“Surely We created you, then shaped you, then said to the angels, “Prostrate before Adam,” so they all did—but not Iblîs, who refused to prostrate with the others. Allah asked, “What prevented you from prostrating when I commanded you?” He replied, “I am better than he is: You created me from fire and him from clay ” (7:11-12).
Islam is for the Black Man. As a youth, I was one of many enamored by the soulful-slick of the NOI and Five Percenters. My journey through being affiliated with the Five Percenters to becoming a student of Al-Islam, has brought me back to the profound proclamation that “Islam is for the Black Man.” I must say that I do not mean this exclusively from any other ethnicity, or women for that matter, but I am certainly not stuttering, apologizing, or asking permission regarding my statement. There is no secret that the condition of Black Men in America is of critical concern. Without delving into a long list of statistics, I want to focus on Suratul ‘Araaf, verse 11-13, from Juz 8. Many Muslims are familiar with the anecdote that Iblis was the first racist. Racism is quite devilish, but actually he was the first to be infected with the disease that causes racism – arrogance and resentment. In the verse above, we read that Iblis refused to bow to Adam because he perceived Adam as lesser than himself. The anti-black spectrum of American Racism is similar. In another verse exposing Iblis’ disease Allah says, “He said, “Never would I prostrate to a human whom You created out of clay from an altered black mud” (15:33). Even though it is commonly (and scientifically) known that all people are descended from an African woman, Iblis would have been just as defiant if Allah willed Adam – the First Man – to have a white phenotype, for the Prophet (pbuh) did say that the colors red, white, and black were present in the earth that created Adam. In the 13th verse, Allah admonishes Iblis, “It is not for you to be arrogant here.” The word arrogance in this verse is tatakbbara, which is derived from kibr. This arrogance is not merely an over indulgent sense of self worth, but a volatile disposition that is found at the roots of every type of oppression. According to the Prophet (pbuh), “Kibr is to deny the truth and look down upon others.” The Black Muslim must be encouraged to move past the anecdote of Iblis being the “first racist” and lean into how kibr relates to anti-blackness.
The new synthesis of Islam must promote true knowledge of self. The knowledge that Allah has created us perfectly of that black mud, the Children of Adam.
It is my strong belief that it is time for Black people to unapologetically bear down on the path to establish Islam among themselves. Too many times, we are discouraged, dissuaded, and even derailed from implementing community and leadership models that benefit our unique needs. In fact, we deny our truth when we rest on celebrating the accomplishments of the “ummah” when Black Muslims mainly suffer alongside Black America. The new synthesis of Islam must promote true knowledge of self. The knowledge that Allah has created us perfectly of that black mud, the Children of Adam. The new synthesis must also abolish any (and all) concepts of ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is a false god found in the characachures of White Jesus. Ethnocentrism has beat back Judaism to be almost exclusively considered an ethnicity instead of a faith. Ethnocentrism has even infected the Black Muslim so that some will unnaturally forsake their own families seemingly possessed by an anti-black apparition. In some cases, to appease the sensibilities of monarchs, mystics, and even some maniacal preachers, we have forsaken our own Black souls. There is no validity for black superiority in Islam but there is overwhelmingly more evidence to dispel black inferiority Islamically or otherwise. I believe verses 11-13 of Al-‘Araaf reinforce my opening proclamation with a special message for Black people: If you believe that here you stand in the truth that Allah has “created you and shaped you”, black as the First Man, you have powerful liberating knowledge of self.
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Born and raised in Detroit, MI (current resident). Co-Chair of Imams Council of Michigan, Assistant Imam at the Muslim Center (Detroit), Executive Director of MANA, former Detroit Police Chaplain, Project Management Professional, and former Educator of 20 years at Al-Ikhlas Training Academy (Detroit).