Islamic Community In The United States
purpose of the following historical survey is to present
the basic realities of the Muslim Experience in the West.
I have chosen several methods of looking at these present
realities and past experiences. Some of these are case studies
and still others are from readings in history. Today as
a community we are at a point where we can either succeed
or fail to a much greater extent than in the past. We have
schools, professionals, Islamic centers and well-read Muslims.
What we lack is a core of brothers and sisters willing to
try to organize Muslims into cohesive voting blocks and
into strong neighborhoods and communities where the Muslims
are visible and have a voice in the destiny of the greater
society and to some degree in the foreign policy of America.
There are by various
estimates between two and thirteen million Muslims or non-practicing
descendants of Muslims in North America. Unfortunately most
of them are not well versed in the literature and doctrines
of their religion. Most of them would like to pass Islam
on to their children and grandchildren, but this is unlikely
without parents who have a strong knowledge about the Islamic
faith and practice it in their daily life. One method of
analyzing our current situation is to study our past. In
order to develop my theme (along this line), I will divide
the history of Islam in America into five eras: before 1800,
180-1890, 1890-1910, 1910-1950, and 1950-present.
1) The Navigator
of Columbus, who during the famous voyage, brought along
a copy of a travel narrative written by Portuguese Muslims
who had sailed to the New World in the 12th century. The
narrative by al-Idrisi was called "The Sea of Tears". In
this narrative he discusses he voyage of 80 muhagharrun
(explorers) who lived in Lisbon during the reign of the
Murabit amir, Yusuf ibn Tashufin. In the narrative it mentions
visits to fourteen islands. Over half of these islands were
later traced to be in either the Canary Islands or the Azores.
However, the ones not traced could have been as far away
or the Azores. However, the ones not traced could have been
as far away as the Caribbean. An early travel from 942 A.D.
is mentioned in the Annuals of al-Mas'udi. (Aramco World,
2) Istafan, the
Arab, was a guide for the Spanish that wished to settle
the area that would later be called Arizona in 1539. Istafan
was from Azamor, Morocco and had previously been to the
New World in the ill-fated expedition of Panfilo de Narvaez
to Florida in 1527. Brent Kennedy mentions him in his article
in Islamic Horizons as being one of the first Moors and
Muslims in America. Istafan was one of four to survive a
five thousand mile tour of the American Southwest. Originally
he was part of a three hundred member exploratory group.
He would go on to become the first visitor from Europe or
Africa among the Pueblo Indians. (Islamic Horizons
November/December 1994, pp.24-27). He was also a guide for
the Franciscan friar, Marcos de Niza and was in this capacity
until he was killed in an Indian attack in Arizona and New
Mexico in 1539.
3) Another early
Muslim in this period was Nasruddin. He is famous for having
killed a Mohawk princess who refused to marry him and for
being the earliest permanent Arab settlers in the New World.
[History of Green County, N.Y., pp. 19-22.]
4) Ayub Sulaiman
ibn Diallo became a go between for his people and the British
after his repatriation. I mention him because he continued
to practice Islam during his two years of slavery in the
1730's in Maryland. He was versed enough in Arabic to write
at least a half dozen letters in that language, translate
coin inscriptions for the British Museum, and draw a map
of West Africa writing place names in Arabic.
5) Salim the Algerian,
who was a Muslim from a royal family of Algiers that studied
in Constantinople. After returning from a visit to Constantinople,
he was captured by a Spanish Man of War and later sold into
slavery to the French in New Orleans. Eventually he became
free after running from slavery, lived among American Indian
tribes, and settled in Virginia. Salem was found in rags,
almost naked, and was taught English. Eventually, it was
ascertained that he knew Greek and he was given a Greek
New Testament. Several future members of the U.S. Congress
befriended him and he converted to Christianity. A new convert
to Christianity he decided to go back home to spread the
Gospel. After a disastrous journey to his homeland (where
he was shunned as an apostate), he returned to America,
met Thomas Jefferson, attended the 1st Continental Congress,
and died an insane man having given-up his family and religion
for America. While he was at the Congress his picture was
painted by a Mr. Peale after the intervention of a member
of the Congress Mr. Page. Near the end of Salem's life,
he regained his long lost sanity. He had been insane since
his trip to his homeland after his conversion to Christianity.
