Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Appropriating Islamic Tradition(s) in the Racialized Classed Context of America: The Example and Legacy of Malcolm X

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Peace and blessings be upon the beloved of God

By: Ebad(ur) Rahman [1]

In their recent study on Muslim American youth, Selcuk Sirin and Michelle Fine, remind us that “there is no singular, monolithic category of people called ‘Muslim Americans.’ Rather, there are many groups of people who can be labeled as Muslim American.” [2] Contrary to what some people (especially Islamophobic nativists) may assume, Muslims in America are not solely here through recent immigration, but also through conversion, especially in the African American community. Recently, Imam Zaid Shakir in a facebook post, writes:

Black History Month should be of interest to every Muslim, especially in America. It is estimated that upwards to 20% of the Africans enslaved in the Americas were Muslim. In some areas, such as the coast of the Carolinas, Georgia, and parts of Virginia, the percentages of Muslims in the slave population may have approached 40%. The fact that the search of a random African American, Alex Haley, for his roots led him to a Muslim village in West Africa is indicative of the widespread Muslim presence among the enslaved population here in the Americas. [3]

According to some studies, African American Muslims make up __ % of the American Muslim population today. Many of these converts view their embrace of Islam as part of a reclaiming of the African legacy of their ancestors.[4] Perhaps the most notable and well known American Muslim of the twentieth century is Malcolm X, also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.

Malcolm X not only sought to empower his people through Islam in the context of racism and segregation, but generations of Americans after his have been inspired by him and sought to follow in his footsteps.[5] Many have looked to his example in articulating a vision of Islam that is relevant to the society and the times they find themselves in, especially in the struggle for greater social justice in this country, and throughout the world. How this legacy can be built upon to articulate an understanding of Islam that is relevant and speaks to today’s realities of racial and social (and perhaps most importantly economic) injustice in America is what I intend to explore in this paper.

Brother Malcolm
Truth teller about the night side of American democracy
Tellin' America like it is 
Its vicious legacy of white supremacy

We shall never forget the witness that you bore
We shall never forget the love that you laid bare

Your fiery spirit is at work among the younger generation
They and us shall never forget you

-Cornel West in 3Ms[6]

As Professor Hamid Dabashi at Columbia notes, although Malcolm X is a pivotal figure in the history of the struggle for social justice in America, “generations of American students come to college having scarcely read a word about Malcolm X, and yet everything about Martin Luther King Jr.”[7]

As Brother Malcolm's wife, Dr. Betty Shabazz, has said at the 96th Street Islamic Cultural Center in '93/'94 [sources: Imam Zaid Shakir & Imam Shair Abdul-Mani who were physically there at the gathering]: 'Everyone is claiming Malcolm, but the Muslims. But Malcolm was a Muslim.' Indeed, one aspect of the overlooked legacy of Malcolm X is how instrumental he was in bringing others to Islam - both in his lifetime and afterwards, especially through the impact of his Autobiography.

Unquestionably, Malcolm X is most well-known for his sharp analyses and consciousness in regards to the racialized conditions of America. In this regard, Malcolm famously himself advocated for Americans to study Islam as a means to “erase from its society the race problem.”[8]  Regarding Malcolm X and his articulations of ideals for racial equality, Jamillah Karim, former Spellman College professor of religious studies, notes that “for African American Muslims, what made Islam relevant – and therefore appealing enough for them to convert – was its protest against white supremacy and its empowerment of African American people.”[9] Yet, as Karim and Sherman Jackson, professor at USC, who she draws from note, these concerns often took a backseat during the shift of religious authority that occurred in this country as Muslims from the Middle East and South Asia immigrated in mass numbers starting in 1965. This occurred, ironically, following the repeal of race-based quotas through civil rights legislation.[10] After this, a “virtual monopoly [by the recent immigrant Muslims occurred] over the definition of a properly constituted ‘Islamic’ life in America.” This in turn left Blackamerican Muslims—a term popularized by Jackson who traces it to Eric Lincoln--“increasingly unable to address their cultural, political, and social reality in ways that were either effective in an American context or likely to be recognized as ‘Islamic’ in a Muslim one.”[11] Although in the past there had been attempts to make Islam relevant in the American context as exemplified in the life and vision of Malcolm X, Jackson notes that most of the Blackamerican Muslim community began—consciously and unconsciously--importing the ideological rifts present among overseas Muslims.[12] He notes the contrast between Blackamerican Christians such as black liberation theologians James Cone and Cornel West who were able to “address Blackamerican concerns as Christians” with “the newly entrenched inability of Blackamerican Muslims to speak effectively to these concerns as Muslims.”[13]

