Category: Ramadan

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#BlackMuslimKidsRead

by Narjis Abdul-Majid

Just in time for Eid.  #BlackMuslimKidsRead. A list of books that every Black Muslim family should own.

 

Nanni’s Hijab by: Khadijah Abdulhaqq

What Am I? by: Papatia Feauxzar*

Muhiima’s Quest by: Rahma Rodaah

Bashirah and The Amazing Bean Pie: A Celebration of African American Muslim CultureThere Is Greatness In Me by: Ameenah Muhammad-Diggins 

Jennah’s First Hijab by Halimah DeOliveira

Zaynab’s Enchanted Scarf/ You are Beautiful by: Robyn Abdusamad*

Mommy’s Khimar by: Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

Hind’s Hands by: Umm Juwayriyah

Hijab-ista by: Jamila Mapp

Islamic Phonics Readers: From Adam to Zamzam by: Jamila Alqarnain/Karemah Al hark*

Ngozi’s Little Brown Princess Tea Party by: Asiyah Muhsin-Thomas Salaam Waajid Thomas 

Jariya Jar by: Aisha Mohammed

The Beauty of My Hijab by: Fatimah Ashaela Moore Ibrahim

 

*This author has multiple children’s publications.
**By no means is this list exhaustive. If you know of other Black Muslim Reads for kids email us at info@sapelosquare.com

 

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Narjis Abdul-MajidNarjis Nichole Abdul-Majid is a part-time lecturer in the departments of Pan African Studies and Humanities at the University of Louisville and Philosophy Department at Indiana University Southeast. Her research interests focus on the African American and Native American Islamic experiences (Slavery-Melungeons-20th Century Islamic Movements-Present Day) with emphasis on minority voices.

 

BlogRamadanReligion

Eid ul-Fitr: Returning to Our Original Nature

By Imam Plemon El-Amin

Say: O my Lord! Let my entry be by the Gate of Truth and Honor and likewise my exit by the Gate of Truth and Honor; and grant from Your Presence an authority to aid me. And say: ‘Truth has arrived and falsehood has perished, for falsehood is always perishing.’—Qur’an 17: 80-81

As Muslims, we are thankful and grateful to Allah, The Most High, for once again bringing us Ramadan and carrying us through its rigors and lessons for 29 or 30 days. Hopefully, each of us entered the fast seeking Allah’s Pleasure and now we exit the fast being more regardful of Allah’s Mercy, Forgiveness, and Salvation that is always available to those who believe and do good.

Eid ul-Fitr, the three day celebration and feast after Ramadan, commemorates the victory of completing the fast. Eid means ‘returning or re-occurring,’ and Fitr (fitrah) refers to ‘nature or origin,’ which suggests that a successful Ramadan returns to us our original nature of health, thoughtfulness, and spirituality. Ramadan revives, rejuvenates, and renews our bodies, minds, and spirits. It puts us back in touch with the excellence of our God-given human nature, reality, and potential.

A related verse from Qur’an (34:49) which is frequently recited during the Eid is:

Say: Truth has arrived and falsehood neither creates anything new nor restores anything.

Ramadan brings back the best of human nature and dissipates the false habits and tendencies that had occupied our lives. Weakness has vanished, fatigue has disappeared, laziness has perished, and false worship has died. The verse literally says that falsehood has no ‘eid,’ it doesn’t revive, renew, or rejuvenate anything that is good or natural.

Ramadan reconciles us with our inherent nature and our inherited mission. As Muslim Americans who are also African Americans, we have an inherent flow in our veins and souls that obligates us to seek freedom, justice, equality, and dignity for ourselves and others. We also have inherited an obligation to exemplify and live the best of Islam, and to be a renewed and resurrecting energy in the American life and culture for the benefit all.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

When the month of Ramadan arrives the gates of Paradise are flung open while the gates of Hell are closed, and a caller cries out: ‘Oh you who seek good come forward and you who desire wrong, desist.’

May each of us be of those who continue forward through the Gate of Truth and Honor.

