Archive for September, 2008

Dr. Sherman Abdul-Hakim Jackson on Imam W.D. Mohammed and the Third Resurrection

September 17, 2008

This is a must read piece by Dr. Jackson about the direction forward in the wake of Imam Mohammed’s passing, especially relevant to the future of Blackamerican Islam, but of course one cannot separate the future of Blackamerican Islam form the future of Islam in America generally.

You can read it at Marc Manley’s  Manrilla Blog.

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Rebel Song of the Day: “A Few Words in Defense of Our Country” by Randy Newman

September 11, 2008

I’d like to say a few words
In defense of our country
Whose people aren’t bad nor are they mean
Now the leaders we have
While they’re the worst that we’ve had
Are hardly the worst this poor world has seen

Let’s turn history’s pages, shall we?

Take the Caesars for example
Why within the first few of them
They were sleeping with their sister
Stashing little boys in swimming pools
And burning down the City
And one of ‘em, one of ’em
Appointed his own horse Consul of the Empire
That’s like vice president or something

That’s not a very good example, is it?

But wait, here’s one, the Spanish Inquisition
They put people in a terrible position
I don’t even like to think about it

Well, sometimes I like to think about it

Just a few words in defense of our country
Whose time at the top
Could be coming to an end
Now we don’t want their love
And respect at this point is pretty much out of the question
But in times like these
We sure could use a friend

Hitler. Stalin.
Men who need no introduction

King Leopold of Belgium. That’s right.
Everyone thinks he’s so great
Well he owned The Congo
He tore it up too
He took the diamonds, he took the gold
He took the silver
Know what he left them with?

Malaria

A President once said,
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”
Now it seems like we’re supposed to be afraid
It’s patriotic in fact and color coded
And what are we supposed to be afraid of?
Why, of being afraid
That’s what terror means, doesn’t it?
That’s what it used to mean

[To the first eight bars of “Columbia The Gem Of The Ocean”]

You know it pisses me off a little
That this Supreme Court is gonna outlive me
A couple of young Italian fellas and a brother on the Court now too
But I defy you, anywhere in the world
To find me two Italians as tightass as the two Italians we got

And as for the brother
Well, Pluto’s not a planet anymore either

The end of an empire is messy at best
And this empire is ending
Like all the rest
Like the Spanish Armada adrift on the sea
We’re adrift in the land of the brave
And the home of the free

Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.

Imam Wallace Warith Deen Mohammed (1933-2008)

September 10, 2008

The Anointed Son

The story behind W.D. Mohammed’s momentous break with his father and his alliance with Malcolm X. By Taylor Branch

Reprinted from “Pillar of Fire” with permission of Simon & Schuster.

Malcolm X’s one kindred ally within the Muslim hierarchy-destined to succeed where he failed, as quietly as Malcolm’s notoriety would be loud-had been locked away in the federal prison at Sandstone, Minnesota, since his twenty-eighth birthday. This was Wallace D. Muhammad, who, since being named by and for the founder of the Nation of Islam, W.D. Fard, had been marked as the seventh and most religious of Elijah Muhammad’s eight children.

In the 1950s, when federal prosecutors denied Wallace Muhammad the military draft deferment due legitimate clergy, Chicago lawyers William Ming and Chauncey Eskridge arranged for him to serve medical duty as a conscientious objector but Elijah [Muhammad] unexpectedly rejected the plea bargain with white law. Much against his will, thinking that his father meant to keep him cloistered and useless, Wallace dutifully entered Sandstone, where taught Islam to inmates in the prison laundry room or on nice days in the baseball bleachers.

For the first time he felt responsible for his own thoughts, and although he attracted a large following of Muslim converts, which excited the fears of most prison authorities, the Sandstone warden became so convinced of the salutary effects on inmate rehabilitation that he invited Wallace to write an article on the Islamic concept of sacrifice for the 1962 Christmas issue of the prison journal..

Turmoil threw Wallace Muhammad together with Malcolm X late in February [1963, after Wallace had been released from prison], when some four thousand Muslims gathered by bus and motorcade for the annual Savior’s day convention in Chicago. As always speakers chanted the words “the Honorable Elijah Muhammad” as a practiced mantra, but apprehension ran through the submissive crow because Muhammad himself was absent for the first time, wheezing from asthma at his retreat in Pheonix. Although not a few Muslims believed Muhammad to be immortal, anxiety for him was so intense that cries went up for reassurance from the chosen son, who was observed and hailed upon his return from prison.