To address this problem and empower Blackamerican Muslims to ‘take ownership of their religion’, Jackson argues that a particular understanding of Islam can be falsely universalized and presented as the one and only understanding possible. By noting the extent to which interpretations and understandings of Islam emerge from historical circumstances with an emphasis on the role of human agency, Jackson argues to “look to the classical legacy as the starting point rather than the end of its contemplation.”[14] To address the challenge of articulating an authentic and relevant understanding of the religion especially in the context of Blackamericans, Jackson writes that both mastery or deep study of the rich scholarship of Muslim tradition and appropriation or making relevant to one’s own circumstances are necessary.[15] Had Malcolm X continued his growth and evolution in Islam, Jackson suggests:

Malcolm himself might be leading the way in the transfer of Islamic religious authority from immigrant to native-born hands. And in this capacity, he would have come full-circle from a marginalized consumer of “Islamic” ideas to being among the producers of the parameters of a properly constituted orthodox Islam in America.[16] I would argue that an example of someone today who continues the legacy of Malcolm X and moves Jackson’s theory into practice by embodying a mastery and appropriation of the Islamic tradition today is Imam Zaid Shakir.

Imam Zaid Shakir

"I’ll teach her about a people that gave birth to Malcolm AND Imam Zaid" -Brother Dash, Can I Marry Your Daughter?[17]

“You represent the Prophetic Islamic legacy of Malcolm X” –Cornel West to Imam Zaid Shakir[18]

Described by The New York Times as one of the “leading intellectual lights for a new generation of American Muslims,” Imam Zaid Shakir, a co-founder and professor at the Zaytuna College, draws from his life experiences, education in political science and international relations, and grassroots activism to make his study of Islam relevant to the Muslim American community today.[19] He is an example of someone who has gone to the Middle Eastern “Muslim world” to study their traditions and engages in the process of appropriating them in the here and now of the 21st Century American context. On the issue of racism for example, as Karim writes in her article “Islam for the People,” Imam Zaid like Malcolm X, articulates Islam as an ideal for racial equality while at the same criticizing racism amongst American Muslims.[20] In his article entitled “Islam, The Prophet Muhammad and Blackness,” Imam Zaid refers to W.E.B. Du Bois, James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cornel West, in identifying racism as “the most nagging and festering social ill plaguing our society” and criticizes many Muslims who have “endorsed this disease.”[21]

[For a quick bio brief, this is from Imam Zaid's Wiki entry on facebook as of 3/30/2014:

"Born in Berkeley, California and with his formative years in New Britain, Connecticut, he accepted Islam in 1977 while serving in the United States Air Force and shortly after changed his name to Zaid Salim Shakir. A summa cum laude graduate, he obtained a BA in International Relations at American University in Washington, D.C. and later earned his MA in Political Science at Rutgers University. While at Rutgers, he led a successful campaign for disinvestment from South Africa, and co-founded New Brunswick Islamic Center, formerly known as Masjid al-Huda. After a year of studying Arabic in Cairo, Egypt, he settled in New Haven, Connecticut and continued his community activism, co-founding Masjid al-Islam, the Tri-State Muslim Education Initiative, and the Connecticut Muslim Coordinating Committee. As Imam of Masjid al-Islam from 1988 to 1994 he spearheaded a community renewal and grassroots anti-drug effort. He also taught political science and Arabic at Southern Connecticut State University. He served as an interfaith council Chaplain at Yale University and developed the Chaplaincy Sensitivity Training for physicians at Yale New Haven Hospital.

He then left for Syria to pursue his studies in the traditional Islamic Sciences. For seven years in Syria, and briefly in Morocco, he immersed himself in an intense study of Arabic, Islamic law, Quranic studies, and spirituality. In 2001, he was the first American graduate from Syria's Abu Nour University with a BA in Islamic Sciences and returned to Connecticut, serving again as the Imam of Masjid al-Islam, and writing and speaking frequently on a host of issues."

