Understanding the Multi-Ethnic Dilemma
of African-American Muslims
The adoption of another people's god always
entails the adoption of their space and system of
In the autumn of 1990 the Rabita al-Alam al-lslami (Muslim World League and World Supreme Council of Masajid [mosques]) embarked upon a program to create worldwide consensus in favor of the Saudi-American military coalition against Iraq. In the United States this took the form of a concerted effort to mobilize support among both immigrant and AfricanAmerican and other indigenous Muslims, since the Rabita sought to avoid the possibility that demonstrators would initiate an anti-war movement that would jeopardize political support for U.S. military action in Kuwait. By September 1990 activists had already organized marches and rallies against Operation Desert Shield. With the support of the Saudi kingdom and Washington, Rabita set about mollifying the Islamic community. A delegation of American Muslims led by Imam Warith Deen Muhammad (fig. 10.1) went to Mecca on September 10 to attend a special conference to discuss the events in the Persian Gulf. The assembly received assurances from Saudi religious officials that the Qur'an fully supported its decision to invite foreign infidel troops to defend the holy mosques of Mecca and Medina against Iraqi military aggression.2 Steps were also taken to initiate a broad public relations campaign. When the delegation returned, Rabita invited African-American and immigrant Muslim imams throughout the United States and Canada to Chicago to participate in another conference. To ensure a good turnout, it paid for their airline tickets and booked a block of hotel rooms in downtown Chicago.3
Once the meeting convened, Rabita did not appeal directly to the many influential American imams from all corners of the country to support the
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Publication information: Book title: Muslims on the Americanization Path?. Contributors: Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad - Editor, John L. Esposito - Editor. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 263.
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