Episode 1: Being Muslim on Turtle Island

In this episode our host, Dr. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer talks with Siddeeqah Sharif Fichman an Afro-Native Muslim and community advocate and Hazel Gómez, a faith-based community organizer, about Being Muslim on Turtle Island. This deep discussion digs into questions such as What would make a Muslim a settler or indigenous to North America? How might settler thinking shape how we live as Muslims today? What are the responsibilities of Muslims, as a whole, to the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas?

During the conversation, Hazel reads the poem “Child of the Americas” by Aurora Levins Morales (shared  below) and Siddeqah introduces us to the song “Bilalian Man” by Sister Khalifah Abdul Rahman. To the question, if Black Islam had a theme song what would it be? Hazel chose “Allah” by Khalil Ismail and Siddeeqah chose “Bilalian Man” as her Black Muslim theme song. The song excerpt in the episode is sung by Siddeeqah’s mother, Sister Sabreen Sharif and full lyrics are below. Not sure what Bilalian means? Check out this article by Precious Rasheeda Muhammad. Also be sure to check out the music of Afro-Native Muslim performing artist Maimouna Youseff (Mumu Fresh).


Bilalian Man

By Khalifah Abdur Rahman

Bilalian Man
You were a man without a name
but your God loved you just the same
as other men.
You stood for many nations tall
your perseverance proves it all
you’ll live again.
How could you, after all you’ve been through, want to give up right now?
Just submit, give your will to Allah, and let him show you how
to live right now.

Bilalian Man
So take the blinders from your eyes
the truth is better than a lie
the way is clear.
This is a light of our new day
I want to help you find your way
I’ll be right here.
You’re a king, Oh Bilalian man
This is your day to shine.
And I am your Queen, Oh Bilalian man
leave that old world behind.
Free your mind!

Bilalian Man
I’m trying hard to make you see
the truth will only set you free
to come alive.
Whenever you become aware
you’ll find your heaven waiting there
right by your side.
You’re a king, O Bilalian man
This is your day to shine.
And I am your Queen, Oh Bilalian man
Leave that old world behind
Free your mind!
Free your mind!
Free your mind!
Free your mind!


Child of the Americas
by Aurora Levins Morales

I am a child of the Americas,
a light-skinned mestiza of the Caribbean,
a child of many diaspora, born into this continent at a crossroads.
I am a U.S. Puerto Rican Jew,
a product of the ghettos of New York I have never known.
An immigrant and the daughter and granddaughter of immigrants.
I speak English with passion: it’s the tongue of my consciousness,
a flashing knife blade of crystal, my tool, my craft.

I am Caribeña, island grown. Spanish is my flesh,
Ripples from my tongue, lodges in my hips:
the language of garlic and mangoes,
the singing of poetry, the flying gestures of my hands.
I am of Latinoamerica, rooted in the history of my continent:
I speak from that body.

I am not African. Africa is in me, but I cannot return.
I am not taína. Taíno is in me, but there is no way back.
I am not European. Europe lives in me, but I have no home there.

I am new. History made me. My first language was spanglish.
I was born at the crossroads and I am whole.


Hazel Gómez graduated from Loyola University Chicago with double Bachelor’s degrees in Forensic Science and Biology. Currently, she is a faith-based community organizer with Dream of Detroit, a nonprofit that combines community organizing with strategic housing and land development to build a healthy community and empower a marginalized neighborhood; a neighborhood which she also lives in with her husband and children. In addition to being an advocate for women seeking traditional Islamic education, Hazel is studying the Islamic sciences with Rabata.org’s Ribaat Academic Program under the tutelage of Shaykha Tamara Gray and other female shaykhas. She also dedicates her time as an advisor and board member to various nonprofits ranging from convert care and anti-racism work to bail reform. She is an avid reader of all things about Muslims in America and is interested in the research and creation of an authentic Latino Muslim experience.

Siddeeqah Sharif Fichman is the administrator for the Biophysics Research for Baltimore Teens program, an internship at Johns Hopkins University geared towards introducing scientific research to underserved youth in Baltimore City. She enjoys writing, traveling, and is an avid reader. Siddeeqah currently resides in Baltimore, MD with her husband and three small children.

On the Square theme music was created by Fanatik OnBeats
Artwork was created by Scheme of Things Graphics
“On the Square” a special podcast brought to you by Sapelo Square in collaboration with The Maydan.


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