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zaid-Shakir/113438155337444]

Imam Zaid takes the issue of race head-on as one that must be addressed in the American context for religion to be relevant. In an event on “Martin & Malcolm: Implications of their Legacies for the Future,” in Oakland in 2005 which I attended, Imam Zaid argued for the broader value of Dr. King and Malcolm X’s message beyond their immediate religious constituency. Imam Zaid went on to say that these two leaders articulated a vision of their religious traditions that was relevant to the societal issues they were confronting. This was because they

did not allow themselves to see their religions as a false universal that could be separated from the particular context of race in America and the history of the struggle against racist supremacy, white supremacy in America, so they lived their faith in that context and in the context of that struggle they were shaped by forces that were bigger than any particular religion, they were shaped by forces that defied adequate understanding from one particular perspective, so they were able to transcend their immediate religious context and involve themselves in a struggle that engulfs an entire people, that engulfed and involved an entire nation and that struggle goes on. That struggle goes on, therefore, what they had to say about it and how they contributed to it is still relevant in the day and time that we live in. (emphasis mine).[22]

Clearly, Imam Zaid does not subscribe to a notion that Islam somehow wipes away the question of race from the American context, but sees racism and white racial supremacy as something that must be confronted. In a recent sermon, rather than exacerbating racial divisions within the American Muslim community, Imam Zaid advocates for solidarity between the “immigrant” and “indigenous” Muslim communities,

We mentioned the immigrants and the converts, may Allah […] bless us to build strong bridges and relationships between those two groups, because only when those two groups are brought together, will Islam fulfill its destiny in this land. Only then will Islam be a powerful force of good and virtue, when those forces come together. May Allah bless us to work together to bring those forces together.[23]

Imam Zaid also acknowledges the class differences within the communities—something as I will discuss later, Jackson does not really attend to--and instead of pitting one socio-racial-demographic group against the other, provides practical examples of how those with greater educational and professional resources can help those without. Two examples he gives of organizations that serve as beacons for communal work are IMAN (Inner-City Muslim Action Network) based in Chicago and the Umma Community Clinic in Los Angeles.[24]  IMAN was founded in 1995 “by Muslim students, community residents and leaders responding to the pervasive symptoms of inner-city poverty and abandonment.” It aims to provide services, “organizing and arts agenda stem[ming] from our spiritual convictions about community service, human compassion, and social justice, particularly for marginalized people of color.”[25] The Umma Community Clinic was founded by students at UCLA who sought to serve the underserved, in “one of the poorest and most medically underserved areas of the region.”[26] Both of these organizations illustrate the power of Muslims (and non-Muslims) of different backgrounds of class, race, and social privilege, collaborating to ameliorate their community.

Yet, members of the Muslim American communities do not always see eye to eye with each other in a shared effort against social injustice. One can catch a glimpse of the recent tension between immigrant and Blackamerican communities in a letter written in September 2008 by Azhar Usman, a prominent Muslim attorney and comedian of Indian descent. In a widely circulated letter written after the passing of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, the son of Elijah Muhammad who was another pivotal figure in articulating a relevant understanding of Islam in America Usman wrote: “I would like to unburden myself of something that has been sitting like a ton of bricks on my heart for my entire life. I want to apologize to my Blackamerican brothers and sisters in Islam…” and proceeded to apologize for “so much of the historical wrongdoing of so-called "immigrant Muslims"—wrongdoings that have been so hurtful, and insulting, and degrading, and disrespectful, and dismissive, and marginalizing, and often downright dehumanizing.”[27]

Also demonstrating the reality of racism within the American Muslim community, a Muslim spoken-word artist, Dasham Brookins or ‘Brother Dash’, writes about the “unspoken reality of racism and culturalism” in a piece entitled “Can I Marry Your Daughter?” He says “If the Prophet was Bilal [a black Ethiopian] would you reject your deen [religion]? Deny your Rabb [Lord] and still say you’re so fresh and so clean?” highlighting how notions of the racial transcendence Islam calls for conflicts with on the ground reality when black men face obstacles in trying to marry a woman of mostly Arab and South Asian descent. [28] This reflects a problem amongst the dominant Muslim immigrant community in the United States which Jackson believes is “sustained by a deeply entrenched racial myopia or agnosticism” which has clouded their vision of America[29]. Jackson points out that “The events and aftermath of September 11, 2001, may have changed this to a degree, as many immigrant Muslims have come to a keener understanding of both the racialization of Islam (and thus they now speak of racial profiling”) and of their own status as a socially nonwhite group (even if many of them remain legally white).”[30] Outlining his vision for the coming together of immigrant and Blackamericans, Jackson writes for the need to both groups to “accept their Western experience as a primary element in shaping their respective identities.” This would, he posits, allow both of them “to see each other as participants in a common history.”[31]  As he writes:

