US Blacks Find Roots in Islam

Unfazed by growing Islamophobia and increasing discrimination against Muslims in post-9/11 America, an increasing number of African Americans is finding solace, and roots in Islam.

US Blacks Find Roots in Islam

"Islam reconnects you with Africa and with other parts of the world so your peoplehood transcends race," Nadim Ali, the imam of the Community Masjid in one of Atlanta's oldest and poorest neighborhoods, told Reuters on Sunday, February 25.

During a recent Friday sermon in the street-corner mosque, Ali recounted stories from history of Muslim slaves brought from Africa who struggled to uphold their faith in the face of slaveholders' opposition.

If Muslims could remain true to Islam under slavery, you should follow their example, he told a tentative congregation of men and women who sat separately on the mosque floor.

Some blacks are also suspicious of the US government warnings about the emergence of new enemies since 9/11 because of memories of how the establishment demonized civil rights leaders Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

Ali told Reuters he assumed the mosque was bugged and infiltrated by informers.

"They (the government) unplug black people and plug in Arabs or Muslims. They unplug Arabs and plug in communists. America needs war to maintain its economic status," he said.

But imams in Atlanta, a US center for black Muslims, said they were subjected to less scrutiny than Muslims from the Middle East and Indian sub-continent.

Since the 9/11 attacks, American Muslims have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was targeting their faith.

There is no scientific number of American Muslims but the largely used figure is seven million.

An estimated 20,000 people in the United States embrace to Islam every year.

Fasting Growing  

"It is one of the fastest-growing religions in America," said Mamiya.

Mark King, who wears his hair in dreadlocks, embraced Islam after visiting Africa for the first time.

He read the holy Qur'an in Gambia and realized its teaching chimed with his own beliefs, not least in fighting injustice.

"For young African Americans, there is some attraction to learning about traditions that have been associated with resistance to European imperialism," said King, who has adopted the name Bilal Mansa since his reversion.

African Americans are taking the full brunt of racism in the US, with estimates showing the community has the worst unemployment and housing crises in the country.

Reverts within the black community say they are attracted to the disciplines of prayer, the emphasis within Islam on submission to God and the religion's affinity with people who are oppressed.

They view Islam as a legitimate alternative to Christianity, the majority religion among US blacks.

"It is one of the fastest-growing religions in America," said Lawrence Mamiya, professor of religion at Vassar College.

He said there were up to 2 million black US Muslims but acknowledged there are no precise figures.

There are up to 37 million African Americans in the US, representing 12.3% of the population.

"It's not viewed (by authorities) as a threat because the numbers are small and once we get past the war on terror and all the negative images then it will continue to spread," said Mamiya.

Democrat Keith Ellison, an African-American, recently made history becoming the first American Muslim elected to Congress after defeating his two contenders in Minneapolis and securing a seat in the 435-member House of Representatives.

Jack Ellis, the mayor of Macon in Georgia state, has recently revealed embracing Islam after years of soul-searching.

Ellis said he studied the Qur'an for years and found his destination in Islam following a trip to the African country of Senegal, noting that Islam was practiced by his ancestors before they were brought to North America as slaves.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16