The Self-Made Myth of the American Muslim

harold-cruseI have spent the last several years writing, lecturing, even khutbah’ing on the topic of Islam in America and the need for a bone fide American Muslim culture. I plan to continue this trend, though I feel now, I may need to clarify some of my stances. I’ve chosen, again, to use a passage from one of America’s brilliant-but-forgotten scholars, Harold Cruse1, to demonstrate what I am hinting at:

“It was never the intention of the editors of Freedomways the various Muslim think tanks and organizations, to do justice to the Harlem American Muslim’s reality historically, politically, culturally or economically. There are too many skeletons hidden in Harlem’s their closets, and none of the knowledgeable writers executives, vice-presidents and presidents dared to probe too deeply. Among the twenty-two numerous writer-specialists acronyms, activists and organizations, seemingly there was not one political, economic or cultural theorist who attempted to plot the course of where the American Muslim community was going in transition. Not one dared to be so bold as to debate the imperatives of two positions: Should Harlem the American Muslim community be broken up in favor of American individualism or should Harlem American Muslim citizens band together and direct all efforts toward maintaining Harlem’s the American Muslim community’s separate distinct existence? Not one was willing to undertake to corral community opinions in order to lead or direct the fortunes of Harlem the American Muslim community in either direction. The social motivations of these writers organizations and individuals are not inner-directed but outer-controlled; thus the acronyms exist in a neutral stasis subject to the outside decisions—political, economic and cultural—of the white non-Muslim economic and political power structure. From this initial position of subservient compromise, those who wrote the Freedomways special Harlem issue claim advocacy on behalf of American Muslims  could not even know where to begin a thorough analysis of Harlem Islam in America. Such an analysis, of course, had has to be historical, but the historical essays their ahistorical understanding of America itself were in fact the weakest is the cause of their weakness itself.”2

Another reflection from Mr. Cruse’s paperboy.

1. I have two other pieces on Harold Cruse: The Crisis of the American Muslim Part 1 and The Crisis of the American Muslim Part 2.

2. From Harold Cruse’s The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual (1967), from the section Freedomways, Summer of 1963: Black Economy—Self-Made Myth.