From this perspective, the Post-Colonial Muslim might be able to see that he and the Negro are products of the same historical process. Both reflect the unlit side of the Enlightenment, the darker dimensions of the triumph of "Western" man, the scarred and mutilated underbelly of modernity, with all its hypocrisy, racial terror, and moral myopia: "We hold these truths to be self-evident," in the most brutal and inhumane period of American slavery; "Liberte, equalite, fraternite," on the eve of the most unequal, unbrotherly, and dehumanizing period of European colonial savagery.

On this understanding, the immigrant and Blackamerican Muslim could join forces as part of the corrective conscience of the West, a new Western consciousness committed to liberating both itself and humanity from the debilitating self-alienation and idolatry imposed by the false universals of white supremacy.[32] [emphasis mine]

Critique of Jackson

Despite the extreme importance and value of Jackson’s foundational work, like all human endeavors, it is subject to critique. In this regard, Chan-Malik makes a case for the positive effect conversations in ethnic studies, particularly in regards to Asian Americans and Blackamericans relations, could have on the debate of Islam in America. This, she writes “can provide Muslim Americans new discursive horizons for moving beyond past schism, and getting onto the business of articulating the “common cause[s] of our communities.”[34] After introducing Jackson’s key arguments, Chan-Malik writes: “Jackson’s texts relies on a number of essentialized notions of Black-immigrant difference that further contribute to, and ultimately reify…divisions within the community.”[35] She argues that Jackson oversimplifies the relationship that immigrants and blacks have towards whiteness as “immigrant Muslims covet whiteness, Blackamericans stand opposed to it.”[36] Chan-Malik problematizes this essentialization and questions Jackson’s assertion that immigrant Muslims largely enjoy a ‘legally white status.’ She concludes that Jackson’s critique should focus on ethnic particularism rather than a desire by immigrants to assimilate. This critique should also be attentive to the evolution of forms of white privilege, such as in the emphasis of ethnic over racial identities following the culture wars of the 70s.

Chan-Malik also points to Jackson’s “under-acknowledgement of the class diversity of immigrant Muslim communities”[37]. This point caught my eye as well, because class is almost completely absent from Jackson’s analysis of American society. Except for a brief footnote in Jackson’s book regarding the working class immigrants of cities like New York or Detroit, where many Muslims may work as taxicab drivers or in manual labor, the assumption in his analysis tends to be that Muslim immigrants are largely doctors and engineers, who live in the suburbs, and are just enjoying the fruits of privilege on the backs of those who have been racially marginalized, especially Blackamericans. Jackson’s vision of a Malcolm X can also be radically contrasted with that of Cornel West.

West posits that Malcolm X would embrace and espouse the kind of socialism West argues for in his text:

The tragedy of Malcolm X (similar to that of King) was that he did not live long enough to project this new black vision of society. Unlike King, he precluded capitalism (and any version thereof) as a possibility, but he never unequivocally affirmed the socialist vision… [Had he continued his mission] my hunch is that his religious sensibilities…black cultural sentiments, moral convictions, political consciousness, and personal engagement would have evolved into revolutionary Islamic perspective and praxis closely similar to the viewpoint put forward in this book.[38]

What Malcolm X or anyone who has passed already would espouse were he/she alive today is a subject that can be endlessly debated. Indeed, Manning Marable in his new biography argues for Malcolm X’s leaning towards greater class consciousness in his later days and a growing solidarity with the global south.[39] Most relevant to this paper, is the fact that such an important issue as class is conspicuously missing in Jackson’s writings.

Part of the limitation of Jackson’s analysis and validation of Chan-Malik’s point regarding the value of ethnic studies to this discussion can be seen in the fact that Jackson’s training and previous writings have largely been in the field of Islamic Studies, relating to medieval theology such as the work of the great medieval theologians, Al-Ghazali and Ibn Taymiyya, as well as constitutional jurisprudence of another medieval Muslim scholar, al-Qarafi.[40] Jackson should be applauded for his effort in starting a much needed conversation on the topic of race and Islam in America, and his contemporaries should be encouraged to further the discussion via relevant critical analyses. Chan-Malik’s suggestion for the incorporation of ethnic and religious studies and the need for interdisciplinary work to take place between the two fields are fully justified.

