Category: Religion

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The African Qur’an: Ramadan Remedies for Racial and Religous Intolerance

by Dr. Rudolph Ware

A common phrase that you might hear when talking about daily trials of living in America is “You know the struggle is real!” It seems that this phrase has, in some ways, replaced the cliché, “It’s all good.” These phrases represent an acknowledgment of life’s challenges and the commitment to stay the course and resist giving up the fight. Yes, the struggle is real and hell is hot, so we must hold tight to some basic commonplaces that align our Blackness with being Muslim and American.

As we face increasingly anti-Black and anti-Muslim sentiment in Trump’s America, one is left wondering how can we spiritually fortify ourselves in the face of such racial and religious intolerance and disenfranchisement.

As we face increasingly anti-Black and anti-Muslim sentiment in Trump’s America, one is left wondering how can we spiritually fortify ourselves in the face of such racial and religious intolerance and disenfranchisement. Black Muslims face racism from non-Muslims and Muslims alike. If you are born into a Black Muslim family, you face the challenge of proving to co-religionists that your experiences and cultural traditions are Islamic. If you convert/revert to Islam, then you must figure out where to place your Blackness. This can be a challenge considering that some Muslims want new Muslims to shed their cultural heritage in order to be welcomed into the fold.

The irony is that shedding one’s Blackness and donning  another’s understanding and cultural associations does not guarantee acceptance. So, this month we invite you to revisit Dr. Rudolph Ware’s 2016, four-part series entitled “The African Qur’an: Ramadan Remedies for Racial and Religious Intolerance. Dr. Ware’s series is an acknowledgment and celebration of Blackness, but it is also a reminder to hold fast to the spiritual gains that come from Ramadan. Dr. Ware’s introduction gives perspective on the importance of cultivating a relationship with the Blackness within Islam. Part II discusses the importance of fighting pride and intolerance–something Trump and his Make America Great Again (MAGA) believers would do well to follow. Part III and Part IV continue with examples of historical details that prove that Black people have always been a part of Islamic history and traditions.  


RWareImageDr. Ware is a tenured professor of African History and Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan. 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.

BlogRamadan 2018Religion

Ramadan 1439/2018: Black Muslims Reflect on the Qur’an – Juz’ 30

By Salihah Aakil

In the morning some of them won’t be here. Some of them will be somewhere between consciousness and dreaming, some of them will be well on their way to a better place and some, some will be long gone. In the morning none of us will cry because they moved on and we will see them again some day,

the sky won’t turn red when the sun sets some day.

So you and I hold out hope.

In the morning some of them will have to leave, some of them have a people to protect and they’ll promise to remember us. And with our hands on our hearts we swear to remember that they honor every promise.

In the morning some of us will die here but we’ll remember that some of our people learned to fly when the angel of death lent them it’s wings.

That’s when they were truly free.

Exploring the things we could only comprehend as stars but turned out to be shining miracles. Shimmering, spinning, glowing, shining miracles, and some of us will dance the way constellations do.

In the morning some of us will rise with the sun to greet the Lord and the dawn as it comes and we won’t forget how much we love morning time.

 

This poem was, in part, inspired by the first ayat of Surah Falaq that says,

“Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of the dawn”

I chose to base this poem around the phrase “In the morning” because in Surah Falaq Allah tells us to seek refuge in Him as the Creator of the sun and light. The Creator of the day that He intended for us to worship Him in. In Surah Falaq Allah also tells us to seek protection from the night and the evil He created in it and yet there is still hope in Him; and what He has made for us. I tried to mimic the hope and warning that is shown in Surah Falaq in this poem, as well as depict an image of faithful people who will always believe.

 

 

Sapelo Square is proud to support Believers Bail Out, a community-led effort to bail out Muslims in pretrial incarceration. During these last ten days of Ramadan give what you can to restore justice and free our people. Donate and join us on the steep road!

Support the Believers Bail Out campaign.  Donate today.

 

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Salihah Aakil is a 15 year old, African American Muslim, Writer, Artist, and co-founder of Salvage, a non profit organization. She is a two time DC Youth Poet Laureate finalist and an outspoken advocate for social justice. She found writing at the age of ten and hasn’t stopped using it, words are her weapon, wonder, and shelter.

BlogRamadan 2018Religion

Ramadan 1439/2018 Black Muslims Reflect on the Qu’ran – Juz’ 29

By Rufus and Jenny Triplett

 

Sapelo Square is proud to support Believers Bail Out, a community-led effort to bail out Muslims in pretrial incarceration. During these last ten days of Ramadan give what you can to restore justice and free our people. Donate and join us on the steep road!

Support the Believers Bail Out campaign.  Donate today.

 


unnamed.pngRufus & Jenny Triplett are co-authors of the international best-selling book, Surviving Marriage in the 21st Century, speakers, media hosts and personalities. They’ve been married for over 28 years. You can find our more at www.rufusandjennytriplett.com

 

BlogRamadan 2018Religion

Ramadan 1439/2018: Black Muslims Reflect on the Quran—Juz’ 28

By Alia J. Bilal

In the name of God, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

Upon reviewing the 28 juz’ (58:1–66:12), three themes occurred to me. The first revolves around the forces that gather to conspire against groups of people and the Divine response to those plans; the second considers those who align themselves with those who secretly (or not-so-secretly) oppose our community; and the third reminds us of God’s power over all people, plots and plans.

