The Current Lapse of Muslim Leadership in the West and Malcolm: A Conversation with Sh. Abu al-Hussein
He bro, El Hajj (r) sparked for a good many the hope that aims to see the realization of justice and fuels the very struggle for justice. The Muslim legacy in North America (USA) was concerned with the oppressed -contextualized enough- to understand the need for self determination on the part of the marginalized. It was a legacy concerned with the cultivation of virtues that would uphold the dignity of the downtrodden. Bro, El Hajj built men and women as he worked for justice and died for the materialization of practical justice which would ensure a dignified existence for the oppressed. In light of this robust legacy one questions the sincerity of those who run Americas mosques as they hide behind the mask of authenticity, and cover themselves with the robe of Islamic Orthodoxy. While the flag of Orthodoxy flies in the Mosques of America my people die of thirst. Who is there to care for them, not to save them but to stand with them as brothers? Bro, the struggle of the poor in America means little to those who empty out the “Zakat coffers” to care for far off lands. In the face of bad management and absence of concern the poor of the United States are left to fight with the poor of other lands for Zakat resources. In the end the poor of America go unrecognized by the immigrant Muslim leadership who have fled to the suburbs away from the so called Blacks and Spanish “savages” who are dismissed as thugs and paupers incapable of being good Muslims. So, Zakat never empowers the Muslim American but rather is sent “back home” to the real needy to aid the real Muslims and Muslim lands. Malcolm cared for us though. The Civil Rights movement was not long ago brother, long before the term Orthodoxy came into fashion, there was care for the people now the Muslims are stuck on who is Orthodox.
Akhi, our community had issues too, we must be fair in our analysis and critique.
Yes we did bro. On the other hand, we understood some degree of brotherhood back then and the struggle for justice made taught us to be righteous. So, bro, tell me if caring for the oppressed here at home makes me a heretic as I am made to feel so when I bring this issue up in among immigrant Muslims?
No, akhi, it does not.
Well, if it does, then let the judgment be passed. I am sick of being marginalized and silent. How can you stand silent before the destruction of indigenous poor Muslims in America, Imam? Are you not concerned with their slow death?
Well the problem is that we are caught in the Nationalist struggles of the Muslim world transported to the US by the immigrant. It it is not enough to will for good action but rather we need a fiqh of priorities to govern our actions. In addition, to cultivating a sense of justice we need management and organization skills so we are capable of confronting the the problems we face as Muslims systematically. But what we need more so is to first develop a concept of brotherhood which is inclusive and extends beyond one’s ethnic group. Do not worry, akhi , that you stand for the poor and oppressed of America and demand that something be done on their behalf to transform their condition is not heresy nor does it vitiate your loyalty to Islam. In fact, you are looking after your responsibility towards the Muslims in America and that is part of having a fiqh of priorities. On the other hand, do not be exclusive you must be concerned with the whole Ummah while working with the people in your community. Once you ensure the well-being of your community then it will be able to stand on its own and aid others.
Bro, I tell you, give me an Imam in the legacy of Malcolm X with a sound Islamic education instead of Ahmad from overseas (who claims the Shaikh title) to lead the Mosque and I guarantee you Palestine would not be an issue and our people would be cared for! Our Zakat coffers would be used strategically.
Be gentle, akhi. The problem is that many immigrant brothers have not come to realize their condition. To borrow a term from the Psychiatrist, Franz Fanon, they are “the Wretched of the earth”. Many of our immigrant brothers never realized that they are oppressed not only politically but psychologically, disoriented, in need of re-learning Islam. They have a need to come to be people who know how to manage power correctly and justly and consider others outside of their social and ethnic group. But they will not will not accept being informed of this condition by you if you do so in a harsh tone especially given that you are a Muslim convert. Akhi, lay claim to the legacy of Malcolm but educate yourself and work for greater justice which is inclusive. Refined manners will get you a long way, akhi. But refined manners should be coupled cultivated with knowledge, spirituality, and an activism with is concerned for all, and informed by strategic thought and management and organization skills. If we train people to have these qualities then we will make good use of the legacy of El Hajj Malik ash Shabazz (r) and form leaders.