Jamillah Karim’s work, with her training in anthropology and the social sciences, is an example of interdisciplinary work which brings together the issues of religion, race, class and gender. She also goes further than Jackson in nuancing the ways race plays out with recent non-European immigrants to America. With the immigration of non-Europeans, Karim writes that “new forms of American racism have developed that extend beyond the black-white color line while simultaneously reinforcing it.” While non-European immigrants often face discrimination, there is a tendency to “subscribe to this privileged status to set themselves apart from African Americans” in a context where “blackness is reviled.”[41] Karim looks at the phenomenon of nativism in some African American discourses and focuses on the notion of the ummah (Muslim nation or community) as an ideal which is supposed to transcend racial, ethnic, and economic divisions and prioritize the solidarity of Muslim believers while simultaneously calling for justice.[42]  Whether American Muslims can live up to “the ideal that Malcolm X envisioned” in a context where “new ethnic identities have been formed and racialized in ways that pit African Americans and immigrants against each other” is the pressing challenge of the moment.[43] This moment allows the possibility of “creating a common American Muslim identity inclusive of both African Americans and immigrants” especially among young adult Muslims.[44]

The recent surge in Islamophobia, especially manifesting in the controversy surrounding Park 51 and most recently around the television series “All-American Muslim”, is an illustration of the racial underpinnings of hatred directed towards Muslims constructed as non-whites, foreign, immigrant, and alien. It is an ironic but historical trend that resistance towards a group becomes the means for forming solidarity within the community of Muslims--Blackamericans, immigrants and others, as they come under attack for their association and embrace of Islam.[45] It is therefore unfortunate that the recent study Backlash 9/11 aiming to record not only the post 9/11 backlash directed towards Arabs and Muslims in America but also the mobilization that sprung up in its response does not include much about African American Muslims. This is supposedly because “as groups, African American Muslims and other converts have not been targets of government initiatives; thus they do not fall within the purview of our study.”[46] However a quick review of Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali’s post conversion life strongly suggests that, Blackamerican Muslims and other converts have been affected by government surveillance, discrimination and the general trend of Islamophobia. This reasoning perhaps highlights the need to broaden our perspectives of ethnic and racial solidarity especially in academic circles.

This sentiment is further reinforced by Jackson’s correct observation regarding the importance of Blackamericans’ embrace of Islam in complicating the claims of Islam as foreign to the American landscape. “It is primarily through Blackamerican conversion that Islam enjoys whatever status it does as a bona fide American religion” because “Blackamericans remain the only indigenous Americans whose conversion to Islam connotes neither cultural nor ethnic apostasy.” Without this indigenous presence, Jackson believes “Islam would be orphaned in United States, with virtually nothing to save it from being relegated to the status of an alien, hostile threat.”

It remains to be seen how Muslims in America will address their realities in a systematic fashion. It would certainly do much good for Muslims in this country to learn and draw from the experiences of religious minorities and communities of color. By studying and connecting with the history of what Cornel West calls the underside or “night-side” of American democracy, Muslim Americans can intimately get to know America not just as a mythical, "magical" place of dreams and hopes, but one of struggle, heart-wrenching discrimination and abuse. The experience of a people in this country whose humanity was and in many ways continues to be denied, yet forged on, and struggle to this day to empower and raise the consciousness of others, is a legacy and history we sorely need to tap into today.

There is much to learn from the experiences and history of Islam in the Blackamerican community, for this rich community in particular affords a much needed rubric to help Muslim Americans articulate an understanding of Islam that is relevant to their concerns, needs and realities of today. In this analysis, drawing from the insights of Karim and Malik-Chan, we must be attentive to the ways in which racial formations in America are complicated beyond just black and white. In the global context, we also must find a way to stand for justice, confront government abuses while condemning terrorism and forge bonds of solidarity with other racial and ethnic minority groups and classes. Central to this project must be internalizing the reality, as Imam Zaid Shakir writes; that “We are all in this together.”[47] This is made painfully clear by the racial underpinnings of the dehumanization of Muslims and other peoples of color in this country and abroad. Perhaps, if, as Jackson articulates, white supremacy can be seen as a common enemy to all peoples (including whites) Muslims in America may have real grounds for the building of a common struggle.

walhamdullilah...

Works Cited

Bakalian, Amy and Mehdi Bozogmehr Backlash 9/11: Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans Respond. Berkeley, University of California Press, 2009.