Some say he renounced Christianity, other say died a Christian
at the Page estate, and still others say he died in an insane
asylum. [Graham's Magazine, 1857, pp. 433-437.] It
should be noted that none of these men tried to spread Islam
and only Ayub tried to preserve his own belief.
The Wahhab brothers
were shipwrecked on the coast of North Carolina in the 1770's.
They settled married and started a farm. Their ancestors
today own one of the largest private hotel chains in North
Carolina. The only contemporary reference I have on them
is a letter from the North Carolina historian Thomas Parramore.
Whether they or their ancestors stayed in the Islamic faith
is something that I can not answer at this time. Around
this same time a ship of 70 odd Moorish slaves landed in
Maryland. No more is known on these Moors.
An important point
is that these Muslims were not unique in being able to read
and write Arabic. In fact, in many slave quarters in the
Caribbean and Brazil there were clandestine Arabic and Islamic
schools. One can find references to these in the works by
Nina Rodriguez and in the two volume book TWELVE MONTHS
IN JAMAICA by Robert Madden (Phil.: Carey, Lea and Blanchard,
During the era
of 1800-1890, there was documentation of the Islamic presence
in the slave quarters by four individuals:
1) Theodore Dwight,
Jr. wrote about a slave named Lamen Kebe who was a school
teacher in Africa. He was the focus of two articles by Dwight.
Lamen Kebe gave him a list of over twenty texts used in
his schools and some information on teaching method used
in those Islamic schools (much of it still valuable today).
At the end of one of articles he also attached one of the
earliest glossaries we have of the Serrechuleh language.
Dwight also mentions Abdul Rahman and Ayub b. Sulaiman Diallo
2) James Cooper
wrote the story of Salih Bilali which was published with
other ethnological writings in William Brown Hodgson's NOTES
ON NORTH AFRICA (NY: Wiley and Putnam, 1844). Salih was
a Fulani (as are all the others mentioned) and his story
is only found in a letter by Cooper. This letter is republished
in AFRICA REMEMBERED by Philip Curtin (Madison: Univ. of
Wisconsin, 1967). Here we have an oral remembrance of Africa
and a vocabulary of Fula but nothing about his training
or practice in Islam.
3) William Brown
Hodgson was perhaps the most important of these documenters.
The main characters Hodgson documented were the following:
Bilali Muhammad, who wrote the only extant book of Islamic
Law written in America and contributed several Islami c
terms to the Gullah dialect of English. He gave his descendants
Muslim names and taught them until the generation of his
grand-children.; 'Umar ibn Said was a butler of a brother
of a former Governor of North Carolina that lived at Fayetteville,
N.C. and who wrote a 13 pp. autobiography in Arabic. What
he wrote shows that he might have been a Qadiriyyah Sufi,
trader, and school teacher who feigned conversion to Christianity
under difficult circumstances.; Abdul Rahman Ibrahim Sori
who wrote 2 autobiographies, 2 copies of the Fatiha, signed
a charcoal sketch of himself by Henry Inman [This picture
was on the cover of "Freedmen's Journal" and is on display
in the Library of Congress.], and dictated several letters
to his family while he was traveling the U.S. to raise money
to return to Africa. None of his Arabic writings show the
least formal education but it is surprising that he remembered
the little Arabic he knew after forty years in slavery before
he returned to Africa to die. His story is documented in
PRINCE AMONG SLAVES by Terry Alford (NY: Harcourt Brace
Jovanovich, 1977).; A slave named London was detailed in
a pamphlet by Hodgson called THE GOSPELS WRITTEN IN THE
NEGRO PATIOS OF ENGLISH IN ARABIC CHARACTERS BY A MANDINGO
SLAVE NAMED LONDON. This was perhaps the only systematic
try at writing English in Arabic letters up to that point.
