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Islam In America

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Zaid Shakir

Channel: Zaid Shakir

Episode Notes

Episode Transcript

© No part of this transcript may be copied or referenced or transmitted in any way whatsoever. Transcripts are auto-generated and thus will be be inaccurate. We are working on a system to allow volunteers to edit transcripts in a controlled system.


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Then we move closer to what we want to talk about tonight, and that is the 20th century. After that, dying off of Islam, two generations, it was gone generally. And that's documented in the history of the family of silence and be laddie of the sapelo islands off the coast of Georgia, how, three generations after he was a practicing Muslim, his ancestors only remember vaguely some practices, such as their grandparents facing the east, and praying, and some general things and the rice cakes, and the custom of making the rice cakes remaining, but not really knowing the context, the religious and cultural context that led to the rice cakes, or the details associated with the prayer. So it

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had died off after three generations. And that was one of the few instances where the ancestor is even recall Islamic practices by their Muslim grandparents or great grandparents. So Islam died off for practical purposes amongst African Americans. Now, we discussed as the latter part of the 19th century, we discussed the work of Edward blyden, Presbyterian missionary to West Africa, who, according to many accounts converted to Islam, according to all accounts and great admiration for them. And he situated that in the pan Africanist struggle, he saw Islam as potentially unifying the African people in the African diaspora, that Islam could be a unifying force. He also saw in the

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separatists model that was generally adhered to by West African Muslims, he saw a model for survival of Africans in European dominated societies in the West. So he was looking at Islam in a very utilitarian sense, in terms of how Islam could be used towards a greater end. And that greater in being the goals of Pan africanism unifying the African people prefer preserving an African cultural identity in the diaspora, but by so doing, he paved the way for Islam being considered as a credible alternative to Christianity during a time the ladder 19th century. So we have to see what's going on is the height of the white terrorism, white American terrorism in the American, the South, so the

00:02:57--> 00:03:48

height of the Ku Klux Klan, the white Legion and other white races, racist groups, who, as we discussed, why did this terrorism, this wave of terrorism occur during Reconstruction, the period where the northern armies were occupying the south and reconstructing the South after the devastation of the Civil War, for political rights were extended to African Americans. Now in some states, such as South Carolina, African Americans were numerical majority. So African Americans were gaining disproved, what was viewed, it was proportionate, but it was viewed by the whites as disproportionate political power. You had African American senators during Reconstruction, Congress,

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people, local officials, mayors, so the white power structure didn't like that. So that's how the Klu Klux Klan was born. So to do away with that political power, after the northern armies withdrew, a Reign of Terror ensued, where literally people were murdered, lynched, to discourage African American voting and political participation. On the one hand, on the other hand, you had disenfranchisement laws. And we mentioned many of these are still on the books. So you have felony laws where minor offenses will be

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labeled as felonies, and then a convicted felon was disenfranchised for life. And naturally, the overwhelming majority of disenfranchised felons were African American males. These post reconstruction disenfranchise chessmen, law laws, many of them are still on the books in most southern states, so that in the last two elections 1/3 of the adults

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Male African American population in Florida and Alabama have been disenfranchised for life because they're convicted felons. So that started then. So in this climate, many educated African Americans began to view Christianity as a racist religion. Because what did the Ku Klux Klan March under? The under the cross? So African Americans intelligent, educated African Americans began to view Christianity as a racist religion and begin looking for an alternative. So is that this time that Blyton's work provided an insight into thinking productively about Islam as a credible alternative to Christianity. So this really opened the door for the reintroduction of Islam into the African

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American community. Now, blyden, as we said, no matter what his religion, ultimate affiliation was, there are those who say he died as a Muslim. There are those who say he maintained Christianity to the end of his life despite despite a favorable view of Islam, but no one disputes he was a pan Africanist. And in that regard, his legacy was inherited, as we move into the 20th century, by Marcus Garvey, who started the universal Negro Improvement Association, or the UN I A.

00:06:41--> 00:07:40

So Marcus Garvey, who was a Jamaican, she was born in the Caribbean and Jamaica, in 1887. He spent time in London in several European countries. Now what's significant about the time he spent in London, one of his chief mentors was an individual, somewhat mysterious individual, by the name of do say Mohammed, do say Mohammed was an actor. He was a political activist. He was knowledgeable about Islam is sad. He was Egyptian that he was the son of a meme Luke, soldier in the his grandfather was a meme Luke soldier who was killed fighting the French in Egypt. So it said he was Egyptian said he was Sudanese. Some people claim that he was an African American convert to Islam.

00:07:40--> 00:08:44

In any case, he was a mentor of Marcus Garvey in London, and he conveyed a lot of ideas to Marcus Garvey, about Islam. Now, Garvey never formally accepted Islam. But the UN I was very favorable in its view of Islam. So this is one contribution of Marcus Garvey to the reintroduction of Islam in the African American community that again, building on the work of blyden. It became in some circles, very, extremely accepted to discuss Islam, many of the people in Garvey's movement, war Muslims, African American converts to Islam. Garvey spoke favorably of Islam. But perhaps his greatest legacy, in terms of his influence on the Nation of Islam, was his idea of a black religion,

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that black people needed their own religion. And in Garvey's view that real theology was predominantly an Africanized version of Christianity. So Garvey, for example, advocated all African Americans, getting rid of their pictures of a blond haired, blue eyed Scandinavian Jesus, and getting if they must, a black Jesus. So then you have the Black Madonna, the black Jesus, and these things introduced into African American religion. So this would have an influence on the Nation of Islam in ways we'll discuss. Also, Garvey's theology was a theology of liberation and self improvement consistent with his movement. So again, this is a theme as we'll discuss in inshallah

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dalla, philosopher wills that characterized African American Islam regardless of this strain, if you will. And the many strains will try to examine insha Allah tala. So the idea of worshipping a black God so the nation of

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Islam will eventually come to claim one

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that the black man is

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God, and the white man is the devil. So the idea of worshipping a black God, this was something that Marcus Garvey introduced. In addition to that, another influence that Marcus Garvey would have on the Nation of Islam was the emphasis on institutionalization is one thing to advance ideas. It's another thing to build institutions that reflect those ideas, and allow for the articulation of power in the world. individuals don't articulate power in the world, institutions do. And individuals are only powerful within the context of institutions.

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As a fact,

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you take any person you think is powerful, in the West, divorce them from the institutional context of the United States government, of the United States military, of NATO, or whatever, and see what you have. On the other hand, you might have an idiot who can barely spell potato,

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for example, on the other hand, take a Muslim with a PhD.

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No drinking problem, no drug problem. No need for Prozac or Ritalin, very stable, emotionally, intellectually astute, personally strong discipline, five pairs a day without fail, fasting Monday, Thursday and Ramadan.

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But take that strong Muslim, with no institutional context. What do you have?

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You have a strong person that's unable to project any power or meaningful influence in the world.

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That's what you have. So Marcus Garvey realize that. So he realized if the African American and the African people in general because a pan African is based in Harlem, based in the United States, if the African people in general African Americans in particular are going to be dignify people are contributing on the world stage, then institutions will have to be built