Black Older Womens Fashion In The 1950S African American The African-American’s Journey to Al-Islam

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The African-American’s Journey to Al-Islam

Today, in the Western world, when we hear the word “Muslim” or “Islam”, many Americans tend to think terrorist or people from the Middle East (the uneducated). As of 2017, there are at least 3 to 3.5 million American Muslims living in the United States. The largest ethnic group that makes up this population is the African American people. Yet the question is “How does this occur?” occurs. If you want to know more about the history of Muslims in America and its wide spread, one cannot talk about this topic without mentioning the African or should we say the journey of the African American to al-Islam.

In the transatlantic slave trade, there were about 15 to 20 million enslaved Africans, and of these slaves, between 2% and 4% were African Muslims. These Muslims were from the Mandinka, Fulani, Wolof, Soninke, Songhai, Ashanti, Taureg, Nupi, Yoruba, Susa, Kanuri, Mandara and Vai tribes. We are all familiar with and have learned from Alex Haley’s book (and film) Roots which was a story of an enslaved African Muslim named Kunta Kinte, living in a small village in West Africa, practicing Islam, being a student of Arabic and lived his daily African rituals. He was captured and brought to America as a slave, sold and given the name Toby. He tried to escape countless times from captivity, and married a house cook named Bell, with whom they had a daughter named Kizzy, who went on to have many children. There is also documentation and stories where you can find information about other enslaved African Muslims such as; S’Quash, The Moor, Phillip The Fula, Sambo, Mahommah Gardo Baquaqua, Lamine Kebe, Lamine Ndiaye, Yarrow Mamout, Charles Larten, William Rainesford and many more who were all well educated and could read mathematics, Arabic, science, and different spoken languages. Throughout the years of slavery, the African people were oppressed and their cultural and religious practices were suppressed. Slaves took names after their slave masters as an identity of one’s property and had Christianity forced upon them. Generation after generation, al-Islam had eventually disappeared.

In the 20th century between 1900 and 1975, there were many African American civil rights activists and leaders such as Marcus Garvey, Father Divine, Noble Drew Ali and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad who brought various teachings and ideologies to African American communities to create blacks more self-aware, self-sufficient and improve socially and economically in these communities. Since the topic is “The African-Americans Journey to Al-Islam”, Noble Drew Ali and the Moorish Science Movement was one of the first and earliest movements to bring Al-Islam back to the African-American people. Ali’s teachings were not from the Holy Qur’an or the Moorish Temple of Science nor did he follow any practices of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), but his claim was to teach Islam or “Islamism”. The practice of the Moorish Science Temple had some connection with mainstream al-Islam. For example, followers stood and faced east during prayers, their worship and prayer were on Fridays, gender segregation in seating, women were instructed to wear a headscarf or turban, men to wear a red fez at all times and dress modestly. Noble Drew Ali also wrote his own Koran and called it “Circle 7 of Koran”.

The number of followers of Moorish science today is not specifically known, but it has been estimated that there are about 10,000 spread over 15 different cities in the United States. Following in the center of this movement was the Allah Temple of Islam, which was started by Fard Muhammad in 1930; the name would change to the Lost-Found Nation of Islam, with Minister Elijah Muhammad succeeding Fard Muhammad as leader and eventually leading the Nation of Islam. As time passed, he assumed the title of prophet and messenger of Allah, and Fard was clearly identified as being Allah or the incarnation of Allah. This is not what Muslims believe. Muslims believe that there is only one Gd, and alone He has no partners, no partners, nor was He born, nor would He die or beget children, and that Muhammad (pbuh) is the seal of all prophets , and he is the last messenger. . The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught the knowledge of Gd, self and being self independent. By 1960, the Nation of Islam had 69 temples spread across 27 states, and membership was believed to have reached as high as 100,000.

Two years later, some estimates put the membership of the NOI at 250,000 and at its peak 1 million members. The NOI was also extremely active in promoting the African American economy and had established a number of successful businesses in the 1950s and 1960s. For example, the NOI owned grocery stores, bakeries, clothing stores, restaurants, department stores, and numerous businesses that provided various services. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad mentored Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Louis Farrakhan and Imam Warith Deen Mohammed. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad had 7 children and out of these seven children was Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, born as Wallace Delaney Muhammad. His name was chosen for him by Fard Muhammad, who predicted that the newborn would one day succeed Elijah Muhammad as leader of the Nation of Islam. Wallace was only about 12 years old when he first became aware of the discrepancies between the Qur’anic message and his father’s teachings. Because of his refusal to be drafted into the military, he was sentenced to three years in prison in 1961. He had time to study the Koran, and when he returned to the Nation of Islam, he hoped to transform it into a true Islamic movement.

After his father’s death on February 25, 1975, Wallace became the chief minister of the Nation of Islam and immediately began a process of change that would result in the largest conversion of people to al-Islam in American history. In 1976, he changed the name of the Nation of Islam to the World Community of Al-Islam in the West and changed his own name to Warith Deen Mohammed. He led a systematic and mass movement of his followers into the fold of orthodox al-Islam. He taught the five obligatory prayers, Ramadan, Zakat, and encouraged doing Hajj. In 1992, Imam Mohammed became the first Muslim to lead the morning prayer in the US Senate. Today, Imam Mohammed’s teachings still serve as a spiritual and religious guide for some 2.5 million Muslims in America. It is likely that he has been influential in converting more people to al-Islam than any other Muslim in the world today.

In conclusion, the journey to Al-Islam for the African American people has been a long yet successful struggle. Coincidentally, there were about 3 to 6 million African Muslim slaves in the slave trade, and today there are about 2 million African American Muslims in the United States. Coincidentally, even non-Muslim African Americans have Muslim names such as: Ahmad, Rasheed, Jamal, Kamal, Aisha, Jamela, Tariq, Shakur, Jaleel, Malik, Malika, Khadijah, and Amina, just to name a few. Although Al-Islam came to the African-American communities in a corruptive manner, these pioneers were the “stepping stones” for the African-American people to enter the light of the Holy Qur’an and follow the practices of the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). If God wills it, it will be.

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