Blacks in U.S. drawn to Islam despite radicals

Sekou Jackson is used to the questions: Why does he need to leave a work meeting to pray? Don’t black Muslims convert to Islam in jail? Why would you even want to be Muslim?

“It’s kind of a double whammy to be African-American and Muslim,” said Mr. Jackson, who studies the Navy at the National Academy of Science in Washington. “You’re going to be judged.”

Mr. Jackson’s struggle may have gotten harder when the FBI on Wednesday raided a Detroit-area warehouse used by a Muslim group. The FBI said the group’s leader preached hate against the government, trafficked in stolen goods and belonged to a radical group that wants to establish a Muslim state in America. The imam of the group’s mosque, a black American named Luqman Ameen Abdullah, was killed in a shootout with agents. The FBI says he resisted arrest and fired a gun.

On Friday, the Masjid Al-Haqq mosque in Detroit, where Mr. Abdullah served as prayer leader, dismissed as “utterly preposterous” the FBI’s allegations that Mr. Abdullah was part of a radical Islamic group. Mr. Abdullah was a “recognized and respected member of numerous mainstream Muslim organizations and leadership bodies,” the mosque said.

Read more:

Very nice.

There are a couple of things I find interesting in this article.

“The unique history African-Americans have faced, we’re primed for accepting Islam,” said Mr. Jackson, 31, who grew up in a secular home and converted to Islam when he was about 18.
When someone comes to you with a message that everyone is equal, that the only difference is the deeds that they do, of course people who have been oppressed will embrace that message,” he said. “It’s a message of fairness.”

How is that different than the Christian religion?

Few white Americans convert to Islam “because the tendency is to view Islam as foreign,” he said. “For African-Americans, it’s part of their African heritage. There’s a long tradition [in Africa]. … It moves them away from the Christianity they saw as a slave religion, as** the religion that legitimized their slavery**.”

I guess I understand the link being made between US historical slavery and Christianity, but what about slavery and Islam? There was plenty of it during the same period of time and slavery is condoned today in some African Muslim countries.

I guess blacks are okay with Arab racism and slavery.

Unlike other groups that came to the United States, blacks have no real traditions from the country of their ancestors. We don’t even know where they came from, except for some undisclosed place in Africa. Until Alex Haley’s “Roots,” Africa was never portrayed in a positive light. In the slave castles in Ghana, there are Catholic chapels for the European slavers, near the basements where they would systematically rape female slaves before putting them on the ships. Given this situation, many blacks feel like Christianity was forced on them by white people to make them docile and rip them away from their African roots. Islam is appealing because it seems to be a “black religion” that inspires pride in African roots rather than shame. The whole issue of having statues and pictures of Jesus and Mary as Europeans is very contentious, even among black Christians, because of the claim that they lead to self hatred. Since Muslims have never directly oppressed black Americans the same way that white Christians have, the issue about Arabs owning slaves is a non-issue. The basis of Arab slavery was also much different; in many cases it was a temporary state, whereas American slavery assumed that the color of one’s skin was the basis for the perpetual servitude of the individual and his future issue (not to apologize for Arab slavery, but it’s like comparing apples and oranges). This is kind of rambling, but these are the main reasons that Islam is appealing to blacks in a nutshell.

Look up the history of the Nation of Islam association. The group is considered heterodox by Islam for a reason. It is not part of the Islamic faith. The Nation of Islam movement began as an African American fraternal lodge similar to the Shriners.

Yes, but they aren’t the largest group of Black Muslims according to the article:

Most black Muslims are orthodox Sunnis who worship in about 300 mosques across the country, Mr. Mamiya said. The second-largest group follows Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, which has about 100 mosques in America, abroad and in U.S. prisons, Mr. Mamiya said.

Yes, I understand the history.

[quote=lucybeebee] Islam is appealing because it seems to be **a “black religion” that inspires pride in African roots **rather than shame. The whole issue of having statues and pictures of Jesus and Mary as Europeans is very contentious, even among black Christians, because of the claim that they lead to self hatred.


This is the stuff I don’t get. I understand that Jesus and Mary are Europeanized quite a bit, but they weren’t African either…they were semitic. Islam is also not African…it is semitic and Arabic.

I never said they were the largest. I was just pointing out a fact related to the article. The second largest group is in fact considered heterodox by Muslims (Sunni or Shiite ).

