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'Detained indefinitely'
Today is Monday, March 20, 2006 | 20 Safar 1427  

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In California, Muslim-Owned Liquor Stores Become A Target

On one side, Muslim immigrants say they're just trying to make a living. On the other, an African-American neighborhood struggles to rid itself of an abundance of liquor stores.

I've got your 40 ounces right here!
The issue of liquor stores in poor African-American neighborhoods such as those in Oakland, California has long been an issue of contention with urban activists. Seen by many as magnets for criminal behavior and contributing to alcohol abuse among the poor, liquor stores were one of the first targets in the 1992 Los Angeles riots. It gets even more complicated when you consider that 80% of Oakland's 360 liquor stores are owned by Yemeni Muslim immigrants. Aside from the obvious implications of Muslims selling alcohol (and in turn contributing a large share of the donations for several Bay Area mosques), this fact brings a religious dimension to a community conflict where Muslims can be found on both sides of the struggle. While a few Muslim community members (mainly African-Americans) have raised the issue of Muslims contributing to the decline of inner-city neighborhoods through their domination of the liquor store business, the war of words has never escalated into violence. For that, it took an offshoot Muslim group (well, make that an offshoot of an offshoot) to finally take matters - and several crowbars - into their own hands last week at two stores. "The suspects entered the store and questioned why a Muslim-owned store would sell alcoholic beverages when it is against the Muslim religion," Oakland police said in a statement. Then, in full view of video cameras, the store was vandalized until broken bottles of hard liquor littered the floor. A few days later, store clerk Abdel Hamdan was kidnapped and thrown in a trunk while others lit the store on fire. Spokespeople from the Nation of Islam joined the Yemeni American Grocers Association to condemn the attacks. "That is not our way," said Nation of Islam spokesperson Tony Mohammed. "Our job is to kill the appetite (for alcohol) in the black community." After denying any knowledge of the attacks, a spokesman for the splinter Black Muslim sect that runs a bakery (their slogan: "A Taste of the Hereafter") and other small businesses in North Oakland (and apparently thinks the Nation of Islam is too soft) turned himself in to authorities. Yusuf Bey IV - whose father founded the sect and died last year amid charges of corruption and rape - turned himself in along with an accomplice to face charges of robbery, vandalism, and making terrorist threats. While this particular string of attacks may have been solved, the larger issue of alcohol in poor neighborhoods - and Muslim complicity in its proliferation - has yet to be addressed by the larger immigrant Muslim community in a more productive manner. Barring that, more violence may be on the way.

Shahed Amanullah is editor-in-chief of altmuslim.com


COMMENTS:

I buy my beer from a Muslim. What's the problem? Could someone educate me, please?

Timely discussion. Just yesterday I heard a discussion on this attack on "News and Notes with Ed Gordon" on NPR, a show aimed at the African American demographic. It is archived here:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5032483

Interestingly, the religion and ethnicity of the store owners isn't even mentioned by the commentators.

This comes one week after a more violent attack on a liquor store in Chicago's South Suburbs, where the Palestinian Muslim owner of the store was shot and his 27-year old daughter was killed by a masked assailant. Details here (for a while, requires registration):

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/southsouthwest/chi-0511300217nov30,1,4655.story

Of note is that the police have NOT characterized this attack as a robbery, as they can't tell if anything was actually stolen, and the perpetrators have not yet been apprehended.

I'm curious as to which dynamic *may* be the stronger motivator here: the Muslim anger at having Muslims sell liquor, or the African American anger at seeing other people making money at the expense of flooding their communities with a societal poison?

It might be a mix of both motivators: our so called brethren in faith are sustaining themselves by poisoning our communities, from the African American point of view. Many people have exploited African American communities; it's time for Muslims to engage in ethical economics.

I think it is payback, not only for Muslims selling what they can't consume and make a living based on, but also because immigrants, especially of the Arab lands, terribly disrespecting the blacks who work for them in Penn. The immigrant owners got a history of pay bad, mouthing off, insulting, and all around being task masters to their employees. This is not about alcohol alone, but some stuff. In the east coast, like Phily, it's really bad.

Here's the time - for progressives, the muslim right wing, and all the rest of us to rally behind the Black Muslim cause. To be sure, they have been restrained - not really hurting people, and the material damage is not irreversible. You know all of you telling us how the French riots had 'a cause', and reasons - well here's the chance to practice what we preach. Lets call on the Yemeni Grocers Association to stop selling liquor in Black neighborhoods. Of course, I am not justifying property damage or robberies etc. But lets be sure where the cause is. Its not abput misplaced emphasis on private property and capitalism.

Black Pride, Black Power!

>>Lets call on the Yemeni Grocers Association to stop selling liquor in Black neighborhoods.

I would hope they would simply stop selling alcohol to *anyone*...

Alcohol in Islam is prohibited , unlawful , HARAM. it is HARAM for a muslim to sell alcohol, consume it, deliver it or have anything to do with it
The Prophet alaihi asalam cursed the people who make the alcohol, deliver it, sell it and consume it. the money that is donated to islamic causes from the sales of alcohol is unlawful and would not be accepted by Allah
Thats the islamic view then you start looking at what it does to the neighbourhoods and the poor people in those neighbourhoods whether they are muslims or not ,, you wonder why the prohibition ban on alcohol wasnt reinstated,,
im not saying smashing the store and putting it on fire is the right thing to do but there are many other civilized ways of dealing with these things..

