NYC Mayor Eric Adam's Jihadi Transition Team Includes Mosque Of The Islamic Brotherhood's Talib Abdur- Rashid
Imam Who Supports Terrorism Advising New Mayor On 'Civic Engagement'
The Islamists Around New York's Mayor Eric Adams Love Jihad
"Allah is our goal. The Prophet is our leader. The Koran is our constitution. Jihad is our way."
Fri Jan 14, 2022
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
The Imam defended his refusal to celebrate July 4th by comparing the founding of America and Israel to dropping atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Rashid suggested that the Charlie Hebdo terror attack and the ISIS attack on the Mohammed cartoon contest in Texas were "examples of 'chickens coming home to roost'".
The Imam expressed support for a variety of terrorists, including Aafia Siddiqui aka Lady al Qaeda, Al Qaeda medic Rafiq Sabir, and Sami Al-Arian who was tied to Islamic Jihad.
He defended former Iranian President Ahmadinejad's call for destroying Israel and killing millions of Jews as a "sentiment born of the legitimate anger, frustration, and bitterness", and accused Muslims working with the NYPD of being "collaborators" and "house negroes".
The Imam also falsely claimed that Black Friday got its name because "the day after Thanksgiving... slave traders would sell slaves for a discount."
The site for Rashid's Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood reportedly once featured the motto of the Muslim Brotherhood, "Allah is our goal. The Prophet Muhammad ibn 'Abdullah is our leader. The Koran is our constitution. Jihad is our way."
Imam Rashid endorsed Eric Adams in the mayoral election, although about half of the statement which he co-signed was dedicated to virulent attacks on Israel and the United States.
And Mayor Adams has named Rashid to a role on his civic engagement transition committee.
Twenty years after the Islamic terrorist attacks of September 11, the members of the transition committees for the city that experienced the worst of the carnage reflect the growing dominance of Islamists and their political allies and operatives in New York City's Democrat politics.
Unfortunately Rashid's presence on Adams' transition committees is not an isolated incident.
Imam Umar Abdul-Jalil, who appears on Adams' clergy committee, a top clergyman in the city's prison system and former drug dealer who converted to Islam, had declared during the Bush administration that "the greatest terrorists in the world occupy the White House", ranted about allowing "the Zionists of the media to dictate what Islam is to us", and urged that Muslims must be "compassionate with each other" and "hard against the kuffar (non-Muslim)."
An FBI memo noted that Jalil admitted that he was paid "to be a good Muslim, but [was] propagating the true Islam through his job."
Even the Bloomberg administration temporarily suspended Jalil. Adams however drew him in.
Former CAIR Community Affairs director Faiza Ali, whom Linda Sarsour described as a "close friend", serves as a "lead" in the civic engagement transition team. Ali had come out of the Muslim Students Association which, like CAIR is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, and was involved in the campaign to support the Ground Zero Mosque and in attacks on the NYPD.
Sarah Sayeed, Bill de Blasio's Muslim liason, and another member of the civic engagement transition team, has claimed that she's afraid to leave the house on September 11, and has attacked the NYPD for trying to prevent Islamic terrorist attacks by monitoring terror mosques.
She had excused Muslim anger at Mohammed cartoons, defended the Ground Zero Mosque, and claimed that killing Islamic terrorists "creates more radicalization and anti-Americanism".
Aniqa Nawabi, another civic engagement transition team member, with the Muslim Community Network, had sent out an email during the Hamas attacks last year falsely accusing Israel of attacking the mosque occupying the holiest site in Judaism, and arguing that "Hamas alone is no military match for the IDF. It is misleading for media and policymakers to frame the conflict around counting the number of rockets fired from each side."
Debbie Almontaser, who was caught up in the scandal at the Khalil Gibran International Academy, a New York City public school, after promoting an "Intifada NYC" t-shirt, is listed as one of Adams' transition team members on equity and food policy. The latter likely refers to the successful push to bring halal meals into the New York City public school system.
Eric Adams has listed Murad Awawdeh as a "lead" on immigration for his transition team.
Murad Awawdeh, a "Palestinian" activist, has accused American law enforcement of a "two-decades-long campaign of terror against Muslim" and tweeted images of an anti-Israel protest accusing Jews of "settler violence and colonialism" for living in their own country.
Awawdeh has been quoted as saying that "Israel is a racist, apartheid, hostile, terrorist state."
Imam Hassan Akbar, on Adams' clergy team, denounced Christmas trees as "idols" and warned Muslims against even taking pictures next to them. In another post, he used the hashtags "#ChristmasIsShirk #SantaShirk #ElvesShirk". The term Shirk refers to polytheism. While a Muslim cleric is obviously not expected to celebrate a Christian holiday, defining Christians as idolaters and polytheists can be used to invoke Koranic verses justifying terrorism and violence.
For example, Mohammed Al-Wahhab, the figure associated with Wahhabism, a popular theocratic terror movement among Muslim settlers in America, wrote that if someone guilty of shirk his "blood may be shed" and his "wealth is lawful".
The former means that under Islamic law he can be killed and his property stolen.
This applies not just to Christians, but to Muslims who deviate from Islamic law and may be declared infidels, and hunted down and killed.
Akbar libeled Thanksgiving as a "massacre" and condemned Islamic organizations who send out Thanksgiving greetings. He used the hashtag "Amerikkka" and responded approvingly to a call to replace Muslim leaders with a caliphate. After the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, he defended Sharia law and mocked potential media headlines questioning the justice of Sharia law such as "Women Stoned For Adultery" and "Taliban Will Bring Back Cutting Hands".
While Adams certainly bears the ultimate responsibility for his transition team, the makeup also reflects the political reality of Islamist ascendence in New York City's Democrat party. Some, like Awawdeh and Almontaser, are associated with the Muslim Democratic Club, others with CAIR-NY and other Islamist organizations that have gone from the margins to the mainstream.
The various Islamist players in controversies over the Ground Zero Mosque, the Khalil Gibran International Academy, and NYPD surveillance of terror mosques took on significant political roles in the De Blasio administration. Some were named to official positions on his team while others found jobs with influential members of the increasingly radicalized New York City Council.
Their organizations, formerly reviled as extremists, benefited from a flow of city grant money.
In the decade after September 11, Islamist outrages in New York City benefited from some media coverage and investigations. Afterward even the New York Post mostly ceased reporting on the Islamist insurgency even as, or perhaps because, it gained power and influence.
Counterjihad investigative groups such as the Middle East Forum, Center for Security Policy, Jihad Watch, and the Investigative Project continue to do important work in the face of declining interest from conservative media. In researching this article, I found a plethora of material in the media from the 'oughts', but far less from the previous decade, let alone from this new decade.
