 00:47:37

One repents and keeps moving.

00:47:38 --> 00:47:40

Okay. All right. Well, thank you. And,

00:47:41 --> 00:47:51

again, we're talking about Islam of the black American looking toward the third resurrection. And we are going to continue this conversation in part two.

00:47:52 --> 00:48:23

So please join us again, if you have any comments, questions, concerns, feedback, you can send them to nefs healer [email protected]. That's na Fs H EA le ar [email protected]. And you can also join us on our adjunctive website at WWW dot nefs And we'll have a link to a Dr. Jackson's book if you're interested in looking it up. And we look forward to seeing you for part two. Next time. Thank you

Share Page

Related Episodes