>Here's the time - for progressives, the muslim right wing<

what theyll buy the liquor store out?? make up some BS claim that islam is outdated and start drinking like fish?? and Islam is a deen that stays in balanced does not go harshly to the right or the left so no we dont your right wing.

It is time to start to admit how common these problems are amongst our immigrant Muslims.

I was a fairly new Muslim doing some work in Chicago for a well-known Muslim production company - a terrible experience at best. I attend Jumma services in a small masjid upstairs from the so-called halal diner. They had a machine for gambling in the area where you ate. I asked the owner if the game paid ou or was just for fun and he proudly told me - no you can make money.

I brought this to the attention of the Imam and former president of ICNA who happened to be delivering the khutba that day and the solution was to show tolerance.

I reminded him that many non-Muslims came into the shop and asked what kind of example that provides for them. Nothing.

I submit that immigrant Muslims have done far more to hurt Islam in America than they have ever done good.

This is a problem that needs to be addressed and insha'a Allah, will be very shortly.

As a side note, I took Shahada in an Egyptian deli, in between the beer case and the pork sandwich bar. Despite these immigrant Muslims, not beause of them. Sincere people will always find their way.

I think the book I am writing should contain accounts of the horror stories converts have encountered dealing with immigrant Muslims - naaaa - the book would be to long.

i have many friends who have converted to islam and many of them told me that if they knew muslims before they became muslims themselves they may not have embraced Islam..
no one is perfect dont expect every muslim out there to follow the quran and sunnah and behave islamically following the islamic manners and etiquettes.. they should be but they dont in most cases they make islam look bad in the eyes of those who are around them, they dont always have to be immigrants,, the rule here is to judge the muslims by Islam and not Islam by the muslims, may Allah guide us all to the right path and inspire us to follow it.

Well, FC on this one I stand with you. This is wrong.

Tolerance means that we use wise, and better ways to preach. And I hope on this count you'll agree. So stirring up hatred against immigrant muslims, or any other ethnic/social group will be counterproductive. But we can write, preach, and organize agianst injustice. And alcohol/dope/pimping in Black neighborhoods is a form of injustice and oppression. OmarG and Ridhwaan - I think we are saying the same thing. But I explicitly talk of Black neighborhoods because thats where the oppression is. Secondly, I dont think Khomeini style politics is the answer. So 'prohibition' stuff won't work in this society right away. All thats going to happen is that everyone from the US Right to the Left will accuse us of trying to impose our values on others. But thats not the point - we want to be an agent for freedom, justice, and equality. And the least we can do is not let our own brother commit injustice on our other brothers and sisters. Secondly, the Black Muslim voice (I am not talking of NOI theology) needs to be heard and given leadership space. Try to read Brother Professor Sherman Jackson's "Islam and the Blackamerican". He talks of the same problems. And Brother Jackson is firmly grounded in Orthodox Islam.

Isn't a little bit much to be expecting all Muslims to behave in a correct Islamic manner? Sure, call on the Yemeni Grocer's Association to stop selling liquor and remind that that it is forbidden in Islam. But it's also high-time the Black community stepped up. There would be no liquor stores in these neighbourhoods unless there was demand. There is a responsibility on the 'Muslim' liquor sellers to stop as it contradicts the religion but there is an even bigger responsibility by individuals in the Black community to refrain/limit from drink or to drink responsibly like many people are able to do.

hb,

Don't quite know what the 'Black Muslim voice' is? What do you mean?

Well, bro. GM what I mean is, that the proto-Islamic NOI and others had a social message of equality, self-help, self-love, brotherhood, and community organizing. Now its great that we have a diverse community of Hindi, Farsi, Arabi, Bosniak, Turki etc. Muslims also. But it does not mean that one of the defining characteristics of Islam in America - giving a voice, and identity to the opressed - to be able to construct your communities without being bought out - should go away. See, hundreds of thousands of Blackamericans became Muslims because they wanted to be proud members of their own community - not being at the mercy of white america - to define them. Now they see Arabs and Pakistanis come in, get fairly well ahead in the rat race, while many of our Black brothers and sisters are still at the back of the bus. This hurts, and it hurts Black muslims more because it is like getting short-changed by someone you trust or love.

Also - no I am not advocating vigilantism or cultural monolithism. You cannot expect all muslims to be perfect, immigrant or native or whatever. But we can put our voice on one side of the debate. All I am saying is we should be ashamed we live in the suburbs and simply try to move up the ladder while our brothers and sisters in the ghettos suffer. It could be wonderful if we start buying from Black-owned businesses, organize with the local Black muslim leaders to have after school programs - not just Qur'an ones but also those things that make lots of Asian kids (Muslim or not) go to med school, while the people who built America on their bloodied, sweaty, broken backs are crushed.

The Black Muslim voice means that US Black history is an integral part of muslim history, just like the Ottomans, Mughals, colonialism, and Algeria. It means we address the issue of divorced or separated mothers, and kids without father figures, unemployment etc. also. It means realising that Muslim America is not white, and doesn't seem to be for the foreseeable future.

It means that getting your people to stand on their feet, and "Black is beautiful" is still a worthy cause. It is realising that even while being raised as Muslims, we too may have been infected with the disease of subtle racism, and we need to fight it, and make sure our children grow up un-affected. Do try to read Brother Jackson's book.

I don't know, hb. The whole issue of why some groups get ahead and not others is a big doozy, especially when we compare various immigrant groups with African-Americans. I didn't think I would say this, but here it goes: maybe AA's conversion to Islam to escape white America as you mentioned contrasts with the Yemeni's willingness to fully participate in the commercial sector. AA Muslims seemed not to want to do that. Perhaps catering to the needs of the majority "white" (and increasingly Latino) America is how people do well for themselves. I dunno; its a nasty world out there...

