Monday, December 31, 2007

"ya bhutto" by marvin x

Benazir Bhutto


Ya, Bhutto

Who are these people

Who kill fathers sons daughters

What God do they serve

What ghost in the night

Is there money enough

Power enough

Greed enough

Murder enough

To satisfy this beast

Who devours all in its path

The children of the poor are not safe

Even children of the rich

This monster is vile

His teeth a wicked bite

Snatching you like Godzilla

When you came home preaching freedom

But there are those who cry freedom

But mean slavery of yesterday

There are those who pray in the mosque

Then murder in the street

who crush the spirit

Who silence the poets

The singers of freedom

Who deny the humanity of women

What God is this

Who empowers these devils with lust

and venom

Worse than the cobra’s sting

Ya Bhutto

What now in that sacred land

Shall your sons take the mantle

Shall the children cower in fear

Or will they stand

face the guns bombs

Paid by the Mighty Beast

Who shouts democracy

But means slavery

Who allows dictators to crush opposition

To be president for life.

He discards his general uniform

To dawn the suit and tie of Shaitan

To claim the persona of the puppet

Who smiles in tears

Choking from strings hanging from his neck.

Ya, Bhutto, you tried

To bring a better day

But demons must play out their drama

Their dance in the night

They will never put down their butcher knives

Never turn into Buddha heads.

More must be sacrificed

The judges and lawyers are not enough

The soldiers must accept flowers from the people

Not slaughter them in the streets

There are not jails enough to confine freedom

The torture chambers may fill to overflow

But freedom must rise at the end of the day.

Ya, Bhutto, your last word was the magic word: Allah.

Surely we are from Allah

And to Him we return.



reflections on bhutto's assassination

who you gonna call?

1230 05
The full story is at Common Dreams: Vatican to Train more Exorcists It just seemed so bizzare I felt like sharing. With all the other evils in the world I wonder how one concludes that there needs to be a bold new initiative against demons? Then again, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger he also denounced the Harry Potter series. (see harry potter and the book-burning benedict)

Planet Grenada and the Papacy
the passing of the pope
papal bull
a muslim response to the pope
more on pope benedict and islam
pope benedict: the first year

Sunday, December 30, 2007

"armageddon has been in effect... go get a late pass!" (part one)

Is Public Enemy right? Has Armageddon been in effect? (some might say that the show Strange Love is one of the signs of the end times.) The title for this blog entry just came to me last night when I was driving around listening to It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back but in reality I've been mulling over the same question (in different language) for a while these days.

For example, the Dawnbreaker Collective, mentioned in the last post would probably answer that question in the affirmative. Firstly, the Bahai Faith teaches that the Second Coming of Christ and the arrival of the Mahdi already occurred over 150 years ago (in which case, most of us will definitely need that late pass). But secondly, even though the song "Son of Being" may seem upbeat at first, some of the lyrics definitely have their pessimistic end-of-the-world side (e.g. "the whole world getting rolled like a Cuban cigar", "the world's just a pothole", "this place won't last so you better take a picture"). In fact, the Bahai Faith generally uses metaphorical interpretation to stretch the meaning of the end-time prophecies of many different religions in order to claim that they have already been fulfilled by the central figures of their faith.

Or to consider PE's words from a different direction... yesterday I was listening to an audio tape of Imam Jamil al-Amin (formerly H. Rap Brown) giving a jummah sermon entitled "What Color is Pharaoh?". Imam Al-Amin set up a comparison between Pharaoh's treatment of the children of Israel, COINTELPRO's treatment of Black activists during the Civil Rights era and the government's treatment of Muslims "today". (the sermon was given fifteen years ago). History isn't just history. Things move in cycles. Patterns repeat. But then perhaps that suggests that prophecy might not be prophecy.

In an older post, the number of the beast we already touched on Preterism, an understanding of Christian eschatology which holds that all are most of the prophecies in the Book of Revelation were fulfilled by 70 AD when the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans.

There are even a few groups in the Islamic orbit which say that the Mahdi has already come (e.g. the Nation of Islam, the Ahmdiyyah, the African Islamic Mission). I think that in a future post I would like to consider how these groups understand their various mahdist claims in light of the fact that the world seems to have gone on, much as before. I'm especially interested in how believers in the Sudanese Muhammad Ahmad do this. More later.

Planet Grenada:
the mahdi
remember imam jamil al-amin

Central Mosque: Description of Imam al-Mahdi
Central Mosque: The Coming of Isa (as)
Wikipedia: People Claiming to be the Mahdi
Chuck D: Flavploitation?
Chuck D's blog

Thursday, December 27, 2007

o son of being / the spark

I honestly don't remember what chain of links first brought me here, but these days I've been intrigued by this new Bahai hip-hop group called the Dawnbreakers Collective and their catchy new single, O Son of Being.

The refrain:
"O SON OF BEING! Make mention of Me on My earth, that in My heaven I may remember thee." comes from a Bahai text called "The Hidden Words", which some Bahais identify with a Book of Fatima which the prophet Muhammad's daughter is said (according to some Shiis) to have received from the angel Jibreel after the Prophet's death.

Personally I find the Hidden Words to be very reminiscent of the Hadith Qudsi (The intensely heart-softening subset of Islamic hadith where Allah/God speaks in the first person).

The above 'hidden word' is particularly reminiscent of the following hadith:

On the authority of Abu Harayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Allah the Almighty said:

I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembley better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm's length, I draw near to him a fathom's length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.

I would argue that there is much in the Bahai faith which is derivative of Islamic sources (including later Sufis, poets and philosophers along with obvious sources like the Quran and hadith). To show this carefully would take more time than I'm able to spend at the moment, but some of those links are pretty evident, even from a cursory analysis.