Blessed Ramadan and Eid Mubarak!


Imam Plemon El-Amin is the Imam Emeritus of the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam. He is the former Director of the Clara Mohammed Elementary School and W. Deen Mohammed School of Atlanta. Working as a close aide and supporter of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, Imam El-Amin has traveled the nation and the world, representing the concerns and interests of Muslim Americans and Interfaith adherents in such places as Palestine, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Denmark, England, Spain, Egypt, Turkey, Malaysia and South Africa.

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The African Qurʾān: Ramadan Remedies for Racial and Religious Intolerance

by Dr. Rudolph B. Ware

—“We tell you the best tales in what We have revealed to you of this Qurʾān ”—

Qurʾān , Sura Yusuf, 12:3

“The night of my Ascent, I saw Moses who was a tall, brown-skinned, kinky-haired man.”

Authentic Saying of the Prophet, Saḥīḥ Bukhāri, 462

The Qurʾān, as a rule, is colorblind. It is the Universal Book. God cares about hearts and deeds, not skin color and hair texture. So the Qurʾān, unlike other Holy books, lacks racial markers. The only partial exception to this is the specification that the first human, Ādam (as)—whose name meant black in old Arabic—was formed from fermented black clay. Given Ādam’s origins maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that many (probably most) of the tales of the Prophets in the Qurʾān take place in Africa, or that Black folks figure prominently even in stories set outside the continent. The narratives of Joseph and Moses, Abraham and Hagar and Solomon and Sheba, along with countless others, lead us back to Ancient Africa, and especially the Nile Valley. The modern disciplines of African history, archaeology, linguistics, and anthropology all show that the progenitors of Egyptian civilization were—in today’s terms—black, and that Egypt’s civilization came from inner African sources. Too bad Hollywood didn’t get the memo!

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Muslims too have pushed Blacks into the background. We forget that God has wisely shared out goodness among the children of Adam. Arabo-centrism is a kind of ‘chosen people’ complex amongst Muslims and even some Black Muslims accept that Islam = Arab. Over a series of essays this Ramadan, I will try to highlight the centrality of Africans in the Qurʾān and the unique approach of our West African ancestors to the Qur’an.

But an African Qurʾān? Some will say that there is no such thing. However, I argue that the Qurʾān is African because it speaks of Black people and because Africans have recited, taught and lived it in ways that can be instructive to us in America. But most importantly, I will argue that the Qurʾān is a book that speaks to Black people because it speaks to all people. Surah Luqman, a chapter named for a black man, reminds us of the Qurʾān’s vision of a common origin and destiny for humanity: “The creation of all of you—and your resurrection—are as a single soul. Indeed God is Hearing, Seeing” (Q 31:28)

Black People in the life of the Prophet and the Spread of Islam in Africa

Unlike the Qurʾān , The Prophet did sometimes speak of skin color or hair texture—as when he mentioned Musa’s black skin. For many medieval scholars Musa’s blackness (and the blackness of the Egyptians) was so obvious they mentioned it only in passing. For Qurtubi “Musa was extremely dark brown in skin color (asmar shadid al-asmara).” Remember in Sura Ta Ha when Moses puts his hand inside his shirt and it comes out white without illness? (Q 20:23) The Tafsir of the two Jalals (al-Suyuti and al-Mahalli) says it emerged white, “and not its normal dark color.” The famous historian al-Tabari was more blunt still: “According to what was related to us, Moses was black-skinned and God made Musa’s hand turning white, without being stricken by leprosy, a sign for him.”

The life of the Prophet—is full of Black people as well. His last spouse, Mariya was an Egyptian woman, and perhaps to honor his illustrious ancestor who became the father of the Arabs by his marriage to an Ancient Egyptian, he named their son—who passed away in infancy—Ibrahim.  Bilal—a freed slave—was likely the second adult male to accept Islam after Abu Bakr (r). When he climbed atop the House of God to call the prayer it signaled to Quraysh the social revolution that was possible in the new religion—turning their world upside down.