PS, all I can really add to this is that my parents raised me to be colorblind against all odds in the very racist Italian neighborhood I grew up in. I've never had a problem with mixing with AA Muslims, not least because we all spoke the same language and could relate culturally more so than with immigrants; most of my best freinds growing up were black. But, hb, while I agree fully that the Black Muslim voice needs to be heard, perhaps even take center stage, I also don't want feelings to become hardened to the point where white Muslims like myself would find it awkward to keep mixing, you know like "Black is beautiful"; togetherness is beautiful; Islam is beautiful...

Interesting discussion. I personally boycott any store or restaurant run by a Muslim which serves or sells alcohol. I agree with GM that it is also the responsibility of the locals to refrain from purchasing it. It is pathetic that the scum "unfriendly & incompetant" is using this turn of events to promote his usual brand of horse manure against immigrant Muslims.
HB, the problem with the black community is that it has no real leaders, not anymore anyway...all we hear are slogans. I worked for almost 2 years at an inner city hospital while living in the ghetto, and I can tell you alcohol is the least of their problems.

What we should do to help the Black Muslims? What we should do to help Black Muslims? What we should do to help Islam spread in America? What we should do for dawa? Listen to yourselves . . . .

What you should do is learn to butt out. This is the biggest problem from the immigrant Muslims ñ them thinking they know better and wanting to lead the way. Now I know many of you are being very sincere and you truly believe that you are helping, but you are not helping.

During the Bosnian Conflict ñ it was never a war, right? I once heard a high ranking leader of the Bosnian people speaking to raise support for their effort. People were asking if they should go and fight and the clear answer was no, stay away and let us fight our own battles. What had been happening was that hundreds of well-intentioned people were going over there and thinking themselves to be generals ñ attempting to tell the Bosnians how to run things. Much of this became apparent in private conversations.

So, just wanting to help, is not enough. Your wanting to help usually means getting in the way and screwing things up.

Let the black Muslim community work through their own problems ñ they are going at their own pace and doing a great job. Leave them alone. Helping is helping when you are asked for help. But when you are asked to help, your ego does not want to help.

Another example. The Naqshbandi Way in America. This Way was very popular amongst many American Muslims ñ mostly the older hippie generation and younger white converts. It was very grass roots and was flourishing, with many informal smaller centers opening across America. We are not going to argue the legitimacy of this Way, just recognize that it held a strong appeal to many Americans. For the most part, it was lead by indigenous American leaders at these smaller centers. Enter, an immigrant Muslim, and all of that was destroyed. One of the first things he did was insist that all of these organic, grass roots centers turn over the keys to him. The rest is a long story that will likely one day be told by these original members. We are now at the point where this immigrant Muslim has been ordered to close all of the websites representing this Way and return to the Middle East. The words out of this persons mouth were to the effect ñ ìwhat am I going to do for moneyî ñ exposing his entire motivation as establishing business enterprise which is exactly what it was and still is.

He has left a destructive wake of disillusioned converts who may never regroup. Entire communities have been broken apart. New Mexico, being the clearest example.

Immigrant Muslims need to be taught to butt out. If they do not listen ñ which they have proven time again they will not ñ then yes, it is time to get tough with them.

For the most part, immigrant Muslims came here for dunya. They entered because of corrupt immigration lobbying efforts made by Multi-national corporations ñ New World Order types, that understand to establish a New World Order ñ America must be brought down. The American people never invited you to enter America. Your religion also strongly suggests that you do not immigrate to non-Muslim lands. So you are not welcome and you are not really permitted to be here. But the lure of wealth was very strong.

So great, now you are here, and you think you have a God given right to be here. Another 911 and you will find out that you really should not be here ñ but few will listen. So, please, until you figure this all out ñ butt out. We do not want your advice unless asked for it. We do not want you to stand up and speak for American Muslims. We do not want you promoting liberal Islam just because you are running away from your own religion and want everyone to follow you into hell. We also do not want your conservative Wahabbi brand of Islam or any other Islam accept the Islam that touches our hearts. At the very least, learn to behave like a guest, because as stated before, no one even invited you accept those with an agenda to destroy America ñ it is the very least you can do.

But, few will listen.

If it makes you feel any better, it is not just immigrant Muslims I am challenging. These intellectuals, doctors, Imams and big Sheikhs, who have adopted the ways of the immigrant Muslim are being challenged as well. Who will be the next ISNA poster boy? Who will be the biggest selling Islamic speaker? Who will have the biggest 501c3 non-profit? Part of the damage left by immigrant Muslim is that the converts have now adopted your foolish ways.

hb wrote:

"Tolerance means that we use wise, and better ways to preach. And I hope on this count you'll agree. So stirring up hatred against immigrant muslims, or any other ethnic/social group will be counterproductive."

------->

I'm sorry, no one is stirring up hatred and certainly no one is advocating violence of any kind - lets make that clear. It is your own perception that I hate you -- I do not. No more than a doctor hates an infection.

The cut made by immigrant Muslims is very deep - you can assume responsibility for that cut or not - the facts are clear - it is your cut. Now that cut is very dirty and I am saying it is time to heal that pain. The first step is to scrub that wound so it may heal. Yes, it may hurt - almost certainly will hurt, but it is very much required if the cut is to heal.

Immigrant Muslims have had plenty of time to clean this cut and they have selected to do nothing. If the infection just harmed immigrant Muslims - no need for us to be concerned - but it is not - it is killing many people - killing their hereafter, not just this life.