Changing demographics have made New York City's Islamists into political power brokers. They joined the anti-Trump "resistance" and allied with anti-Israel lefties of Jewish descent. And in the absence of a single major devastating Islamic terror plot, just a steady stream of smaller ones, mostly unsuccesful, fewer are paying attention to the ticking time bomb of Islamist influence.
Much like the silence before the storm on September 11, that is an error we will come to regret.
MIM: Transition Committee Appointments by Mayor Eric Adams
Arts, Parks & Culture
Economic & Workforce Development
Infrastructure, Climate & Sustainability
Public Safety & Justice
MIM: Mosque of the Islamic Brotherhood Imam Talib Abdur- Rashid justifiies jihad and claims that Muslims are victims of terrorism, have no connection to terror and that non Muslims are the real terrorists who target Muslims.
". We are not terrorists. We didn't blow up the World Trade Centers, We were blown up in them "
A STATEMENT ON TERRORISM
"We're not terrorists. We never have been and don't intend to be. We are the victims of terrorism. Our ancestors were enslaved and brought to America by terrorists. We were maimed, lynched, raped, and murdered by terrorists. Terrorists have bombed and burned our homes, and the houses of worship of our people, since the 'birth of a nation'.
Terrorists have worked to deprive our people of freedom, justice and equality from then until now.We have fought for freedom as a people, and as Muslims amongst our people from then until now,against terrorists. We haven't bombed anyone's churches in America, nor homes, nor office buildings, nor embassies. We have not raped, pillaged, or enslaved. We are the ones who have been raped, pillaged, and enslaved.
It wasn't us who gave the Original, Native Americans blankets infected with disease, nor injected syphliis into unsuspecting Southern Black people under the guise of the Tuskeegee medical trials.We haven't dropped atomic bombs upon civilians once, much less twice.We know the difference between freedom fighters and terrorists. We don't pretend to be one, when we are really the other.
We are not the terrorists, and never have been. We don't bomb abortion clinics or sniper-assassinate doctors. We are so far from being terrorists that when it was learned that the Beltway Sniper was an African American male, people were shocked - even us. We still are. We are not eco-terrorists, nor do we assasinate or even talk about assasinating foreign leaders. We are not terrorists. We didn't blow up the World Trade Centers, We were blown up in them. And we responded in disaster mode when it happened, just like everyone else; but as Muslim African Americans.
We are not prison -recruited terrorists. We go into prison as criminals and come out reformed citizens of the world,or we go in as law-abiding citizens seeking the redemption of our brothers and sisters, and help them with their transformation. We are both volunteers and paid chaplains. We have served and do serve with honor when called to duty. We are honorable people from noble ancestors, constantly beset by forked tongued, two-faced devils in human form. We abhor the wanton taking of human life and believe it to be a sin.
We didn't start Uncle Sam's problems abroad or at home, and we know "chickens coming home to roost" when we see them. We are the litmus test for Uncle Sam's pious declarations concerning freedom and democracy. We live in Louisiana. We are still waiting, and working for true, comprehensive justice, and we won't pretend that our quest for it has ceased.
We don't violate treaties at home or abroad. We're not the ones who others have accused of speaking with a "forked tongue". You know us. We speak truth to power, so much so that other people become angry when we do. But we do it anyway,by the Grace of The Almighty.
We helped build the American nation (U.S.A.), defend it, and change it for the better when others thought that it was already perfect and complete. We're still doing so. We are not the terrorists, so don't try to depict us as such. We are patient, faithful, praying, fasting, charitable servants of Allah, who know terrorism by any other name. We have known it for over 400 years. We're not on the side of any terrorists, at home or abroad. Even after centuries of injustice and terrorism being directed tpwards us, we still haven't turned to terrorism. We're peaceful but we're not pacifists. That means that we won't transgress against anyone, but with Allah's help we will kick butt in self-defense, if others transgress against us.
We strive to be on the side of the Almighty (God), Whom we call Allah. He is no terrorist; never has been, and never will be. He is Who He is. He is the God of Justice and the Vanquisher of Tyrants. We stand with Him. We worship Him, and Him alone. May He continue to sustain and protect us, and do what He has done to those who are His enemies and the enemies of His people, and may He bless us to truly be His people, amin (amen).
Mosque of The Islamic Brotherhood Imam Talib Abdur- Rashud rants about Dr. Daniel Pipes,, MEF and "Neo- Cons".
"First, this writer was (accurately) cited as a member of the Committee to Free Imam Jamil Al-Amin (the former H. Rap Brown), whom the Neo-Cons identify solely as a "convicted cop killer". This is mentioned about me as a negative."
Attack on KGIA and us
ANTI-MULTI-CULTURALISTS' ASSAULT ON BROOKLYN
SCHOOL AND MUSLIM LEADERS IS BAD FOR NEW YORK CITY
AND THE NATION
by Imam Al-Hajj Talib 'Abdur-Rashid
Since the New York Dept.of Education announced its plan in January of this year to open a dual language (English and Arabic) college preparatory program in Brooklyn, forces opposed to its planned multicultural curriculum have been working to derail the city's latest experiment in innovative approaches to education. The Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA) is scheduled to open this month of September, providing for 6th through 12th grade students what its designers identify as a "diverse, supportive and collaborative learning environment."
A Neo-Conservative group called the Stop the Madrassa Coalition (STMC) began expoliting 1) the unawareness of most Americans insofar as the contributions of Arab culture and history to global civilization is concerned, 2) post 9-11 fears, and 3) anti-immigrant sentiments . They fanned the flames of opposition amongst parents at P.S. 282 in Park Slope, the Brooklyn neighborhood where the school was originally to open,until those parents voted against having the new program located in their school.
The Coalition's ideologue, and the most recognizable face and name on its advisory board, is that of Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum; a right-wing, Neo-Conservative think tank. Pipes is a well-known Islamophobe, who for years has been attacking Muslim leaders in America who take firm Social Justice stances on both domestic and international issues; whether they carry the American flag or not.
His favorite targets are Muslim African American leaders, who tend to be bolder and more outspoken against injustices and American government hypocrisy, than their immigrant peers. Pipes continued this pattern of aggression against American cirtizens whom he deems dangerous, when he directed the cross-hair sights of the STMC towards this writer, and the end of August.
Parental disgruntlement scuttled plans to open the KGIA at P.S.262 , but the City of New York continued to stand by its commitment to the special school. Thus , the Dept. of Education announced weeks ago that it would open at the site of MS 447 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. The City remained adamant in its support of the KGIA, refusing to give in to pressure from the Neo-Conservatives, who wanted to close the school before it opened. The KGIA opened on scheduled and without incident..
This evidenced rejection of the Neo-Cons' assertion that the school is an "Isla-
mist " front, that will become a religious school disguised as a public one. Chancellor Joel Klein has stated publicly that if that were ever to be the case, then the school would be closed. In fact, the KGIA is to be the latest in the Dept. of Ed's "New Visions for Public Schools" initiatives, which identify special groups of students and innovative educational ideas, and builds programs around them. Other efforts in the immediate past include numerous schools for gifted youngsters, alternative schools for the not so gifted who have trouble learning in traditional environments, an all-girls school in East Harlem, and a school for youth identified as gay, lesbian or transgendered, in Manhattan.