He was held in slavery by the Maxwell family of Savannah,
Georgia. They latter moved to Florida where he died.; and
an unknown slave correspondent from Georgetown, S.C. who
wrote 5 chapters of the Qur'an from memory. This was translated
4) Wm. Caruthers
author of THE KENTUCKIAN IN NEW YORK (NY, 1834, p. 146)
where a slave who wrote the Fatiha at the request
of a traveler is mentioned.
One Muslim of this
era not covered by these writers was Hadji Ali (Philip Tedro)
a Greek convert to Islam and one of six camel handlers (three
Arabs, Two Turks, and Hadji Ali) in the short-lived U.S.
camel calvary corp in 1856. The Secretary of War, Jefferson
Davis introduced a bill in Congress, that passed in 1855,
to import camels for military purposes in the Arizona desert.
During the experiment, 77 camels and six handlers were brought
over from the East. When the War between the States broke
out, this experiment was abandoned. It was called off due
to the impending Civil War. Hadji Ali was the only of the
cameleers to remain in the U.S.. The others returned to
their homelands. Circuses and Zoos acquired some of the
camels and others were turned loose. The camels that were
turned loose in the desert terrorized live stock and wild
animals for years. Hadji A]i became a prospector in the
Colorado River Area. He eventually became a legend under-
the corrupted name given to him by soldiers in the U.S.
calvary- Hi Jolly. The legacy of this experiment are a highway
gravemarker for Hadji Ali, some U.S. Army Manuals [see esp.-
"Report Upon the Purchase, Importation, and Use of Camels
and Dromedaries, To be Employed for military purposes, According
to Act of Congress March 3, 1855. Made under the Direction
of the Secretary of War 1855, '56, '57-240 pp.], and a movie
by Walt Disney called Hawmps starring Slim Pickens and Denver
Pyle. Hadji Ali lived to 1903 in Quartzsite, Arizona where
he was a Prospector and resident Imam. His three daughters
were raised as Muslims but I have yet to verify how many
generations Islam continued in his family.
The Omani Embassy
published a pamphlet about the exploits of the first Arab
traders to the United States during the 1840's. They did
not settle here, however. [Eilts, Herman Fredrick The
Visit of Ahmad bin Na'aman to the U.S. in the Year 1840,
Embassy of Oman 1962.]
One Muslim mentioned
in a book by Allan Austin (African Muslims in Antebellum
America), Yarrow Marmout, was poorly covered by writers
and deserves mention as he was perhaps one of the longest
lived individuals in this country (He died at over 130.)
and he was one of the first shareholders of the Washington,
D.C. Columbia Bank which was the second chartered bank in
the United States.
In the era of 1890-1910
the only movement we can truly talk about is that of Muhammad
Alexander Russell Webb. Many trace him to be first "white
convert" to Islam in America. Before he became Muslim, he
was a newspaper editor and later the consular to the Philippines
for the U.S.. He accepted the post of consular in 1887.
While a consular he began to read books on Eastern and Oriental
religions. Soon afterwards he began written correspondence
with Indian Muslims and in 1888 he publicly declared his
Islam. He resigned his post in 1892 and went to India where
he had a lecture tour of four cities: Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta,
and Hyderabad. These lectures were published in the books:
The Three Lectures and in Lectures in Various
Locations. The topics for these lectures included: Islam,
The Better Way, and Philosophical Islam. Upon returning
to the U.S. he set up the Oriental Publishing Company which
published at least a half dozen of books including Islam
in America [Webb, Muhammad A.R., New York, 1892.] and
his short lived periodical "Moslem World". He had a Mosque
on upper Broadway which failed prior to his death in 1915,
his being appointed Turkish Emissary to the U.S., and writing
of a still very pertinent book The Armenian Problem and
Where the Responsibility Lies. The last being the views
of Webb in the conflict between the Turks and the Armenians.