So if we need to hold you down and scrub that wound against your will - so be it. Kick and sream all you want - or GO HOME.

You are not behaving like good guests and now you a crying that people are asking you to leave their home. Stop being victis your entire life - stop blaming others for the problems you have caused.

Dear HB, GM, and gang,

I said this before elsewhere, FC is a fraud who promises some wondrous revelation, which he thinks give him some aura. His hatred is also fake. Sham.

All right FC, we have made many mistakes agreed. Ok, lets take it a step further - I think I personally also may have been a problem sometimes. I also admit that many of the problems you have mentioned are real.

But to be fair, just like some of our popular views may not be absolutely correct, neither are the "American nativism" ones you mentioned Islamic. All this talk of New World Order, and destroying America. Why don't we talk about justice - for everyone? What's all this talk of America being a special land - this land has a bloody history of genocide, like many others.

We have different views - and sometimes it is ok to have divergent views. I am saying that as Muslims you need to be a voice for justice. That's one of the problems I have with the new age 'sufi' guys - if you talk of love and faith, we expect you to stand up for us when our lands are raped and pillaged by western armies.

See, there are so many issues - and we need to work on these things. The internet is not always the best means to communicate effectively. I think all the points raised by FC, OmarG, DrM etc. are valid. The best way is to go to your local masjid, and do something positive. There are some very good masajid also that I've seen where people from different background really mix and help each other out.

So OmarG, nobody wants to block you out because of your ethnicity. Most of my criticism was directed towards people like me. On other political issues, we'll have differences but thats different. See, we need to have something positive, rather than just wrangling.

FC, I support the idea that there needs to be some change in the leadership. But dont try to block other people or belittle them. Before I close - I'll leave you with something for FC and OmarG. Economic inequality between the West and the Third World is a real problem. So while you talk about all this immigration and 'respect' and 'guests' - please remember that unless you keep into account these inequalities and injustices - its all going to sound like Tom Friedman.

OmarG - I am not judging you. May be most American born Muslims got a better upbringing than us. I am just saying that if there is a problem we should try to correct it, without antagonising people from the message itself.

I think we need to be more open among ourselves in our personal lives. So if a black brother comes up to me and says "stay out if it," I will. This isn't exactly the "American" stuff FC is talking about. Even Martin Luther King talked against the Vietnam War the same way he opposed segregation. He didn't say some bull like we are all americans here, or this is a special land, or we're spreading democracy or some bull like that. As for helping - if my hometown is being bombed by some honkytonk boys, I sure would expect every American muslim to speak out for me.

If you review my other posts, my advice to all Muslims, indigenous or not, is to migrate to holy lands - becasue pople will be much happier there in the months and years to come. Things are only going to get worse and my advice to return your homes is second to returning to the holy lands of Sham Shareef. I also recognoze that few will listen and that indigenous Muslims have certain family obligations that may make that difficult - for them I am asking immigrant Muslims to let them work through their own problems - and there are plenty of problems to work through. No one is saying indigenous Muslims are perfect or that America, especially the current government is a good example.

Muslims are experiencing difficulty everywhere because they are for the most part way off track. It would take a book to even begin to touch upon this, which is why I am considering writting one.

Muslims could and should lead very simple lives. If they were living according to Islam they would not be experiencing the kinds of problems they are.

Who were the Iraqi people fighting for? What was their objective, their goal? What Muslim in the world today has the authorization to declare Jihad on anyone?

If you kill out of anger, it is murder, no matter what. How many Muslims have there ego in check today? How many are not killing out of anger, but for justice and to stop tyrants? The answer is none.

Muslim need to stay out of all physical conflicts right now becasue they are no in any position to be fighting for justice - they are the cause of much of the injustice in the world today - you really want them to win and to lead? Not me.

Real Muslims, another story. But real Muslims know the score today and they are familiar with Shaitons plan. It was foretold by Prophet Mushammad (saw) and it is unfolding now.

hb,

You raise some interesting points. Of course, Muslims should be helping each other irrespective of race, especially those who are the worst off. To be quite honest, I don't know very much about the Black American Muslim situation. I would hope that a large part of them would practice the religion with sincerity and that would mean that they would have avoided a large number of the problems that affect a segment of the larger Black American populace: alcoholism, delinquent fathers, teen pregnancy etc. To my mind, the breakdown of the family is the single biggest restraint of Black Americans to move up the economic ladder. If they have avoided these problems through the moral requirements of Islam then they are well ahead of a substantial part of the American population (black or white). To move up the economic ladder, education, ambition and high standards are necessary. And that has to be cultivated by each and every family in a community.

I guess my question to you is:
If most or even many Black American Muslims are following Islam sincerely, what other help is required from the general Muslim population in the US? Because in terms of economic wealth and basic living, even the poorest Black American Muslims are better off than the majority of Muslims on the planet.



OmarG:

"maybe AA's conversion to Islam to escape white America as you mentioned contrasts with the Yemeni's willingness to fully participate in the commercial sector. AA Muslims seemed not to want to do that. Perhaps catering to the needs of the majority "white" (and increasingly Latino) America is how people do well for themselves. I dunno; its a nasty world out there..."

Perhaps. But I thought that lumping in all AA Muslims as undesirous of catering to the needs of white America is quite a generalization.

As an aside, any AA Muslims who have converted as reaction against white America are in serious trouble. You convert to this religion because of its elemental truth and correctness. I would hope this is the case for most of them. If not, it's sad indeed.

hb, I didn't think that you were judging, not at all. Actually, I am Italian which made my conversion all the more merry in my neighborhood... But, anyway...