While we are on the subject of the spiritual inspiration behind hip-hop music, the other example which was on my mind as I was writing this is The Roots' song "The Spark". (I wouldn't consider The Roots an "Islamic" hip-hop group per se. From what I gather, one of their members is a Five Percenter and another past member is Sunni, and both perspectives come out in their lyrics). For example, in "The Spark", the hadith qudsi:

"My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks."

becomes the somewhat more irreverent lyrical chorus:

"Yo, the feet that I walk with
The ears that I hear with, the eyes that I see with
The mouth that I talk with, the terror that I stalk with
Now it's time to spark shit"
I wish I could find the video online, but instead I could only find the lyrics (included below). In spite of the vulgarity, the song actually does come off successfully as the sincere prayerful voice of a flawed Muslim.

Original Hip-Hop Lyrics: The Spark
Hip-Hop Linguistics: Dawnbreaker Collective creates Baha’i album

Other hadith qudsi:
last man to enter paradise
and so it was said

Grenada's Bahai past:
since when was blindness a good thing?
bahai thought police

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

the black knight

I thought I should give a nod to Just Another Angry Black Muslim Woman? for her excellent gift of some Afro-Arab history with: The Black Knight: ‘Antar and the Arab Epic

see also:
Wikipedia: Antarah ibn Shaddad

Grenada's past:
catching up
black, but comely
a fatwa on pan-arab racism
the african palestinian connection

felipe luciano

Over at Khalil Al-Puerto Rikani's blog I found this recording of Felipe Luciano (former Last Poet and Young Lords memmber) introducing Eddie Palmieri with a a powerful spoken word piece called "Puerto Rican Rhythms":

You can also check out an older Felipe Luciano performing "Jibaro / My Pretty Nigger" on Def Poetry Jam:

Luciano prefaces his poem with some topical comments (especially considering that today is the first day of Kwanzaa, which represents umoja or unity). Afterwards there is also a performance by muMs da Schemer.

the last poets
young lords
niggers are scared of revolution
"...being the last one around"

Thursday, December 20, 2007

millie pulled a pistol on santa / kwanzaa

Yeah, I know it is in the dark side... but the other day I was in my car listening to some old De La Soul was thinking how "Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa" was sort of timely due to the upcoming holiday. Also, more generally, I'm dealing with a lot of young people these days and I am often amazed at the kind of challenges they have to deal with in their lives.

"Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa" (lyrics from OHHLA)
"Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa" (song on YouTube)

Speaking of upcoming holidays, I hope that any Black bloggers reading this would consider doing some Kwanzaa blogging and maybe even set up Kwanzaa blogring. To be honest, I wouldn't go around calling myself Afrocentric. And I don't plan on having any rituals with fruit and candles and such this year. But I feel really good about the idea of Black folks taking a solid week out of the year to engage in some sustained thought, reflection and discussion around the seven principles of Nguzo Saba; a process which could be powerfully supported through the use of the internet.

Kwanzaa and Grenada's Past

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

eid mubarak y'all

Peace and blessings to you and yours.

Friday, December 14, 2007

catching up

I've had the seeds of a lot of different posts rattling around in my head but I'm short on time so I think I'm "forced" to just do a link dump instead of a more thoughtful consideration

Over at Umar Lee's blog, “Ugly Black Women”, Perfect Arab Wives, and Matters of Race starts to discuss some of the less idealized aspects of race relations in the Arab world. This piece was originally inspired by Not Sure What To Make of this “Discussion” over at Soliloquies of a Stranger (The life of an African American, Muslim, Muhaajirah (Expat), from the hood, in an Inter-Racial Marriage. It Doesn’t get any stranger than that!).

Abdur Rahman Muhammad finally concluded his series with Why Blackamerican Muslims Don’t Stand For Justice Pt. 5

Ever since my post i and i and thou I've been meaning to find and share information about Baye Fall, an African-based, dreadlock-wearing Sufi order who are sometimes called "Muslim Rastas". Recently I saw a pretty 'Grenada-esque' entry over at Pa' Africa Muchacho tu ta loco?, written by Dominican blogger Francisco Perez who is currently travelling in Senegal. He has a brief entry on Cheikh Lo an African musician who is a member of the Baye Fall. I wish I had a more detailed understanding of the group, but I suspect that they could be a very strong example in my favor with respect to the ongoing discussions with Sondjata (see islam and afrocentrism, afrocentricity and islam ii) on whether Islam is consistent with being African.

Francisco also has another entry on the upcoming Eid al-Adha entitled What Would Jesus Buy? I'm not sure what else to say about the holiday. This year I feel like the holiday has surprised me. I'm not totally certain which city I'll be in for Eid. I have a couple of old posts about Eid al-Adha but I don't have any genuinely new comments for now.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

good for the scalp, good for the soul

I found this article over at Tariq Nelson's blog, but I learned about this barbershop years ago hanging out with some Muslim friends in Chicago. This kind of story is definitely a nice change of pace.

why blackamerican muslims don't stand up for justice

The title of this series by Abdul-Rahman M threw me off at first and made me disinclined to even read what he had to say. But after examining the articles I have to say that it is actually a very thought-provoking historically-grounded series examining (firstly) the different factors which encouraged African-American Muslims to drop-out of the Black American protest tradition during the 60's and 70's and (secondly) the challenges, distractions and obstacles which have made it difficult for orthodox Blackamerican Muslims to participate in that protest tradition in a stronger way.