The success of these educational innovations seem to have eluded the Neo-Cons, who have appeared on all of the usual right-wing Neo-conservative television programs (Glen Beck, the O'Reilly Factor, etc. ) voicing their opposition to the KGIA, as their local print media equivalents (The NY Sun, NY Post, etc.) have attacked the idea of the school, and its visionary first principal, Debbie Al-Montaser. Two weeks ago Al-Montaser was forced to resign for failure to denounce a t-shirt produced by a NY-based group of Arab-American women artists , that read "Intifada NYC".
Lost in all of this has been the fact that the battle over KGIA is really nothing more than the latest effort of right-wing Neo-Cons to fight the increasing multi-cultural direction of American education. When White Anglo-Saxon Protestants conquered the native Americans and established the American Empire, they also established as an empowered majority, "a dominant culture with its traditions, literature, facts, its special claim to know and supervise language, and its Protestant religions". (Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, 1987, pp. 30, 160, 162)
This Anglo-American dominance over all American institutions included the field of education. The public school system was the vehicle for academic standardization in major cities in both the North (like New York), and the South. Its curriculum was designed to create a common mind-set amongst American students, rooted in a Euro-centric, colonists' interpretation of history, culture, and world events, along with instruction in math, the sciences, and other areas. The targets of this design were both "old and anticipated new waves of immigrants to the land" (Kly, The Anti-Social Contract, pp. 42-43).
This socialization strategy had limited effectiveness on non-immigrants like African American youth (who as the descendants of slaves were segregated in the South under American apartheid), Native American youth (who were segregated on reservations), and Mexicans (marginalized on the fringes of society), as well as Spanish-speaking immigrants. It still does today in Northern and Southern inner cities . (Davila, 2004), and the mid-West,
The social upheaval of the 1960s and 70s, and the profound change which followed in its wake, began to force the American people, especially those of European descent, to reexamine the cultural heritage of the nation. During that time ethnic studies, women's studies, and other areas of research previously excluded from curricula, were demanded by students nation-wide.
Some 20-odd years ago, Multicultural Education emerged as a bonafide extension of this late 20thcentury social revolution. It challenged the idea of a (White, Euro-centered) monocultural American ideal, with the acknowledgement of the nation as an amalgamation of many cultures (M. Haley, 1999). It was and is an idea, an educational reform movement, and a process (Banks, 1997).
However forces also existed then that opposed the change, insisting upon the maintenance of a monocultural status-quo. It is these same forces, rooted in a 20th century jingoism that smacks of racism (i.e. White supremacy), that are still doggedly opposing multicultural programs in the American educational system; even as the nation's ethnic, cultural, linguistic, religious and spiritual demographic, continually changes.
One of these anti-multiculturalists is David Yerushalmi,a leader of the Stop the Madrassa Coaliton. Yerushalmi, described in The Jewish Week newspaper as a "national advisory board member, counsel, and defacto treasurer" (Chandler and Cohler-Esses, 2007) is the founder and president of an organization calledThe Society of Americans for National Existence (or SANE). It's mission statement defines one of its objectives as, "…the dismantling of the liberal enterprise, including a rejection of the Open Society agenda and multiculturalism that so dominates and permeates our society".
An ally of Yerushalmi is conservative writer Elan Journo, who has stated of multicultural textbooks that they reveal "…a concerted effort to portray the most backward, impoverished and murderous cultures as advanced, prosperous and life-enhancing".
He continues, "Multiculturalism's goal is not to teach about other cultures, but to promote - by means of distortions and half-truths—the notion that non-Western cultures are as good as, if not better than, Western culture. Far from 'broadening' the curriculum, what multiculturalism seeks is to diminish the value of Western culture in the minds of students. But, given all the facts, the objective superiority of Western culture is apparent, so multiculturalists must artificially elevate other cultures and depreciate the West". ( Journo, August 20,2007)
By quoting such members and supporters selectively, the Stop the Madrassa coalition tries (unsuccessfully) to obscure its obstructionist goals and Neo-Conservative identity. But it's true colors come out in its writings and declarations. It claims to "wholeheartedly support the study of Arabic", along with Farsi and Urdu, "…for national security purposes". What the Coalition doesn't say is that it is forced to take this position because the federal government is pushing what it calls "critical language" studies throughout the country, from kindergarten though college. This was announced by President Bush last January, the same month in which plans for the KGIA were unveiled.
The "critical languages" also include Chinese, Russian and Korean (all of which the Neo-Cons fail to mention in their statement), and the reason for this early 21st century enhancement of America's foreign language study, is not just related to national security, but also the preparation of American students to compete in a global economic, technological, and scientific market; again as noted by President Bush on other occasions.
Having successfully hounded and harassed Debbie Al-Montasser - a caring, aware Arab-American immigrant, who has dedicated herself over the years to working with people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds in New York City, the Neo-Cons have now turned their attack upon an African American Muslim religious leader who sits on the Advisory board of the KGIA, namely this writer.
A week or so ago on its web-site, the Neo-Con coalition called for my resignation from the KGIA Advisory Board. The reasons cited by them reveal the true nature of their retrogressive thinking, Neo-Conservative politics, and anachronistic world view.
First, this writer was (accurately) cited as a member of the Committee to Free Imam Jamil Al-Amin (the former H. Rap Brown), whom the Neo-Cons identify solely as a "convicted cop killer". This is mentioned about me as a negative. They fail to mention that there are many people who attended the imam's trial (I was one of them, and I never saw Daniel Pipes or any of his Neo-Con associates there), and who don't believe that he received a fair legal proceeding. Thus we are supporting him during his appeal process. This process is part of the system of American law and justice, which we are placing our confidence in to right what we believe to be a wrong. What's wrong with that?
My second transgression according to the Neo-Cons, is that I have an essay available for reading on the inter-net, that asserts the Christopher Columbus didn't discover America, that this land was inhabited by the Original or Native Americans long before anyone else came here, and that African Muslims were here before Chris. The Neo-Cons seem outraged by this view, which they denounce as "Islamist propaganda". Certainly, my assertion must have surely outraged Journo, who in the above writing cites as an example of Multiculturalism's "War on Education", a textbook referring to West African Pre-Columbian civilization.
Excuse me,Neo-Cons ? I first learned of Muslim pre-Columbian presence in America, by reading of the references in the diary of Columbus himself (Jane,1988), and the writings of historians like Professors Leo Wiener , a Jewish American and author of Africa and the Discovery of America; a three volume work on the subject, published in 1920-22/ Then there is Professor Ivan Van Sertimer's They Came Before Columbus(1976). He is an American Christian of African descent . Neither of these scholars was or is a Muslim, or an "Islamist". Further, I confirmed this history during a meeting with Native American elders and leaders at the mosque I serve, years ago. Again, none of them were Muslims, much less "Islamists".