One possible reason his group failed is that it did not
address the needs of the generality of people, it was a
movement of philosophers.
1910-1950 saw several
Orthodox Sufi, Ahmadiyyah, Bahia, Shia, and so-called Black
Nationalists groups arise. To speed the process I will talk
about the Orthodox Mosques (in Ross, N.D., Detroit, and
in Cedar Rapids, Iowa), Sheikh Dawood, Sufi Abdul Hamid,
Noble Drew Ali, and Elijah Muhammad.
In historical order,
the Ross Mosque is the earliest and longest lasting Masjid
in America. The congregation at its largest was 100 persons.
The Masjid was built in 1930 and remained standing until
1978 and in use till the late 60's when conversions and
mixed marriages had decreased the numbers of Muslims till
a point where Arabic was no longer used, the cemetery had
gophers, and there were no practicing Muslims to attend
An earlier mosque
was built in 1915 in Maine by Albanians as was one in Connecticut,
but they are not as strongly documented or publicized. In
Brooklyn the Polish speaking Tatars built a mosque which
was still in use in 1926. The Red Crescent was founded in
Detroit, in 1920 and a Mosque was built there which lasted
from 1926-1932 and as far as I know still stands. The main
problem at that point was not lack of numbers but lack of
finance. Only a few brothers kept the Masjid afloat and
the Depression proved it to be too much of financial liability
for them. The Lebanese Masjid in Cedar Rapids, started in
1935 and still in operation, suffered few of these problems.
Going overseas to marry was common, Arabic was widely used,
finance was freer, and fewer persons drifted from Islam.
Sheikh Dawood and
Sufi Abdul Hamid represent homegrown Orthodox Islam. Sheikh
Dawood founded the Islamic Mission Society on State Street
in 1934 Brooklyn. Over 75,000 persons accepted Islam under
his tutelage before his death in 1981. His controversial
theory of Islam being genetic ingrown was to be adapted
later by the likes Elijah Muhammad and Imam Isa. His success
was due to his willingness to suffer personal abuse and
financial difficulty for the sake of Islam. His writings
and theories are contained in his self-published books al-Islam
the Religion of Humanity (1950) and Islam the True
Religion of Humanity (1965). His contemporary, Sufi,
and his teacher Mandaly from Egypt had similar success in
Harlem but their work was cut short when Mandaly had a heart
attack and died. Sufi died in a plane crash. The shortcoming
of their work was that they failed to train proper successors
and the movement died with them. [Ottley, Roi, `New World
A-Coming', Arno Press, New York, 1968, pp. 116-9.] more
material on these individuals is found in the chapters on
Sufi Abdul Hameed and Sheikh Daoud Ahmad Faisal.
Noble Drew Ali
and Elijah Muhammad represent the Islamic Nationalist side
to Islam between 1910 and 1950. Both movements outlasted
their founders. Ali started his movement, the Moorish
Science Temple in May of 1913, with the short lived
Canaanite Temple. He gave an answer to the question of who
the recently freed African were, how they could have self
esteem, and allowed them to be part of a movement not under
the former slave masters control. His main error was to
fail to fully bring people into the reality of the Arabic
Language, Qur'an, and Ibadat, but he gave them
a clear concept of a Jesus that they could accept and of
Tawheed which Christianity failed to give them.
organization, the Nation of Islam, was begun in
Paradise Valley (a Black Ghetto of Detroit) on July 4, 1930
by one Mr. W.D. Farrad. A mysterious peddler from the East
and one- time contestant for Drew Ali's leadership of Islamic
Nationalism in Newark, N.J.. W.D. Farrad was reputed to
have been born of a white mother and black father (Mimi
and Alfonso) on February 28, 1877 in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
His education supposedly received at U.C.L.A. and Oxford.