Why Blackamerican Muslims Don't Stand Up for Justice, Part One
Why Blackamerican Muslims Don't Stand Up for Justice, Part Two
Why Blackamerican Muslims Don't Stand Up for Justice, Part Three
Why Blackamerican Muslims Don't Stand Up for Justice, Part Four

(the final piece, part five is still pending)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

the year of living biblically

A few weeks ago I finished A.J. Jacobs' The Year of Living Biblically. Judging from the jacket, the premise was interesting enough for me to want to buy the book, but after I read it I was a bit disappointed by the execution. The basic subject of the book is the author's attempt to spend an entire year following every rule in the Bible literally. Unfortunately, I don't think that he spent much of the year taking the Bible seriously. Admittedly, he grew a beard, wore white, avoided mixed fibers, refrained from eating pork, and went through some effort to follow certain obscure rules. But at times his rule-observance comes off as merely a gimick to legitimize his religious views. Jacobs is a secular agnostic Jew (as he puts it, he is Jewish in the same way that the Olive Garden is Italian) and he actually wanted to underscore the defects of literalism through this project. So he didn't try very hard to be a thoughtful or sympathetic representative of Biblical literalism.

In fact, the most enjoyable sections of the book describe how he went out to spend time with other "literalist" communities; the Amish, Hassidic Jews, Samaritans, Snake-handlers, Creationists, "red-letter" Christians, along with a "cult" in Israel led by Jacobs' weird ex-uncle Gil. A much more interesting project would have been produced if Jacobs could have cut out the gimicky beard and robe and simply had gone to the various communities for an extended period of time and had allowed them to speak for themselves (a la Jesus Camp.)

Bible and Grenada
encyclopedia of biblical errancy
interview with a christmas card
"i've seen ethiopians knocking out rome" (part two)
"i've seen ethiopians knocking out rome"
"god gave noah the rainbow sign..." (part one)
the number of the beast
the reason for the season
the wise men

Saturday, November 17, 2007

is spain realy racist?

Last month, fellow Latino Muslim Blogger, Khalil Al-Puerto Rikani put up a post called: Is Spain really racist? I think the article is thought-provoking, even though it paints a rosier picture of Spain than I would have based on my own visit to Spain many years ago. I was really struck by the anti-immigrant articles I would read in the newspaper and the racial caricatures which seemed commonplace (e.g. Conguitos, a brand of chocolate covered peanuts which used a sambo-like figure as a mascot). That visit to Spain was also the first time I ever felt like a police officer looked at me as a suspect. (Apparently, the cop was wondering if I was a terrorist... and I wasn't even Muslim then... but that's a whole other story). So I definitely felt racism was more blatant in Spain than other places I've been to, but perhaps I would have a different experience if I went back and could spend time in some of the locations mentioned on Khalil's blog.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

"they plan and allah plans..."

I recently came across the article: American plan to prevent the return of the Caliphate from another Muslim blog. The entry summarizes a report from the RAND corporation entitled Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources and Strategies which explicitly lays out a divide-and-conquer strategy for transforming Muslim societies... a strategy which plays so-called fundamentalists, traditionalists, modernists and secularists against one another.

Friday, November 09, 2007

is wayne brady gonna have to choke a tau'ri?

so two very brief comments:
1. I don't know if more people are actually reading and linking to Planet Grenada or if the TTLB ecosystem changed its definitions recently but (for what it is worth) apparently after several long epochs of being a rodent or a marsupial, Grenada climbed back up the evolutionary ladder and is a large mammal among blogs again. Let's see how long it lasts.

2. C'BS ALife Allah recent comment on the previous post really got me thinking about how I had originally expected Afrofuturism to play a larger role in this blog. As a result, it inspired me to do a little more reading online and sowed the seeds for some future posts... but until then I'll just share one thing for now... even though I've been an on-again-off-again fan of Stargate SG-1 I was surprised to find out recently that Wayne Brady had played first prime (basically head slave) of one of the Goa'uld (the bad guys for the major part of the series). It is hard to explain but somehow that is really fitting and really ironic, all at the same time.


grenada and afro-futurism
ecological crisis
negrophobia, hope and gasoline
negrodamus 1
brian gumbel (sic) is looking like malcolm x?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

blacks and brazil

Black Britain: Being black in Brazil vs being black in the USA by Afro-Brazilian journalist, Italo Ramos

In These Times: Can Brazil’s Quilombos Survive? by Anne Kogan is a review of Quilombo Country, a documentary narrated by Chuck D which deals with the modern communities in Brazil which were originally formed by runaway slaves.

Planet Grenada and Brazil
just as long as they don't show the parkers...
brazil race diary 1999
a rising voice: afro-latin americans
brazil's racial history
senzala or quilombo
ronaldo in palestine
arabs in brazil

Sunday, October 28, 2007

points to paradise

the fourth world

Chickenbone: Both The Fourth World Multiculturalism as Antidote to Global Violence by Rose Ure Mezu and The Fourth World: In the Belly of the Beast by Amin Sharif insightfully explore some of the civilizational tensions which characterize our contemporary postcolonial world.

traditional islam for the hip-hop generation

Southern California InFocus: Traditional Islam for the hip-hop generation by Zaid Shakur talks about some of the positive things going on in and around the San Diego urban Muslim community.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

who is black?

jamilah abdul-sabur

Yet another Afro-Caribbean Muslim-by-name-if-not-by-faith I recently discovered is Jamilah Abdul-Sabur. She is a an artist working in sound, video and photography. If I have time I intend to check out her exhibit sometime soon.