The first chapter in Juz 28, Surah al-Mujadilah (58), includes four consecutive verses about holding secret meetings. As a community organizer, I think about all of the secret meetings that take place on a daily basis that decide the fates of entire communities, either because the meetings’ decision makers seek to control (or destroy) those communities or because the people in those communities are deemed unfit to make suitable decisions for themselves. These meetings occur in boardrooms and in back alleys, in state capitals and police departments, in hushed whispers or announced with the veneer of progress. I suppose it is comforting to know that The Almighty has already forewarned us of this type of treachery and that He has placed Himself in the equation where these meetings are concerned

There is no secret conversation between three people where He is not the fourth, nor between five where He is not the sixth, nor between less or more than that without Him being with them, wherever they may be — 58:7.

I read Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince for the first time in 2017. Like many people, before reading it, I only assumed from context clues that Machiavelli was an evil, scheming, conniving man, for that’s what we had always understood the term “Machiavellian” to mean. I now think of the author of the famed (or infamous) series of political maxims as akin to many of the leaders of our “free world” today. His calm, self-possessed, even-keeled advice about manipulating and controlling the masses seems to be the playbook for many of our seemingly stable-minded politicians and leaders today. Moreover, the secret meetings they undoubtedly have helped to create or maintain policies that continue to marginalize, denigrate and criminalize our most vulnerable communities.

But [God] knows what is hidden as well as what is in the open…” (59:22), and He reminds us that as long as we organizers, activists, creatives and scholars hold our secret meetings in a way that is good and mindful [of God] (58:9), and put our trust in Him, the other Satanic conversations cannot harm us in the least (58:10).

And God has written, ‘I shall most certainly win, I and My messengers.’ God is powerful and almighty” (58:21).

The second theme became evident after reading the following from Surah al-Mumtahanah:

You who believe, do not take My enemies and yours as your allies, showing them friendship when they have rejected the truth you have received, and have driven you and the Messenger out simply because you believe in God, your Lord… — 60:1

At a time when we who are working to uphold our own human dignity and the dignity of other marginalized people across the world are confronted by those who profess to speak for us, and yet align themselves with those who not only disparage and vilify us, but also actively work to eviscerate our humanity, this theme hits all too hard. Lest anyone reading mistake this statement as an indictment on forming alliances across ethnic, religious, geographic or socio-economic lines — don’t. For we are reminded that God,

does not forbid you to deal kindly and justly with anyone who has not fought you for your faith or driven you out of your homes: God loves the just. 60:8

What this brings to mind is the concern that too many Muslims and people of conscience have allowed themselves to pander to those in power in a futile effort to be seen as “one of the good ones.” The Almighty warns us against giving loyalty to people with whom God is angry (58:14).

But Muslims should be people that call up as well as call out, and I firmly believe that we will get nothing and nowhere without the joint effort of all people of God and conscience. When facing individuals and institutions committed to stripping us of our humanity, we are reminded that Fear of you [believers] is more intense in their hearts than fear of God because they are people devoid of understanding.” The Powers that be appear indomitable and all the more so because the network of dark forces that create and perpetuate racist and unjust systems seem so inextricably linked. But God, yet again, declares, Even united they would never fight you…you think they are united but their hearts are divided because they are people devoid of reason…” (59:14).

One of the things I’ve been working on for the last couple of years has been allowing myself to truly be content with God’s decree. The final theme of being patient with God’s qadr and might in this juz took that point home. The Qur’an constantly beseeches us to be people who think, ponder, and reflect. As an organizer, trying to work myself out of a job with the full knowledge that I never could, I have recently found myself asking questions that have no easy answers. What kind of world was I born into? How does one understand the evil in this world alongside the Beauty of the Creator? Why has one group of people been made to suffer the brutality and scorn of humanity for so many agonizing centuries? These are just some of the questions I am currently asking myself.

But, again, always, I am reminded in this juz that misfortunes can only happen with God’s permission (64:11).

Again, I am reminded that “…God does not burden any soul with more than He has given it” (65:7).

And that “…power belongs to God…” (63:8). Therefore, the machinations and plans of enemies, the foolish words and dalliances of friends, the wavering of our own hearts and minds all succumb to the reality that God’s infinite Hand lay over every matter and everything.

Though I won’t work myself out of a job, I find comfort in an assurance from the All-Merciful

…Anyone who believes in God and the Last Day should heed this: God will find a way out for those who are mindful of Him, and will provide for them from an unexpected source; God will be enough for those who put their trust in Him… — 65:2–3.

For surely, after hardship, God will bring ease(65:7).

 

I seek refuge in God from my own nafs and from speaking about matters of which I have little knowledge.

 

Sapelo Square is proud to support Believers Bail Out, a community-led effort to bail out Muslims in pretrial incarceration. During these last ten days of Ramadan give what you can to restore justice and free our people. Donate and join us on the steep road!

Support the Believers Bail Out campaign.  Donate today.

 


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Alia J. Bilal serves as Director of Community Relations at the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), where she is responsible for cultivating and maintaining individual donors to sustain and advance IMAN’s social justice work, and engaging other organizations and institutions around strategic programs and initiatives. Ms. Bilal is also a volunteer for Ta’leef Collective Chicago, where she helps people understand the basics of Islamic doctrine and practice, and works to cultivate fellowship among newcomers to the community. A native of Chicago’s South Side, Ms. Bilal graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in International Studies and a concentration in Islamic World Studies. She was an appointee of the Equity Advisory Council of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations and a graduate of the Civic Leadership Academy at the University of Chicago.