Archive for February, 2008

Pew U.S. Religious Landscape Survey

February 25, 2008

People should check this site out here for a bunch of information on religion in the United States.  Media reports are emphasizing that the data shows that people in the U.S. change religions a lot.  With regard to Muslims (where it seems a lot of this is data that was previously released) if one believes the Pew data there are a lot less Muslims in the U.S. than Muslims usually claim (around, but less than 2 million while Muslims like to say six or eight or ten million) and Muslims are the most diverse religious group racially/ethnically with large amounts of whites (Arabs counting as whites), Blacks, and Asians with some Hispanics.  The only other religious group as diverse was Jehovah’s Witnesses. 

 I’ll keep chewing on the report to see if I come up with other stuff — but I really wish we as Muslims would stop (falsely) bragging about how many Muslims we are (numbers are not the most important thing anyways) and start working on really giving the message and creating functional communities.  This is really a whole different post, but to remind myself to come back to it later, almost all really functional Muslim communities and even masjids are ones started, run by and composed largely of immigrant groups.  The criticisms of this older generation are easy to make and they should by no means be ignored but the failure of those of us who are indigenous Muslims (of whatever ethnic group or minhaj) to succeed in offering real, functional alternatives are absolutely glaring.     I know that this is what groups like MANA are trying to address, may Allaah (swt) make us successful.

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from “Tea and Sympathy:Liberals and Other White Hopes” by Lerone Bennett, Jr. PART II

February 24, 2008

See Part I here. 

Frederick Douglass 

 shields-green.jpgShields Green

 “In the end, John Brown made of himself an act of transcendence.  The act he chose–the tools, the means, the instruments– does not concern us here.  His act, as it happened, was violent and apocalyptic; but it could have been as gentle as rain in the spring, a word perhaps, yes, or a name or a life committed to a piece of paper.  Acts to the end grow out of the lineaments of men’s lives and it is up to each man to create and invent not only his act but the occasion of his act. 

“John Brown made his occasion, attacking the arsenal at Harper’s Ferry in the hope of creating a situation in which slaves all over the South would flock to him.  He begged his old friend, Frederick Douglass, to accompany him; but Douglass insisted that the plan was premature.  The old white man and the young Negro argued from eight one night to three the next morning.  While they argued, a tough cynical fugitive slave named Shields Green watched and weighed.  After the argument, Douglass rose and asked Shields Green if he were ready to go.  Green thought for a moment and then said: “I believe I go wid de old man.”  Shields Green was in the mountains and could have escaped when  federal troops closed in on John Brown.  A man suggested flight, but Shields Green said: “I believe I go down wid de old man.”  And he did — all the way to the gallows.

“Why did Green deliberately sacrifice his life? 

“Not because he was irrevocably committed to John Brown’s way but because he was irrevocably committed to John Brown, because, in a horribly bloody and horribly tangible way, a prayer had been answered; because he at long last found a man, neither black nor white, who was willing to go all the way. 

“Who?

“I believe I go wid de old man.”

“Who?

“A man for all seasons,” a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day. 

“Who?

“A John Brown or a Wendell Phillips or a Paine.  It may be that America can no longer produce such men.  If so, all is lost.  Cursed is the nation, cursed is the people, who can no longer breed indigenous radicals when it needs them. 

“There was an America once that was big enough for a Phillips; there was even an America big enough for a Brown.

“What happened to that America?

“Who killed it?

“We killed it, all of us, Negroes and whites, with our petty evasions and paternalistic doles, with our sycophantic simpering and our frantic flights from truth and risk and danger.  We killed it, all of us, liberals and activists with the rest.  Can the stone be rolled once again from the mouth of the cave?  It is my faith — and all Negroes who do not have that faith are in or on their way to prisons, asylums, or Paris — that buried somewhere deep beneath the detergents and lies is the dead body of the America that made Thomas Jefferson a lawbreaker and John Brown a martyr. 

“Can the stone be rolled away again?

from “Tea and Sympathy:Liberals and Other White Hopes” by Lerone Bennett, Jr. PART I

February 24, 2008

hovenden-john-brown.jpgLast Moments of John Brown by Hovenden

 john brownJohn Brown  John Brown                                    

 Published 1964 in The Negro Mood and Other Essays by Lerone Bennett Jr.

 This excerpt from “Allies for Freedom & Blacks on John Brown” by Benjamin Quarles

“It is to John Brown that we must go, finally, if we want to understand the limitations and possibilities of our situation.  He was of no color, John Brown, of no race or age.  He was pure passion, pure transcendence.  He was an elemental force like the wind, rain and fire.  “A volcano beneath a mountain of snow,” someone called him.

