” You don’t have a revolution in which you are begging the system of exploitation to integrate you into it.” — Malcolm X
The Islam of Black revolutionaries was born from African resistance to the transatlantic slave trade, colonialism, and global white supremacy. The Islam of Black revolutionaries does not concern itself with the white gaze nor appeasing white fears about Islam. Its primary focus is the liberation, concerns, and aspiration of Black people. A return to Black revolutionary Islam necessitates the end of apolitical khutbas; gives spiritual guidance informed by Black political thought; seeks to continue the unfinished theological project of Malcolm X via production Islamic content for oppressed Black communities.
The Islam of Black Revolutionaries was brought forth by Licituan. He was the mastermind of the Islamic slave revolts of Brazil. When placed on trial, Licutan would be asked for his name, court documents reveal that he continuously referred to himself as a Bilal in honor of the famous companion of the Prophet(pbuh). In linking himself with Bilal Ibn Rabah, Licituan affirmed the right of black people to be freed from the judicial system of white supremacy.
Though Licutan would be given capital punishment,Black revolutionary Islam would be continued by H. Rap Brown a.k.a Imam Jamil Al-Amin who upon being brought to court on trumped up charges,(a government backlash for his involvement in the black struggle in the 60’s to 70’s,) refused to grant the court legitimacy and used it for a dawah opportunity. Imam Jamil Al Amin told the jury and judges,” I invite you to Islam. Be Muslim and receive two rewards” like Licutan refusing to submit to the judicial system of white supremacy.
Even as we sought to escape from slavery, we as Black people sought to maintain our obligatory prayers known as salah. Detailing his escape from slavery, Omar Ibn Said states, “I fled from the hand of Johnson and after a month came to a place called Fayd-il. There I saw some great houses. On the new moon I went into a church to pray.” Maintaining his salah was on the mind of Omar Ibn Said despite the fact that he was a fugitive slave who could be captured at any times.
Centuries later, in the trial of Black political prisoner Assata Shakur, she states that, “People from all over the Black community dropped by. The Muslim sisters and brothers brought their pray rugs and broke out into prayer in the hallway of the courthouse.” It would even be a Muslim, Sekou Mgobogi Abdullah Odinga, who would be charged for orchestrating Assata Shakur’s escape from prison. Odinga writes, “They called the liberation of Assata Shakur kidnapping because jail-breaking was not a federal charge.”
The Islam of Black Revolutionaries holds that not only was Assata Shakur’s extra-judicial freedom fully justified but it is in fact one of the greatest triumphs against white supremacy since the liberation efforts of Harriet Tubman. Odinga strong in his Islamic faith states, “I believe that al-Islam as taught by the Koran and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad(A.S) is the best organized system to free new Afrikan people and build the New Afrikan Nation. ” The Islam of Black Revolutionaries seeks a freedom for black people outside the confines of a white supremacist- liberalism.
A Return to Black Revolutionary Islam
“It’s undeniable that Muhammad [pbuh] was a revolutionary who turned a society upside down..” — Pan-Africanist, Thomas Sankara
The Islam of Black revolutionaries rejects allowing the domestication of Islam within the U.S Empire and instead roots Islam as the spiritual center of larger Pan-African struggles. Rooted in Islamic critiques of neo-liberal economics and its usage of interest banking, the Islam of Black revolutionaries necessities struggle against the IMF’s and World Bank structural adjustment programs that has created poverty and destruction in Africa.
Similarly, the Islam of revolutionaries must struggle against a white supremacist capitalist economic system that has led to racial wealth disparities which are so large it would take over 200 years for Black families to have equal wealth to white Americans. The Islam of black revolutionaries seeks to turn global white supremacy upside down and eradicate it from the face of the planet.
The Islam of Black Revolutionary does not oppose the travel ban because “immigrant Muslims deserve the American dream” but because we are under no obligation to respect the arbitrary borders of European settler-colonist which they established on land usurped from indigenous natives. Nor do we believe that such borders such inhibit refugees from who are fleeing the United States government’s imperialistic wars.
Furthermore, the Islam of Black revolutionaries recognizes Saudi Arabia for what it is: a white supremacist proxy state. It problematizes the Islamic institutions where Blacks went to study the deen for detaching Islam from the Black liberation struggle. Black revolutionary Islam centers disenfranchised Black communities at the center of global Islamic revival.