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But Islam spread to sub-Saharan Africa long before the Victory of Mecca, before Bilal climbed the Ka’ba, even before ‘Islamic time’ began. Year One of the Islamic calendar is marked by the hijra to Medina in 622 CE. Yet, the two hijras to Ethiopia took place in 615-16 CE, which makes Islam in Black Africa older than it even is in Medina! Were it not for the graciousness of an African Christian king, the najashi or Negus who refused to turn the refugees over to Quraysh, it is likely that many of the most illustrious companions of the Prophet would have been executed in 616, dealing a crippling—if not fatal—blow to the religion.

Decades later when Arab armies brought Islam forth from its cradle in Arabia, conquering much of the known world, they did not conquer sub-Saharan Africa. In 652 CE Nubian archers stopped their march down the Nile and the Muslims signed a mutual non-aggression treaty. In sub-Saharan West Africa, where the Empire of Ghana controlled much of the world’s medieval gold trade, here too the army was unconquerable. Medieval Arabic sources claim that the Emperor of Ghana could put 100,000 soldiers in the battlefield, 40,000 of them archers. No armed Arab conquest brought Islam to sub-Saharan Africa where one-in-six of the world’s Muslims now reside.

Rather, teachers and clerics were the primary agents in spreading the faith. From towns like Jakha in what is now Mali, the Jakhanke and other African clerical clans traveled as merchants, farmers, and scholars into all the countries of the African west, often as Muslim minorities among non-Muslim populations. Over the course of time, they were instrumental in peacefully converting populations from Senegal in the west to Niger in the east, from Mali in the north to Ghana in the south. Local, indigenous West African populations voluntary accepted the new religion, and some families came to specialize in teaching the Qurʾān and the sciences of Islam. In Part Four, I will discuss the unique Jakhanke approach to the Qurʾān, and its particular relevance for Black Americans.

To conclude, let me be clear: focusing on Africans in the Qurʾān and the Qurʾān in Africa should not cause us to replace one ethnocentrism with another. Sura Maryam reminds us that prophethood was not the monopoly of the children of Israel or any other tribe. God’s teachers do not belong to one people, but to all people.

After mentioning Enoch, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Zachary, John, and Jesus (upon them peace) all in a single Sura, God reminds us in a single aya that the blessed teachers of His word were from (and for) all the children of Adam and Eve:

These are some of the Prophets whom God has blessed from Adam’s progeny, and from those We carried with Noah, and from the progeny of Abraham and Israel, and from those whom We guided and elected. When the signs of the Merciful were recited to them, they fell down prostrate and wept. (Q 19:58)

The Qurʾān reminds us that God’s glory should leave us humbled. Claiming a monopoly on God, on the other hand, reveals pride, arrogance, and haughtiness (kibr, istikbar, takabbur). Indeed, as African American Muslims we know Black supremacy as creed is a theological dead end. Rather, by positing an African Qurʾān, my goal is to use Qurʾān as Furqān—criteria for understanding—to help undo the damage centuries of racial and religious intolerance have wrought. In Part Two of the African Qurʾān, I will discuss the causes and cures for intolerance through a discussion of the third juz of the Qur’an.


*See Dr. Ware’s Part IIPart III and Part IV reflections on his discussion of “the African Quran”.


Professor Ware will be reflecting on three ajza’ throughout the month of Ramadan, focusing on the centrality of Africa in the Quran and the contributions of West African scholarship. This is his introduction to his upcoming three articles.

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Professor Ware is a historian of Africa and Islam. Ware earned his Ph.D. in history in 2004 from the University of Pennsylvania where he was trained in African History, African-American History, and Islamic Intellectual History. He is a professor of African History and Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan, and the founder and director of the IKHLAS research initiative for the study of Islamic Knowledge, Histories & Languages, Arts & Sciences.

 He is the author of, The Walking Qur’an: Islamic Education, Embodied Knowledge, and History in West Africa, a book that explores the history of a thousand years of Qur’an schooling in West Africa.