>>I sure would expect every American muslim to speak out for me.

But, why? Do we have some special pull with the government? Are we really going out looking intentionally for civilians to kill? No, I don't think that's true. Life is hard enough; we got AA Muslims struggling to make it in this country, we got Yemeni's so desperate to make it that they'll sell booze to the people who neeed it the least. If people in XYZ country are getting bombed, its because they're not powerfull enough to resist it or were stupid enough to shelter the bad guys. I never saw them stand up for us, never mind that they've managed to fall behind the rest of the world and are now powerless to even help themselves. I don't want American Muslims to get involved in other people's political disputes: there's no benefit in it for us because they won't return the favor and we have absolutely no idea of what really goes on inside those political conflicts in the first place.

Bro. GM, take a peak at this review of brother Jackson's book.

http://spaces.msn.com/members/mmreview/Blog/cns!1pftMj6MBzRtKVoYbEDYssnQ!143.entry

You'll need to staighten out the link in your browser - its been cracked to lines.

OmarG - because decent people stand up for justice. You don't even have to be Muslim to see that. MLK stood up for the burning children of Mai Li, Rachel Corrie stood up for Palestinians, and so should we, regardless of whther that injustice is in the inner city, or in Darfur, in Gaza, or in Auschwitz. Thats all I am saying.

But, why exhaust ourselves and get emotionally involved in overseas conflicts that we can niether influence nor *solve*? It just gets people upset and encourages feelings of helplessness when nothing changes. Instead, we should concentrate all our energies on problems we have close to home which we can *solve* and not just get worked up over them. Sorry to say it, but that's one of the major complaints of us born here against the mainstream immigrant mentality: they want to use *our* resources to add fuel to the fires in thier homelands and almost completely ignore the problems Muslims face in the inner city, the 'burbs (believe it or not!) and so on. Oh, but create the Patriot Act which threatens thier financing of foriegn conflicts and then we're thier best freinds!

If the very people in all these conflicts can't solve them, what the heck am I going to do about it 10,000 miles away? And, with very limited resources, which conflicts do we throw our resources at: Kashmir = favorite conflict of the South Asians; Palestine = favorite conflict of the Arabs; Darfur = NOBODY'S FAVORITE CONFLICT. I think its clear how "American" Muslim communities decide which conflictual "cause celebre" to champion and its got everything to do with the ethnicity of the people championing cause XYZ.

Prophet Muhammad made a duwa something to the effect - "Oh Allah do not destroy my nation from above or below." That duwa was answered, thus the punishment of Allah leading up to Armageddon is coming in the form of man destroying man. This is how it will end and we are seeing it unfold now. Nothing make sense anymore - people have gone mad.

Thus, it is the advice that all Muslims should stay out of any and all physical conflicts. To enter means to enter Shaitons plan for the mass extinction of mankind. Six out of Seven people will be taken away before this is all over.

And Allah knows best.

hb,

I've read the review of Mr. Jackson's book twice and I am very disturbed by it.

Statements like these are disturbing:

"Dr. Jackson sets out to explain why this developed in the United States and not elsewhere, and at the same time project a path that Blackamerican Muslims must tread if they hope to preserve their Islam and succeed in overthrowing white supremacy."

"A confluence of factors allowed Blackamericans to own Islam."

"The Blackamerican Muslim today has lost control of the definition of Islam to Immigrant Islam in the United States, not because immigrant Muslims and their descendants practice a ìpurerî Islam but because of their relative affluence, their ideological self-assuredness and weaknesses in Black Religion."

"The Third Resurrection of the Blackamerican Muslim must center on .....and an unwavering commitment to fight white supremacy."

This is appalling. Whatever its remaining faults, the US has made huge progress in overcoming racism and prejudice. The main thrust of the 1960s civil rights movement has been achieved. This sort of talk is completely divorced from the reality of life in America today and does little to further the debate on the problems of AA Muslims in the States.

Nobody owns or defines Islam - not AA Muslims, not Arabs not anyone. God has defined and laid out this religion. It is a global religion for all men in all times. As a Black man myself, I find this attempted hijacking of Islam as a black 'religion' absolutely offensive. What the hell is that about? In their zeal to fight a present and real injustice and prejudice, some Black Americans have tended to appropriate
Islam as a reaction against white America. This is not what this religion is about. It is not a political statement - it's a way of life.






Continued.....

" Immigrant Islam is characterized by an attachment to ìfalse universals,î "

Islam is simply a universal religion. If Mr. Sherman Jackson has no grasped this as fact - Mr. Jackson has still a lot to learn about the religion.

According to this review, the thesis of this book is rooted in the Nation of 'Islam' mentality (ie. we are still being persecuted the evil, white devil and we must use 'Islam', a totally perverted and bastardized invention of their own, as a solution). I couldn't even begin to tell you how mistaken this is on so many levels.

I ask you:
What is it that Black American Muslims require from the rest of the Muslim community in the US?
Are the problems faced by AA Muslims as a result of a lack of understanding and practice of Islam or is that they are economically under-privilieged?
Why do you believe Mr. Jackson's book is relevant in the least to America today?
Having only read the review, what possible meaning can you find in Mr. Jackson's book?

GM

OmarG,

You're right about the Muslim ethnic groups being focused on the problems in their own homelands. But as Muslims we should feel with and help in any way we can Muslims in need around the world. Of course, you start with your own community and then you go further than that. But you know, OmarG, we can walk and chew gum at the same time. It is not an either/or but a both statement. I thought your comments was just a little too defeatist in terms of what you/we could do. We should always try to be optimistic.