The Islam of Black Revolutionaries situated itself within Safiya Bukhari’s pivotal article “Islam and Revolution is Not a Contradiction”, where she provides an analysis analysis for the bankruptcy of the political system of the United States to address Black suffering.
The Islam of Black revolutionaries is opposed to Hillary Clinton who not only once used Black prisoners as slave labor but inaugurated humanitarian imperialism in Haiti to profit from the suffering of impoverished black folks. As for Donald Trump, our attitude towards him can be summed up in the following statement of Malcolm X,”The white conservatives aren’t friends of the Negro either, but they at least don’t try to hide it.The white liberals are more dangerous than the conservatives; they lure the Negro, and as the Negro runs from the growling wolf, he flees into the open jaws of the “smiling” fox.”
The Islam of black revolutionaries recognizes that just as Allah enabled Moses to overcome Pharaoh and all the oppressive structures he laid out, Allah can enable them to overcome modern Pharaohs and all the oppressive structure which they lay out.
This is true whether the Pharaoh be Nixon who initiated the war on drugs on Black ghettoes, Reagan whose neo-liberal “trickledown economics” devastated Black communities, Bill Clinton who cut back on social services to the Black poor and expanded Back mass incarceration, George W. Bush who presided over mass black death during Hurricane Katrina, Barack Obama who represented white power in a Black face, or Donald J. Trump who has promised to bring back stop and frisk and a litany of other social policies working to oppress Back people.
Exemplifying what embodying this worldview of belief in God can do is Malcolm X, a student of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, who said,” the religion of Islam had reached down into the mud to lift me up, to save me from being what I inevitably would have been: a dead criminal in a grave.”
While post-colonial Muslim thinkers such as Ali Shariati and Muhammad Qutb had to devote themselves to addressing the revival of Islam after its stagnation in their societies due to western colonialism, the Black Muslim descendants of slaves are in the unique position of having to revive Islam in their community after its complete obliteration due to slavery. Stagnation verse obliteration: herein lies the clear-cut distinction between the theological challenges facing the descendants of colonized Muslims versus that of enslaved Muslims.
It is in fact this essential difference which renders the bulk of the world’s Islamic revivalist thought insufficient to meet the spiritual needs of Black people.The greatest obstacles to the advancement of Islam in Black America are the pathologies of “Toby Muhammad” and “”Imam Tom”. Toby Muhammad is a Black Muslim with an inferiority complex who believes culturally apostatizing from the black community is the only way to be a more authentic Muslim.
Moreover, we have the reality of “Imam Tom,” a mentality in which Black Muslims are subservient to Immigrant Muslim institutions, who are in turned subservient to white supremacy. “Imam Tom”, will be the first black line of defense to defend a white, liberal shaykh who cannot see a simple causal connection between institutional racism and the break down of the black family but can elaborate extensively about Aristotelian ethics, Neitzche, and Kant’s categorical imperative.
Whereas, Malcolm X upon being leaving prison went up and down Detroit’s Black ghettos to speak with drug traffickers, gang members, and other disenfranchised Black folks about Islam, “Imam Tom” is comfortable being a token in immigrant Muslim institutions which have at best, abysmal engagement with Black communities. The Islam of Black revolutionaries upholds Imam Abdullah Haroon, who struggled against the apartheid regime of South Africa as a role model for how Immigrant Muslims can cease to acquiesce to white supremacy and instead align themselves with the Islam of Black revolutionaries.
The future of Islam will be secured by those Black Muslims who are able to articulate how the pure Islamic concept of God’s oneness is a superior response to anti-blackness and racism than the perspective of those with anti-islamic Afrocentric leanings. The future of Islam in the Black community will be secured by those who are not only firm on the fundamental Islamic beliefs but can explain and articulate why those doctrines answer the theological questions of black people born out of the crucible of slavery. The future of Islam in black America will be secured when masjids once again become centers for black consciousness.
The future of Islam in the Black community will be secured by those Black Muslims who are willing to answer the theological questions that exist within contemporary hip-hop culture and by those who go into the black owned barbershops for dawah. The future of Islam will be secured by Black Muslims who put on the amour of God and deliver the message of Islam to the drug dealers of the trap houses in the most disenfranchised ghettoes. Let us rid our communities of the pathology of “Toby Muhammad” and “Imam Tom” and return to the Islam of black revolutionaries.