In the "Souls of Black Souls," W.E.B. Du Bois describes the struggle and toil occurs within the African American soul. This struggle is a war between two identities, the African and the American. According to Du Bois, the African American must ask him/herself at any given time, "should I be African or American?" Now what happens when you intertwine the African American soul with the spirituality of Islam? Some may call this an utter mess. However, I'm of the opinion that this union of the African American soul and the spirituality of Islam is so beautiful, a rose in full bloom would become envies of this beauty whenever it radiates throughout American society.
Black Muslims in American isn't a new phenomenon by any stretch of the imagination. Black Muslim presence in this country predates the creation of America. Ivan van Sertima states in his seminole work, "They Came Before Columbus," Mansa Abu Bakr of the Mali Empire sent a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in the 14th century, about 200 years before Columbus accidentally "discovered" the Americas. When Columbus reached the Americas, he couldn't communicate with the Natives. He would ask Muslims from his crew to communicate with them. The conversations occurred in the Arabic language. This is further evidence that African Muslims reached the Americas and stayed here for some time.
Through slavery, it is estimated that one of over every three slaves were Muslims. The history of Muslim slaves in the Americans is both deep and compelling. So deep and compelling that we can't write it all in this article. Inshallah (God-willing), that will be for the next one. Just to get a glimpse of this depth, know that Muslims in the Americas influenced major revolutions in Haiti and Brazil, and influenced many practices of Black Christianity.
Today, African American Muslims make up the biggest group of indigenous Muslims in America. They make up both converts and those born into the religion. These Black Muslim families span over four generations. Black Muslims can be found in all walks of life and have even become one of the most influential groups in the country.
African American Muslims are some of America's greatest heroes, such as Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, may Allah's mercy be upon them. In rap, you find many rappers, such as Rakim, Nas, Scarface, Wu Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, etc... are either Muslim or were influenced by Islam, as evident in their lyrics. Sports have even been influenced by Black Muslims. Muhammad Ali has already been mentioned, but consider Mahmud Abdul-Rauf. Abdul-Rauf was a basketball in the 1990's who refused to stand for the national anthem and flag. However, he didn't garner as much support as Kaepernick has today.
African Americans Muslims are beautiful; their speech, their influence and their history. African American Muslims are your friends. They are your neighbors. They are your family. They are your ancestry. They are YOU!