Bro. GM. I mentioned Br. Jackson's book as an alternative reading of the situation. I am not making baiyah on his hand. Actually, he is not asking us to 'do' something. It might appear similar to FC on superficial terms. I've read his book - and his philosophy actually derives from Ibn Taymiyah. The universal is faith, tawhid, iman, and then justice, equality, and compassion which flow from it.

Now let us see what the NOI 'mentality' is. The mentality itself is not Islamic - but it is a natural human mentality that is answered by Islam. As Imam Warith Deen once said, the old NOI itself was contradictory, so we could grow up and find real Islam. Anyways, the 'mentality' is that there are people at the bottom of the pile. Organised religion (Christianity at the time), comes and says - do this, do that, learn religion from the people who oppress you, forget about the dunya. The people think, hey, if God is just why would he let his people suffer and be humiliated. So comes along some guy with hodge podge ideas but he says something which the organised religions didn't - justice, and a light at the end of the tunnel. This is black religion - nay, the thirst for religion. Now, the NOI says get up, stand up for yourself, clean up, respect your women, and let them respect you. Learn to read, and stay away from the opressor. Don't love him, love your people, love all the other victims. All of these things are compatible, even perfectd in real Islam. That's why Malcom and thousands migrated from NOI to Islam.

I am saying this thirst for justice is justified. I see my people be humiliated, everything going wrong in my country, and then comes along some sufi, salafi, shia, liberal whatever guy - and he says lead simple lives, forget about dunya. But he does nothing to relieve me of my problems. I wouldn't find any comfort in them. I am a citizen of a third world country, all of my people live there, I see political corruption, no freedom, warped mentalities, poverty on the street, self hating cultures. If religion doesn't become relevant to people, people look to other things - like marxism, nationalism etc.

None of this is contradictory to Islam, just think about it. All of this happens only when something is terribly wrong. It is easy for me to say everything is ok as long as I am not on the curb or on the receiving end. And thats what OmarG's arguments seem to me. But everything is not ok. "Nice" suburbs control their surroundings, even who moves in, what businesses are opened. But go to the inner city, even though police brutality and profiling is well documented, there are pimps and liquor stores and dope all over the hoods. NOI brothers beat up a couple of pimps, and they are uncivil and what not. What do we care, we are the privileged elite from Afro-Asia, our kids go to predominantly white schools, we live in the 'nice suburbs', we got a shining new masjid.

Now all of what we do, is somehow thought of as universal - even though its not and nobody claimed it is. But nevertheless it robs AA muslims of their message.

Its a fine line, South Asian muslims will tell you the hindu caste system made Islam popular. Early Arbas converted when they saw conquering Muslims administer some order, and justice - even though non-Muslims were second class citizens. But at least it was not the Jews and Muslims to the gallows message of the Inquisition. If you don't make yourself relevant, people will forget about you.

Continuing the answers to GM's questions: The problems of the AA muslims are similar to any under-privileged group in the world in that they are victims of external injustice which is perpetuated and magnified due to less than perfect behavior on the inside. It is the same for Africa itself, or the ME, or South Asia, or Latin America, or many minorities anywhere.

A combination of social rejuvenation, economic self help, and commitment to personal piety can help. But I can not really talk about these things. That is why I am saying, that the AA voice, who may be the relative majority at slightly more than a quarter of the US muslim population should have the centre stage. Not at the cost of belittling other people, or diluting Islam, or comitment to universal justice in any way.

And of course we can differ on many pragmatic issues, we'll all still believe in the creed, and pray together. I'm just saying this to keep things in perspective. But today there are many who came or came back to Islam because it gave answers to the problems of inequality and injustice that baffled them. For the black, brown, Latino, and white kids out there who were introduced to Islam by Malcolm, his writings, or the social work of NOI in the hoods - this message has a special affinity. It doesn't mean they are part time Muslims, its just that their spiritual journey had a different path to the same destination.

Chasing after the glitter of this world (dunya) is one of the major problems we face in America. We lack the spirtual leaders who can articulate this position well becasue almost all of them are chasing after dunya themselves. Who will be the next ISNA posterboy or the next Malcolm, or Martin. Muslims do not wish to attain to positions of leadership - theu run away from leadership. But most Imams in America, indigenous or immigrant are looking for a better resume, a bigger title, stronger sales figures, a more respected institute - a larger following. It is all desires, all nafs, all dunya. Until you ride your own horses (ego) you an not teach anyone to ride their horses.

Once you have rode your horses, you can stop chasing dunya, dunya starts to chase you. This is the point the Affrican American, white American and any other kind of American needs to arrive at.

This i the Jihad, the real struggle, it is what will set you free from the bonds of slavery. It is what will make you content in any situation. As long as you are with your Lord, you are happy. This takes an enormous effort and requires training from someone who was accomplished what it is they are trying to teach.

We have been trained as Americans from the time we were very young to believe that everyone has the right to lead. This is false and your running after it is why American Muslims are deep in problems. A body can have only one head. If that head does not have authorization to lead the body it can never lead the body. Two heads are impossible on one body - but everyone wants to be a head.

Immigrant Muslims have kept American Muslims from discovering and developing their spiritual side. or the most part, immigrant Muslims teach that spirituality is wrong. They attempt to keep you inside your physical mind.