According to the New Times:
Very little appears to be happening in some of Jamilah Abdul-Sabur’s imagery, and perhaps that is precisely her message. For her project at Diaspora Vibe Gallery, the young artist documented people as they navigated down-at-the-heels sections of Baltimore, attempting to focus on the socioeconomic disparities among many of that city’s residents. Typically her protagonists find themselves stuck in very bleak spaces. They also seem helpless and unable to escape their dreary surroundings. A man lies on his back in an anonymous interior, his figure outlined by a nimbus of broken glass. A young fellow stands in a hallway, listlessness masking his face. A closeup of a woman frames her against a building full of shattered windows. Abdul-Sabur’s “... believe, in what?” features video, photography, and installation depicting three characters and their interactions within an abandoned Baltimore factory. The gritty exhibit is presented as part of the gallery’s new Off the Wall/Experimental Lab Series organized to engage audiences in nontraditional ways.

rasheed ali & rain people

I don't know if Rasheed Ali is Muslim but he is a musician who identifies as Afro-Caribbean and whose musical influences extend from Africa to all over the diaspora. I was drawn in to him through an article on his blog called: The African in Puerto Rico: An Overview

To read more of his thoughts and listen to his music, check out:
Myspace: Rasheed Ali & Rain People
CD Baby: Rasheed Ali & Rain People
Blogspot: One Tribe, Many Voices
Spanish blog: Una Tribu, Muchas Voces

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

transafrica forum and afro-colombians

Two items from TransAfrica forum on Afro-Colombians:
First: Call Your Representative to Support HR618 Recognizing Afro-Colombian Rights in the US House of Representatives. And secondly: TransAfrica Calls for Support for the Peace Process and Highlight the Issues facing Afro-Colombians which starts to describe a little of what the situation is and talks about the positive humanitarian involvement of the Chavez government.

is there a black vote in venezuela? Is There a "Black Vote" in Venezuela? is an older piece which touches on how far Venezuelan society still has to go when it comes to its Black citizens, even under Hugo Chavez.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

everything is separated by water


A few weekends ago I was able to catch Everything is separated by water; an exhibition of 17 major pieces by María Magdalena Campos-Pons, an Afro-Cuban artist from Matanzas. I was stuck by how several of the pieces touched on questions of identity in a way which could be generalized to people of African descent, Latinos and immigrant Muslims. Whether you are talking about the Rio Grande, the Atlantic Ocean or the 90 miles which separate Miami from Cuba, 'everything' really is separated by water.

Memory, historical connections to Cuba and Africa, her dislocation and that of her ancestors fuel the 17 major works that comprise the Campos-Pons retrospective Everything is Separated by Water at the Bass Museum in Miami Beach.

''Her work is about constructing identity and cultural histories,'' says curator Lisa D. Freiman, who organized the retrospective for the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where it was staged more amply in 12,000 square feet of space. ``It's about who we become when we move to new places, and the feeling of not completely being whole in any place.''

'In my country, in my setting, in my town, `the problem' of being African wasn't about physical placement or about land,'' Campos-Pons explains. ``When we talked about Africa, we didn't talk about the continent. Africa was in my Cuban backyard.

''Africa was my father, my mother, my cousins and my aunts and uncles,'' she adds. ``They played the drums in the patio at all hours. The question of Africa arose from the point of view of the United States. When I was in Cuba, it was never a question.''

Using paint, herbs and wood sculpture -- sight, sounds and smells -- Campos-Pons conjures the image of the forest where the gods of santería are said to dwell. The forest also is the realm of their messenger and keeper of the roads, Eleguá, the orisha after whom Campos-Pons titles another work, The One Who Opens the Path (1997), a composition of 10 mammoth Polaroid Polacolor photographs.

Likewise, in another piece, The Seven Powers Come by Sea (1992), the seven orishas of the Yoruban pantheon are present in large wood sculptures that resemble slave ships and are carved with stick figures, showing how slaves were tightly stacked on ships sailing to the New World.

For the rest of the story, check out the Miami Herald: Cuban artist connects memories of a fragmented life

Saturday, October 13, 2007

tony gleaton aims lens at black mexicans

From the LA Times: Tony Gleaton aims lens at black Mexicans is yet another piece I "found" due to a heads-up from George Kelly. Tony Gleaton is a light-skinned Black photographer who was one of the earliest people to visually document the presence of Mexicans of African descent. And part of his purpose in starting the project was to explore his own experience of racial identity.

Friday, October 12, 2007

eid mubarak y'all...

to those who celebrated yesterday and those who will celebrate today.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

rawdah: a gathering of traditional knowledge

just passing the word along:

The Sankore Institute and the Logan Islamic Community Center are happy to announce that we will be holding our 5th annual Rawdah Deen Intensive in San Diego, California on March 7th, 8th and 9th of 2008.

This year theme will be "The reality of spiritual excellence (Ihsan)". Our teachers for this years Rawdah will be Shaykh Sayyed Muhammad ibn Yahya Al-Husaini An-Ninowi, Imam Zaid Shakir and Ustadh Muhammad Abd'l Haqq Mendes.

The text that we will be going over are Al-Muqasid of Imam Nawawi (The section on Tasawwuf), Al-Hikam of Ibn Att'Illah and the Shukr Ihsan of Shaykh Abdullahi Dan Fodio.

We pray that you all will be able to attend and benefit from this deen intensive. Please come visit our website:

Register early because space is very limited.

Amir Tariq Al Fudi

San Diego

from anti-muslim to anti-black

Here is a link to Tariq Nelson's piece Anti-Muslim bigots are also (often) racist which recently appeared at It shouldn't be surprising but it is worth being said.

i'm still busy...

but I finally have regular internet access at home and should be able to blog more often than I have been.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

two more blogs to plug

After taking a little more time to dive back into the blogosphere (i.e. after checking out The Manrilla Blog) I "discovered" two blogs I wanted to give a shout-out to over here. The first is Black American Muslim Political Scientists authored by Charles Hassan Ali. I would especially want to point to the article I Am Not Alone which candidly looks at some of the racial issues touched on in/by african & caribbean muslim marriage event.

The second blog is On Faith: Sherman Jackson where Prof. Jackson himself (the author of Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking toward the Third Resurrection) shares his own personal thoughts on a number of religious questions.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

early impressions of miami

Some brief thoughts and comments I felt like sharing:

1. A few weeks ago I went to jummah at a new masjid (new to me anyway) in a new city. It was the second time in my life that I've been to a jummah service where the khateeb didn't utter a lick of English. (The other time I was in Chicago and went to one of the more prominent Islamic centers, not realizing that the congregation there took the "hardline" position that the khutbah had to be in Arabic. Although as a concession they did have a nice informational talk which explained the content of the "khutbah"... in Urdu.)