Farrad was to have been a member of the diplomatic corp
in the Hijaz but decided against it in order to go to the
"Wilderness of North America to find his Uncle (the Black
Man)" and teach him (his Uncle) Islam and the true history
of the Black Man. After teaching for three years he left
the U.S. to points unknown.
He left behind
a successor, Elijah Muhammad, and some written teachings
set down in several lesson plans of which seven are somewhat
assessable today. This was a way of teaching not uncommon
to church catechisms, Masonic degrees, or Moorish American
Koran Questionnaires. By 1934 Farrad became a sort of hidden
Imam common to the doctrines of the Druze and Ishmaeli versions
of Islam. He seemed to expound rhetoric similar to military
manual directives, Moorish Science, Masonry, and some vague
Eschatology and doctrines (such as blood atonement) somewhat
similar to that of early Utah Mormons. His movement succeeded
due to dedicated individuals and strong leadership that
was willing to suffer for the movement. His weaknesses were
failure to teach proper rules for prayer and fasting and
preaching the concept of Ali reincarnated through the Imams
and the Mahdi (later he was considered Allah incarnate).
The next forty
years saw the rise and fall of the Nation of Islam and
its rebirth (primarily with Silas Muhammad, Farrakhan, John
Muhammad, W.D. Muhammad, and Imam Isa). The groups that
resurrected tended to try and revolutionize the teachings.
Two groups came out of the Nation before its fall:
Calistran and the Five Percenter Nation.
Started in Harlem
by a former Korean War Veteran -- Clarence Jowars (Clarence
13X or Puddin'). He disassociated himself from the Nation
and founded his own group (which still exists) in the early
1960's. According to numerous detractors (police, Orthodox
Muslims, etc.), the Five Percenter Nation is little
more than a gang using Nation of Islam mythos mixed
with some new lessons that Clarence compiled. Their flag
is an eight pointed star with a circle seven in the center
(from Moorish Science) and the words "In the Name of Allah"
above it. Clarence 13X was assassinated by some disgruntled
members in 1968 and he became the departed spiritual leader
-- now incarnate within the body of all male members (Black
Gods). Many Rap stars such as Kool Moe Dee, Poor Righteous
Teachers, and Queen Latifah derive their material from his
writings and teachings.
A favorite West
Coast minister of Elijah Muhammad. The Nation paid
for his education at UCLA. He is centered in Atalanta and
has several thousand followers in twenty one temples nationwide.
He claims to be the spiritual son of the Virgin Mary (Elijah
Muhammad) and has written a book (The Wake of the Nation)
to support his claims. He works with Whites for a restitution
for the wrongs of slavery and publishes a newspaper called
and the Nation of Islam
Farrakhan is perhaps
the loudest and most articulate of all former Nation
of Islam leaders. He seperated from Warith Deen Muhammad
in 1977 and started his "Final Call Newspaper" and organization
in 1979. The name of the newspaper was derived from an early
Nation paper called "The Final Call to Islam".
He is the most interesting and contradictory among former
Nation leaders. According to detractors, Farrakhan
has accepted and rejected Orthodox Islam at a whim whenever
it would benefit him. He has: made Hajj; belonged to Warith
Deen Muhammad's group; called for unity between Hispanics,
Native Americans and Blacks; played Jewish violin concertos
even when denouncing certain aspects of Jewish life and
culture; and fights a war to end the drug problem (a war
he started only after he found out his own son was a drug
abuser). His inner circle reputably includes Black Nationalists,
American Indians, Gangbangers, and other so-called dangerous
and disreputable individuals. Currently almost one hundred
temples are under his leadership and he has perhaps as many
as fifty thousand members nationwide. His position in the
African American community was recently strengthen by his
highly successful "Million Man March" on Washington, D.C..
W.D. Muhammad is
the leader of the largest group to come out of the Nation
of Islam. He has lead the members of his organization
to Orthodox Islam over the years and changed the name of
his group to the World Community of Islam to the
American Muslim Mission and now each mosque/temple
has its own name and leadership. His paper also changed
names from "Muhammad Speaks" to "Muslim World News" to "Bilalian
News" to "American Muslim Journal" to "Muslim Journal".
