Preserving Our Freedoms and Civil Liberties, Combating and Preventing Terrorism: The History of Islam among Urban Blacks in New Jersey

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

There are Good Men in America, but All Are Very Ignorant of Africa--and Its Muslims (1)

Lamine Kebe 1835

You may close your Supreme Court against the black man's cry for justice, but you cannot, thank God, close against him the ear of a sympathizing world, nor shut up the Court of Heaven. All that is merciful and just on earth and in Heaven will execrate and despise this edict of Taney. (2)

Frederick Douglass May 1857

The two quotes above by Lamine Kebe, an African Muslim enslaved in the United States in antebellum America, and Frederick Douglass, a Native American son, of sorts, also enslaved in antebellum times, captures the essence of the Blackamerican (3) struggle for freedom, justice, equality, and recognition in a hostile land endured by them and their descendants up to the present day. This paper seeks to provide an historical analysis of the Blackamerican struggle to fight oppression, and their efforts to contribute towards the common good on various fronts.

The popular image of Islam and its relationship to the struggle of urban Blackamericans in the collective effort to prevent and combat terrorism in the United States of America is one that has characterized both Islam and Blackamericans as being other than what they have stood for--the security of people and the preservation of our freedoms and civil liberties. Among the American population in the United States the general perception of Islam, Blackamericans, and Muslims is often a biased and distorted one. Muslims, and the religion of Islam, like African-Americans throughout much of the history of the U.S., are not credited much for the progressive efforts and contributions that they have made to America and the world. Muslims, especially, are perceived and charged by a substantial number of Americans as being religious fanatics, Islamic fundamentalists, Islamic extremists, Islamic terrorists, Islamic radicals, foreign spies, black radicals, narrow-minded, and, thus, people who cannot be fully trusted. Although such terms are frequently used by the haters to describe these people, very seldom are they defined by the people who use them, and, likewise, very seldom do the few who attempt to define them, do so in a way that accurately describes Muslims and what their faith, Islam, teaches. This unfortunate state of affairs has resulted in Muslims being unjustly relegated to a status where they and their faith have been placed on trial, as they, more often than not, are characterized as a people who represent a subversive threat from within to our core American values. If that was true, then suspecting policy makers would be justified in their determination to protect us from such people. But, fortunately it is not true and so policy makers have a responsibility to defend their fellow citizens from slander. To fully appreciate my concern, one only has to consider the dismal Peter King trials aimed at American Muslims, and the recent political attacks initiated by the republican representative, Michelle Bachman, against representatives Huma Abidin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Keith Ellison, a democratic representative from Minn.; and others who have been unfairly branded as foreign spies simply because of their adherence to their Islamic faith.

Of course, such anti-Islamic propaganda and attitudes are as offensive to Muslims as they are un-American, and seems to have resulted in grave misconceptions within America about the nature, history and goals of the Islamic movement. According to the sentiments of many leading Muslim-American organizations: among them, the Islamic Society of North American (ISNA), the Islamic Circle of North American (ICNA), the Muslim American Society (MAS), The Mosque Cares (Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed), The Nation of Islam (NOI), the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)--it is this irresponsible use of language and position that has contributed most, over the years, to the climate of anxiety, fear, and trepidation now prevalent amongst the American people and others throughout the world. …