Friday, December 19, 2014

MY SAD ANNOUNCEMENT


IT IS WITH GREAT SORROW THAT I ANNOUNCE THE PASSING YESTERDAY (DECEMBER 18, 

(2014)  OF MY WIFE OF   12 YEARS, SANAA  ABDUL-HALIM. SHE BATTLED CANCER FOR MORE 

THAN TWO YEARS.  MAY ALLAH FORGIVE HER EVERY SIN AND  HAVE MERCY ON HER, 

AMEEN. 

SHE WAS A  WONDERFUL HUMAN BEING WHO ENHANCED THE LIFE OF ALL  WHO MET 

HER, AND SHE  CONTRIBUTED GREATLY TO THE BEAUTY OF OUR JAMAAT 

(CONGREGATION) AT THE MOSQUE  OF ISLAMIC BROTHERHOOD.   HER PASSING IS 

HUMANITY'S LOSS. MAY ALLAH FORGIVE HER SINS AND SHORTCOMINGS, MAGNIFY ALL OF 

HER GOOD DEEDS, HAVE INFINITE MERCY ON HER, FILL HER GRAVE WITH LIGHT AND 

REWARD HER  WITH PARADISE, AMEEN

WE WERE MARRIED FOR 12 YEARS
THIS IS AT AN 'EID CELEBRATION
AT HOME, SMILING BEAUTIFULLY
AS SHE ALWAYS DID
HER SMILE EVEN LIT UP THE OUTDOORS
IN THE DAYTIME SUNLIGHT
HERE WE ARE WITH (NOW) PUBLIC ADVOCATE
'TISH JAMES, AT A HEALTH WALK IN HARLEM
BEFORE SANAA BECAME ILL
END STOP AND FRISK !
WITH MUSLIM SISTERS AT NYC MARCH
ENJOYING HERSELF DURING OUR
TRIP TO LONDON A FEW YEARS BACK
"I WANT TO SEE THE TOWER OF
LONDON" SHE SAID
WITH HER BEST FRIEND, SHAKIRA SAAHIR
MY BELOVED WIFE AT A FAMILY BIRTHDAY GATHERING
FOR MY BELOVED DAUGHTER, HAWWA
I AM THE ONE WHO WAS BLESSED
AND SHALL ALWAYS LOVE HER
AS SHE TOLD ME ONLY LAST WEEK
THAT SHE'D ALWAYS LOVE ME
THIS IS US AT THE GOREE ISLAND
SLAVE FORT OFF DAKAR, SENEGAL, WEST AFRICA
HER REGAL SPIRIT IS ON DISPLAY HERE
SANAA & HER BELOVED SISTER ANITA,
BOTH OF THEM SUCCUMBED TO CANCER

Sunday, December 14, 2014

"HANDS UP - DON'T SHOOT" Young Protestors Surrender and Fight Simultaneously




As- Salaamu 'Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu (peace be unto you and the Mercy of Allah and His blessings)

Since the attack upon protestors in Ferguson, Missouri, the "hands up - don't shoot" gesture has become a symbol of national protest and defiance, especially amongst young people. This has generated different opinions in communities of Americans of African descent. The reason for this is not that there isn't wide-spread righteous indignation at the ongoing injustice of police brutality and use of excessive force resulting in the deaths of innocent, unarmed people, because there is that prevailing spirit in communities, nation-wide. What has generated the difference of opinion is the "hands-up" gesture itself.








On the Friday following the events at Ferguson, after Friday worship service at the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood (Harlem, New York), where I am the Imam, a number of worshippers joined me in an act of solidarity.




Our community elder, a Black American man, expressed reservation about this gesture, since the hands-up gesture is after all, one of  universal  surrender. Then a couple of weeks later at a support rally for Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, the fiery veteran activist Pam Africa , expressed a similar view, suggesting that elders are dis-empowering  our youth by encouraging hands up, rather than say, a clenched fist of defiance. 


