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Friday, March 27, 2009

So You Want To Help Black Muslims?

Since the departure of Imam Warith Deen Muhammad (may Allah be pleased with him), I have heard numerous cries in the greater Muslim community to "help" Black Muslims in America. The following is an open letter in response to, and in reflection on, these offers.

In the Black community we have a long history of brothers with sincere intentions to "help". However a common theme has emerged. Usually that help is always in the areas that matter little (in the grand scheme of things) such as teaching us the proper way to place our feet during salah, how to never stand up in the bathroom, and other minutae.

Inevitably these "helpers" become increasingly condescending in attitude, and overbearing in approach.

What our community needs right now, more than anything, are leaders from within, as opposed to "helpers" from without. But that's an internal matter, which will be solved soon, if Allah swt pleases.

I know full well the way that the statement sounds, however consider how much "need" Indo-Pakistanis, in India and Pakistan, would feel for an American (be they Black or White) to come teach them how to be Muslims.

In the Black community real life needs are all too often lacking, like food, clothing, shelter, and familial closeness. Until those needs are met, the vast majority of Black brothers and sisters will have very little time or energy to direct toward the perfection of tajweed, memorization of Quran, Ahadith, etc.

Of course there are those among us who can and do master these fields of endeavor, but such men and women are a vast minority. Diamonds in the rough.

The Islam which we need so badly in our community must have at its forefront the solutions to the everyday needs of life. Our Islam must give us practical steps to take us out of debt, away from riba, away from fornication, adultery, vulgarity, unhealthy foods, and unclean habits.

Our Islam must have the force to destroy 400+ years of programming and self-hate. Our Islam must be one which raises up the human being to the rightful postion Allah swt intends us to occupy, as Khalifas in the Earth, not one which reinforces blind submission to authority and an ingrained feeling of impotence and weakness.

I, being a Black Man, who understands fully the needs in our community, challenge my brothers and sisters in Islam from across the globe to help us as you would help your own family, not as you might help untrusted, and unrespected strangers.

If you are willing to truly "want for your brother what you want for yourselves" then I offer you the sincere opportuity to assist us in our rise to join the ranks of the righteous, the educated, and the prosperous.

If however, you are simply willing to offer us more classes on tajweed, more advice on how to use the toilet, and more criticisms of our pronunciation of "As Salaam Alaikum", then, on behalf of our community, I repectfully decline your help.

wa Allahu Alim (And Allah Knows Best)

Zeaun Zarrieff

Zeaun Zarrieff is an IT Professional by trade, a Black Man by birth, and a Muslim by divine will.
Zeaun resides in the Chicagoland area of Northern Illinois and is a regular contributor to several blogs and speaking venues


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