Barboza, Steven. American Jihad: Islam After Malcolm X. New York: Doubleday, 1994.

Bayoumi, Moustafa. How Does It Feel to be a Problem? Being Young and Arab in America. New York: The Penguin Press, 2008.

Brookins, Dasham. "Can I Marry Your Daughter Spoken Word Poet, Writer and Photographer Brother Dash. Web. 19 Dec. 2011.


Chan-Malik, Sylvia. ""Common Cause": On the Black-Immigrant Debate and Constructing the Muslim
American." Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion 2.8 (May 2011): 1-39. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. http://ucsc.academia.edu/SylviaChanMalik/Papers/639681/_Common_Cause_On_the_Black-Immigrant_Debate_and_Constructing_the_Muslim_American.

Cone, James H. Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare. New York: Orbis Books, 1991 [2002].

Craun, Dustin. "Cornel West Just Shouted out @ImamZaidShakir "you Represent the Prophetic Islamic Legacy of Malcolm X"" Twitter. 3 Dec. 2011. Web. 18 Dec. 2011. .

Dabashi, Hamid. “U.S. Muslims are Americans too.” 26 Nov. 2009. .

Hedges, Chris. “Turning King’s Dream Into a Nightmare.” Truthdig 17 Jan. 2010.

Goodstein, Laurie. “U.S. Muslim Clerics Seek a Modern Middle Ground.” New York Times. 18 June, 2006. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/18/us/18imams.html?pagewanted=print.

Grewal, Zareena. “Marriage in color: race, religion and spouse selection in four American mosques.” Ethnic and Racial Studies, Vol. 32, No. 2. February 2009, 323-345.

Jamal, Amaney and Nadine Naber. Eds. Race and Arab Americans Before and After 9/11. Syracuse: Syracuse UP, 2008.

Jackson, Sherman. "Ibn Taymîyah on Trial in Damascus," The Journal of Semitic Studies, vol. 39, no. 1 (Spring 1994): 41-85.

----Islamic Law and the State: the Constitutional Jurisprudence of Shihāb Al-Dīn Al-Qarāfī. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996.

--- On the Boundaries of Theological Tolerance in Islam: Abū Ḥāmid Al-Ghāzalīʼs Fayṣal Al-Tafriqa Bayna Al-Islam Wa Al-zandaqa. Karachi: Oxford UP, 2002.

---- Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Toward the Third Resurrection. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

-- “Black Orientalism.” Black Routes to Islam. Ed. Manning Marable & Hishaam Aidi. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

-- Islam and the Problem of Black Suffering. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009

Karim, Jamillah.  American Muslim Women: Negotiating Race, Class, And Gender Within the Ummah [Muslim community], New York: New York University Press, 2009.

Marable, Manning. Malcolm X: a Life of Reinvention. New York: Viking, 2011.

Shakir, Zaid. Scattered Pictures: Reflections of An American Muslim. Hayward: Zaytuna Institute, 2005.

--- “We are All in This Together.” 17 Oct. 2010. http://www.newislamicdirections.com/nid/notes/we_are_all_in_this_together/.

--- "Imam Zaid Shakir: Eid Al-Adha 2010 Sermon." YouTube. Zaytuna, 19 Nov. 2010. Web. 18 Dec. 2011. .

--- "Martin and Malcolm Slideshow with Dr. Cornell West and Imam Zaid Shakir."New Islamic Directions - Imam Zaid Shakir. 10 Apr. 2009. Web. 18 Dec. 2011. slideshow-with-dr-cornell-west-and-imam-zaid-shakir/>.

Sirin, Selcuk, and Michelle Fine. Muslim American Youth: Understanding Hyphenated Identities through Multiple Methods. New York: New York University Press, 2008.

Usman, Azhar. “An apology.” 14 Sept. 2008. http://www.altmuslim.com/a/a/a/2813/

Webb, Suhaib. "Framing the Discussion on Culture & the Fitna of the Immigrant/Indigenous
Dichotomy." SuhaibWebb.com — Your Virtual Mosque. 13 Aug. 2009. Web. 20 Dec. 2011. .

West, Cornel. Prophecy Deliverance: An Afro-American Revolutionary Christianity. Louisville: Westminister John Knox Press, 1982 [2002]. 143-144

Wise, Tim. Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2009. 23.

X, Malcolm and Alex Haley. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. New York: Ballantine Books, 1964 [1999].

