Islam & The Problem of Black Suffering – A Tidbit

“…the rise of Islam among Blackamericans was rooted in the agenda and sensibilities of “Black Religion” – essentially, a folk-oriented, holy protest against antiblack racism – the future was intimately tied to Blackamerican Muslims’ ability to access and deploy the intellectual legacy of the classical Sunni Tradition, both as a means of domesticating Black Religion and of moving beyond it to address important spiritual and transracial issues in a manner that is both effective in an American context and likely to be recognized as Islamic in a Muslim one.” Sherman A. Jackson

Dr. J’s a bad, bad, man. I pray we benefit from his scholarship, that Allah preserve him and his family, and that we get down to brass tax while we still are able to.

More to come soon, God willing.

7 Replies to “Islam & The Problem of Black Suffering – A Tidbit”

  1. What is Islam – thanks for commenting.

    While your words to hold true in a limited sense – it is true that many Blackamericans did seek out equality and justice in Islam, that line of thought however does not fully articulate the Black Enterprise of moving towards Islam en masse, namely that Blackamericans also found the same transcendent allure that other groups had found and that it is a very modern, and if I may say so, secular way, to explain why Blackamericans have been attracted to Islam. To discount this aspect, one of the most important in my opinion, is to discount Blackamericans as being just as “human” [i.e., searching for the Divine] as other ethnic groups that encountered Islam.

    However, you do raise a critical point in that, nonetheless, many did seek those issues, and perhaps just as important, Islam occupied a niche within the Blackamerican historical psyche as a construct, a device, a way of life that was, when expressed by Blackamericans, concerned with the Blackamerican condition [social justice, equality, white supremacy, etc.]. And now we must ask, if Islam in the Blackamerican expression is no longer concerned with those items, what does that mean? Is social justice no longer a concern for the Blackamerican community? Has the specter of white supremacy been exorcised, never again to return? If the answer to all the above is yes, then what future does Islam hold for Blackamerican Muslims? How will they make it [Islam] relevant and speak to them in a post-protest America?

    If the answer is no, then how can Islam be reconciled or even justified if it is not speaking to those very real conditions? Also, if Islam no longer holds this imagination in the Blackamerican community, what does this bear, in terms of future relations, for Muslim/non-Muslim Blackamerican relations as well as how Islam will relate to the broader culture without a native liaison to broker the culture gap for the broader American Muslim community?

    All this and more comes to mind but I wish to caution against reducing the attraction of Blackamericans to Islam solely on the basis of social or political imaginations. To do so discounts the fitrah that rests within Blackamericans to seek out the Divine as well as the attraction Islam has as a transcendental experience, calling from Beyond to all of Bani Adam.

  2. I think the actual reason for the rise of Islam in the Black Community is that they found the much needed rights to equality and justice in Islamic Teachings.

  3. I hear you loud and clear Marc. For me, it seems now that some Blackamericans are moving away from a social-protest psyche in Islam a lot folks feel, well, lost. They’ve been operating with that pattern of thought for so long that when they consider Islam for themselves, the religion may almost seem irrelevant without a human ‘other’ to demonize and subsequently repress through the usage of the Quran and prophetic traditions. Even here, I run into Muslims, both Blackamerican and not, who feel that if you aren’t standing on a yard or block in protest, then your faith might just be a little weak. No need to say anymore, you know exactly where I am coming from. Sometimes I feel we’ve asked Allah’s creation for what only He can truly provide.

  4. Very interesting discussion. I think Marc raised some important issues about protest religion and what happens when Black Americans are post-protest. I’m still working on my review of the book, in order to render some of the difficult language and complicated arguments readable to a non-specialist on theology, both American and Muslim theology (Kalam). Charles another good point, and people do feel lost without that “other.” The book doesn’t analyze Black American Muslim Quranic exegesis or understanding of resistance and suffering to show how manifestations of Black religion could possibly influence our understanding of Islam. Instead, it focuses mainly on the problem of Black Theodicy (which has been the bastion of Christian theologians up until now). He looks at the positions within the four Classical schools of theology on divine omnipotence and omni-benevolence, free-will, and determination to complicate the discussion. To me, the major concern of the book involves the theological problem of how could an All Powerful and Benevolent God allow such large scale suffering such as slavery.

    You have many people talking about jihad and oppression, but few Muslims really engaging in that greater jihad against their own nafs. One imam gave a khutbah at Stanford and he even framed the discussion on improving our character as Muslims in order to ascend politically and gain our dignity as Muslims. I just shake my head…the goal is jennah, not utopia or earthly hegemony.

  5. I just shake my head…the goal is jennah, not utopia or earthly hegemony.

    I know mate where you coming from….wish muslims could stand on a single platform and improve their image which is what required at the moment.

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