Some time later I went back to that masjid (not for jummah) and had a really positive experience. The people were friendly and the group was pretty traditional, focused on spirituality. I'm feeling much better about the prospect of finding a good community.

2. The month of Ramadan is coming this week. Wow. I don't feel ready.

3. On a totally different note, I'm not sure if Miami is more racist than any other city, but I have definitely been hearing more N-bombs; at poetry spots, as an insult, in casual conversation, being sung along to a hip-hop beat, etc. What is really surprising is not just hearing it in a song, but the fact that on multiple occasions I would see folks sing along pretty shamelessly. Once or twice I even heard a DJ turn off the music precisely so that the crowd would shout out an n-bomb-containing chorus as a group.

4. On another totally different note, I've also seen a lot more (Christian) fishes on the backs of cars in Miami. The fish is a really interesting symbol, but I think the meaning is actually cheapened by having it appear in a widespread fashion on cars. Back in the days when Christianity was a persecuted faith, the fish was used by Christians to secretly identify one another. When meeting for the first time, one Christian could innocently trace out an arc in the ground with their foot. And if he or she understood the message, a second Christian could complete the fish by drawing a second arc.

Back when I was a post-Christian-not-quite-Muslim and I would occasionally write out my thoughts on religion, I used the fish symbol as part of my personal system of abbreviations. {fish symbol}-ianity would refer to my concept of the authentic religion of Jesus which emphasized the spiritual and ethical principals of the Sermon on the Mount while {cross symbol}-ianity would refer to the death-based Pauline religion which came afterwards. (This isn't completely different from the distinction between prophetic and Constantinian Christianity which has appeared in previous posts). I plan to say more about {fish symbol}-ianity in a later post (when I have more time) but for now I'll say that I find it incredibly ironic that an ancient symbol which is thoroughly grounded in Christianity's origins as a secretive and persecuted faith should appear openly and ubiquitously in modern times.

And finally...
5. It is interesting and weird and funny being in a Latino-majority city. But I often wonder about how uncomfortable it must be for non-Latinos. What if due to an odd sequence of geopolitical events some major American city suddenly experienced a large increase in the number of people of Chinese descent to the point that Chinese and Chinese-Americans basically established a sort of hegemonic control of the city in the same way that ("white") Cubans run Miami? I'm not sure how "at home" I would feel in such a situation. Just something to consider.

richards' racist rant (epilogue)
islam and the passion (for social justice)

shades of mexican

Also thanks to George Kelly for the heads-up about: Shades of Mexican by Gregory Rodriguez of the LA Times. It is a slightly cynical opinion piece about the ways in which racial classification can change according to the interests of a given community.

black, but comely

Al-Ahram: Black, but comely by Gamal Nkrumah eulogizes the black Arab singer Tarfa Abdel-Kheir Adam, or Itab (her stage name).

"i am both muslim and christian" (part two)

Thanks to Tariq over at Reaktori for the update to "i am both muslim and christian". The Rev. Dr. Ann Holmes Redding, the Episcopal Church’s ‘Muslim-Anglican’ priest has been banned from exercising her ministry for one year and has been asked to reflect on her vocation.

Muslim-Anglican priest is banned in Seattle

Sunday, August 26, 2007

box-checking blues

Odd moment: I had to go get fingerprinted recently (background check for a new job) and as part of the process I had to fill out a form with all sorts of identifying information. The most bizzare aspect of the form was how the racial categories were set up. On the plus side, the racial question was prefaced with the rather enlightening comment that "Hispanic is not a race". But then the authors of the form contradicted themselves by listing "Caucasian/Latino" as a race! There were also spots for white, black, indian/native american and Asian/ Pacific Islander. I'm not sure where to begin in terms of spelling out how illogical that is. I ended up checking "black" but if I had put more thought into it I would have also crossed out "Caucasian"and then also checked the Latino category.

nigger-reecan blues by willie perdomo
racial jujitsu or the more things change...
how race is lived
are desis white?

baraka eulogizes sundiata

On, from one poet to another, here is Amiri Baraka's eulogy of fallen wordsmith, Sekou Sundiata.

Friday, August 24, 2007

tapping the third root

Sorry I've been dormant for so long. I started a new job and have limited internet access during my "downtimes". Even now, I just have time to share a couple of things. By way of long time Grenada supporter, George Kelly, I found the article: tapping the ‘third root’: mexico’s african history about black Mexicans from the blactivegan blog.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

african & caribbean muslim marriage event

Since only a minority of hits to Planet Grenada are coming from the UK, I'm thinking of the following as a springboard for discussion as well as a simple announcement:

Islamic Circles Presents


Date: Saturday 18th August 2007
Time: 1pm - 4pm
Venue: Room 405, 4th Floor,
Birkbeck College, University of London,
Malet Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7HX


Light refreshments will be provided.
Registration will be at 1pm
and latecomers will be penalised.

Prior registration is necessary and please book online at our website
This event is for sincere and serious people only,
not time wasters and people with bad manners.

To book or for more information
please contact: Tel: 07956 983 609

The most interersting and controversial aspect to the announcement was the brief paragraph explaining the reason for the event:

Because of the unfortunate 'racism' amongst certain Muslim communities, and the constant rejection and time wasting, a special marriage event especially geared towards to Muslims of African and Carribean origin has been organised. People of all statuses are welcome. Non African and Carribean are also welcome if they 'really serious' and open to marrying them.
So especially as an Afro-Caribbean Muslim myself, I wonder why there would be a special reluctance to marriage with Afro-Caribbean Muslims on the part of "certain Muslim communities"? Also, does this reluctance constitute racism? In the long run, will Afro-Caribbean Muslims in the UK self-segregate (due to external influences) and form a distinct group? Would this be a positive development or a negative one?\

Thursday, July 26, 2007

what happens in the kitchen, stays in the kitchen...