Much better. :wink: :slight_smile:

Take a look… it began with an African-American fraternal organization, which evolved from Prince Hall Masonry…

Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity in Africa goes right back to the Bible. Christianity was in Ethiopia 1000 years before it was in Europe. Africans in the continent, or in America or in Europe or elsewhere, should not see Christianity as some sort of White European Religion. Christianity certainly didn’t start in Europe.

If you look at religious paintings and such from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, or even the Baltimore Catechism, Jesus, Mary, etc. are all depicted as being explictly European (blond hair, blue eyes, fair skin), not Semitic or Middle Eastern. Up until the Civil Rights Movement, blacks were portrayed in extremely insulting terms:

The juxtaposition of whites as the zenith of perfection (i.e., “White Jesus” “White Mary”) with the depiction of blacks as little more than bipedal apes, was such that it was very damaging for black self-image. This is why modern black churches, whether Protestant or Catholic, tend to have black images of Christ and the saints. The fact that when a young filmmaker re-did the famous “doll test” several years, and all of the black children involved said the black doll was “the bad doll,” is indicative that these self-hating notions have yet to disappear.

With regard to the Nation of Islam, it’s a black nationalist/separatist religious group, not a fraternal organization. While the NOI looms large in the black consciousness, it only has about 10,000 members, which is what T.D. Jakes could pull in on a bad day. You’ll only find NOI members in places like Chicago, New York, and Atlanta, and even then only in certain black neighborhoods. These days, if blacks want to become Muslim, they become Sunni. This mainstream Sunni site describes briefly the differences in belief between NOI and Sunni Islam:

First of all, I already acknowledged that Jesus and Mary were Europeanized, so I have no idea why you are repeating yourself. The Jim Crow depictions you show are divorced from Christianity - they are cultural issue.

As far as depicting Jesus and “the saints” as black, that is just ridiculous. If you are opposed to the Europeanization of Jesus and Mary, then you should be equally opposed to the Africanization of them.They are real people. There are black saints. Why not just emphasize them? St Martin de Porres, St Charles Lwanga, St. Josephine Bakhita… Personally, I have prayed for the intercession of the Ugandan martyrs after a visiting priest brought them to my attention.

I don’t think the history of Christianity in the US can be so neatly divorced from that of racism and slavery. One of the justifications for slavery was that it was a way to “save” Africans from barbarism and heathenism. The reason why I posted the link to those images is to show that until recently, blacks weren’t even portrayed as being identifibly human in the media, much less as being virtuous or intelligent. I’m not saying that images of a white Jesus immediately sent blacks into a tailspin of self-loathing, but that it was part of a larger message that goodness was equal to whiteness. Even as I type this, I see images at the top of the screen of Mary and Jesus looking blonde-haired and blue eyed. We both know that neither of these individuals looked this way in real life, but that’s the way they appeared in traditional Catholic art. So it seems to me, if it’s okay to portray Jesus as being Northern European (which he obviously wasn’t in real life), then why is it not okay to depict him as black, if the picture in question is reverent and tasteful? Lastly, I should probably specify by saying that the images of the black saints that I was referring in question were actually black in real life. That is to say, no one is making an Africanized picture of St. Therese or Padre Pio. At least, not to my knowledge.

Then, you applaud the blonde-haired blue-eyed depictions? I like the recent moves to depict Jesus and Mary more authentically as mediterranean. To me, it doesn’t make sense to correct errors with more errors. :shrug: Feel free to do/support what you want though. I don’t think that depicting Mary and Jesus as black helps things though.

[quote=lucybeebee]Lastly, I should probably specify by saying that the images of the black saints that I was referring in question were actually black in real life. That is to say, no one is making an Africanized picture of St. Therese or Padre Pio. At least, not to my knowledge.

That’s good…you had me worried for a minute there. :stuck_out_tongue: However, that common sense approach should apply to depicting Jesus and Mary, as well imo.

Not quite true, Paul preached in Greece almost right off the bat. And followed up to Rome shortly after.

Ethiopan Christianity can certainly date back to the Queen’s eunuch in Acts 8, which might give it a few years at most over it’s arrival in Europe (assuming the eunuch went straigh back and began conversions).

it is pretty easy to become muslim. i think in islam you need only say a short prayer and you are considered one of them. there are no classes or ceremony like confirmation, baptism, or bar or bat mitzvah. i might be wrong on this so if someone knows differently please correct me. i have heard that it is within the prison population that islam is growing pretty quickly which is kind of scary.

As today is the memorial for St Martin de Porres, I pray that he will help all of our brothers and sisters, whatever their skin tone, see the Truth that is Jesus Christ, Our Lord. May all, rich and poor, live a more faithful, humble life in Christ. Amen.

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