Monday, June 22, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Bilal Abdus Salam tells the story of how he established himself as a Muslim Chaplin. He made an application to provide religious services to inmates, but was denied by the authorities because they thought the teachings of Islam would be a security risk. Bilal gave the application authorities a copy of The Philosophy of the Teaching of Islam by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, whom we believe to be the Promised Messiah and Mahdi (as). As a result of reading that book the application authorities were able to comprehend that Muslims were to submit to those who are in authority from among them and they therefore admitted Bilal as a Muslim Chaplin. From there Bilal went on to secure the human/religious rights of the Muslim inmates.
Bilal wanted to relieve the suffering and provide moral/spiritual guidance to those inmates seeking to reform themselves. In collaboration with authorities he was able to exclude pork from being served to Muslim inmates, provide Islamic reading materials to those seeking knowledge, and established Jummah services into the conceptual framework of jail/prison ministry at that facility.
In view of the way Bilal carried out the Tabligh process...I'm reminded of "some home grown" wisdom, which was shared with me by a dear brother. He said, "Tabligh has become just a prophetic idea instead of being the force igniting processes that relieve the suffering amongst the most vulnerable".
From a historical perspective, a movement that began in the 1970s under the Nation of Islam to evangelize inmates has evolved into one of the most effective religious rehabilitation agendas in the U.S. Imams continue to draw converts, but most Muslims in prisons today are Sunnis, said Lawrence Mamiya, a professor at Vassar College who has studied Muslim prison ministries.
As far as the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA is concerned, Bilal may have been the first, but other Ahmadi Muslims have followed his example. Currently, Al-Haj Abdur Raqib Rashid Wali is serving as Chaplin in a maximum security prison in California. I had the pleasure of meeting several of these unique individuals, who were converted to Islam by Imam Wali, as he is affectionately called by ex-inmates. I consider them to be unique because they had served their time and I met them not in prison, but outside the confines of their cell walls. They were on jobs living life as upright tax paying citizens. While inmates, they were serving long sentences, sometimes up to ten years or more. They credit Imam Wali for his guidance by saying, "...he would tell us that he was preparing us to leave this small prison to go into the big prison of life." I found them to be very focused, having an exceptional knowledge of themselves and their purpose in life, deeply spiritual and well connected with Allah, the Most-Merciful.
"Jail [/prison] is a tomb or a womb" as inmates under Chaplin Hakeem refer to their confinement. Hasan Hakeem, President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Zion, is also a Chaplin of what may be termed a jail ministry, is untiring about his work. In an interview with Chaplin Hakeem I asked him what he considers his role as a Chaplin to be? He explained, "I minister to everybody. Regardless if they are Muslim or a Christian inmate, a family member visiting an inmate or a security guard, the message is the same...get your relationship with God together. When I council inmates about questionable behavior I asked them what would their mother think about what they are doing and they make positive adjustments." When I went to the Zion Mission House I found newly released inmates there for prayers and waiting on assignments for an upcoming event. I could see the tabligh process manifesting itself in a "new Muslim cool" kind of way i.e. reformation. "All of these brothers come from troubled backgrounds, they're African-American, European-American or Hispanic-American converts who have an opportunity in a wholesome environment to try to reflect and change their lives, " Chaplin Hakeem said. "The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community offers them that opportunity."
In today's Islamophobic climate The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA still has an important role to play in Muslim Prison Ministry programs. It's motto "Love for All Hatred For None" signals its "moderate" stance toward that end.
Major James K. Dooghan, United States Army School of Advance Military Studies in his white paper titled Muslim Prison Ministry: Hindering the Spread of Radical, Violent and Irreconcilable Wing of Islam states the following: "Addressing the violent Islamic ideology at the grass roots level may decrease the number of terrorist recruitment and increase the number of Muslims appealing to a nonviolent interpretation of the Qur'an." Major Dooghan goes on to say, "The author recommends an anti-violent Islamic ministry program which educates detainees and prisoners through Muslim clerics...The U.S. Bureau of Prisons Muslim chaplaincy program offers a framework to select Muslim religious service providers for a Muslim prison ministry program. Sufficient legal, ethical and moral framework exist to argue for the availability of a ministry program to personnel in U.S. custody. This indirect appoach focuses on conflict resolution and relies on Muslims who reject the violent interpretation of the Qur'an, commentaries, the hadith, the fiqh and the law. The solution is not an ecumenical reconciliation of the various religions of the world but a peaceful coexistence beginning with an intellectual understanding of the ideologies and empathy for the Muslims caught in the war between terrorist and the coalition forces trying to defeat the terrorist networks."