Wallace refused to speak. Having received no response to his letters of criticism [about corruption within the Nation of Islam] he was half convinced that his father was avoiding or testing him. Besides, he considered Savior’s Day the embodiment of his father’s most egregious blasphemy from the 1930s: proclaiming founder W.D. Far as the Savior Allah incarnate, much as Jesus was called the incarnation of the Christian god. More than once, Wallace had asked how his father could demand worship of a human being-Fard-in light of the Q’uran’s clear definition of “one god, the everlasting refuge, who begets not nor is he begotten,” and Elijah Muhammad said he would not understand.

Malcolm X, who presided in Muhammad’s absence, made excuses for Wallace by prearrangement. Very privately, the two men met during the convention as the two most likely successors-friends but possibly rivals-each of whom threatened the top officials at headquarters. When Wallace disclosed his determination to resist his father’s bizarre, unorthodox religious teachings, Malcolm defended Elijah’s adaptations such as the assertion that white people were devils by creation, saying they fit the experience of black people closely enough to gain their attention, and Elijah could correct come-on doctrines once the “lost-found” people were ready. In a related complaint, Wallace confessed that several of his own relatives prospered off the Nation without knowing the first thing about Islam. His stories about power struggles over jewelry and real estate touched a nerve, and the two men fell into collusion…

[Malcolm X later told Wallace that,] at Elijah Muhammad’s home before Savior’s Day, two former secretaries appeared on the lawn with their babies and shouted that they were going to stand there in the cold until Mr. Muhammad comforted his abandoned children. The household had reacted strangely, said Malcolm, who told Wallace he rebuffed such rumors until the two frightened and shunned women petitioned in person for help. Wallace replied uncomfortably that he would seek out the secretaries who he knew personally, and he soon confirmed to Malcolm that he believed their confessions. Elijah had told them that his wife, Clara, was dead to him, like Khadijah, the wife of the original Prophet Muhammad, and likewise Elijah felt divinely sanctioned to seek out virgins to produce good seed.

Wallace Muhammad felt the revelations as cruel injustice to his spurned mother, and raged against Elijah as an imposing but distant icon. Wallace scarcely knew his father, who had vanished into hiding for seven years after rival heard to Fard offered a $500 bounty for his death in the 19430. Although disciples arrived with daily tributes and breathless word of the aspiring Messenger, Wallace saw Elijah only a few times throughout his childhood-most notably in 1942 when he watched his mother and brothers roll the newly arrived fugitive under the bed in a rug, in a vain attempt to evade arresting police officers.

Now, as a young man just out of prison, desperate to hang on to something from the bizarre omens of his past, Wallace interpreted the enormity of his father’s sins as the price of strength that was implanting a new religion on the continent, allowing people of African descent first to define themselves by their own deity. He steeled himself to face facts, and to recognize that religious births in history tend to spread unseemly trauma over many decades. This became his anthem to Malcolm..

[Wallace Muhammad was frozen out of the Nation after he persisted in his criticism. After Malcolm X’s assassination, he sought greater involvement.] On Friday, February 26, 1965, Wallace Muhammad appeared in dramatic submission before the Nation of Islam’s Chicago convention. He did not justify or endorse Malcolm’s death, as Malcolm’s own brothers were required to do publicly. He did not repeat vows of holy war upon heretics who doubted the infallibility of Elijah Muhammad, as did the presiding minister, Louis X [Louis Farrakhan] of Boston.. Wallace Muhammad in a short speech begged reinstatement-“I judged my father when I should have let God do it.”

The convention cheered him as the prodigal, anointed son. He was obedient. But because he considered the nation to be blasphemous and corrupt, and refused to teach its concoction of Islam, Elijah Muhammad consigned him to unpaid obscurity. Wallace worked as a baker, welder, painter, and rug cleaner.

In 1974, after a hiatus of nine years, Elijah Muhammad allowed his son Wallace to resume teaching. His adversaries within the Chicago headquarters confiscated tapes of his sermons, eager to prove he was deviating again from the Nation’s dogma into Islamic scripture, but the old man said inexplicably, “My son’s got it right.” When Elijah died in 1975, delegations arrived in limousines to find Wallace, the chosen heir, living like hermit, with a rope tying shut his broken refrigerator door. The next day, February 26, 1975, the ministers swore fealty to the new Supreme Minister on the first day of the national convention, ad did Muhammad Ali. “I was born for this mission,” declared Wallace Muhammad.

