Top 10 Highlights of 2017

by Bashirah Mack

From the birth of new collaborations to the loss of community leaders, 2017 has been an eventful year. For Sapelo Square, this meant embarking on strategic partnerships to produce, document, and archive the rich narratives of Black Muslims in the United States while confronting the critical urgency to do so.

We thank our readers and contributors for joining us this year and invite you to share our top ten highlights of 2017.

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1. Award-Winning Blog!


In January 2017, Sapelo Square received the ‘Best in Media’ Golden Minaret Award. Our work has been recognized by the Academy of Muslim Achievement for providing alternative views about Islam, highlighting contributions of Muslims in service to America, and speaking truth to power through media. Now that’s starting the year off right! A tremendous community award, we are thankful and pray to represent work that embodies islam, iman and ihsan.

2. Instagram

In keeping with the times, we did it for the gram. Follow us!

3. Where Do We Go From Here? Action Steps

Screenshot of panelists Imam Johari Abdul-Malik and Jihad Saleh

Sapelo Square concluded Black History Month 2017 with a dynamic livestream panel as a follow-up to our post-election discussion Where Do We Go From Here? Black Muslim Political Action. Moderated by Dr. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer, panelists Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, Jihad Saleh, Ieasha Prime, Nisrin Elamin and Jamiah Adams discussed what it means to be Black and Muslim in America under the current administration and also provided viewers with tangible action steps for the way forward.

4. Most Read Post

Mansa Musa I of Mali

“Is Islam an Anti-Black Religion?” This article by Sapelo Square History Co-editor Rasul Miller garnered the most views in 2017. Miller identifies the roots and rise of a particular strain of Black nationalism, steeped in anti-Islamic concepts. Like any good historian, Miller challenges the reliability of such theories and argues that “Afrocentricity and Islam can be easily reconciled through the more accurate historical narratives of scholars who recognize that prior to Euro-American slavery, Islam was simply one of the various religions that African people freely embraced.” Read more here.

5. Most Popular Facebook Post

Image of Ayana Ife (top and bottom left); Lubna Original designs (bottom right)

2017 was haute for many reasons! On the heels of modest fashion designer Ayana Ife’s Project Runway debut, our Facebook community really vibed with Dr. Kayla Wheeler’s “It’s ‘Been’ Cool to Cover.” Dr. Wheeler, an Islamic Studies and Fashion Studies scholar, shares the importance of Ife’s historic moment in context to the Black Muslimah fashion trailblazers who came before her. Read more here.

6. Most Popular Twitter Post

Ramadan Reflections

Sapelo Square’s annual Ramadan Reflections were a fountain of inspiration and a well of success, Alhamdulillah! Our Twitter family drank abundantly from Kameelah Rashad’s Juz’ 16 reflection and we can see why. Rashad, the founder of the Muslim Wellness Foundation and Black Muslim Psychology Conference, is passionate about creating practical and affirming pathways to health and healing. We hope you too get a taste.

7. “Muslim Cool” in Los Angeles

Image uploaded from iOS

Event flyer

In December 2016, Sapelo Square Founder Dr. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer released the highly anticipated Muslim Cool: Race, Religion, and Hip Hop in the United States. In 2017, Dr. Abdul Khabeer hit the road to tour. The University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA hosted Dr. Abdul Khabeer for an evening of selected readings from the book and live performances. Dr. Abdul Khabeer also moderated a Q&A with a number of talented artistic visionaries. Watch exclusive videos captured by Shireen Alihaji of Blue Veil Films, of artists Alia Sharrief, Omar Offendum and DJ Kaleem talking about their roots and how they shape their work and experience in Hip Hop. For all that Sapelo Square is, we can’t help but claim this one for the squad!

8. 2nd Annual Squad Retreat

The Squad. Not shown are Ihsan Sarfraz, web developer; and Ryan Hilliard, religion editor.

In August, the Sapelo Square squad gathered from far and wide to reconnect, renew intentions and (re)build creative bonds at the annual planning retreat. Some traveled from the East, some traveled from the West. All met in the middle to stay motivated with one goal: to work towards excellence. We do it for the love of the culture!

9. Muharram Special Feature

This fall, we commemorated the 10th day of the Islamic New Year with our Muharram Special Feature. Compiled by Sapelo Square Religion Editor Ryan Hilliard, the curated series gives a concise overview of the events at Karbala and its spiritual significance to the Black American experience. Check out the scholars and artists who contributed to our series here.

10. Preserving an American Muslim Legacy

Images by Rog and Bee Walker

In November, Sapelo Square teamed up with world-renowned photographers Rog and Bee Walker to raise funds for an ambitious photo-documentary project: Preserving an American Muslim Legacy. Together, through this collaboration, we will collect stories of Black Muslims to preserve, promote and share a broader understanding of America’s rich Muslim history. Donate today and help make history!

From Allah we come…Rest in Power

In a special highlight, Sapelo Square would like to wish you and yours a Happy Kwanzaa! Kwanzaa is a time to celebrate family, community and culture. These values are near and dear to us. We also acknowledge luminaries who passed away this year and are now our ancestors. May Allah have mercy on them and may we continue to keep their legacies alive through acts of faith, charity and resistance! Ameen.

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