The Comprehensive Guide to Examine if Your Imam is an Uncle Tom
The enormous growth of Islam in black America is a direct product of Muslim leaders who were also black Freedom Fighters vehemently advocating on behalf of the black community and boldly fighting white supremacy. In the contemporary era, there are Afrocentric “black power” groups touring black communities in the United States in black communities completely untouched by the “mainstream American Muslim establishment”, promoting the idea that Islam is a Pro-Arab, anti-Black religion. There are Black Hebrew Israelites on street corners challenging the legitimacy of Islam in black America.
Islam in America spearheaded Black consciousness. Today, the image of Islam as an empowering faith among black Americans has significantly declined. Now, more than ever, black Muslims need to come back to the liberation theology and political stances of black Muslim freedom fighters such as Imam El Hajjj Malik El Shabazz. It is imperative now more than ever that black Muslim reestablish a powerful presence in disenfranchised Black Muslim communities.
We’ve heard Imam El Hajj Malik El Shabazz teach us,”That old Uncle Tom–type Negro is dead..” An Uncle Tom is a black person who furthers the agenda of white supremacy. Being a black Muslim once automatically entailed being a Black freedom- fighter. Sadly today, this is not the reality. Now, we have Imams in the black community who refuse to carry on the black Muslim tradition of empowering black folks as well as fighting white supremacy. How can you tell these modern day Uncle Toms within Muslims communities? Here are some signs.
1) Your Imam can’t stop apologizing
Does your Imam acquiesce to the white supremacist notion of “collective guilt” by apologizing and repudiating every terrorist actions committed by reactionary Muslim elements but has nothing to say against the terrorism that White America continues to inflict upon the black man and woman every single day since our ancestors were kidnapped from Africa and brought to this country against our will? This anti-black terrorism includes the rise of prison industrial complex incarcerating black men, gentrification and redlining of black communities, a racist economic system with astronomically high levels black unemployment and poverty, systemic police brutality, a criminal “justice” system that gives black men harsher prison sentences for the same crime as whites, and a racist educational system in black communities designed to instill in black children an inferiority complex and self-hatred. If your Imam stays silent on these forms of terrorism, he just might be an Uncle Tom.
2) Your Imam does not engage with Black liberation theologians.
Does your Imam do interfaith conferences with affluent white Christian communities in the name of “fighting islamophobia” but not black christian liberation theologians such as Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s community in Chicago? Is your Imam afraid to speak truth to power like Reverend Jeremiah Wright did in his historic Confusing God and Government speech? Is your Imam unwilling to work with brothers and sisters in the Nation of Islam, to learn basic security of their masjid and how their masjid can move beyond just being “pray rug activity” but a place that can reform and transform black communities? Is this unwillingness to build bridges with the Nation of Islam due to fear of what the white dominant establishment may say or think? Does your Imam compromise Islamic morality to appease “white liberals” who don’t even care about black people or does your imam call for building bridges with white conservatives (who also don’t even care about black people), over an alleged shared morality? If this is the case your imam just might be an Uncle Tom.
3) Your Imam Isn’t working for the advancement of Islam in the predominately Black communities.
Malcolm X believed that the most fertile area for the grow of Islam in the West was within black communities. Is your Imam apathetic about working to develop Islam in the most impoverished and disenfranchised black ghettos? Yet is this same Imam very comfortable in politically colonized Muslim immigrant institutions and among affluent Suburban Immigrant Muslim communities which are lethargic about empowering black people? Your Imam just might be an Uncle Tom.
4) Your Imam Isn’t About Black Self Determination
Does your Iman know the man who vocalized these famous words,” No, I’m not an American. I’m one of 22 million black people who are the victims of Americanism. Have your Imam google it! “Does your Imam advocate investing in domesticating Islam within the confines of the American empire instead of pushing Islam forward in the black community for independent black self-determination and nation-building? Your Imam just might be an Uncle Tom.
5) Your Imam endorsed Hillary Clinton.
Malcolm X taught us that both the Republican and the Democratic party were enemies to black people. Malcolm X said, “the white liberal differs from the white conservative only in one way: the liberal is more deceitful than the conservative.” During the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton appeared on the Breakfast Club talk show and disrespected the black community by claiming she always carried with her a bottle of hot sauce and she even did the nae nae dance in an attempt to manipulate black people into voting for her in order to hide her mischievous and criminal anti-black track record which includes using black prisoners as slave labor, having sham charities to exploit the black people of Haiti, and fully supporting her husband as he contributed to social policies that mass incarcerated black men. If your Imam calls for Muslims to support Hillary Clinton in any way, shape or form, your Imam just might be an Uncle Tom.
6) Your Imam upholds Khzir Khan as a hero for Muslims
In opposition to the military industrial complex, Malcolm X taught,”you’re dumb enough to fight for someone who means you no good.” Early Black Muslims were imprisoned in opposition to participation in the U.S military. Most famously Muhammad Ali who said,”My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America.” The Iraq War was no different, it had nothing to do with “national security” and everything about U.S imperialism and the right of white folks to control the oil of Iraq. Today, because of Hillary Clinton, and the democratic party, Muslims like “Humayun Khan” are portrayed as role models for his decision to fight in the Iraq war. If your Imam upholds Khzir Khan as hero for his son’s Humayun Khan decision to fight in the Iraq War or is connected to colonized immigrant Muslim institutions which continue to promote Khzir Khan as a hero for Muslims, your Imam just might be an Uncle Tom furthering the aims of a white supremacist military industrial complex.
7) Your Imam know more about Arab poetry & medieval Persian philosophy than contemporary black political thought.r
If your Imam is known to recite Jahiliyyah Arab Poetry more than the poetry of Gil Scott Heron, The Ojay’s, Tupac Shakur, J Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Nasir Jones which speak to the contemporary political realities of the black man of America your Imam just might be an Uncle tom. If you Imam knows more about Persian history and political philosophy than contemporary black political thought from the likes of Charles Mills, Ni’am Akbar, Claude Anderson, and Stokley Carmichael, your Imam just might be an Uncle tom.
8) Does your Imam center the pains of the Black Man and Woman?
The aftermath of Hamza Yusuf’s anti-black spectacle at the Reviving the Islamic Spirit Conference should have made black Muslims cognizant as to which Imams have Uncle Tom mentalities and which are unapologetic black freedom fighters. When a prominent white Muslim “leader” disrespects black people by failing to recognize an obvious connection between institutional racism and the destruction of the black people, refers to black activists “reverse racists”, and brings up black on black crime against the very serious issue of police brutality, does you Imam center the feelings and sensibilities of aggrieved, disrespected, and oppressed black masses or is their primary concern about the sensibilities of such “leader”? If it is the latter, your Imam just might be an Uncle Tom.
Liberate yourself from Theological Slavery!
Black people: You do not need any Shaykhs or Imam’s permission to look at the Islamic tradition to empower your black community. Start looking to the Qu’ran and Prophetic tradition to uplift the black community. Start looking to the Qu’ran and Prophetic tradition to combat white supremacy. Come back to black power politics of Malcolm X!
Peace and Blessings to you all.
Hakeem, a Muslim & A Black Freedom Fighter.