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 by Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D. 
Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
7102 W. Shefford Lane
Louisville, KY 40242-6462, U.S.A.




It was brought to my attention that a few Immigrant Muslims look down upon Afro-American Muslims. I am saddened and hurt to hear this. Islam is colorblind.

Racism and discrimination is anti-thesis of Islam. This dramatically weakens Ummati Muhammadi.


Islam is gaining most of its U.S. converts in prisons and on university campuses. The majority of American converts to Islam-85 to 90 percent- are Afro-Americans. There are 40 million Afro-Americans in USA, that is 13 to 14 per cent of the American Population. Of the estimated 6 million Muslims in the U.S., 2.6 million are Afro-Americans. Hence Afro-American Muslims constitute 45 percent of the Muslim Ummah in America. They are the largest group, followed by South Asian Muslims. "One out of every 15 Afro-Americans identifies himself or herself as Muslim,"  Anglo women make up an another demographic with a surprisingly high conversion rate in the  U.S.


If all the Afro-American brothers and sisters become Muslims, we can change the political landscape of America. I can guarantee the Foreign Policy of this country will be pro-Islamic and Muslim-Friendly. In the US Government there is not a single Congressman or Congresswoman who is a Muslim. There is not a single Senator who is a Muslim.  It is the same story in the State Governments. No Muslim Legislators.


There are many African-American brothers at various correctional Institutions like, Luther-Luckett, KSR (Kentucky State Reformatory), Roderer, Black Burn, North Point, Marion County, Bettysville, Eddyville, Central City, West Liberty, Jefferson county Jail, and many other correctional facilities in the State of Kentucky, where the Muslim inmates need Taleem, Tarbiyat, Jumuah Khutbahs, For Muslims it is an excellent opportunity for doing Da'wah and Tableegh. Alhamdulillah, Louisville has a group of dedicated Muslims who do Tableegh regularly. They go for Tableegh for 3 days or 30 days or 4 months.  To do Da'wah work in the correctional institutions, you need to spend just one hour per week.  For sisters who want to do Da'wah work you can visit KENTUCKY CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION FOR WOMEN located at 2401 Ash Avenue in  Pee Wee Valley. Phone: 241-8454. To visit these places  the Security staff need your Social Security number and Date of Birth ahead of your visit.


I appeal to the Tableeghi Jamaat  brothers and sisters and challenge them to visit the correctional institutions. Charity begins at home. LIGHT A CANDLE IN YOUR HOUSE, BEFORE YOU LIGHT A CANDLE IN THE MASJID.  One has to do the Da'wah and Tableegh work for the pleasure of Allah or "Fee Sabil Allah". The reward you get is the Ajar you get from Allah (SWT). The reward one gets from Allah (SWT) is intangible (indefinable, insubstantial). For doing Da'wah work one has to be self-less and humble. For doing Tableeghi work or Da'wah work you will not appear in the TV News, Your story will not appear in the Courier Journal and your photograph will not be published in the Courier-Journal.  On the other hand if you participate in the INTER-FAITH DIALOG, INTER-FAITH DINNER,  your face will be broadcast in the TV News and your photograph will appear in the Courier-Journal. There will be a write up about you and what you said in the Courier-Journal. What is your priority?


We have excuses. We all feel we are very busy.  We calculate if  we Invest our time and effort what do we get materially.  People argue TIME IS MONEY. And someone will also say " I CANNOT GIVE  MY TIME FREE."  If there is a worldly gain, then we have no excuses, we find the time.


In every community you will find someone  fond of talking  about "AAKHIRA".  But that very person, relentlessly pursues,  by every possible  ways and means for  material gains and enrichment. Owning three or more houses, several cars, shopping centers, huge bank balances, but leading a miserly life. If this is not hypocrisy then what?  Whenever someone mentions the word "AAKHIRA" we need to examine that person's background. Empty vessels make a lot of noise. SILENT WATERS RUN DEEP.  My experience shows  that people  who do Da'wah work are doing it for the pleasure of Allah (SWT) and they do not do it for the glitter of this mundane world. They are self-less workers who  do not expect any NAME  and FAME. They have IKHLAAS or  SINCERITY  in their hearts. They want to reach out and touch someone. Why not we lift the spirits of those incarcerated Muslims in  our neighborhood Correctional Institutions.


Islam gives dignity and lifts the morale, and we Muslims should not disappoint our  Afro-American Muslim brothers and sisters.