Thirdly, the Neo-Cons cite the logo of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood Inc. (visible on our web site at) and the fact that it has a sword on it beneath the words in Arabic which translated mean , "There is no god worthy of worship but Allah", and Muhammad is His Messenger" , as proof of my "radical Islamist" identity.
Excuse me again? Do they have a problem with our declaration of faith in a country in which every citizen has freedom of religious belief and expression? Perhaps what the Neo-Cons really have a problem with is our use of a sword on our logo. The sword is a religious symbol not only for Muslims, but Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and Taoists, that has been used throughout history not only by Africans and Arabs, but Celts, Chinese, Greeks, Japanese and Scandanavians (Cooper, 1978).
Further, doesn't "Lady Justice", you know, the one depicted as a statue in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C wearing a blindfold, and holding a balance scale in one hand, have a sword in her other? So why do the Neo-Cons have a problem with Muslims using the sword as a symbol of temporal justice and mercy, and the authority of righteousness, when other people and faith groups do the same?
Perhaps the Neo-Cons are upset because we of the M.I.B. declare that "Jihad is our way", or "death in the way of Allah is our promised end". Yet, even a little research by them (like ,or r) would help these narrow-minded individuals to realize that jihad is an Arabic word for "struggle", and that it's dimensions are primarily non-violent (as in spiritual jihad –called "the most excellent" by the Prophet Muhammad, or verbal jihad against tyranny, also identified as the same by him.
Then there is the jihad of arduous struggle, like the jihad against AIDS (and yes, they call it that) waged successfully in Uganda, East Africa for the past two decades. Jihad is only finally violent, as in self-defense or armed struggle.
The word "jihad" is over-used and highly mis-understood today, even by some Muslims; and apparently by the neo-Cons as well. Perhaps the latter are watching too much of their own corporate controlled media.
Yes it is true that when Muslims die, we want to do so in the way of Allah; which means in obedience to Him (Almighty God), and in a state of righteousness. Isn't this the desire of all who are believers in the God of Abraham, and the existence of heaven and hell in the hereafter?
The Neo-Cons reveal not only their biases, but their fears, when they attack an African American Muslim leader and his Harlem-based congregation, who have been doing good works in the City of New York and beyond, for four decades. Like others from our Harlem community, we work daily to build bridges of tolerance and understanding in what is perhaps the world's most diversified city.
What bridges have people like Mr. Pipes and the members of the Stop the Madrassa Coalition , and their advisors (many of whom do not live in New York), worked to build, anywhere? They only exploit the anxieties of good people, while perpetrating stereotypes as they engage in the politics of intolerance and fear.
In so doing, they render a disservice not only to the people of the City of New York, but the entire country. Ignorance breeds fear, fear breeds distrust, and distrust leads to division. Knowledge leads to awareness, awareness to enlightenment, enlightenment to understanding, and understanding to solidarity. What the city of New York and the entire country needs in this day and time are bridge builders not people dividers, or political wolves in sheep's clothing. Apparently New York City's mayor and education chancellor understand this, and good for them.
What Is Jihad?
reprinted from beliefnet or religioustolerance:
" Al-Hajj Talib 'Abdur-Rashid, imam of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem, says the word jihad has its origin in the verb jahada which means to struggle, to fight. The word has a few different connotations, since struggle can occur on several levels.
We Came Before Columbus
December 1st, 2005
THE PRE - COLUMBIAN PRESENCE OF MUSLIM AFRICANS IN AMERICA IS NO MYTH!
Imam Al-Hajj Talib 'Abdur-Rashid
Once at a pre-Sept. 11, 2001 national meeting of leaders, this writer was asked something like, "Why is it that Muslim African American men so often seem angry when dealing with other Muslims?" I answered the questions on various levels, but was recently reminded of the exchange while reading a Muslim newspaper. One reason that we Muslim African American men often express anger or resentment to our fellows of other ethnic backgrounds, is because we have too often tolerated from them for a long period of time, attitudes and behaviors that are un-Islamic, and that we would not tolerate from non-Muslims. As time has passed we have learned to "speak directly to the point", and "straighten them out" - politely but firmly.
Some of the offensive attitudes and behaviors that we encounter from Muslims would not be displayed towards us by at least some people of other faiths, out of either sensitivity and awareness, or apprehensiveness. But some of our Muslim brethren of different ethnicities feel that they can say anything to or about any Muslim, and that it is fine for them to do so, whether they know what they are talking about or not. A case in point is the opinion column written by Adem Carroll, "Between East & West: Reflections of an American Muslim - Afro-Centrism and the Chains that Bind" (The Mirror International, November 9, 2005).
After spending the first half of his article making appropriate comments on the violation of the human rights of prisoners at home and abroad (which is something he has some knowledge of, as a New York City- based human rights activist), the author of that column then ventured off into an area in which he is absolutely devoid of knowledge, and is therefore ill-equipped to comment on – the history of African people generally, those who are Muslim particularly, and our historical relationship with the Original (Native) Americans of this land.
That writer is otherwise a sincere worker who often aligns himself with good causes. Nonetheless, he made comments in the second half of his column that can best be described as culturally arrogant, attitudinally condescending, intellectually lacking, historically ignorant, academically deficient, and Islamically offensive.
He should have followed the naseeha (advice) of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who said, "He who keeps silent will be safe," as well as "A man speaks a good word not realizing its worth for which Allah records for him His good pleasure till the day he meets Him; and a man a speaks an evil word not realizing its importance for which Allah records for him His displeasure till the day he meets Him." What is the good word that pleases Allah? Surely it is truth. What is the evil word that displeases Him? Surely it is falsehood, and recklessness of the tongue.
In his column, the misinformed activist characterizes the "evidence and reasoning" of those whom he calls "Afrocentric Muslims" who assert the pre-Columbian presence of Muslim Africans in America, as "poor," "circumstantial," "weak," laughable," and "truly embarrassing." He states further that this popularly growing recognition amongst Muslims in America, finds its roots in the "very shaky pseudo-science" of scholars such as Professor Ivan Van Sertima and Shaykh Abdallah Hakim Quick, and articles in various Muslim publications beginning in 1996. To his comments I say "rubbish!"
The misguided activist obviously thinks more of his own unlearned opinion than he does of the oral traditions, scholarly writings, and academic research of experts ranging from centuries ago in the ancient world, to the present. The truth is that there is such a constantly growing, extensive body of cultural, archaeological, anthropological, and linguistic evidence of Western and Northern African Muslim pre-Columbian American (and Caribbean) presence, that those who study the evidence and continue to deny the obvious, reveal themselves to be rooted in old, racist, European renditions of American history.