THE MAIN MEN - TOMMY SMITH (left) and John Carlos (right)
at the 1968 Olympics
MADIBA NELSON MANDELA
NOBODY COMPLAINED WHEN HE DID IT
ANGELA DAVIS BACK IN THE DAY
BLACK POWER IN THE WHITE HOUSE
OH, THE OPPOSITION HAD A FIT !
RIGHT ON, FIRST LADY MICHELLE !
BOTH STYLES OF DEFIANCE AT FERGUSON RALLY

I thought that  their views were well stated and valuable.

My own view is that  there is validity to this view, and that is why artists are so important in struggle. They clarify truths through the medium of their art. Thus, artists must be connected to such grassroots struggles (just think of the revolutionary visual art of the past. I have grown up with it as exemplified in the 1960s and 70s art from various struggles, and I would include the graffiti protest art of the 90s) Nowadays images jump out at hyper speed into public consciousness, and that is inevitable because of the technology. It has advantages and disadvantages during this time when spontaneous movements can be born and leap to national or global proportions almost overnight, through social media.

However, self-expressive gestures and other expressions by groups are inevitable. Over the years I have watched some of them with curiosity, like the unique version of the peace sign made with the fingers turned around, that we see in mostly but not exclusively Black and Latino communities. Its called a backwards peace sign and means different things to different people, as is the case with many symbols. 


Some have, incorrectly I believe, identified this gesture as a gang symbol. But its not that to my knowledge, but rather a demonstration of what the late John Ogbu, a Nigerian-American educator described as "cultural inversion".

Here's a quote from his paper "Understanding Cultural Diversity", available on line:

"Cultural inversion is the tendency of involuntary minorities to regard certain forms of behaviors, events, symbols and meanings as inappropriate for them because they are characteristic of White Americans. At the same time the minorities value other forms of behavior,events, symbols and meanings, as appropriate for themselves". 


Dr. Ogbu goes on to state that this principle lies at the center of a collective, oppositional identity, which Dr. Abdul-Hakim Sherman Jackson (Islam and the BlackAmerican: The Third Resurrection) identifies as that of a "protest people" rooted in a "cosmic 'no'.". Ogbu's paper is  brilliant and informative, and perfectly expressive of a perspective of  people that in my opinion, helps clarify the issue.

Holding this view, I immediately recognized what sister Iman Drammeh Nur (see her blog "Violence and the Power of Logo" for a different though not dis-agreeing view of the phenomena") has accurately described as a "sign of mock surrender". 




The hands-up gesture, is in my opinion, an expression of cultural inversion within a protest context. I would place it in the same category as "die-ins" and other such expression currently occurring. These are culturally inverted expressions, gesture, speech, etc. being wielded by mostly young people, even as they take to the streets in defiance of our oppression and oppressors - demonstrating, marching, raging, "spitting" lyrics, shouting, chanting etc. Its all an organic, spontaneous expression, just as useful as other expressions  of freedom of speech and verbal jihad.


MEMBERS OF ST LOUIS RAMS SHOWING INTEGRITY
LEBRON AND TEAMMATES DOING THE SAME
MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF NY
ON THEIR WAY TO  CONDUCT GOVERNMENT BUSINESS
KEEP IT REAL
So yes, while I understand those who hold a different view, I nonetheless see the entire matter in the light I have expressed above. Being an elder now myself, I'm willing to cut the young people some slack and let them do their thing in opposition to injustice, even as I once did and still do (look at the way that I'm dressed in the above picture. A young person made the garment for me and presented it to me as a gift). In other words, I'm feeling them . 

After allowing them their spontaneous expression, its then up to us "elders"  to perhaps guide the next generation to even more potent and lasting expressions of long term and lasting ideological utility,  in the ongoing struggle of Black Americans and others for freedom, justice and equality, civil, constitutional, and human rights, and sovereignty. Perhaps this can and should be done through elder artists mentoring the younger generation in the art of political expression through art. And Allah knows best.

