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The African-American’s Journey to Al-Islam
Today, in the Western world, when we hear the word “Muslim” or “Islam,” many Americans tend to think of terrorists or Middle Easterners (the uneducated). As of 2017, there are at least 3 to 3.5 million American Muslims living in the United States of America. The majority ethnic group that makes up this population is the African American people. However, the question “How does this arise?” arises If you want to know the history of Muslims in America and their wide spread, you cannot discuss this topic without mentioning the African or should we say the journey of the African American to Al-Islam.
In the transatlantic slave trade there were between 15 and 20 million enslaved Africans and of these slaves there were between 2% and 4% African Muslims. These Muslims were from the Mandinka, Fulani, Wolof, Soninke, Songhai, Ashanti, Taureg, Nupi, Yoruba, Susa, Kanuri, Mandara and Vai tribes. We are all familiar with and have learned from Alex Haley’s book (and movie) Roots, which was a story about an enslaved African Muslim named Kunta Kinte, where he lived in a small village in West Africa, practiced Islam and he was a student. of Arabic and lived his daily African rituals. He was captured and brought to America as a slave, sold and given the name Toby. She tried to escape captivity countless times and married a house cook named Bell, where they had a daughter named Kizzy who went on to have many children. There is also documentation and stories where you can find information about other enslaved African Muslims such as; S’Quash, The Moor, Phillip The Fula, Sambo, Mahommah Gardo Baquaqua, Lamine Kebe, Lamine Ndiaye, Yarrow Mamout, Charles Larten, William Rainesford and many more who were all well educated and literate in mathematics, Arabic, science, and various spoken languages Throughout the years of slavery, the African people were oppressed and their cultural and religious practices were suppressed. Slaves took the names of their slave masters as an identity of one’s ownership and forced Christianity upon them. Generation after generation, Al-Islam had dissipated.
In the 20th century, between 1900 and 1975, there were many African American civil rights activists and leaders such as Marcus Garvey, Father Divine, Noble Drew Ali, and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad who brought different teachings and ideologies to African American communities to make them . blacks more self-aware, self-sufficient and to better themselves socially and economically within these communities. Since the theme is “The Journey of African Americans to Al-Islam”, Noble Drew Ali and the Moorish Science Movement was one of the first and foremost movements to bring Al-Islam back to the African American people. Ali’s teachings were not from the Holy Qur’an nor did the Moorish Science Temple follow any practices of the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh), but his claim was to teach Islam or “Islamism”. The practices of the Moorish science temple had some correlation with the mainstream of Al-Islam. For example, followers stood and faced the east during prayers, their religious service and prayer were on Fridays, gender separation in seating, women were responsible for wearing a headscarf or turban , men to wear a red fez at all times and dress modestly. Noble Drew Ali also wrote his own Qur’an, calling it “Circle 7 of the Qur’an”.
The number of adherents to Moorish science today is not specifically known, but it has been estimated that there are about 10,000 spread over 15 different cities in the United States. Following in the middle of this movement was the Allah Temple of Islam, which was started by Fard Muhammad in 1930; the name would change to the Lost Nation of Islam, where Minister Elijah Muhammad would succeed Fard Muhammad as leader and eventually lead the Nation of Islam. In time, he assumed the title of prophet and messenger of Allah, and Fard clearly identified himself as Allah or the incarnation of Allah. This is not what Muslims believe. Muslims believe that there is only one G-d and that He alone has no partners, no partners, nor was born, nor would He die nor have any children and that Muhammad (Psl) is the seal of all prophets and he is the last messenger. . The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught the knowledge of God, of self, and of self-reliance. By 1960, the Nation of Islam had 69 temples in 27 states, and membership was believed to reach 100,000.
Two years later, some estimates put the NOI’s membership at 250,000 and at its peak 1 million members. The NOI was also extremely active in promoting the African American economy and had established a number of successful businesses in the 1950s and 1960s. For example, the NOI had grocery stores, bakeries, clothing stores, restaurants, large warehouses and numerous establishments that offered various services. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad mentored Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Louis Farrakhan and Imam Warith Deen Mohammed. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad had 7 sons and out of these seven sons was Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, born as Wallace Delaney Muhammad. His name was chosen for him by Fard Muhammad, who predicted that the newborn would one day succeed Elijah Muhammad as leader of the Nation of Islam. Wallace was only about 12 years old when he first became aware of the discrepancies between the message of the Qur’an and his father’s teachings. Because of his refusal to be called to the army, in 1961 he was sentenced to three years in prison. He had time to study the Koran and when he returned to the Nation of Islam he hoped to transform it into a truly Islamic movement.
After his father’s death on February 25, 1975, Wallace became the Supreme Minister of the Nation of Islam and immediately began a process of change that would result in the largest conversion of people to Al- Islam in the history of America. In 1976, he changed the name of the Nation of Islam to the World Community of Al-Islam in the West and changed his own name to Warith Deen Mohammed. He led a systematic and massive movement of his followers into the fold of orthodox Al-Islam. He taught the five obligatory prayers, Ramadan, Zakat, and encouraged performing the Hajj. In 1992, Imam Mohammed became the first Muslim to lead morning prayers in the United States Senate. Today, Imam Mohammed’s teachings still serve as spiritual and religious guidance for some 2.5 million Muslims in America. He probably influenced the conversion of more people to Al-Islam than any other Muslim in the world today.
In conclusion, the journey to Al-Islam for the African American people has been a long but successful struggle. It just so happens that there were between 3 and 6 million African Muslim slaves in the slave trade, and there are about 2 million African American Muslims in the United States of America today. It just so happens that even non-Muslim African Americans have Muslim names such as: Ahmad, Rasheed, Jamal, Kamal, Aisha, Jamela, Tariq, Shakur, Jaleel, Malik, Malika, Khadijah, and Amina, just to name a few. Although Al-Islam came to the African-American communities in a corrupt way, these pioneers were “stepping stones” for the African-American people to come to the light of the Holy Qur’an and follow the practices of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). If God wills it, it will be so.
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