We just wrapped up the 2nd Annual Defining Islamic Psychology Conference here in SoCal and I took a few moments this morning to comment on my thoughts and experiences with the conference on Facebook Live. Here’s the link.
It was my pleasure to be interviewed for Muslims and Mental Health, hosted by Heather Laird, about Middle Ground.
Much of social media can be a slosh of one-liners: a blur of detached quotes and images. Total chaos. But once in a while a post comes along that does make you stop and reflect. The Islam & the Third Resurrection Facebook group posited the following question:
“Why does it seem like the majority of all the black American Muslims are 55 and up? Why weren`t they able to successfully pass Islam on to their children?”
This is a prescient question, one deserving our undivided attention. And while not wanting to universalize, this also reflects a comment I made during my interview with sister Heather Laird when asked about the differences, if any, between the challenges facing the Blackamerican/indigenous American-Muslim community and the immigrant community:
“It’s like a different album cover but the songs are still the same.”
This question cannot be answered in any single, simple term. It’s as complicated as the folks who made the problem itself. I tried to address some of this in the interview (timeline about 16:00) but if I were to begin an attempt to answer this question, it would be an accusation against the older generation that they thought “it was all about them”. They largely built nothing for succeeding generations: very few institutions by Blackamerican Muslims (masajid, schools, other spaces) and dysfunctional mosques and schools by immigrants. In both cases, the few places that were built were devoid of any purpose and back by little if any human capital.
Additionally, these two communities have stifled any and all creativity in their children. As a result, Islam was mainly reduced to a reactionary theology, devoid of real character building, absent of moral conviction, that painted God as little more than a great big cop in the sky, ready to punish anyone who drove 65 in a 55 mph zone, with their pants too long, their beards too short, and the hijabs not wrapped tight enough (or absent all together!). Our inclination to protest (something present in both the Blackamerican experience as well as the immigrant one) has gotten the better of us: we protest to the point that we even proverbially picketed our children. And with all of the alluring secular options to just bounce out and live lives as “good people”, they were failed to be led to see how, in any way, that religion adds value to life.
So let us ask God for guidance, to come to our senses, and try to right the ship before it’s too late for us all.
I was honored to have participated in a new media program: Muslims and Mental Health series. This episode explores legacy building in the African-American Muslim community. It examines issues of community mental health and how elders in the community are setting the tone for coming generations. We explore what the strengths and weaknesses of the community are. What works well and what could use improvement. What resources are needed in terms of human and material capital to make this community functional and healthy.