It is one thing to read about towering figures in the ancient Muslim world like Al-Idrisi, Al-Biruni, Al-Mas'udi and many, many others whose contributions laid the foundations of the modern sciences of history, geography, cartography, and sea navigation. It is another to actually study their work. Both Idrisi and Mas'udi wrote of Muslim African trans-Atlantic excursions to the Western world. Al-Idrisi did so around 956 C.E. Al-Mas'udi wrote in the 12th century. These accounts were written centuries before Columbus' voyages!
To read about the existence of West Africa Muslim scholars and monarchs like Mansa Musa and Abubakari II, is titillating. To study translations of manuscripts from their era is illuminating. Mansa Musa gave clear testimony in 1324 C.E. of such voyages financed by his predecessor.
These references and more all point to what the non-expert activist dismissed as "wish-fulfillment". On the contrary, ancient Arabic language maps, Native American tribes with African names and words clearly embedded in their languages, statues, diaries, artifacts, etc. destroy European imperialistic notions of history rooted in White Supremacy. One such notion is that African peoples' history in America begins with slavery.
Ancient map of the world by Al-Mas'udi (10th Century C.E.) ,
Modern scholars and experts reveal the meaning of this material. They include not only Muslim African Americans like Clyde Ahmad Winters (who wrote a series of brilliant articles in the magazine Al-Ittihad in the late 1970s, including "Islam in Early North and South America", and "The Influence of Mande Languages on America",) and Shaykh Abdallah Hakim Quick (who is a widely respected and accomplished historian with a doctorate in West African studies, and author of Deeper Roots), but also scholars from the African continent - Dr. Sulayman Nyang, the Gambian-born Howard University Professor of African Studies , as well as Kofi Wangara, and others .
The list of distinguished Non-Muslim African American scholars who have written on the subject is long, stemming from as far back as the 1920s. They include the writings of Professor Leo Weiner, John G. Jackson (Introduction to African Civilization, 1937), J.A. Rogers (Africa's Gift to America, 1961), Carter G. Woodson (The African Background Outlined), Harold G. Lawrence (African Explorers of the New World, 1962), and too many others to list here.
Professor Ivan Van Sertima is an internationally acclaimed historian, linguist, and anthropologist. His book They Came Before Columbus (1976), which Adem Carroll denigrates (has he truly read it?), won the Clarence L. Holt Prize in 1981. It is a literary prize awarded every two years "for a work of excellence in literature and the humanities relating to the cultural heritage of Africa and the African diaspora." Van Sertima's later compilation, African Presence in Early America, is considered a definitive work on the subject. On July 7, 1987 Dr. Van Sertima appeared before a Congressional Committee to challenge the "Columbus myth". In November 1991 he defended his thesis in an address to the Smithsonian Institute.
These scholarly, ground-breaking works, focusing upon African Muslim (as opposed to European Viking) pre-Columbia exploration of North America, include those written by what is believed to be the first Western author to write on the subject, Harvard Professor Leo Weiner (Africa and the Discovery of America, 1920-22 ). Weiner heads a list of historians and social scientists who were neither African nor African Americans (including Basil Davidson, Robert Silverburg, Cyrus Gordon (Before Columbus, 1971), Legrand H. Clegg, Lewis Spence, Barry Fell , Jose V. Pimienta-Bey , and many others).
These works compliment references in the writings of Christopher Columbus, Balboa, and other European explorers, to those very same Muslim African explorers (specifically The Mandinka –the people of Kunta Kinte, ancestor of Alex Haley, author of Roots, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X) who were already present in the Carribean and North America, before the bearers of the Cross arrived (e.g. Narrative of the Third Voyage, The Voyages of Christopher Columbus, Lionel Cecil Jane).
One would think that Carroll, being an American of European descent, would at least check his facts and do some substantive research, allowing that academic work to inform his opinion and sensitize his tongue, before offering his non-professional reflections as a Muslim (White) American, about the professional works of Muslim African and African American people, who are writing, after all, about their own history! It seems that there are Muslim "White Liberals", who, like their non-Muslim counterparts, think they know more about black people and other people of color, than those people know about themselves.
The activist declares, "Afrocentric Muslims might be surprised that many Native Americans consider the diffusionist views of pre-Columbian Muslims to be essentially racist". First all of all, to state that a relative handful of Muslim explorers came to the land of the Original Americans, met them, peacefully interacted with them, traded with them (see the above depiction of such a meeting by the African American artist, Earl Sweeting), inter-married with them, and perhaps even gave another relative handful of them da'wa is hardly diffusionist.
America is the land of those indigenous inhabitants, called "Indians". It was their God-given custodial land - the land of the "Red Man", before the "White Man" stole it, committed genocide against its true people, stole the "Black Man" from Africa and brought him to the stolen land against his will, and it was he, "The White Man", who populated the land from Europe. To this day "he" grants reluctant access to "his" country, to the "Brown and Yellow Man" of Asia, and all other peoples, Muslim and Non-Muslim. That is the historical fact. To cite the history of Muslim Africans' pre-imperial, pre-colonial, pre-genocidal presence amongst the Native Americans, is not to diffuse the history of the original "People of the Land". It is to add to it!
Secondly, this author, as leader of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem, New York City, had the honor of hosting a meeting in 1991 (I believe it was) of members of the International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM). Amongst them were the leaders of many clans and nations of Original (Native) American leaders from across the country (see below photos).
MUSLIM AND NON-MUSLIM NATIVE AND AFRICAN AMERICAN LEADERS MEET AT THE MOSQUE OF ISLAMIC BROTHERHOOD IN HARLEM (photo circa 1991)
Near the end of the meeting this writer, who is himself a Muslim American of African descent, with relatives descended from the Cherokee (Native American) nation in North Carolina, U.S.A. made specific reference to that same pre-Columbian diplomatic and social relationship between Muslim African explorers, and the original "People of the Land". When this was said, those modern Native American leaders and descendants of the truly indigenous Americans, all nodded their heads in agreement. Some of them said aloud, "Yes", "That's right", "Um-hum" and the like. Perhaps that surprises the activist.
Further, each year at our mosque for more than a decade, when many other Muslim Americans are celebrating so-called Thanksgiving (Where's the daleel for that?), many members of our congregation, who are aware of and openly acknowledge our African and/or Native American heritage, gather in order to listen to talks and lectures, eat food, and get to know each other. We have done this for a more than a decade, as an act of cultural affirmation of our true history, beyond European colonial misguidance.
Why do we do so? Because Allah has said to us, "…We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into Nations and tribes, that you may know each other (Not that you may despise each other)". Further, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said "Learn your genealogies and maintain your family ties". Thus when one considers the reality of the unjust severance of the family ties of Africans forced into slavery, and their African American descendants, we have a lot to learn and much reconciliation of family to engage in.