GO TO FACEBOOK PAGE, MOSQUE OF ISLAMIC BROTHERHOOD



Friday, November 21, 2014

BROTHER ABDULLAH ABDUR-RAZZAQ (TOP)

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR (left)
ABDULLAH ABDUR-RAZZAQ
(JAMES 67X, CENTER)
EL-HAJJ MALIK EL-SHABAZZ
(MALCOLM X) RIGHT
ABDULLAH ABDUR-RAZZAQ (left)
EL-HAJJ MALIK/MALCOLM X
BABY, ILYASAH SHABAZZ
(now an author & lecturer)

November 21, 2014
by: Imam Al-Hajj Talib 'Abdur-Rashid
Imam, The Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood Inc.


Tonight at approximately 7:45 pm Abdullah Abdur-Razzaq, formerly known as James 67X , passed away in Bellevue Hospital in New York City. He had been hospitalized there for a month before passing quietly and peacefully in his sleep. Brother Abdur-Razzaq had been an aide and confidante to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz/Malcolm X, during his days as a minister in the Nation of Islam under Mr. Elijah Muhammad, and after his break with the Nation and founding of both the Muslim Mosque Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. Over the past several years, Abdur-Razzaq had been an inexhaustible source of information , particularly of the 1950s and 1960, with his archival memory and passionate love for freedom. Historically he can be seen in a rare photo, standing to the immediate left of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during his once in a lifetime meeting with El-Hajj Malik/Malcolm X in the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. It was Abdur-Razzaq (then known as James 67X, the secretary of the Muslim Mosque Inc.) who facilitated the meeting when the two giants found themselves in the Capitol Rotunda at the same time, during Civil Rights hearings. Two giant supporters of Shabazz/X have now passed within months of each other. Sulaiman Sealey, former bodyguard for the famed African American leader, passed just a few months ago. Janaaza (traditional Islamic funeral) for  arrangements for Abdullah Abdur-Razzaq have not yet been announced.





Friday, October 31, 2014

DRACULA DIED FIGHTING MUSLIMS (REALLY)



As-Salaamu 'Alaikum. No I'm not kidding. I do have a sense of humor, but you all should know me better than that. Each year when the disguised devil worship that is Halloween (then again, maybe it's not so disguised) is highly visible in America and elsewhere, I always think about the truth that is behind the reality.

First, the myth of vampires attacking and slaying the innocent is a metaphor for the victimizing of the poor by the rich. The real vampires are those who systematically prey on the indigent. This means that the real vampires are individuals and corporations who drain the social, economic, and spiritual life out of grassroots people, living them in the condition of the walking dead, in place of living, vibrant human beings who live fruitful and well realized lives in a world of shared prosperity.

But even moreso, Dracula was a real person; a historical figure from European history. Decades ago I was walking through the Port Authority Bus Station here in New York City (known in the past and present as a lair for vampires and their victims) . I was passing through the station clutching my Qur'an, when I decided to go into a bookstore. I found there a book entitled In Search of Dracula  by Raymond T. McNally & Radu Florescu. Out of curiosity I purchased a copy:


When I took it home and read sections of it, boy was I surprised. My curiosity was amply rewarded !

Reading the book, I learned that the real Count Dracula's name was Vlad, known by the sobriquet (or kunya in Arabic), of Vlad the Impaler. He was the product of a rich European family. The home of Dracula as depicted in movies and writings is identified as Transylvania, which is a real place. Transylvania is a province of western Romania, a country very much in the news recently because of the threat of Soviet expansion.

The myth of Dracula finds its origins in the novel by Bram Stoker,


which was eventually immortalized so to speak by Hollywood. Tinseltown produced the film lore of vampires with the classic films  starring Hungarian-American actor Bela Lugosi.


Of course, Hollywood vampires are popular to this day, as in the tv show The Vampire Diaries, or in films like The Twilight Saga. In Stoker's original novel,  he describes various European ethnic groups that actually exist, like the Saxons, Romanians, Hungarians, etc. They are the people of the region of Europe where the wealthy Dracul family (in a region of poor people) came into being. They were feudal lords who lived in a castle whereas the grassroots people live in humble dwellings. Castle Dracula (known today as a historical landmark called Bran Castle) still exists, and looks like this:


The real Dracula carried the first or given name of his father, which was Vlad. Vlad senior was known as Vlad II, and he died in 1447. His nickname was Dracul, a Romanian word meaning "devil". He in turn nicknamed his son Vlad with a diminutive version of that name - Dracula, meaning "son of the devil", or "lesser devil", or " Lil' devil". I kid you not. You couldn't make up this stuff, and besides, the truth is always more revealing than fiction. To quote an original Nation of Islam saying popularized amongst Americans of African descent by El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X, Rahmatullah 'alaihi, May Allah have Mercy on him, and reward him with Jannat (Paradise), ameen ), " Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward all research".