Better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness.

-  Chinese Proverb

If we cannot reach out locally, how can we reach out globally to our brothers and sisters in Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir and Philippines.


Allah (SWT) says in the Qur'an:


               O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made

               You nations and tribes that you may know one another. Lo! The noblest

               Of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct.

               Lo! Allah is knower, Aware.

                                                             Al-Hujuraat, 49: 13





As Muslims we need to share in the joys and  the misfortunes of fellow Muslims-particularly the Afro-American Muslims.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) intermixed his fingers while saying this.

And [they indoctrinate themselves with] the saying of [the Prophet] (peace be upon him): "The example of the believers in their affection and compassion and benevolence is like the body; If one part of it becomes ill the whole body comes to its aid with fever and sleeplessness." (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim)


In six days, next  Thursday, June 19th, Insha'Allah, our Afro-American brothers and sisters will celebrate Juneteenth. It is not June tenth, but June Nineteenth.

Juneteenth or June 19, 1865, is considered the date when the last slaves in America were freed. Although the rumors of freedom were widespread prior to this, actual emancipation did not come until General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas and issued General Order No. 3, on June 19, almost two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.


President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, notifying the states in rebellion against the Union that if they did not cease their rebellion and return to the Union by January 1, 1863, he would declare their slaves forever free. Needless to say, the proclamation was ignored by those states that seceded from the Union. Furthermore, the proclamation did not apply to those slave-holding states that did not rebel against the Union. As a result about 8,000,000 slaves were unaffected by the provisions of the proclamation. It would take a civil war to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to formally outlaw slavery in the United States.


Annually, on June 19, in more than 200 cities in the United States. Texas (and Oklahoma) is the only state that has made Juneteenth a legal holiday. Some cities sponsor week-long celebrations, culminating on June 19, while others hold shorter celebrations.

The Meaning of Juneteenth-Freedom

Freedom meant more than the right to travel freely. It meant the right to name one's self and many freedmen gave themselves new names. County courthouses were overcrowded as blacks applied for licenses to legalize their marriages. Emancipation allowed ex-slaves the right to assemble and openly worship as they saw fit. Muslims started to pray Salat and changed their names to Muslim names.

Freedom implied that for the first time, United States laws protected the rights of blacks. There was a run on educational primers as freed men and woman sought the education that had for so long been denied them. The Bureau of Refuges, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, commonly known as the Freedmen's Bureau, was founded by Congress in March 1865 to provide relief services for former slaves. The promise of emancipation gave freedmen optimism for the future; few realized slavery's bitter legacy was just beginning to unfold and that equality was to remain an elusive dream.

At the beginning of Reconstruction, the period immediately following the end of the Civil War, rumors were rampant that every freedman would be given forty acres and a mule. The optimism was short-lived, however, and soon replaced by a betrayal so soul shattering, blacks questioned whether the United States was serious about granting them their freedom. Ex-slaves found for the most part, that despite the Freedman's Bureau, they were left to fend for themselves. The abject poverty and the racism that maintained it, prohibited any hope for assimilation  into American society.

Ex-slaves entered freedom under the worst possible conditions. Most were turned loose penniless and homeless, with only the clothes on their back. Ex-slaves were, as Frederick Douglas said, "free, without roofs to cover them, or bread to eat, or land to cultivate, and as a consequence died in such numbers as to awaken the hope of their enemies that they would soon disappear."

The other side of emancipation was high expectations gave way to heart-crushing disillusionment.  Slavery weakened America's moral authority.

It's amazing that despite living under the most inhumane conditions known to humankind, Afro-Americans contributed everything from agricultural inventions, to medical breakthroughs, to music. Enslaved artisans crafted incredible sculptures, designed beautiful buildings and helped build a nation. Afro-Americans preserved a culture and succeeded in passing down a legacy of music, language, food, religion and a lesson in survival. We'll never know how many scientists, engineers, doctors and artists were lost on the trip over on the slave ships or after they arrived.

While the painful side of slavery makes it difficult for many Afro-Americans to celebrate Juneteenth, it is the positive legacy of perseverance and cooperation that makes it impossible for others to ignore.

There is no leader for Muslims in North America, particularly in the Afro-American Muslim Community.  There is a vacuum since the departure of Al-Hajj Malik Al-Shabazz, popularly known as Malcolm X.