Yusuf, Hamza & Zaid Shakir. “Civic Involvement: An Islamic Imperative” in Agenda to Change Our Condition. Hayward: Zaytuna Institute, 2007. 51-52

[1] This paper was originally conceived as a term paper for Professor Millery Polyne’s seminar on Black Intellectual Thought Across the Atlantic in the fall of 2011 at NYU.

[2] Sirin, Selcuk, and Michelle Fine. Muslim American Youth: Understanding Hyphenated Identities through Multiple Methods. New York: New York University Press, 2008. 37.

[3] https://www.facebook.com/imamzaidshakir/posts/10151931621828359

[4] Sylvanie Diouf, Allan Austin reference. As Imam Zaid has pointed out, even Alex Haley in his own search for his roots, traces his ancestors to a Muslim village in Africa, named Kunta Kinta. [reference]

[5] This idea is captured in the title of this collection of stories of various American converts to Islam: Barboza, Steven. American Jihad: Islam After Malcolm X. New York: Doubleday, 1994. Many converts, as highlighted by the renowned Muslim American scholar of the Nawawi Foundation (nawawi.org) in Chicago, Dr. Umar F. Abd-Allah, point to the Autobiography as the catalyst for their conversions to Islam, as was in his own case. As he recounts, as an English major at Cornell he stayed up all night reading the Autobiography into the morning and subsequently converted to Islam and switched his studies to Islamic Studies at the University of Chicago, where he wrote his dissertation in 1978. See "Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah Chairman of the Board & Scholar-in-Residence." Nawawi Foundation. 2010. Web. 18 Dec. 2011. .

[6] This spoken word piece can be heard as the background of a slideshow of the December 2nd, 2005 event in Oakland, CA. “Martin & Malcolm: Implications of their Legacies for the Future,” featuring  Imam Zaid Shakir and Cornel West. Shakir, Zaid. "Martin and Malcolm Slideshow with Dr. Cornell West and Imam Zaid Shakir."New Islamic Directions - Imam Zaid Shakir. 10 Apr. 2009. Web. 18 Dec. 2011. .

[7] Dabashi, Hamid. “U.S. Muslims are Americans too.” 26 Nov. 2009. .  Union Theological Seminary professor James Cone, in fact, calls attention to the coming together of the viewpoints of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and their complimentary relationship near the end of their lives. See Cone, James H. Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare. New York: Orbis Books, 1991 [2002]. See also, Hedges, Chris. “Turning King’s Dream Into a Nightmare.” Truthdig 17 Jan. 2010. . In fact, Professor Dabashi’s statement in regards to Dr. King (‘everything) is an overstatement especially given the selective memory of mainstream celebrations of Dr. King’s life “I have a dream” which is often told with neglect to even the first words of that very same King speech in reference to the “insufficient funds” of America’s promise to the Afro American. Note Dr. Cornel West’s apt characterization of this phenemon as the ‘Santa Clausification’ of Dr. King. [See this, also in reference to Nelson Mandela, in Imam Zaid & Cornel West: Malcolm and Martin DVD].

[8] X, Malcolm and Alex Haley. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. New York: Ballantine Books, 1964 [1999]. 370-371.

[9] Karim, Jamillah.  American Muslim Women: Negotiating Race, Class, And Gender Within the Ummah [Muslim community], New York: New York University Press, 2009. 42-43.

[10] Jackson, Sherman. Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Toward the Third Resurrection. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. 3-4. Jackson writes of “the hegemonic presumptions and deployments of modern, Middle Eastern and South Asian Islam, particularly as manifested in the collective vision of Muslim immigrants to the United States.”

[11] Jackson, 4. Jackson uses the term “Blackamerican” because in his view “the force of American history has essentially transformed these erstwhile Africans into a new people,” see pg. 17 of the same book.

[12] Al-Amin, Jamil. Revolution by the Book. Maryland: Writers’ Inc, 1994 could perhaps be cited as another attempt in articulating a relevant articulation of Islam in America.

[13] Jackson, 73.

[14] Jackson, 8.

[15] Jackson, 5.

[16] Jackson, 167-168.

[17] Brookins, Dasham. "Can I Marry Your Daughter"Spoken Word Poet, Writer and Photographer Brother Dash. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. .