To continue, the name Dracul also means "dragon". The Dracul family were Christians, or what Dr. Cornel West might identify as adherents of "Imperial Christianity", as opposed to true Christianity, during the time of the Crusades. The Crusades were military campaigns spanning centuries which were waged with the sanction of the Roman Catholic Church,  against those described as "infidel Turks", who were of course Muslims (This is getting interesting isn't it? Now you see why Imam Talib is writing about this).

The Dracul family built churches in Europe, and in the year 1431 Vlad Dracul the father was, according to McNally and Florescu,  honored by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund, who  "…invested Vlad the father with the Order of the Dragon, a semi monastic, semi-military organization dedicated to fighting the Turkish infidels".

Eventually the son grew up to be known as the Prince of Wallachia (a region of Romania), as had his father and grandfather. He looked like this:


Dracula the son was called the Impaler because he had a section of the grounds of his family land filled with sharpened wooden stakes, upon which he would have his enemies thrown from out of the castle window. Reportedly he was so ruthless, bloodthirsty and sadistic, the he would sit eating, watching while these men died a gruesome death. That savage practice is depicted in this ancient drawing:


One day Muslims traveling through the area sent an envoy to request egress across the vast territorial lands owned by the wealthy family, as a courtesy. Dracula had the Muslim killed.  Through time and mutual hostilities between the Muslims and Christians in Europe, Dracula was captured and imprisoned by the Muslims. Upon release he went back to battling his former captors. According to McNally and Floresco, during The Impaler's final battle, a moment of poetic justice occurred.

"Dracula's army began killing Turks without mercy. Out of sheer joy, Dracula ascended a hill in order to see better his men massacring the Turks. This, detached from his army and his men, some took him for a Turk, and one of them struck him with a lance. But Dracula, seeing that he was being attacked by his own men, immediately killed five of his would-be assassins with his own sword; however, he ws pierced by many lances, thus he died.

"…According to both Bonifinius and a Turkish chronicler, Dracula was then beheaded. His head was sent to Constantinople (Turkey, known known as Istanbul - Imam Talib) , where it remained exposed as proof that the dreaded Impaler was really dead".

The authors claim that out of 200 men fighting the Muslim Turks that day, 190 were killed. They are also uncertain for some reason as to whether the death blow was struck by one of Dracula's own men, or one of the Muslim Turks.

A century after the death of Dracula, one of his descendants, named Mihnea II ( accepted Islam. He took the name Mikail, and was ostracized by his family, who called him "the apostate"; meaning he apostated from Imperial Christianity. He is known in history as Mihnea II, "the Islamized". I guess this descendant of a family radicalized by Imperial Christianity decided to moderate the influence of his past by becoming a Muslim.

In modern times, the 500th year of Dracula's death was commemorated in the year 1976 by the issuance of postage stamps in both Europe:

And America:


In 2011, Charles, Prince of Wales, popularly known as Prince Charles, claimed that he is descended from Dracula (son of the devil, enemy of Muslims),  as noted here:

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2011/10/prince-charles-says-hes-related-to-dracula/

Hey, like I said, you couldn't make this stuff up. As the old saying goes, "Truth is stranger than fiction".

Still think I'm kidding?