The key to opening herats is what? Memorizing millions of bits of information? No, the key to opening hearts is the rememberance of Allah. But someone can not read books about thikr and then teach thikr. A scientist observing how bees collect pollen and make honey will never be able to make honey. Only bees are making honey.

In short we need to widen our spiritual experience - activate the senses of the heart - and this cn only be done by a qualified bee - not someone dressed in a yellow and black suit saying bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

You will never get honey from these people. But these are the people you have been trained to accept as knowledgable people. They are frauds - the lot of them.

This, more than anything is why immigrant Muslims need to butt out and why they have done so much damage in America. Converts, in gerneral, are much more spiritual than born Muslims - they have been searching their entire lives and have sacrificed so much to become Muslim. Left alone they would have found their way alot sooner - but that is hard to quantify - in reality, the lessons learned from seeing the wrong way will only help to make them stronger.

We have out of kindness and respect defered to our immigrant Muslim friends long enough. It is time to flisten to our hearts and find our own way. That way will lead us to where we need to go.

We must understand that only bees make honey and only bees can teach us how to make honey. You will never learn to make honey from a scientist reading his books and looking at the physical world through his microscope. The scientific method is the method taught by immigrant Muslims who are running after the Western way. It is the wrong way - deaf dumb and blind they will never see - this is becasue they are stuck in the physical senses of this world. DUNYA

hb, you say you want justice - you must first understand what justice is.

Justice is everything being in conformity to the purpose it was created for.

You were created to worship Allah, not dunya.

"If you remember me, I will remember you"

"If you remember me, I will remember you"

"If you remember me, I will remember you"

Are you in conformity with the purpose for whish you were created?

No, people are worshiping all sorts of things today and that is why there is injustice. Place yourself in justice and you will quickly see everything become just for you.

hb,

Let's see if I can better understand what you're saying.

Do we agree that the situation of AAs in general is not like it was in the 1950s and 1960s and that references to defeating white supremacy etc. are fanatastical?

"he says something which the organised religions didn't - justice, and a light at the end of the tunnel. This is black religion - nay, the thirst for religion. Now, the NOI says get up, stand up for yourself, clean up, respect your women, and let them respect you. Learn to read, and stay away from the opressor. Don't love him, love your people, love all the other victims. All of these things are compatible, even perfectd in real Islam."

Black religion, huh? religion period. Do we not also agree that the NOI message has some aspects that are similar to Islam but the message also includes 'white devils etc' and other aspects completely at odds with Islam?

" I am saying this thirst for justice is justified. I see my people be humiliated, everything going wrong in my country, and then comes along some sufi, salafi, shia, liberal whatever guy - and he says lead simple lives, forget about dunya. But he does nothing to relieve me of my problems. I wouldn't find any comfort in them."

Yes - you should fight for justice. This religon is about the right way, the correct way and even in the absence of justice a true believer will follow it. When that guy tells you to lead a simple life - that should be read as a moral life. Simply doing that will give you a better life. If you are not plagued by drugs, alcohol, absentee fathers, teen pregnancy, etc, aren't you already leading a better life than some of the AA compatriots?


Cont'd

Now, what is the(AAs) real problem? Because simply leading a moral life according to Islam should result in a better and more peaceful life. Is the problem economic disadvantage then? If that is so, then there are bigger issues here. There are issues of education levels, ambition, high standards, hard work etc. That is a self issue.

"What do we care, we are the privileged elite from Afro-Asia, our kids go to predominantly white schools, we live in the 'nice suburbs', we got a shining new masjid. Now all of what we do, is somehow thought of as universal - even though its not and nobody claimed it is. But nevertheless it robs AA muslims of their message."

A self-focus and social inwardness is not good and is discouraged in Islam. However, Afro-Asians who come to the US with nothing, not even speaking the language and then are able to be successful. What is about these people and their character that enables them to do well for themselves when there are countless AAs who speak the language, are familiar with the culture and have the opportunities at their feet and yet don't take advantage of them. Shouldn't that be the question you should be asking? I am NOT sympathetic to people who squander their opportunities.

"That is why I am saying, that the AA voice, who may be the relative majority at slightly more than a quarter of the US muslim population should have the centre stage. Not at the cost of belittling other people, or diluting Islam, or comitment to universal justice in any way."

They certainly should. But nobody is gonna give you power freely - you have to make your presence felt, you have to get involved, you have to raise money and encourage participation so that your presence/contribution is felt and then power and position will be had.

I don't want to go on responding because I feel I might be do it for the wrong reasons. I will just put in that sometimes we feel the reality differently, depending on where we are. That's for what the position is today compared to 50's and 60's. I personally feel I'd rather err on the side of the opressed.

I will take the positive thing from GM and FC, and I think a moderating influnce is welcome regards to the political position. I wanted to mount a protest and show a certain feeling is also present and I feel I have done that. I think re-orienting yourself towards Allah's pleasure is very important and that is what I will take from FC and GM's message. My political position stands.

May we do what is best for akhirah, and may Allah put in love in our hearts for Himself, the Prophets, our brothers and sisters in Islam, and all the opressed people of the earth of whatever faith. May Allah unite us on the path that leads to salvation, love, and peace, and if we differ, may we do so within bounds.

Wassalam.

ps. Brother GM, I don't think we are differing too much. I am not advocating NOI theology - but they are friends and comrades in the good deeds, and different in the wrong ideas. Insha'allah gradually we will be fully united under pure tawhid, iman, and with love like brother Malcolm would have liked to see.