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA has an inherent history of nonviolence and has always advocated true Islamic principles leading toward peace. The philosopy behind "Love For All Hatred For None" stands as a challenge to Muslims who are advocating a violent and radical approach to Islam.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
Al Qaeda Plays the Malcolm Card
By Salim Muwakkil
Many of these Islamist groups fear the election of a black American president with explicit African roots and symbolic Islamic connections will lessen the anti-American fervor among their recruitment targets.
When media reports emerged that al Qaeda's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, disparaged President-elect Barack Hussein Obama as a "house negro," it angered many in the black community. However, it also struck a chord.
The Egyptian physician — who is reportedly Osama bin Laden's confidant — actually used the phrase "house slave," but it was later translated as "house negro."
Al-Zawahiri said, "You [Obama] represent the direct opposite of honorable black Americans like Malik al-Shabazz or Malcolm X," who "condemned the crimes of the Crusader West against the weak and oppressed, and he declared his support for peoples resisting American occupation."
The al Qaeda leader said Obama, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice "confirmed" Malcolm X's definition of a "house slave." He was referring to Malcolm X's distinction between slave-era "house Negroes," who lived comfortably in the big house abetting white supremacy, and "field negroes," who toiled in the fields under the whip, plotting resistance.
But his metaphor was wrong about Obama: If anything, he would now be the housemaster, not the slave.
What's more, Al Qaeda is deploying this particular metaphor to offset Obama's global popularity, particularly in East Africa. Many of these Islamist groups fear the election of a black American president with explicit African roots and symbolic Islamic connections will lessen the anti-American fervor among their recruitment targets.
Although al-Zawahiri overplayed his hand with such a transparent racial ploy, he did manage to draw attention to what could be a troublesome issue for many progressive activists, particular for those who are African-American.
Many advocates of progressive international policies see the United States as "imperialism central." And for good reason. Stephen Kinzer's 2006 book, Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, makes clear this nation's ignoble history in subverting and deposing foreign governments. Kinzer concludes, "No nation in modern history has done this so often, in so many places so far from its own shores."
The response to al-Zawahiri's comments also revealed African-American Muslims have little love for radicalized Islamists. At a news conference in New York City at the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial, Educational and Cultural Center, a gathering of African-American Muslim leaders denounced al-Zawahiri's remarks as "insulting." The group added, "As Muslims and as Americans, we will never let terrorist groups or terror leaders falsely claim to represent us or our faith."
The statement also noted that radicalized Islamists have, "historically been disconnected from the African-American community generally, and Muslim African-Americans in particular."
This was a veiled shot at Arabs' historic role in the slave trade and the racism still blemishing some Arab nations, such as in Sudan.
Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam — which is generally separate from other African-American Islamic groups — has been effusive in his praise for Obama. And Farrakhan has made clear his disdain for groups that employ terrorism.
Despite Farrakhan's aversion to al Qaeda's tactics, his foreign policy prescriptions probably would please al-Zawahiri and "condemn the crimes of the Crusader West against the weak and oppressed." With their man Obama now leading the "Crusader West," where will the Nation of Islam stand when the crusade inevitably continues?
More generally, where will black progressives stand?
No doubt, there will be strong black critics of the Obama administration who will keep the first black president's feet to the fire.
Others may find more to love about America. If the Obama administration decides to bomb Pakistan's tribal territories, for example, these supporters, who once may have questioned the wisdom of unilateral bombing, now will urge critics to "understand the bigger picture."
In October 2002, actor and activist Harry Belafonte called Powell and Rice "house negroes" for their subservience to the Bush administration. He was condemned in the media, but the black community had his back. If Belafonte said the same about Obama today, he would have to take a banana boat back to Jamaica.