He survived plots by entrenched officials who accused him of crying “crocodile tears” over this father. Within a year, he renamed New York No. 7 [mosque] for his former ally, Malcolm, saying, “What we should see in Malcolm is a turn for the Nation of Islam from fear and isolation to openness, courage.” By 1977, Wallace Muhammad dismantled the Nation’s corporate empire, confessed the scandals that Malcolm was killed to hide, and openly renounced his father’s claim to divinity. He extracted some purpose from every error and ordeal. “If he hadn’t hurt me,” Wallace said of his father, “I don’t know if I really would have come to Allah like I did.”

From PILLAR OF FIRE by Taylor Branch. Copyright (c) 1998 by Taylor Branch. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster

The Best of Times by Moazzam Begg

September 7, 2008

This article was written by Moazzam Begg for Ramadan in 2006 and published at Cageprisoners.com .

I first read the Dickens’ classic, Bleak House, in solitary confinement, Camp Echo. The concentric part of this story is based on the fictitious – though accurately representative – and never-ending case of Jarndyce vs Jarndyce which ultimately consumes and destroys the lives of it’s central characters, rather like the Supreme court decisions relating to the Guantánamo detainees. But it was the first sentence of another Dicken’s classic, A Tale of Two Cities, which reads, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,’ that captured my imagination back then. For that is precisely how I would have described the noble months of Ramadhan spent in US custody.

It was the night before the festival of Eid ul-Adha that I was sent from Pakistani custody into US custody at Kandahar. After the brutal initiation of being processed like an animal and locked in a cage made of razor wire, I couldn’t believe my ears when a visitor from the Red Cross was wandering around the cells, with an army escort, handing out small pieces of meat and cold bread to detainees, uttering the words, ‘Eid Mubarak’.

That was the first Eid my family ever spent without me. Another five (both Eids of al-Adha and alFitr) were to pass before I saw them again. For most people in Guantánamo, it is approaching ten of these blessed days over a period of five years, dwelling in cages. And still they pray for deliverance.

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The Last Third of the Night by Marryam Haleem

September 3, 2008

This poem is from cageprisoners.

Marryam Haleem has a blog here.

14/08/2008
In the name of God, the All-Merciful, the Mercy-giving

For

The Guantanamo Bay

Detainees who, I pray,

Will stay on the straight path

And never dismay

Of God’s reward on the Last Day

The Last Third of the Night

Curled on my side

Cheek soft on my pillow

I listen, wide-eyed,

To the crickets chirping

Constant, ceaseless, unending

So unaffected by my heart-rending

Thoughts that are

Constant, ceaseless, unending

On his back, he lays

On a hard board

Listening to the waves

Rush in roaring

Constant, ceaseless, unending

So removed, uncomprehending

Of his heartbeats that are

Constant, ceaseless, unending

I rise from bed

Fixing my mind

On a kind of relief

That will ease my plight.

It is, I know, the last third of the night

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Thought for the Day From Padraig Pearse

September 3, 2008

Especially for the Muslims and Mujahideen of Chechnya, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Palestine, Mindanao, and in every place and for all those who resist tyrannical empires, in whatever way, all over the world.

This is from the statement of Pearse at the courtmartial conducted after the 1916 Rising. Pearse read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic at the Dublin General Post Office on 24 April 1916. On 29 April 1916 Pearse surrendered on behalf of the Volunteers to the British army to prevent further civilian loss of life. After the courtmartial he was executed on 3 May 1916 by firing squad.

“From my earliest youth I have regarded the connection between Ireland and Great Britain as the curse of the Irish nation, and felt convinced that while it lasted this country could never be free or happy. When I was a child of ten, I went on my bare knees by my bedside one night and promised God that I should devote my Life to an effort to free my country. I have kept the promise. I have helped to organise, to train, and to discipline my fellow-countrymen to the sole end that, when the time came, they might fight for Irish freedom. The time, as it seemed to me, did come, and we went into the fight. I am glad that we did. We seem to have lost; but we have not lost. To refuse to fight would have been to lose; to fight is to win. We have kept faith with the past, and handed on its tradition to the future. I repudiate the assertion of the Prosecutor that I sought to aid and abet England’s enemy. Germany is no more to me than England is. I asked and accepted German aid in the shape of arms and an expeditionary force; we neither asked for nor accepted German gold, nor had any traffic with Germany but what I state. My object was to win Irish freedom. We struck the first blow ourselves, but I should have been glad of an ally’s aid. I assume that I am speaking to Englishmen who value their freedom, and who profess to be fighting for the freedom of Belgium and Serbia. Believe that we too love freedom and desire it. To us it is more than anything else in the world. If you strike us down now, we shall rise again, and renew the fight. You cannot conquer Ireland; you cannot extinguish the Irish passion for freedom. If our deed has not been sufficient to win freedom, then our children will win it by a better deed.”