At our annual M.I.B. gathering we pray in jamaat, eat in jamaat, and practice brotherhood and sisterhood, as this is the way of Al-Islam. We speak truth to each other -teaching our shared history, sharing personal narratives, and affirming as well as learning to recognize the Nations and Tribes that Our Creator made us into. However we do so acknowledging and ever remembering Allah's words, that "Surely the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is the most God-fearing of you, and Allah has full-knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)". (Q 49:13) It seems that like many other people, the activist needs to get to know others – listen more, and speak less. We Muslim Americans of African descent invite him to do so.
group photo from the above gathering
FROM EARLY NEW YORK TO THE PRESENT
by Imam Al-Hajj Talib 'Abdur-Rashid
There is an increasing volume of writings detailing the history of Black people in New York City and state from the earliest times. Africans, African Americans, and other people of the African Diaspora (like Afro-Carribeans, Latinos of African descent, etc.) are a vital and irrefutable part of the history of what has been called "the greatest city in America, and one of the major cities of the world". Indeed, no history of the region is complete without an examination of African presence, and that of Americans of African descent, and the impact of their culture, historical contributions, and lasting influence on the shaping of life in America generally, and the Empire State in particular.
The African continent is and always has been a place of great religious and spiritual diversity, and prominent amongst its faith traditions over the past fourteen centuries has been Al-Islam . When the Prophet Muhammad Ibn 'Abdullah (May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) sent the first group of Muslim refugees to Abyssinia for protection from religious persecution, the seeds of Al-Islam were planted in African soil. (Ishaq by Guillaume, 1955, Haykal, 1976,Mubarakpuri, 1996,)
Ample amounts of scholarly writings and works documenting the pre-Columbian exploration of America by West African Muslims of the Mali Empire now exist. (Weiner,1920-22, Jackson,1970, Van Sertima, 1976, Quick,1996) Centuries later when Africans were forcibly transplanted from the land of their origin during the Atlantic Slave Trade, they took their faith traditions with them. Thus Muslim presence was established in what eventually became known as the United States of America, and all of its major cities, including New York.
Too often though, books, films and documentaries only rarely depict Muslim presence in early America, and historical exhibitions in a vast multi-cultural city like New York, are no exception. However, modern truth telling demands that such glaring omissions cease. Shadowy black figures will continue to emerge from the past, manifesting in the present specific identities reflective of the various aspects of African culture, including religion and spirituality.
As such, it is important to understand that vast numbers, perhaps untold millions of the captive Africans forcibly transported from the African continent during slavery, were West Africans; even as others were from Central and Eastern Africa. West Africa was the home of a vast and dynamic black indigenous Muslim population, spread out amongst various African ethnic groups.
Africans Brought to the West
Examination of the historical record of Africans imported to North and South America and the Caribbean, reveals the existence of various African Muslim ethnicities such as the Mandinka, Wolof, Bambara, and Fulbe-Fulani. Names associated with other ethnicities indicating different African faith traditions may also be found, such as female captives in South Carolina named "Angola Amy" and "Igbo Clarinda". Clarinda came from the delta of the Niger River, where the Igbo (or Ibo) people lived (Ball, 1998) Muslim identity is revealed not only in the names of certain groups who to this day are largely or entirely Muslim, but in the individual names of captive Africans enslaved on Southern plantations.
Africans in the Antebellum South
Ira Berlin documents the importing of nearly 6,000 African slaves into Louisiana, between 1719 and 1731. He further specifies their ethnic identities and origins mostly derived from Senegambia. A good portion of them were Bambara - a Malinke-speaking people from the upper reaches of the Senegal River. (Berlin,1998) The Bambara are Malian and Senegalese Muslims. Similar discoveries emerge when one studies the populations of captive Africans from throughout the South in Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, etc.
For instance, male and female African Muslim names like Moosa, Wali, Amadi , Sambo or Samba , Osman (Usuman), and Fatima, can be found on lists of enslaved Africans and posted notices for runaways. Sylvianne Diouf argues in her book Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in theAmericas , that in Western Africa , unlike elsewhere in the modern Diaspora, only Muslims have Muslim names. (Diouf, 1998) This is particularly true of the Continent centuries ago, and probably still so today.
Books such as Austin's African Muslims in Antebellum America (Austin, 1997) chronicle the lives of increasingly well-known individuals spread across the country. Such sources identify the names of Muslim men such as Ayyub bin Sulaiman (Job Ben Solomon) of Senegal, held captive in Maryland (as was Kunta Kinte); his countrymen Lamine Ndiaye (called Jay) and Yarrow Mamout, held captive in South Carolina; Umar Ibn Said, held in North Carolina, Muhammad Ibn Said (called Nicholas) , of the Sudan, a free man living in Massachusetts; Muhammadu Bilali of Senegal and Salih Bilali of Mali, both held captive in Georgia; and Abdur-Rahman Ibrahim, of Timbo, Guinea.
Prior to the northward migration of Americans of African descent from the American South, African Muslim presence in New York can be found in the historical record. For instance, in April, 1839, Portuguese slave traders abducted a group of 49 innocent West Africans from their homeland, and took them forcibly to Cuba. Two months later, two Spanish men named José Ruiz and Pedro Montez purchased the captives as slaves, and began to transport them to Puerto Principe, aboard the schooner ship Amistad.
According to the legal summary of the case (The Amistad, 40 U.S. 518 (1841), United States, Appellants vs. The Libellants and Claimants of the Schooner Amistad):
"…The Africans seized the ship, killed two of the crew, and ordered the schooner to be navigated for the coast of Africa. The remaining crew altered the course and steered for the American shore. In August of 1839, the Amistad was seized off Long Island, NY, by the U.S. brig Washington. The Spaniards were freed and the Africans were imprisoned in New Haven and Hartford, Connecticut".
That September during a widely-publicized trial (Director Steven Spielberg even depicted it in the 1997 Hollywood film, Amistad ) , The Spaniards claimed that their "property" had names like Antonio, Simon, Martin, Manuel, Andreo, Edwards, and Celedonia.