Al Qaeda Plays the Malcolm Card -- In These Times
Thursday, June 11, 2009
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
[32:8] الَّذِىْۤ اَحْسَنَ كُلَّ شَىْءٍ خَلَقَهٗ وَبَدَاَ خَلْقَ الْاِنْسَانِ مِنْ طِيْنٍۚ
[32:9] ثُمَّ جَعَلَ نَسْلَهٗ مِنْ سُلٰلَةٍ مِّنْ مَّآءٍ مَّهِيْنٍۚ
[71:14] مَّا لَـكُمْ لَا تَرْجُوْنَ لِلّٰهِ وَقَارًاۚ
[71:15] وَقَدْ خَلَقَكُمْ اَطْوَارًا
[71:20] وَاللّٰهُ جَعَلَ لَـكُمُ الْاَرْضَ بِسَاطًاۙ
[71:21] لِّـتَسْلُكُوْا مِنْهَا سُبُلاً فِجَاجًا
How did I get here? Where did I come from? Who are my ancestors? It would be safe to say that these questions may be asked by every thoughtful human being at least once in their life time. For Black Americans in particular, finding the answers to these questions begins an incredible journey of self discovery.
Black American folk wisdom says, “If you don’t know where you’ve been you won’t know where you’re going.” Our captain and navigator into “where you’ve been” is Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop (December 29, 1923 – February 7, 1986), a historian, anthropologist and physicist. Considered one of the greatest African historians of the 20th century, Diop’s scientific ideas have transformed the basic thrust of African studies in the
Cheikh Anta Diop was born in the town of
In 1951, Diop submitted a Ph.D. thesis at the
In 1955, the thesis had been published in the popular press as a book titled Nations nègres et culture (Negro Nations and Culture). Dr. Diop challenged the notions of European centered scholars, who had written
Dr. Diop’s critics contend that his thesis lacked merit and that it essentially supplants and counters one form of racism with another rather than attempting to arrive at the truth.
Seeker after truth who engage themselves in studies should be aware that there are scholars performing inferior research and research that supports prejudicial conclusions rather than ones of discovery. Other pseudo scholars approach scholarship with designs to a political end. Concerning the latter, identity politics came to the forfront in the Black American awarness experience. Identity politics is political action to advance the interests of members of a group whose members perceive themselves to be oppressed by virtue of a shared and marginalized identity (such as race, ethnicity or religion).
Diop left his mark in the realm of the reassessment of the role of black people in world history and culture. Combining an unusual breadth of knowledge; including linguistics, history, anthropology, chemistry, and physics; he uncovered fresh evidence about the ancient origins and common principles of classical African civilization. He believed that people who feel they possess no past of their own tend to be absorbed and assimilated into the governing system, and are made to feel inferior because of this apparent deficiency.
Dr. Diop contends that there exist two theories of human origin: monogenetic and polygenetic. The monogenetic view states that there is one source for mankind; man was born in one place and became different due to the climatic conditions to which he was exposed. Followers of this theory believe that mankind was born in
As an example: during the last Glacial Epoch or about 40,000 year ago a Homo Sapiens Sapiens, currently identified as Grimaldi Man, left Africa and went to Europe. As a result of the extreme cold climatic conditions and over a period of 20,000 years he underwent an adaptation to that climate and evolved into what we conventionally call a White man. The Grimaldi Negroids have left their numerous traces all over Europe and Asia, from the Iberian Peninsula to Lake Baykal in Siberia, passing through France, Austria, the Crimea, and the Basin of Don, etc. In these last two regions, the late Soviet Professor Mikhail Gerasimov, a scholar of rare objectivity, identified the Negroid type from skulls found in the Middle Mousterian period.
The polygenetic opinion claims that man has several locations of origin, which would explain the physiological differences between the races. Followers of this theory believe that man was born in
Aspects of the polygenetic theory (sometimes referred to as multi-regionalism) have been criticized as not based on objective scientific observation. Some critics even argue that the polygenetic theory may be motivated by ethnocentrism and is meant to instill beliefs of purity of lineage. This implied racism has had a negative effect, causing scientists to restrict their hypothesizing to politically correct conclusions.
Dr. Diop reinforces his belief in the monogenetic theory by noting that the polygenetic theory seeks to establish a hierarchy of race suggesting that some races are superior to others. He asserts, if man has the same origins there can be no intellectual hierarchy because all of the races of the world would have the same intellectual history. If the races had had different origins it can be said that they had different intellectual capacity because they all had a different intellectual history. The polygenetic theory is essential in order to defend the notion that there are inequalities between the races. It is for this reason why people have defended the polygenetic theory. However, science has set this theory aside.
It is the monogenetic theory that will support the notion that because our origin is the same we also have the same intellectual capacity. Dr. Diop is not saying that Blacks are intellectual superior to Whites. That would be false. Diop’s insistences are: no race is superior to another. All races have the same intellectual capacity. There is no autonomic difference in the brain of the various races.