I'm currently in an extremely carnivorous (not vegetarian-friendly) city and I think it will be much harder to eat halal. Up until now, I've been able to avoid meat almost completely and would only eat meat if it was zabiha and a Muslim friend was specifically inviting me to a homemade meal. (I wouldn't go out of my way to eat meat). But now it seems like being vegetarian would mean eating salad all the time so I think I'm going to supplement my diet with seafood. I'm basically Hanafi so I'm still thinking about how shellfish is going to fit into all that.
Another consideration is if I go out to eat, even if I order the veggie burger or the grilled fish, I don't really know what else was cooked in the same wok or grill. In my previous location I knew how the food was being prepared so that was only an occasional passing thought, but now I'm eating out all the time so it is more of an ongoing concern. At the moment I'm thinking "what happens in the kitchen, stays in the kitchen" (or else I'll be left with eating salad all the time). Hopefully I'll be able to transition to a situation where I'm doing almost all my own cooking eventually.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

a joyful work

A friend recently shared this poem of Hafiz with me, so I'm going to share it with you. And hopefully my new job will turn out to be a "joyful work" and not the alternative.

Last night
God posted on the tavern wall
A hard decree for all of love's inmates
Which read:
If your heart cannot find a joyful work
The jaws of this world
Will probably grab hold of your
Sweet ass

Thursday, July 19, 2007

plaza granada

For various reasons I'm having less time to write these days. I'm thinking of moving to a new location. I still have to think a lot more about what I want in a neighborhood but one area I'm looking at is near an old shopping center called Plaza Granada. Hmmmm..... Maybe I'll have to change the name of the blog...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

pain and suffering in theology

I think our understanding of unfairness in the world is mostly relative and based on our imagination which is based on our experiences. Even if the world were objectively better we would just adjust our expectations for happiness and fulfillment upwards and still suffer accordingly. If the average lifespan could be increased to 1000 years, then when someone dies at 316 folks would still say: "What a shame, she was cut down so young. She had so much of her life ahead of her". If no one ever got diseases like cancer or multiple sclerosis or Huntington's then atheists would use paper cuts to question the mercy of God.

I also think it works in reverse. If one of those bug species, where the female eats the male after sex, evolved into intelligent and sensitive creatures with technology and civilization but the same basic means of reproduction, they wouldn't necessarily be more likely to doubt God's mercy. They would probably just accept that violence was a part of their life cycle and move on. (Consider how, even for us human beings, in certain parts of the world family life is marked by violent rituals and customs, often with religious sanction).

Thursday, July 12, 2007

nur az zaman (light of the age)

I wouldn't necessarily insist on all the theological claims below, but I'm glad to support the discussion of such an important Muslim scholar. The following is from Yusuf Yearwood:

Nur az Zaman

This yahoo group is dedicated to An-Nur a Zaman (the Light of the age) Shehu Uthman Dan Fodio and the true flag bearers of the Shehu's minhaj (methodology) The Jama'ah of Shehu Uthman Dan Fodio in America. It is mentioned by the great wali (friend) of Allah Shaykh Mukhtar al Kunti "The perfected friends of Allah in this age are three. One is an Arab who resides beyond Syria. His light is the light of La illaha ill Allah. The other is a Fulani in the land of the blacks, Uthman Dan Fodio. His light is the light of the seal of the Messenger of Allah, which was on his left shoulder. As for the last one his light is the light of the heart of the Messenger of Allah" Based on this and many other statments, there is consensus that the great mujadid (renewer) of the 12th Islamic century was Shaykh Uthman dan Fodio.

The Jama'ah of Shehu Uthman dan Fodio in America is directly connected to the broader community of Shehu Uthman through our Sultan, Al Haj AbuBakr ibn Muhammad At-Tahiru (residing in Mayurno, Sudan)the 16th caliph and direct descendent of Shehu Uthman dan Fodio. We are dedicated to reviving the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sawws) by following the traditions of those great scholars who came before us and by adhering to the minhaj (methodology) of Shehu Uthman Dan Fodio and his community until the advent of Al-Mahdi(Peace be upon him).

This yahoo group is open to all Muslims.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

my native costume

I'm a big Martin Espada fan but I especially like this poem because I actually have worn that outfit on multiple occasions in different combinations, so in some sense, it really is my "native costume". I guess that either means that 1) Martin Espada and I share a similar poetic sensibility growing out of our condition as educated Latinos struggling to navigate the cultural contradictions which are implicit in living and working in Anglo environments or 2) I still need help dressing myself.

My Native Costume

When you come to visit,
said a teacher
from the suburban school,
don’t forget to wear
your native costume.

But I’m a lawyer,
I said.
My native costume
is a pinstriped suit.

You know, the teacher said,
a Puerto Rican costume.

Like a guayabera?
The shirt? I said.
But it’s February.

The children want to see
a native costume,
the teacher said.

So I went
to the suburban school,
embroidered guayabera
short sleeved shirt
over a turtleneck,
and said, Look kids,
cultural adaptation.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

you say you want a revolution...

I have no big plans for the fourth. I'm about to grab some lunch. Hopefully I'll be able to make more progress with cleaning out my room. If I have time, I'll pick through Zinn's A People's History of the United States and reread what it has to say about the American Revolution.

see also:
"when in the course of human events..."