An expert witness, a former British governmental administrator, was called to testify during the trial . Richard Robert Madden, after a visit to the Africans being held in New Haven, Connecticut, stated during sworn testimony:
"... I have examined them and observed their language, appearance and manners; and I have no doubt of their having been, very recently, brought from Africa. To one of them I spoke, and repeated a Mohammedan form of prayer, in the Arabic language; the man immediately recognized the language, and repeated the words 'All?h Akbar', or 'God is great'. The man who was beside this Negro, I also addressed in Arabic, saying 'salaam alaikum', or peace be on you; he immediately, in the customary oriental salutations, replied, 'alaikum salaam', or peace be on you…"
Another witness was a black man named James Covey, who while being deposed,
stated that he had been born in "Berong-Mendi" country in West Africa. He too had been allowed to visit the Africans, and declared that they all had Mende (Mandinka, Mandingo) names. [ 40 U.S. 518, 524,534,537 ]The Mende or Mandinka people are overwhelmingly Muslims (Kunta Kinte, Alex Haley's Gambian ancestor, was one). The real names of the captive Africans were revealed to be of African origin, with several Muslim names among them, including Dammah (Dramme?) , Baah, Cabbah (Kaba, the name of the Holy House in Mecca), Saah, Moorah (Moor?), Sesse (Cissé, a popular Senegalese Muslim name), Berrie, and possibly others. [ 40 U.S. 518, 524,534,537 ]
The Federal District Court ruled that the Africans were free men and women, illegally taken from their motherland, and held captive. Therefore they were not liable for their acts nor were they property. The Circuit Court upheld the District Court Decision.
During the 19th century, New York literary and societal circles entertained much discussion about the abolition of slavery. There, Mahommah Gardo Baquau, a born Muslim of dubious faith practice originally from Benin, was a well-known figure of his time. This was due mostly to the publishing of his biography in the mid-1850s. (Austin, 1997).
Henry Highland Garnett was a militant, fiery New Yorker who is considered one of the fathers of Pan-Africanism. He lived in Upstate New York, where he pastored the Liberty Street Presbyterian Church in Troy, and debated Frederick Douglass on tactics for the liberation of Black people in America from bondage. He was unquestionably of Mandinka ancestry (Stuckey, 1987)
Depictions of African Muslims in Art and Literature
Depictions of African Muslims in Art and Literature
As one might expect, the presence of Muslims in Early New York emerges not only from the historical record, but from the pages of art and literature as well.
Beginning in 1833, the European theatrical world's first serious dramatic depiction of a black man, was that of Shakespeare's Othello, "the Moor of Venice". The Moors were the Black African Muslims who conquered Spain and ruled it for 800 years, ending in 1492. This was during the time of minstrel shows and what they represented in America.
The first great and internationally acclaimed interpreter of the role of Othello, was Ira Aldridge – an African American man born in New York City. Although Aldridge never performed in the city of his birth, he nonetheless enthralled audiences as a charismatic artist in England and beyond, a century before Paul Robeson's historic and then unprecedented run on New York City's Broadway, in the same role. Writings of the time claimed that Aldridge was of Senegalese ancestry
The Great Migration Northward
"The early Muslim community contributed significantly to the
creation of the African American identity"
-- Michael A. Gomez, Exchanging Our Country Marks
Fareed Nu'man, former Senoir Researcher for the American Muslim Council, has identified what he calls "the sixty year gap in the history of Islam in Afro-America". The identified period began with the end of slavery as a sanctioned policy in the American South in 1863, and extended until the occurrence of what Professor Sulayman Nyang calls "the emergence of some form of Islam in the 1920s, among African- Americans living in the northern cities of New York, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Detroit" (Yunus and Siddiqui,1998, pg. 11).
At the end of the 19th Century, the journey of African Americans northward, involved such vast numbers of people over such a short period of time, that the phenomena is known as "The Great Migration", or "The Black Exodus". Writer, activist and social commentator Amiri Baraka once said that this migration was "a decision, not a historical imperative". (Grossman, 2002, page 12)
Major Northern states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, were the destination of great numbers of Americans of African descent from Florida, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia. (U.S. Dept. Of Labor , 1919)
In 1899 the great African American scholar W.E.B. DuBois wrote and published a pioneering study of the pre-World War One migration of his people from the southern to the northern United States. Entitled The Philadelphia Negro, it "emphasized migration as a key element in black population growth and community development." (Trotter, 1991,pg.2 )
Mary White Ovington's early 20th Century study of black neighborhoods in the five boroughs of New York City (Ovington, 1911), showed that most of them were populated by Southerners. "The Big Apple" was the focus of southern migrations to N.Y. state, whose 1910 sources of immigrant population show the arrival of African Americans in the following numbers.
North Carolina 10,283
South Carolina 6,698
(Osofsky, 1996, pg. 220):
By 1920, according to Darlene Clark Hine "…almost 40 percent of Afro-Americans residing in the North were concentrated in eight cities. The three eastern cities with high percentages of black citizens were New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh ..." (Hine,1991, pg.128)
Garvey,Daoud , Abdul-Hamid, and Al-Isl?m
The great and honorable Marcus Garvey, who was himself the student of a Nubian Egyptian Muslim named Duse Muhammad Effendi , referred to Almighty God, Creator of the heavens and the earth during one of his famous public addresses, as "… the God of Africa, The Allah most High, Noble and Almighty" (Garvey, 1923, 1925, pg. 412)
Further, he mentioned The Prophet Muhammad Ibn Abdullah (peace be upon him) several times in his speeches, as an inspirational figure whom he considered to be a great black man. Garvey declared before an audience at Liberty Hall, in Harlem, New York on September 17, 1922,
"…everybody knows that Mohammed was a Negro…Negroes on this side of the river had accepted Christ, while on the other side, many of them had accepted Mohammed. .. He was a colored man, anyhow…".
(Minutes of U.N.I.A. Convention, August 5, 1924)
African American Sunni Muslim Pioneers
Those familiar with the great legacy of the Nation of Islam in New York City, know that it peaked between the early 1960s and the mid 1970s . Harlem produced the Nation's two most dynamic ministers – Malcolm X (later known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) and Louis Farrakhan. However, perhaps many people would be surprised to learn of the foundational work laid by African American Sunni Muslims in New York City and State.
In 1928, two years before the beginning of the Nation of Islam, The State Street Mosque (still extant, now known as Masjid Daoud) was founded in Brooklyn, New York by the late Sheikh Daoud Ahmed Faisal. To date, it is New York's oldest existing Muslim congregation and edifice.
Muhammad Al-Ahari has described this visionary leader as,
"… a devout Muslim of Caribbean and Moroccan background" who "…was born in 1891 and came to the United States as a young man. In 1920 he married his wife Khadijah. She became a dutiful aid to his Islamic work which ranged from his founding of the Islamic Propagation Center of America in 1928 at 143 State Street in Brooklyn (New York), to his establishment of the Muslim Village Madinah Al-Salaam near Fishkill, New York in 1934 (it lasted until 1942)... He was always a Muslim pioneer in all his endeavors…Sheikh Daoud founded the Islamic Mission Society of America In 1934." (Al-Ahari, 1996,1998, pp. 1,2)
In1949, Sheikh Daoud wrote a letter to the United Nations in the year 1949 entitled, "Islam, World Peace, and the role of delegates to the United Nations".