Currently, the dominant view among scientists is the Out of Africa Model. According to the Out of Africa Model (sometimes referred to as the Recent African Origin of Modern Humans or RAO) Homo Sapiens Sapiens evolved in Africa 200,000 years ago. Homo Sapiens Sapiens began migrating from
The Out of Africa Model has gained support by recent research using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). After analyzing genealogy trees constructed using 133 types of mtDNA, they concluded that all were descended from a woman from
By analyzing DNA from people in all regions of the world, American geneticist Dr. Spencer Wells has concluded that all humans alive today are descended from a San Bushman who lived in
Here, important questions arise: Should Black Americans be satisfied with learning only European history and why should there be a focus on Black history? Dr. Diop answered these questions by stating, “Its fine to learn the history of others but you must know your own history first. People who lose their historical memory become a fragile people and they regress. It is their historical memory that permits them to be a strong people. The final question is: in what measure does the works of Cheikh Anta Diop allow one to respond to the challenges of the future? Theophile Obenga, a disciple and a companion of Diop answers this question by stating,” with Cheikh Anta Diop, history is not defined as the study of the past of human kind, but as the construction of the future in the name of life."
Dr. Diop was the Director of Radiocarbon Laboratory at the Fundamental Institute of Black Africa (IFAN) at the
In the introductory remarks of Cheikh Anta Diop we noted that his early education was in a “traditional Islamic school”. His life’s work appears to be a reflection of the Holy Qur'an. Based on the idea that “the proof of the pudding is the pudding itself”, it would be safe to believe that he was grounded in the Qur'anic concepts of man’s creation. Some of the verses that support Diop’s ideas of the origin of the human race and the development of man are in Arabic at the beginning of this paper and may be rendered into English as follows:
Who made perfectly well all that He created. And He originated the creation of man from clay. Then He made his progeny from an extract of an insignificant fluid. (32: 8-9)
O you human beings! What is the matter with you that you fail to understand that Allah does not do anything unless there is wisdom and purpose underlying it? You yourselves are not ready to accept the assumption that you do things with no aim or purpose in view. Why do you therefore assume that Allah, the Most Wise and Al Knowing does things without purpose? Why do you jump to the thoughtless conclusion that He created man with no purpose in view? Why do you fail to grasp the evident truth that your creation has not been the result of a sudden meaningless impulse? It was the result of wise planning and deliberate execution in a succession of stages from one point to another. (71: 14-15)
Allah has made the earth a vast expanse for you. That you may traverse its spacious paths for the development of civilization and also to attain spiritual perfection. (71: 20-21)
One world, one people. That seems to be what Allah is saying in the Holy Qur'an, “O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female; and We have made you into tribes and sub-tribes that you may know one another.” (49:14) As a counter-measure against ethnocentrism (lack of tolerance of other cultures), etnocentrism (lack of tolerance of other races) and xenophobia (fear of other races) we must internalize the historical reality that the blood that unites us is thicker than the waters of the Diaspora, culture and accents that separate and divide us.
The Holy Qur'an with English Translation and Commentary, Vol. II (Part II) and Vol. III, Published under the auspices of Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud, Khalifatul Masih II.
The Holy Qur'an with Arabic Text – English Translation as Explained by Allamah Nooruddin.
Creation of Man by Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud, Khalifatul Masih II.
The Cultural Unity of Negro
Civilization or Barbarism, (1981), Cheikh Anta Diop
Introduction to African Civilizations, John G. Jackson and Runoko Rashidi, (Citadel: 2001).
Conceptions of History in the Works of Cheikh Anta Diop and Theophile Obenga, Jackson and Rashidi, op. cit; Chris Gray, (Karnak House: 1989).
Mitochondrial DNA and Human Evolution in Nature, Rebecca L. Cann, Mark Stoneking, Allan C. Wilson (1987).
Genetic and Fossil Evidence for the Origin of Modern Human in Science,
Christopher Stringer and Peter Andrews (1988).
Modern Humans Came Out of
Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop Part 1-6, http://www.youtube.com
Created Unequal: Multiregionalism and the Origins of Anthropological Racism, Adam Wells Davis, MA
Thesis (2004), http://www.pitt.edu/~pittanth/grad/research/davisMA.html