“A great gaunt man with a noble head, the look of a hawk and the intensity of a saint, John Brown lived and breathed justice.  As a New England businessman, he sacrificed business and profits, using his warehouse as a station on the underground railroad.  In the fifties, he became a full-time friend of freedom, fighting small wars in Kansas and leading a group of Negro slaves out of Missouri.  Always, everywhere, John Brown was preaching the primacy of the act.  “Slavery is evil, he said, “kill it.”

“But we must study the problem…”

Slavery is evil–kill it!

“We will hold a conference…”

Slavery is evil–kill it!

“But our allies…”

Slavery is evil–kill it!

“John Brown was contemptuous of conferences and study groups and graphs.  “Talk, talk, talk,” he said.  Women were suffering, children were dying–and grown men were talking.  Slavery was not a word; it was a fact, a chain, a whip, an event; and it seemed axiomatic to John Brown that facts could only be controverted by facts, a life by a life.

“There was in John Brown a complete identification with the oppressed.  It was his child that a slaveowner was selling; his sister who was being whipped in the field; his wife who was being raped in the gin house.  It was not happening to Negroes; it was happening to him.  Thus it was said that he could not bear to hear the word slave spoken.  At the sound of the word, his body vibrated like the strings of a sensitive violin.  John Brown was a Negro, and it was in this aspect that he suffered.

“More than Frederick Douglass, more than any other Negro leader, John Brown suffered with the slave.  “His zeal in the cause of freedom,” Frederick Douglass said, “was infinitely superior to mine.  Mine was as the taper light; his was as the burning sun.  Mine was bounded by time, his stretched away to the silent shores of eternity.  I could speak for the slave; John Brown could fight for the slave.  I could live for the slave; John Brown could die for the slave.” 

“Islam Lite” and “Moderate” Muslims

February 22, 2008

This is the opening of an AP article talking about the birth of the Republic of Kosova.

GNJILANE, Kosovo (AP) — Kastriot Sadiku has a confession: Like a good Muslim, he was near a mosque when Kosovo declared independence. But like a good Kosovar, he was just around the corner, sipping suds at his favorite pub.

As minaret loudspeakers broadcast afternoon prayers, “I was having a beer,” said Sadiku, 25. “In the entire Muslim world, I think that’s probably something that can only happen here, where our religion doesn’t interfere with the rest of our lives.”

 Kosovo Touts ‘Islam Lite’

When people use the term “moderate” Muslim, they may mean a variety of different things.  One of the main contexts in which the term is used are in the context of politics and international relations, where to the American government, a “moderate” (meaning good) Muslim is one who is pro-U.S.  (see Mahmood Mamdani’s “Good Muslim, Bad Muslim”) (more…)

William Kunstler on Jamil Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown)

February 22, 2008

William Kunstler and Rap Brown, 1968

Brief excerpts from “My Life as a Radical Lawyer” by William Kunstler.  This book was published in 1994.  William Kunstler returned to the Creator in 1995.  Imam Jamil Al-Amin was continuously harassed by COINTELPRO style policies until he was arrested and wrongly convicted for the killing of a police officer in 2000.  Imam Jamil is now 64 years old and is currently being held at the SuperMax Prison in Florence, Co.  (State side Gitmo).  See this link for current info on the conditions under which the Imam is being held and how to contribute to the International Committee to Support Jamil Al-Amin. 

Update on Imam Jamil Al-Amin

“During 1966 and 1967, I met two men who would always be important in my life, Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown.  Both quickly fell victim to the government’s methodical destruction of dissent through borderline lawful, though unjust, means –repeated arrests, prolonged court battles, never-ending legal entanglements.  These tactics deprived both Stokely and Rap of significant time and energy.  Each man handled the harassment differently; Stokely eventually left the country, while Rap fought it out for years, then quietly retreated to a different way of life…..” (more…)

Letter From Malcolm X (Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz)

February 22, 2008

Without a doubt, the greatest and most effective single act of da’wah in the history of Islam in the U.S.  May Allaah have mercy on him and accept his martrydom.   

Letter from Malcolm X
by Malcolm X

What follows is a letter (in part or in whole) from Malcolm X, known here as Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, to his followers in Harlem. It was reprinted in The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley.


Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races here in this ancient Holy Land, the home of Abraham, Muhammad and all the other Prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors.I have been blessed to visit the Holy City of Mecca, I have made my seven circuits around the Ka’ba, led by a young Mutawaf named Muhammad, I drank water from the well of the Zam Zam. I ran seven times back and forth between the hills of Mt. Al-Safa and Al Marwah. I have prayed in the ancient city of Mina, and I have prayed on Mt. Arafat.There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and non-white.America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. (more…)