The organization underwent numerous changes under his leadership.
Members of his group also changed their ethos from being
Black Muslims to being Bilalians to being
just Muslim. The best study of Warith Deen Muhammad and
his ties to Orthodox Islam is found in the work by Zafar
Ishaq Ansari "W.D. Muhammad: The Making of a `Black Muslim
Leader' (1933-1961)" found in the Vol. 2, No. 2 issue of
the American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences.
W.D. Muhammad has
begun the needed work of teaching proper Islam based on
Qur'an and Sunnah and he is somewhat hindered by the legacy
of his father and his tendency to give the teachings of
the Qur'an as mostly symbolic as he was taught the Bible
The changes in
the teachings were wide and varied, they included: allowing
white members, an end to a call for a separate "nation of
blacks" in this country, a call to voter registration, an
end to beliefs that Allah was incarnated in the form of
Master Farrad and the belief in Elijah Muhammad being a
Messenger of Allah. Warith Deen was excommunicated several
times from the Nation and only gained the ability
to step in a position of leadership in the last year of
his father's life when he was reinstated as a minister in
the Nation of Islam.
Fasting in Ramadhan,
an end to the December fast, changing the dietary taboos
to Qur'anic based ones, and a standard Muslim salah
(prayer) were other changes he instituted. In 1978 he stepped
down as spiritual head and became a minister at large. His
organization has become decentralized and his rhetoric is
less spooky and mystical and more in line with Orthodox
Islam. In 1985 he dismantled the leadership council he had
setup and each mosque became an independent entity. He works
as a kind of liaison between the Black Muslims and the Immigrant
community. Several collection of his speeches such as: Religion
on Line, An African American Genesis, and Leadership
and Islam are widely available. (see From Black Muslims
to Muslims by Clifton E. Marsh for details.)
Nation of Islam leaders disagreed with his changes.
Most were people who returned to the old teachings such
as Farrakhan, Silas Muhammad, John Muhammad, and Caliph
Emmanuel Muhammad. One who turned to Orthodox Islam was
Siraj Wahaj was
a former minister of the Nation of Islam who initially
accepted the leadership of Warith Deen Muhammad. He later
split over issues where he felt that Warith Deen Muhammad
was being too accomodating to American society. Siraj Wahaj
supports polygamy and full implementation of the Shariah
where as Warith Deen Muhammad rejected polygamy and favored
a more gradual move toward implementation of Shariah.
Since the split Warith Deen Muhammad allegedly has moved
his group closer to the Wahhabi sect and called for the
reestablishment of the Caliphate.
Jamil al-Amin was
born as H. "Rap" Brown in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1943.
In 1964 he joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating
Committee at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
and rapidly moved up through its ranks. In 1967, at the
age of 23, he succeeded Stockley Carmichael as leader of
the SNCC and its ranks swelled. He allied himself
and his group with the Black Panthers and this
was where he began to learn Islam. The Black Panthers
accepted the political and economic views of the Nation
but were slow to accept it moral, ethical, and dietary edicts.
When he turned the movement from non-violence to Urban Guerilla
Warfare he was placed on the FBI's most wanted list. After
his 1973 arrest he decided to accept Orthodox Islam. In
1976 he left prison and had placed the violent non-Muslim
lifestyle behind him. Today he is leader of over thirty
Islamic centers which were (for the most part member of
the Dar ul-Islam Movement - a group which came
about from the work of early students of Sheikh Daoud) and
has documented his feeling about Islam in the work Revolution
by the Book (Beltsville, Maryland: Writer's Inc., 1994).
Warith Deen Muhammad's
uncle John Muhammad acts as the "orthodox" Nation of
Islam teacher as he allegedly does not teach anything
except what Elijah Muhammad distinctly taught. He joined
the Nation in 1930 with his brother Elijah. He
is the only one of his immediate family of fourteen children
and a wife who follows the old teachings. His wife is a
follower of Warith Deen Muhammad. His movement has less
than a thousand members and only a handful of active temples.