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

i and i and thou

So from time to time I tend to ride on strange trains of thought. A while ago I wrote a post called the tao passes the turing test which tried to give an alternative way to think about God's existence (or more specifically, God's intelligence). Then I started to wonder if one could make use of Martin Buber's distinction between I-It relationships (objective, detached) and I-Thou relationships (loving, unconditional) to make a similar point. It isn't really surprising that Buber says it is possible to have I-It relationships with other people because it is all-too-easy to find examples of alienated, dehumanizing relationships. The funny thing is that Buber says it is possible to have I-Thou relationships with trees...

which for me evokes some lines from the Spearhead song, "Of Course you can"
In school they tried to tell me
that a rock is not alive
but I have seen a volcano growin' up and die
In school they tried to tell me
that a tree it couldn't feel
but I have felt a tree and it was bleeding for real
In school they tried to tell
me animals couldn't talk
but they can understand it when a dog starts to bark
in school they tried to tell me
man doesn't have a soul
"whet happened to his" I say "cause mine is
still whole!"

But if I-Thou relationships are possible with trees, then perhaps with "the Tao" as well? In other words, the question of God's personhood may have more to do with our subjective perspective than God's objective ontology. So if a hardcore skeptic has trouble accepting a theistic personal God, perhaps another kind of spiritual path would start with belief in a not-necessarily-personal Ultimate Realty (the Tao, Higher Power, Nature) but would then still find meaningful ways to relate to this Reality as an intelligent (in the sense of Turing) Thou (in the sense of Buber). Just a thought.

But that's all background. Actually the thought which most directly inspired this post was the question of whether anyone out in the blogosphere had ever compared Buber's terminology with the Rastafarian use of the phrase "I and I". And a couple of Google searches later I came across Caribbean blogger and published author, Geoffrey Philp and his fascinating post on Reggae, Rastafari and Aesthetics.

And more recently I was reading in Sadiq Alam's post Language of the Sufis how within Islam, mystics have also used pronouns in unconventional ways in order to transmit a higher level of truth. In fact, one could probably draw other analogies between the relationship between Rastafarianism and Christianity and the relationship between certain Sufi orders and Islam. But that will have to wait for another day.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

turtle island muslims

Turtle Island is a Native American term for North America and Turtle Island Muslims is a website dedicated to the thoughts and experiences and Native American Muslims. Two pieces which I would recommend are Goodness Outside of Muslim Cultures? by Umm Zaid and Burying 'Digging for the Red Roots'. Both really challenge Muslims to deepen our understanding of Native cultures and their relationship to the Muslim community. In order for Muslim dawa-workers to avoid the mistakes of Christian missionaries, it is essential to think about the issues raised here.

moors gate - bab el magharbeh

Moors Gate is a remarkably well-done Moorish Science website. "New Age-y" at times, but nevertheless with interesting articles.

Grenada's past:
moors, snakes and st. patrick

two latino ex-muslims

I would disagree with several of the comments made by GustavoMustafa (an Iranian-Afghan/Mexican ex-Muslim) over at in his very brief post Latino Islam Esquina: Recognizing the Feminine in Divinity but I think he has some interesting things to say about cultural difference.

From Islam to Unitarian Universalism by Hafidha Acuay made me a little sad. Acuay was raised as an Afro-Latina Muslim but eventually made her way to U-U. I hope that Muslims are able to read her story as a cautionary tale about some of the failings and inconsistencies of the Muslim community and what some of the consequences are.

related Grenada links:
living islam out loud
return to guadalupe
different trajectories: quraysh ali lansana

Thursday, June 28, 2007

another u.s. is necessary

So if you are going to be anywhere near Atlanta, Georgia between June 27 and July 1 the place to be is the U.S. Social Forum. This thing is going to be big. Just check out the list of workshops. I wish I was going.

See also: another world is still possible

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

architecture is not justice

They have monuments to liberty
And freedom of opinion, which is well and good.
But I explained to them that
Architecture is not justice.

An excerpt from Sami al Hajj's poem, Humiliated In The Shackles

publish or perish: guantanamo

I just found out about this story by reading the post Why Close Reading Matters I: Guantanamo Bay Poetry over at the Constructivist's blog. Basically, in spite of considerable hurdles and difficulties, a certain amount of poetry written by Guantanamo prisoners has been able to escape (even if the poets have not) and has been collected in a volume to be published in August by the University of Iowa Press. The story is also covered over at Common Dreams in: Inmates’ Words: The Poems of Guantanamo What is probably the most provocative and disturbing aspect of this story is the fact that some of the Guantanamo poems aren't being published due to U.S. national security concerns!

See also: (on Guantanamo)
nommo (politics and Muslim poets)

a rising voice: afro-latin americans

The Miami Herald recently published a five-part series on the situation of Afro-Latinos in various countries (including Nicaragua, Honduras, and Colombia as well as the more typical Brazil, Dominican Republic and Cuba). The series is really good. I was half-tempted to just cut- and- paste the entire thing into here. The pieces paint a much more complex picture than I would have expected in this type of story. In the past, many such articles would stop short at pointing out Africanisms in the local culture and repeating myths of racial democracy. More recently I've seen (and linked to) stories which acknowledge something of the racism in Latin America in a general and abstract way. But the series A Rising Voice: Afro-Latin Americans manages to cover a lot of ground with a surprising amount of richness and depth. I definitely recommend.

Monday, June 25, 2007

"i am both a muslim and christian"

A recent story in the Seattle Times deals with the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding who has been an Episcopal priest for over 20 years and Muslim for the past 15 months... simultaneously. The piece, "I am both Muslim and Christian" reminds me of the pastor of the Presbyterian church near my house who, in a conversation we had a few years ago, not only questioned the divinity of Christ, but blamed the dogma of Christ's divinity for distracting Christians from striving for social justice here on Earth. During the same conversation he also explained how he didn't believe in the inerrancy of the Bible and he expressed a great deal of heartfelt sympathy for a local Muslim activist who was deported in the wake of 9/11.

