Black American Muslims and converts to Islam are the only Muslim group in the United States that have no homeland to go back to, no Nation or State that it can claim a legal and direct reciprocal connection to, and virtually no advocacy group or groups in the United States that representor champion our particular nuanced interests. We are mostly descendants of slaves and there is no one outside of us, who claims any responsibility for us. In some ways we barely claim responsibility for our own selves. . America is our homeland where most of us were born and where most of us will probably die. That is a fact.
Black American Muslim communities in the United States are on a precipitous decline, and they have been for quite some time. If we’re going to establish a better and more stable Muslim reality for us and our families. It’s going to be right here the United States of America. One thing that we all should realize by now, is that for that to happen, we’re going to have to do it ourselves with Allah’s help. Our families and communities have been hit hard by a lot of things, besides God the Almighty, there is no cavalry coming to save us . However, at the end of the day, we are our own cavalry. There’s nobody waiting in the wings from the Muslim world or from Muslim America, coming to save us. We are Islam’s orphaned civilization, and the sooner we realize that, the better.
While there are scores if not hundreds of Pakistani American, Arab American, Bangladeshi American, Indian American, Nigerian American, Ghanian American, Egyptian American, and civic, educational, clubs and organizations that represent, support and advocate for particular Muslim racial, and ethnic minorities, for Black American Muslims, there is hardly nothing of the sort. This fact underscores the reality of civilizational marginalization of Black American Muslims in the United States.
What does marginalization of the black American Muslim community in America look like? Well it’s certainly not flattering. Marginalization according to the dictionary means, [treatment of a person, group, or concept as insignificant or peripheral.], and that about sums it up for us. If we were to consider the Muslims of the world to be one family, then black American Muslims and converts are the orphans of our Ummah. No Muslim country in the world, or any Muslim peoples claim them as part of their family, and none of the Muslim powers that be claims any responsibility for their well-being despite being the most oppressed, and civilizationally disadvantaged demographic in the United States.
Black Americans rank dead last in just about every socio-economic barometer that measures well being in America; employment, healthcare, housing ownership, business ownership, high school graduation, 4 year college attendance and graduation, postgraduate degrees, net worth, incarceration rates, single-parent households, access to health care, generational trauma, and just about anything else we can come up with. We even fare worse in corona virus infections and deaths according to the CDC. A Black person Converting to Islam does not change any of that. However, Muslim Converts coming into Islam do have expectations that Islam has solutions for his or her everyday problems. The last thing that he or she expects is to confronted with racism, bigotry, and scorn as part of the welcome package to Islam, their new religion. Welcome to Black Muslim America.
When I say that black American Muslims are marginalized by the larger, more affluent and more upwardly greater immigrants in this community, what I mean is that overall they are treated as lesser Muslims, With lesser value, there is lessor importance, and less right to their dignity. Black American Muslims and converts often complain of feeling unwelcome in immigrant Mosques in America. That is a sentiment echoed across the country.
A 2016 Lotus Tree Poll indicated that 95% of Black American Muslims in United States considered racism and Marginalization of Black Americans by Muslim immigrants to be widespread. A majority of respondents also viewed racial prejudice in Muslim America to be hurtful and traumatizing to the new converts to Islam as well as to people who have been Muslim for 20 years or more.
Black American Muslim communities are often overlooked when it comes to funding from Saudi Arabia , or the Gulf or from the Muslim countries. Our Imams, some who have served their communities for 20 or more years are not afforded the same respect, acknowledgement of education intellect, or understanding of the religion as immigrant imams. Black American Muslim Imams are subject to a double standard. They are expected to do three or four times as much for their communities, for their neighborhood, for families than immigrant are sometimes two or three times the resources that are black in America and Mam has at his disposal. from most countries, who sometimes don’t even speak English.
Many immigrants according to our experience, behave and interact with converts with an air of superiority, and arrogance . This reality is based upon hundreds of first-hand testimony consisting of emails, messages, and 1 on 1 conversations that I have personally had with Black American, Latino, as well as white converts to Islam. Even though I have been writing about racism in Muslim America since 2002 the issue has yet to surface as a matter of public discourse open debate between the immigrant and the indigenous Black America Muslim Community. The issue of race and racism is mostly denied, ignored or tabled, even before it reaches the table. Immigrant Muslim scholars, who have weighed in on just about every area of life in America when he comes to black American Muslim conference have it yet to collectively acknowledge that racism does exist in Muslim America, and that it is a problem, or that it impedes the ability of a Black American Muslim Psychology from passing on this glorious from one generation to the next.
That is evidence by the estimated 25,000 Muslim owned liquor stores the blanket in the inner city landscape of our nation and extract close to $80 million dollars a day in gross revenue from largely poor neighborhoods, Giving hardly nothing back in return. Black American Muslim converts to Islam are not afforded the same civilizational relevance, and concern for their condition, for his suffering, or for their well-being that other Muslim people are. Black American Muslims are treated as if they are only three fifths the worth of an immigrant Muslim, very much in the way that free blacks were classified by the colonists in early America. We should all be ashamed of ourselves for the treatment of Black American Muslims and converts who are guests of the Almighty God Allah to Islam. Unfortunately, judging by the way things are it’s seems that we have no shame.
Moving forward begins in my view with raising consciousness which is what many of us are working to do. Once Black American Muslims and converts realize that that they are free to work in their own self-interests according to Islam, without looking at things through the lenses of immigrant Muslims who mean well, but in most cases do not have a clue about our needs, then we will be better off. This is not meant in any way as a slight towards immigrant Muslims; we are all brothers and sisters in Islam, at least on paper we are. It is simply the reality of our condition and it is not a matter of placing blame on this or that group.
Muslims come to this county to make a better life for themselves and their children, they have their own pre-existing mindsets, emotional and historical issues and dysfunctions, biases, and challenges, and Black American Muslims have their own as well. However, we have enough problems already than to take on other people’s dysfunctions as our own while forgetting our own condition. Then there is the issue of Muslim politics in America; a vicious, I mean vicious cycle of power wrangling, misrepresentation, opportunism. True, many of us are simply naïve to the realities of Muslim history, and the way that Blacks are treated and have been placed in many Muslim societies, even until this very day. There is light at the end of the tunnel because Allah is Light, but this is a uphill struggle and many of our people do not yet know or believe that they are free and their are many others who fear that indigenous Muslims would wake up.
Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad
American born Luqman Ahmad is a Sunni Muslim, the son of converts to Islam. He is a Philadelphia native, a writer, consultant, patriot, and until recently, has been the Imam of a Northern California mosque for twenty years. Currently he is an associate Imam and resident scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Toledo Ohio, where he delivers some of the Friday sermons. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation, a founding member of COSVIO, (the Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations), and the author of the book “Double Edged Slavery“, a critical and authoritative look at the condition of Black American Muslims and converts to Islam. He blogs at, imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.