[18] Craun, Dustin. "Cornel West Just Shouted out @ImamZaidShakir "you Represent the Prophetic Islamic Legacy of Malcolm X"" Twitter. 3 Dec. 2011. Web. 18 Dec. 2011. .

[19] Goodstein, Laurie. “U.S. Muslim Clerics Seek a Modern Middle Ground.” New York Times. 18 June, 2006. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/18/us/18imams.html?pagewanted=print. Full disclosure, I studied with Imam Zaid in a pilot seminary program at the Zaytuna Institute from 2004-2008.

[20] Karim, 47.

[21] Shakir, Zaid. Scattered Pictures: Reflections of An American Muslim. Hayward: Zaytuna Institute, 2005. 76.

[22] (1:56-4:30) of “Martin and Malcolm” DVD/CD

[23] Shakir, Zaid. "Imam Zaid Shakir: Eid Al-Adha 2010 Sermon." YouTube. Zaytuna, 19 Nov. 2010. Web. 18 Dec. 2011. .

[24] Yusuf, Hamza & Zaid Shakir. “Civic Involvement: An Islamic Imperative” in Agenda to Change Our Condition. Hayward: Zaytuna Institute, 2007. 51-52

[25] "ABOUT." Inner-City Muslim Action Network. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. .

[26] "HISTORY-UMMA Community Clinic." HOME - UMMA Community Clinic. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. .

[27] Usman, Azhar. “An apology.” 14 Sept. 2008. http://www.altmuslim.com/a/a/a/2813/

[28] Brookins, Dasham. “Can I Marry Your Daughter?” 9 Jul 2009. http://brotherdash.com/?p=68

[29] Jackson, Sherman. Islam and the Problem of Black Suffering. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 3. Also see Jackson’s talk on “Muslims, Race and Racial Agnosia in America” at the University of Southern California, January 21, 2010. http://capture.usc.edu/mediasite//Viewer/?peid=4c726a4f18904c14b47448346e4b3b5c

[30] Ibid. 165.

[31] Jackson, 92.

[32] Jackson, 94-95

[33] See Webb, Suhaib. "Framing the Discussion on Culture & the Fitna of the Immigrant/Indigenous Dichotomy." SuhaibWebb.com — Your Virtual Mosque. 13 Aug. 2009. Web. 20 Dec. 2011. .

[34] Chan-Malik, Sylvia. ""Common Cause": On the Black-Immigrant Debate and Constructing the Muslim American." Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion 2.8 (May 2011): 1-39. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. http://ucsc.academia.edu/SylviaChanMalik/Papers/639681/_Common_Cause_On_the_Black-Immigrant_Debate_and_Constructing_the_Muslim_American, 3.

[35] Ibid. 21.

[36] Ibid. 23.

[37] Ibid, 29.

[38] West writes: West, Cornel. Prophecy Deliverance: An Afro-American Revolutionary Christianity. Louisville: Westminister John Knox Press, 1982 [2002]. 143-144

[39] See Marable, Manning. Malcolm X: a Life of Reinvention. New York: Viking, 2011.

[40] See Jackson, Sherman A. Islamic Law and the State: the Constitutional Jurisprudence of Shihāb Al-Dīn Al-Qarāfī. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996; On the Boundaries of Theological Tolerance in Islam: Abū Ḥāmid Al-Ghāzalīʼs Fayṣal Al-Tafriqa Bayna Al-Islam Wa Al-zandaqa. Karachi: Oxford UP, 2002. Also, his "Ibn Taymîyah on Trial in Damascus," The Journal of Semitic Studies, vol. 39, no. 1 (Spring 1994): 41-85.

[41] Karim, 5.

[42] Karim, 6-7.

[43] Karim, 3, 21.

[44] Karim, 23. Another fascinating study which examines how young Muslim Americans engage in protest against racism in America is that of inter-racial marriage. See Grewal, Zareena. “Marriage in color: race, religion and spouse selection in four American mosques.” Ethnic and Racial Studies, Vol. 32, No. 2. February 2009, 323-345.

[45] Jackson, Sherman. “Black Orientalism.” Black Routes to Islam. Ed. Manning Marable & Hishaam Aidi. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. 44

[46] Bakalian, Amy and Mehdi Bozogmehr Backlash 9/11: Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans Respond. Berkeley, University of California Press, 2009. 8.

[47] Shakir, Zaid. “We are All in This Together.” 17 Oct. 2010. http://www.newislamicdirections.com/nid/notes/we_are_all_in_this_together/.