Bilal Ibn Rabah  ----Sahaba and Muezzin


Bilal, an African (from Abysynnia- present day Ethiopia and Eritrea) slave owned by Umayyah ibn Khalaf, a leader of a powerful Meccan tribe. The misfortune of Hadrat Bilal (RA) is that both of  his parents(mother and father) were slaves. Hadrat Bilal (RA) recognized the purity and truth of the Prophet Muhammadís (SAS) message. He became one of the Prophetís (SAS) closest and most trusted companions, the first man to give adhan to the Muslims in Medina.


Hadrat Bilal (RA) was one of the first believers, and  he accepted the message of Islam. He embraced the belief that man is only a slave to God and not to other men and that men and women are all equal in the eyes of God. Most importantly he rejected the polytheistic practices of the Quraysh (the most powerful tribe of Mecca). Bilalís conversion sparked anger and hatred in his owner. Umayyah used torture to try to change Bilalís stance on the Oneness of God. This torture included chaining and starvation. Hadrat Bilal (RA) continually repeated Ahad, Ahad (the oneness of God). This angered Umayyah all the more and eventually Umayyah set out to kill Bilal. Bilal was chained and placed out in the hot desert sun with no cover and when he refused to bend he was tortured by a boulder being placed over his body, smashing him. Hadrat Abu Bakr (RA) heard about the cruel torture and approached Umayyah to protest such cruel behavior.

Umayyah refused to relieve Bilal of his torture; therefore Abu Bakr offered to buy Bilal. The asking price was an exorbitant amount of five ounces of gold (about $2,000 dollars in today's price). Abu Bakr agreed and Bilal was freed.


In Medina Hadrat Bilal remained a close companion to the Prophet Muhammad (SAS). The Muslims appreciated Bilalís beautiful voice, which was one of the wonderful attributes given to him by God. Hadrat Bilal became the first Muezzin, a person who calls people to prayer, and gave the adhan, call to prayer, to the Muslims in Medina. Bilal was a soft spoken and patient man who was so reliable and devoted that he became Prophet Muhammadís (SAS) treasurer. Bilal was responsible for providing for all the poor Muslim travelers who arrived in Medina. He was highly respected and considered an important aspect to the community. When  Prophet Muhammad (SAS) returned to Mecca as a conqueror, Hadrat Bilal was one of his most valued companions as well as one of his most important warriors. The Prophet  ordered Bilal(RA) to make the adhan on the rooftop of the Ka'bah.  History attests that Hadrat Bilal (RA) occupied a distinguished position among the Prophet's companions.


The story of Bilal, one of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (SAS), shows the equality of all men and women under Islam. Bilal was the African slave of a rich Arab

man, yet he was accepted as one of the most knowledgeable and respected of Muslim men.


Slavery and Prophet Muhammad


Prophet Muhammad freed Zayd and treated him like a son.  When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) received the Divine Revelations of Islam, slavery among the Pagan Arabs, Jews and Christians was quite common.  When he came with Allah Almighty's True Religion of Islam, he gradually eliminated slavery.  He couldn't enforce it all at once, because it would've caused Islam to be an unsuccessful religion toward freeing slaves, and would certainly have broken Islam's system for ending slavery.


By gradually freeing slaves and making it to be acceptable to the society of many different pagan cultures and traditions, the idea of eliminating slavery became powerful enough that after Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) died, the freed slaves remained free and none of them was ever enslaved again.


Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

Narrated Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari:  "The Prophet said, "Give food to the hungry, pay a visit to the sick and release (set free) the one in captivity (by paying his ransom)."

(Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Food, Meals, Volume 7, Book 65, Number 286)"


Always remember!

It was not Islam that started slavery, but it was Islam that ultimately ended it. 


Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), 570 - 632 AD, said "He will not enter paradise who behaveth ill to his slaves. The companions said, "O Apostle of God! Have you not told us, that there will be a great many slaves and orphans amongst your disciples?" He said," Yes, then be kind to them as your own children, and give them to eat of what you eat yourselves. The slaves that say their prayers are your brothers." and "yield obedience to my successor, although he may be an Abyssinian slave."


The first call to prayer at the Quba mosque built by Prophet Muhammad was given in 622 CE  by Hadrat Bilal (RA) - a black slave freed by Hadrat Abu Bakr (RA). On the contrary, The Supreme Court of the United States declared in 1857 that the slave Dred Scott could not sue for his freedom because he was not a person, but property.