Friendly Combatant,

Are you really writing a book? I'd like to know. Although I may not be ready for that sort of publication, insha'Allah, I'm seeking to publish an opinion piece on the subject here, because I'm from Oakland and have directly seen these effects and how the Diasporans here are affronted by alcoholism and its accessibility.


Unfortunately .. our historical passion for despising darker skins and shorter beards takes a new social toll down the line .. and it seems the Black African people will bear the brunt.

Despite Islamic teachings; as muslims our focus is more on establishing statehood than muslim brotherhood.
-Muslim brotherhood is the foundation of a just muslim state and not vice versa-
.. let us repeat this softly to ourselves : )

Ghulam, well said - we need to correct ourselves first. That is really what the go home idea is all about - not so much going home, but finally permitting indigenous Muslims to find their own center without the overbearing influence of immigrant Muslims destroying the brotherhood I believe we could otherwise could have attained a long time ago.

Those who are respecting there brothers will always be welcome. But today's immigrants are not respecting their brothers. They are likened to someone entering a persons home and not observing the manners required of them in that house. It disrupts not only the family, but the community and any hope of an eventual state.

I believe it is time to set things right and educate indigenous Muslims on the importance of getting their own houses in order.

If a guest is respectful, most welcome. If they are disrupting your family - we have an obligation to show them the door. At the very least we need to inform our other family members to pay bo attention to their boisterous aberant ways. We need to keep harmony amongst those family members who are acting as a family - or in this case a brotherhood.

Nameless - "Oh to be nameless, a thing forgotten" Maryam, Mother of Isa (Jesus).

I'm feeling pushed to write a book otherwise I prefer to be like Maryam.

We must be careful not to blame others. Might sound strange coming from me - Ive been a bit of a hardliner here. But it was only a focus group exercise to get to the real feelings - so I pushed s few buttons.

I do feel the problems need to be brought out in the open - but only we have the power to do something about it, by the leave of Allah Almighty.

In fact, immigrant Muslims presence in America na other Western countries was necessary in order for us to arrive at this exact point and time. It was all an education to eventually understand the right way. We had to go through this process to learn what not to do.

Everything is perfect.

But the time is here - we need to begin.

Thank you very much all you immigrant Muslims for all that you have done but we will take it from here - you can go home now - your dawa is finished.

But, ahhhhhhhh, yes, you really were not here for dawa were you? Evidenced by your lack of willingness to go home.

I would encourage you to write from your perspective - just keep the big picture in mind. Please e-mail me a final copy - love to read it.

Peace!

GM writes:
"Nobody owns or defines Islam - not AA Muslims, not Arabs not anyone. God has defined and laid out this religion. It is a global religion for all men in all times. As a Black man myself, I find this attempted hijacking of Islam as a black 'religion' absolutely offensive. What the hell is that about? In their zeal to fight a present and real injustice and prejudice, some Black Americans have tended to appropriate
Islam as a reaction against white America. This is not what this religion is about. It is not a political statement - it's a way of life."

I definitely don't think that Prof. Jackson is trying to reduce Islam to a political statement or turn it into a Black religion. I don't think he is saying it *should* be a Black religion or *should* be an Arab religion. Of course, in the ideal Islam should be as inclusive of as many groups as possible.

But I think when you talk about the real world and talk about what *actually* happens in different mosques and Islamic centers there are going to be cultural and demographic differences. And some mosques are going to have a mostly Arab crowd with an Arab khatib and the khutbahs will often be on Palestine or Iraq.. while some khatibs might have an African-American crowd and a Black khatib and many khutbahs will be on what is happening around the corner.

I don't mean to oversimplify. And I'm not trying to be divisive. We all can fit under the umbrella of Islam and we can all be practicing the same din, but when you get down to the brass tacks, get down to the details of what the actual Muslim organizations are like, and what their concerns are, and where their priorities are, I think you can find (cultural) differences.

Abdul-Halim

Good Morning to all...
I have a fairly basic question. Please forgive my ignorance. I've only been a revert for 13 months.

What is the ruling on Muslims selling liquor to non-muslims? It is my understanding that non-muslims are not bound by muslim law. I see how supplying a muslim with alcohol is wrong; would selling alcohol to a non-muslim be considered one of those "disliked -but-allowed" things?

As someone who lived in LA during the riots, and whose family (illegally) emmigrated from Mexico to East LA: This is a problem that won't be solved for a generation or two. Different = Scary and all that.

Didn't our Prophet (PUBH) say something to the effect that a bad deed done for a good reason is still a bad deed?

Violence is almost always wrong...but I guess that is the ex-Quaker in me.

Warm Regards to all,
chicana muslima

Friendly Combatant,

Regarding your 08 December @ 7:01 post:
Brilliant! As the granddaughter of illegal immigrants, I couldn't agree more. Your statement needs to be on a poster somewhere.

We need to respect AND educate ourselves about the CULTURAL differences within the myriad of peoples that make up Islam - they can be huge.

What is polite in my culture may be a serious breach of good manners in yours- I say this as someone caught between the Mexican and Anglo cultures.

Okay, I'll stop talking now...
Regards,
Chicana Muslima

Spiritual Chicana,

Drop the Muslima tag - it carries much excess baggage.

Look for the people searching for spiriuality and stay away from people claiming to be Muslim - this is the best advice I can give you. They will draw you away from Islam.

The Sahaba, before receiving advanced siritual training, were told not to call themselves believers - only Muslim. Believer is something entirely different. When belief has entered our hearts - cultural differences disapear.

There are those who are above believer - Knowers. They need not believe - they know. FIND one of these people. There are many frauds - ask Allahs protection and you will find your way, but you must look.

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