The headquarters is in Highland Park, Michigan and a newspaper
called "Muhammad Speaks" is published by his organization.
A full length story (by Linda Jones) on his group can be
found in The Detroit News of July 17, 1988.
Caliph Emmanuel Muhammad
A group with less
than two hundred followers centered in Baltimore. The leader
Emmanuel Muhammad claims to be the successor or Caliph of
Elijah Muhammad. His group publishes a paper called "Muhammad
Speaks" out of Baltimore, Maryland.
Imam Isa is a Unitarian
Universalist, Spiritualist, Jewish, Ansar, Black Nationalist
successor to the self proclaimed Messenger of Allah, the
Honorable Elijah Muhammad. He claims to be the successor
of Marcus Garvey, Elijah Muhammad and Noble Drew Ali! Over
300 of his books and pamphlets are peddled on the street
by his followers. A heavily armed camp/retreat was located
in upstate New York. No count of his membership has be attempted.
His group has now openly proclaimed themselves to be Black
Jews even though they still claim lip service to the Qur'aan
and the Prophet Muhammad.
Others who came out of the
Others came from
the Nation and we must remember them as orthodox
Muslims. These orthodox Muslims include: Muhammad Ali, Hamas
Abdul Khaalis, and Malcolm X. Muhammad Ali went on to become
one of the greatest sports men in this nation and a great
contributor to the spread of Islam. Hamas Abdul Khaalis
re-founded the Hanafi Madh-Hab Center in New York in 1958.
It was originally started by Dr. Tasibur Uddein Rahman in
the late 1920's. In 1947 Ernest Timothy McGee joined, he
was later sent by Dr. Rahman to join the Nation of Islam
to guide them to Orthodox Islam. By 1956 he became National
Secretary for the nation of Islam. He left in 1958.
It was later moved to Washington, D.C.. At his height he
had over a thousand followers and led protests for several
Muslim causes. His most famous follower is Kareem Abdul
Jabbar. In 1977, Khaalis and some of his followers seized
some buildings in D.C. as part of a protest and held them
for some hours. One hostage was killed. He is currently
serving a sentence of 41 to 120 years. [Giant Steps,
Kareem Abdul Jabbar and an AMC report on the history
of Islam in America]
One of the greatest
Muslim leaders ever in America was, of course, Malcolm X
(or according to his true Muslim name- Al-Hajj Malik al-Shabazz).
He started the political street organ of the Nation
of Islam--the "Muhammad Speaks" newspaper and influenced
several generations with his eye-opening auto-biography.
Till the end of his life he was dedicated to the struggle
for the rights of all oppressed people of the world. He
was allegedly killed at the hands of FBI sponsored infiltrators
into the Nation of Islam.
It is strange that
the religion of peace is always faced with violent confrontation
from both within and without. Allah says, "And
thus We have made you a middle Nation that you may witness
to all people and We made the Apostle a witness to you...",
in Sura 2 of the Holy Qur'an. How could this history with
its' successes, failures, and disappointments exist when
we are instructed to be a middle of witnesses to mankind
and propagate Islam.
In summary, this
historical briefing on Islam in America focused on American
Muslims and Muslims that were becoming Americans. This information
points to the needs of dawa'h, Islamic schools,
fighting assimilation, bi-lingual education, masjids, and
taking part in the greater society.
This ground work
is outreach, developing schools and businesses, adult education,
and programs to teach Arabic and Qur'an to such an extent
our community here becomes bi-lingual and stays that way.
Next we need to have Islamic holidays recognized in public
schools in much the same way Jewish and Christian holidays
are and finally we need to make that sure proper books on
Islam are in every single public and private library in
the U.S. and books on Islam are placed in as many non-Muslim
homes as feasible.
Abdullah Ahari; all rights reserved.