Legacy Post: The Significance of Black Muslim History

By Sapelo Square

We are continuing our Legacy series by republishing some of our most popular content from our first five years. As a lead-up to our celebration of Black History Month this February, we revisit this post from 2017 on the significance of Black Muslim history.

Why is the study of Black Muslim history important? Many Muslims in the US, including some Black American Muslims, have questioned the relevance of Black American history and culture, emphasizing the universalism and racial egalitarianism of the orthodox (i.e., Sunni and Shia) Islamic traditions. Some have gone as far as questioning whether racial categories are relevant within an Islamic worldview. Still, others have advocated that the study of the unique histories, cultures and societal contexts of particular ethnic groups among the ranks of the global Muslim community is vital to understand Muslims’ needs and historical contributions, and for understanding how the practice of Islam should be actualized in society.

Our post for this month is a recent lecture delivered by Ustadha Ieasha Prime, a Black American Muslim religious scholar renowned for her powerful delivery. The talk was given as part of an event hosted by Masjid Muhammad of Atlantic City entitled “Preserving Our Legacy: African-Americans in Islam – Past, Present, and Future”. In this insightful lecture, Ustadha Ieasha offers critical reflections on the significance of Black Muslim history, reminding us that the preservation of nasl (lineage) is one of the maqasid al-shariʻah (underlying purposes of Islamic sacred law). Her reflections span the historical period of American slavery — when enslaved African Muslims struggled to preserve their religion and identity — to the present day. She offers a compelling and poignant assessment of the importance of the history that we strive to help preserve and disseminate at Sapelo Square.

Featured Image: “Black Muslim Women Dressed In White Applaud Elijah Muhammad During The Delivery Of His Annual Savior’s Day Message In Chicago, 03/1974,” U.S. National Archives Photograph No. 412-DA-13793, Photographer John H. White.

Ieasha Prime is the Executive Director of Barakah, Inc., http://www.barakahinc.com, an online education resource for Islamic Study. She was traditionally educated in the Islamic sciences and is a frequent speaker nationally and internationally on a variety of subjects.

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