Black Muslims: We Exist

ibtiahaj muhammad

US Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad (left), and Manchester United footballer Paul Pogba (right).

Source: Huffington Post

By Mahmoud Mire; Unapologetically black and Muslim; I write about things I am passionate

“If you are Muslim, and you love America and freedom and you hate terror, stay here and help us win and make the future together.” Former president Bill Clinton addressed the nation, and perhaps millions more overseas, with these words on the second day of the Democratic National Convention, moments before addressing young African Americans. When asked if it is permissible to support Black Lives Matter and similar social movements, Assim AlHakeem, a Saudi scholar of Islam, tweeted the following response:

All lives matter! However, this movement is something for them and not for us! Support Islam and Muslims. 

My parents hail from Somalia, the land of poets, and I consider myself an African American Muslim. A quick wit and a sharp tongue runs in the blood of my ancestors. Yet every time I hear rhetoric similar to Clinton’s and AlHakeem’s, I am momentarily at a loss for words. Despite the obvious differences, both the Saudi scholar and our 41st president proved to have at least one striking similarity: their blatant and perhaps unapologetic disregard for the existence of Black Muslims.

A classic racist remark, one we have been hearing with an increasingly alarming frequency as of late, goes ‘go back to where you came from!’ What if ‘where you came from’ was the hospital downtown? What if your ancestors were one of the hundreds of thousands of Muslim slaves, brought forcibly from ‘where they came from’, upon whose backs this country was built? This is a reality for millions of Muslims and non-Muslim African Americans today.

Current estimates place the number of Muslim slaves between 10 and 15 percent of all African slaves brought to America. Since then, African American Muslims have been at the forefront of many of our countries largest social, economic, cultural, and political movements. Not only were they the first Muslims in America, but it was through the efforts of African Americans (both Muslim and otherwise) in the mid-20th century that paved the path for Muslims of other ethnicities to immigrate to America. Yet time and again, black Muslims are excluded from the larger Muslim narrative.

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Categories: Islamophobia, Racism

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