Khutbah- Part II


In the ancient Sacred Texts, one can read in Sanskrit "Manava Seva  Madhava Seva"  Which means "SERVICE TO MANKIND IS SERVICE TO GOD."  This is most beautifully illustrated in Haidth Qudsi No. 18.


Hadith Qudsi 18

Allah (SWT) says, "O son of Adam, I fell ill and you visited Me not. He (a human being) will say: O Lord, and how should I visit You when You are the Lord of the worlds? He (Allah (SWT)) will say: Did you not know that My servant So-and-so had fallen ill and you visited him not? Did you not know that had you visited him you would have found Me with him? O son of Adam, I asked you for food and you fed Me not. He (man) will say: O Lord, and how should I feed You when You are the Lord of the worlds? He (Allah (SWT) will say: Did you not know that My servant So-and-so asked you for food and you fed him not? Did you not know that had you fed him you would surely have found that (the reward for doing so) with Me? O son of Adam, I asked you to give Me to drink and you gave Me not to drink. He (man) will say: O Lord, how should I give You to drink when You are the Lord of the worlds? He (Allah (SWT) will say: My servant So-and-so asked you to give him to drink and you gave him not to drink.  Alas, if you had given him to drink, you would have surely found that (i.e. reward) with Me.

Being of service to others is a way of life that leads to happiness and salvation.

Allah forgave a prostitute of her sins because she gave water to a dying dog.

Rasool-Allah (SAS) said, "A prostitute was forgiven by Allah, because, passing by a panting dog near a well and seeing that the dog was about to die of thirst, she took off her shoe, and tying it with her head-cover she drew out some water for it. So, Allah forgave her because of that.", Narrated Abu Hurayrah. Vol.4, Book 54, Number 538 Sahih Bukhari

So what will be the case for the one who feeds other humans, giving them comfort  and removing from them hardships!

Hatim at-Taai   who was known far and wide for his chivalry and fabulous generosity. ...

Hatim said in some of his beautiful couplets, commanding his servant to search for guests: "Burn the coals, for truly, the night is chilly.  If you bring me a guest, then I set you free."   And he said to his wife:
"Whenever you make food, then search for the one who is hungry, as I do not eat alone."

His son Adiyy ibn Hatim at-Taai who was a Christian became a Muslim in the ninth year of the Hijrah. He was also an Arab King.

Abdullah ibn Mubarak was a great  scholar, mujahid, Sufi, and jurist. Ibn Mubarak's neighbour was a Jew. He would always feed him before his own children and would provide clothing for him first and then for his children. Some people said to the Jew, 'Sell us your house.' He answered, 'My house is for two thousand dinars. One thousand is for the price of the house and one thousand is for having Ibn Mubarak as a neighbour!' Ibn Mubarak heard of this and he exclaimed, 'O' Allah! Guide him to Islam.' Then, by the leave of Allah, he accepted Islam.

Among his many virtues is that  Ibn Mubarak  was fond of performing Hajj regularly and even paid the expenses of all the members of his Hajj group. During one such trip he saw that at a stopover, the people of another caravan threw a dead chicken in the trash. Moments later a little girl emerged from a nearby house, and rushed home with that dead bird. Curious, Abdullah ibn Mubarak followed her. He found that the girl lived with her widowed mother and they had no source of income. They had been starving for days. Seeing this he gave all the money he had for the Hajj trip to the poor family and returned home. The Hajj being voluntary was a personal passion. It meant a lot and he had already undertaken a big part of the difficult journey. But when faced with the need of a destitute family, he immediately knew what he had to do. His commitment was not to the Hajj trip, it was to serving Allah.

Later, he saw someone in a dream saying, 'Your pilgrimage has been accepted, as have your rites, and your sins have been forgiven." (Details Taken From - "Don't Be Sad" by Shaykh Aaidh Al-Qarni.)

 IN SUMMARY,    Muslims are those who, when denied, give thanks to their Lord, and when bestowed with plenty give preference and pass it on to others in need. He should always be willing to loose in order that others may gain from him. In other words, he is not a selfish person. A Muslim always thinks more about giving help and providing relief to others, than of receiving help. He seeks good of others regardless of the cost to himself. He shares with other human beings both their sorrows and joys. He is readily available with help during times of adversity.  A Muslim anticipates wants of others without intruding or imposing. He constantly looks for ways to help the insecure among people both wanted and needed and finds  out about ways and means to enrich the lives of the needy.



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