Was Salaam

Friday, October 17, 2014

Press Conference of the Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan
New York, City Hall, NYC Oct. 14, 2014

A Call to Justice and Rejection of Violent Extremism
A Statement from the Majlis Ash-Shura (Islamic Leadership Council) of
Metropolitan New York

Thirteen years ago during the immediate aftermath of the september 11th atrocities, the Majlis Ash-Shura, also known as the Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan New York, wrote and distributed 10,000 brochures on the streets of our city. The brochures conveyed our message of condolences to all who lost loved ones in those horrid attacks. We denounced terrorism, which we identified as politically motivated violence against innocents.  Further, we urged the Western powers to seriously investigate those factors that were fomenting extremism amongst Muslims.
Today, our message remains essentially the same.  Throughout the planet,  there are people of different racial and ethnic groups, many religions or beliefs,  or lack thereof, and various political ideologies, who are committing terrorist acts.  Regretfully, extremist Muslims are to be found amongst them
No reasonable person blames all Christians or Christianity itself, or all Jews or Judaism itself, or all Hindus or Buddhists or their faiths, or atheists for that matter, for acts of terrorism committed by a distinct minority of people from those groups. Yet too often we find Muslims collectively burdened with guilt by association of faith, when individuals or groups who claim to be acting in the name of Islam, instead act outside of it’s  moral and ethical boundaries. Then the media or others , place the blame for atrocities on Islamic extremists or terrorists, when our faith is not extreme nor does it advocate terrorism.
Since the very night of September 11, 2001,  Muslim groups throughout America and the world have been denouncing the targeting of innocent, non-combatant civilians and others, by extremist Muslims. Yet all of us are constantly asked “Why don’t you say something?” To which we reply “We have, and we are, the question is why aren’t you aware of that?”
So today, we as leaders of Muslim congregations and houses of worship throughout New York City, say again for all to hear that we denounce acts of extremist violence no matter whom or what. Certainly there are violent extremists who are Muslims, but their acts of terrorism are not Islamic. They are un-Islamic.
In our society we hear from the lips of Islamophobes or those influenced by them, that the canonical law of Islam, Sharia law, is to blame for acts of terrorism committed by extremist Muslims. However the truth is that the sacred laws of our faith, forbid the very acts being committed by extremist Muslims, be they individuals or groups.
So as Muslim leaders in New York City, we stand in solidarity with the distinct majority of people throughout America and the world, including the viable scholars of our religion both here in America and abroad, in denouncing all acts of political violence committed by extremist individuals, groups, or governments, regardless of the color of their skin, the country of their origin, their religion or lack thereof, or their politics.
We do so because as Muslim leaders we stand for justice. We are ever mindful that there are injustices in the world that need to be righted. We feel the pain in our hearts, of Muslims oppressed anywhere in the world. Too many of those injustices are committed by Muslims against Muslims and others, and vice-versa. It matters not the identity of the perpetuators of injustice, nor its victims. Right is right and wrong is wrong is wrong, and oppression and injustice are wrong , no matter whom or what.  However we of the Majlis Ash-Shura do not believe that two wrongs make a right. We are here today to make it clear that struggling for justice is right, and violent extremism is wrong.
             Today, we are announcing our implementation of a Four-Point-Citywide response, to appeals from anywhere in the world, calling Muslims to acts of terrorism:
1.     Beginning this week, on our web-site and in social media, we are posting our principled opposition against terrorism, with evidences from the primary sources of our faith - our holy book the Qur’an, and the Sunna, or Prophetic tradition of the Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, to whom the Qur’an was revealed, peace be upon him.
2.     We continue to declare that we stand for both public safety and the civil, constitutional and human rights of all Americans, including Muslims. We continue to stand ready to partner reasonably with those whose commitment is to both of these essential elements of American society.
3.      This Friday Oct 17th, simultaneous sermons will be delivered at mosques throughout the city upholding the principle of justice, yet denouncing extremist acts and tactics that exceed the boundaries of Islamic sacred law.
4.     This November, we will once again sponsor our citywide mosque open-house events, as we have done for the past four years; where-in Muslim houses of worship will open their doors for visits and activities, with our neighbors of other faiths.
Lastly, we call upon the governments of the world to stop using state-sponsored violence as a tool of oppression and repression of the masses of people seeking freedom, justice, and equality. We call for the elimination of poverty, which is itself a weapon of mass destruction *, as well as all economic, political, and social injustice, which leaves persons vulnerable to calls to extremism, as the only viable solution to the very real problems of society.