Robert Dannin writes,
" … Years before Malcolm X suggested taking African-American problems to the floor of the U.N. General Assembly, Sheik Daoud successfully lobbied Arab delegates there to grant observer status to his Islamic Mission. In a statement presented at the U.N. General Assembly in October 1960, he proposed that the United Nations would realize its ideals only when 'its entire activities (were) guided by the Laws and the Command of the Almighty God in Islam'. " ( Dannin , 2006,pg. 62)
Sufi Abdul-Hamid was the first Muslim northern urban activist, to achieve success in the modern era. He was a self-determined labor movement pioneer, who organized African American workers in both Chicago and New York City, in the early to late 1930's. ('Abdur-Rashid, 1979, McKay, 1940, Greenberg,1991)
Sufi came to Harlem in 1932, as a successful activist and community organizer in Chicago. There, during a time of high unemployment of Blacks due to systematically racist hiring practices, Abdul-Hamid conceived and led a grassroots campaign and boycott that resulted in the hiring of "… 300 jobs in two months" (Greenberg, 1991, pg. 121), for African Americans, by businesses that had been exploiting the poor.
When Sufi arrived in New York City in the early 1930s, he found that American domestic workers of European descent labored for four to six dollars a day. Those of African descent were forced to do so for one dollar daily. These same workers, almost all of them women, would secure work by standing along the Grand Concourse; the longest and perhaps widest residential street in the borough of the Bronx. White American families would drive along, examine the women, and eventually pick those whom they wanted to work in their homes. The areas of the Concourse where this took placed were eventually dubbed "The Bronx Slave Markets" by the black folk.
In Harlem at that time, on the famed 125th Street, African Americans with college degrees worked as elevator operators, because racism disqualified them from holding higher positions. Less educated White folks came from other parts of the city to work in the center of Harlem, even though they didn't live there, while qualified people who lived in Harlem, couldn't work there because of racism and non-ownership of many businesses. (McKay, 1940).
Sufi used his fiery rhetoric and powerful oratorical skills (Rev. Adam Clayton Powell Sr. claimed that Sufi's style impacted upon his own preaching) to attract a large following on Harlem streets by 1933. Speaking on the corner of W. 135th street and Seventh Avenue, he spoke out vehemently against the blatant racism and discrimination .
Sufi Abdul-Hamid rallied housewives, college students, and the Harlem masses. He organized from street corners while standing on step ladders, and is said to be the founder of that hallowed Harlem tradition. He invited Black college students and other activists to climb the ladder and speak, and they did. Eventually the tactics he had successfully used in Chicago, took root in Harlem. Black Nationalists, Church leaders, the Urban League and the Black Press, locked arms in solidarity of purpose. Harlemites picketed, boycotted, and otherwise pressured businesses like Blumstein's Department store (whose sign can still be seen hanging right across the street from the Apollo Theatre). These tactics are still used today as an organizing tool in America's inner cities.
Sufi's public uniform often consisted of high black leather boots, a military shirt and pants, a fez or turban, and on occasion, a cape. When asked about his appearance, he stated, "There is so much religion and regalia in the soul of Negroes, one can do nothing with them without some of it." ('Abdur-Rashid, 1979). He died in 1938 while piloting his own airplane. Foul play was suspected.
Present Day Community
The rich cultural legacy indicated above lies at the root of African and African American Muslim presence in New York, in the modern era. Various sources cite the ethnic breakdown of Muslims in New York City as two-thirds immigrants, and one-third indigenous (the overwhelming majority of whom are African Americans).
Over the past two decades there has been a tremendous increase in continental African Muslim presence in New York, as a continuation of African voluntary migration to the U.S. throughout the 20th Century, by students, seamen, and political refugees (Nyang, 1998). Muslim Africans have moved into various parts of the city, dramatically altering its demographics.
Currently there is a gradual but still dynamic partnering of African American (i.e. diasporan) and continental African Muslims. Beginning some 20 years ago, Harlem's two oldest Sunni Muslim mosques and congregations, The Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood (on West 113th Street) and Masjid Malcolm Shabazz (on West 116th Street) welcomed African Muslim immigrants to their houses of worship; incubating the growing community of their neighbors from a common Motherland.
A decade ago there were only two Sunni Muslim mosques in Harlem. There are now seven (one down from eight, because two of the congregations recently merged). Three of these Muslim houses of worship have an overwhelmingly African American congregation, with a minority of worshippers who are continental Africans. The reverse in true in the other four masaajid (mosques) where the majority are West African Muslims from Senegal, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and elsewhere. These Muslims leave in the general neighborhood of the mosques.
These indigenous Muslims wear traditional Islamic clothes, or the latest from Armani or Liz Claiborne. They are entertainers, their managers, and athletes on every level from school aged to professional. They are everywhere – overt and covert in their appearance as Muslims. Their continental African brothers and sisters, and their children, are coming up behind African Americans as a people; learning how to live in a society quite different from their country of origin.
Unfortunately, as black people living in black and brown neighborhoods, continental African Muslims have suffered from the problems of their surrounding environments. They have been the victims of police brutality and abuse, in two of the worst such killings to ever occur in New York City – the wanton slaying of Amadou Diallo, and equally so, of Ousmane Zongo. Several months ago several African Muslim women and children died in a tragic fire in a section of the Bronx ,once inhabited by other ethnic immigrant groups.
The killing of Amadou Diallo caused an outpouring of rage and sympathy amongst African Americans, Latinos, and others, that hadn't been seen in the city in decades. Similarly, the outpouring of sympathy, compassion, and charity from New Yorkers of all ethnicities and faith groups, was an inspiring milestone in the city's history of response to tragedies.
Suffice it to say that when one now walks the streets of New York City generally and Harlem in particular, both diasporan and continental African people can not only be seen in large numbers, but their impact can be felt as black New Yorkers struggling for empowerment and upliftment.
African Muslims are perhaps the city's most recent large-scale wave of immigrants, hailing from several countries in West Africa. As they grow to know their African American Muslim neighbors, a cultural bond is forming that is apparent.
Religious leadership bodies like the Harlem Shura – a Council of Imams in "the Village of Harlem", have a leader who is a diasporan African (this writer), and a deputy leader from the Continent (Imam Sulaimane Konate, from Cote D'voire).
Economic partnerships are forming through the vehicle of the Harlem Business Alliance, chaired by the widely-respected Walter Edwards (Abdur Rauf Nasiruddin) . In "Little Africa" on West 116th Street between Malcolm X Blvd. and Fifth Avenue, a new housing development is under construction that has an African motif exterior that one doesn't even see in many capital cities in the Motherland. It has been designed by African American architects employed by Edwards' Harlem-based company, Full Spectrum Inc.
Lastly, an increasing number of inter-cultural marriages and their resulting children, are reuniting blood ties between African people from opposite sides of the Atlantic, centuries after African families were ruptured during slavery. However, the ethnicities, names, dress, religion and culture of this vibrant, Black, non-Christian religious community, have significant roots in the city of immigrants; as we all are learning every day.
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