To be honest, as someone who came to Islam from an evangelical Christian background, I continue to be surprised by the extent to which many self-identified Christians seem to reject what I was raised to think of as basic and fundamental doctrines of Christianity. So I'm more shocked by the fact that Redding would call herself Christian than the fact that she calls herself Muslim. For a long time I've realized that the most liberal ends of the Christian spectrum are tolerant enough to include someone who embraces the shahada. But the amazing thing is how the parameters of Christian orthodoxy seem to have gotten so fuzzy.

But questions of orthodoxy aside, I should say that I respect Rev. Redding's intentions and in the current political climate I definitely appreciate that someone like her is making serious efforts towards peacemaking between Christians and Muslims.

past posts:
robert karimi
islam and christianity blending in africa

Thursday, June 21, 2007

submachine games

I think I will take a momentary break from being serious and will mention some games I've found online. The Submachine series is a collection of trippy, eerie, poetic, odd, surreal, mysterious, intriguing, puzzle-solving point-and-click adventures. You literally only need to use your mouse to interface with the game. I started with Submachine 1 which is relatively short and gives you a flavor of what the logic of the games is like. Submachine 2, 3 and 4 are much "bigger" games with more rooms to search through and more complex puzzles. (Although 3 stands out as having very little narrative. Basically you can move freely through a mostly monotonous "dungeon" and solve a sequence of logical/mathematical puzzles) Submachine 0 is the smallest of the bunch. I would say FLF is more "impressionistic" and less logical. It is bigger than 0 or 1, but not as difficult as 2-4. I would recommend playing the games more or less in the order given, both because of the increasing difficulty and also in order to appreciate the unfolding story.

Submachine 0: Ancient Adventure
Submachine 1
Submachine 2: The Lighthouse
Submachine 3: The Loop
Submachine 4: The Lab
Submachine FLF (Future Loop Foundation)

More "Grenada-esque" games:
darfur is dying
el emigrante
where is the beef?
bunny vs. world

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

paris is america

An interesting nugget from IOZ by way of The Left End of the Dial 2.0:
Paris Hilton is America. Stupid, heedless, rich but not as rich as she beleieves, unhealthier than she likes to admit, casually destructive, immune to remorse, desirous of consequences for those who cross her but unable to contemplate that she should have to face any herself, acquisative, profligate, manipulative, needy, juvenile, boorish, proud, self-righteous, self-pitying, self-absorbed, and self-destructive. Her brief respite from the first real punishment of her life is the pause at the peak of the wave before the ship's keel falls sickeningly toward the trough. She's not a movie, she's a mirror.

dhoruba bin wahad: four points

In an earlier post, I already excerpted from Dhoruba Bin Wahad's "Fatwa on Pan-Arab racism" but I also wanted to highlight and invite comments on Dhoruba Bin Wahad's call for specific actions from the Black/Muslim communities:

Africans are of diverse faiths, varying degrees of spirituality. But for all Muslims there are requirements of faith that exhort them to resist tumult and oppression. To enjoin the good and forbid the wrong is a social and political obligation. Muslims are urged to defend the weak against the tyrant, and oppressors – not participate in rape and oppression. And for fulfilling these obligations we will be attacked, murdered, imprisoned, hunted, and martyred. Muslims have a command from Allah, the Most High, to lead in the struggle for righteousness – not wallow in the wake of unrighteous calamity.

* I am asking for Imam’s and Muslim activists of African ancestry to deliver Fatwas on the issues mention herein. To mobilize the Muslim community to act in opposition to Pan-Arab racism towards Black people.

* I am urging Imam’s in the Diaspora of African ancestry to organize a Majlis to guide the conduct of Pan-African Affairs on behalf of the Ummah, and to deliver a Fatwa on Darfur and Pan-Arab racism in general.

* I am urging activists of African ancestry, both Muslim and non-Muslim to support a campaign to pressure the AU to act forthrightly with the Darfur genocide and to resist U.S. backed (UN) initiatives to deploy UN troops in Somalia in support of an unpopular transitional government.

* I am Asking Muslims in the African Diaspora to establish foundation and convene a forum on the African continent to lay out a strategic vision of the role of Islam in Pan-African unification of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Monday, June 18, 2007

my bonnie lies over the ocean

So it turns out that "the one who got away" will be back in the US for a bit. Actually, her job is not terribly far away from where I might be for the forseeable future (at least the same side of the country). I wonder if we'll have a chance to catch up.

how to recover from the addiction to white supremacy

The original "12 steps" were developed by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous as a method to address alcoholism, but in time the steps were adapted to deal with other forms of addiction or substance abuse. Some authors have even suggested that the 12-step program can be generalized and followed, even by "non-addicts", as a path to greater wholeness, peace and a more spiritual life. (There are definitely some similarities which could be drawn between some of the 12-steps and certain elements of the sufi path).

More recently, Marvin X, a Muslim activist and writer who has been featured frequently on Planet Grenada (and is also on my blog roll) has adapted the 12 step approach to deal with a different sort of problem in: How To Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy: A Pan African 12 Step Model which, without ignoring or dismissing the economic and political aspects of white supremacy, starts to address some of the deeply embedded psychological factors as well. The link goes to a long excerpt on Marvin X's blog, so if you want the detailed explanation of all the steps I guess you are going to have to buy his book. But the section he chose to share is definitely thought-provoking.

For some previous Grenada posts on the psychological impact of racism on its victims check out:
go back to mexico?
recalling frantz fanon
post traumatic slave syndrome

And for some more Marvin X check out:
more marvin x

Sunday, June 17, 2007

the santerians

Well, it's about time they had a Latino superhero team. But I don't get why they don't call themselves the Santeros or even the Orishas. The Santerians sounds more like bad spanglish.

The Santerians: The Art of Joe Quesada
Marvel Introduces Latino Superhero Team

Grenada's comic past:
the 99
in brightest day, in blackest night
"'x-men' is not a cleverly named documentary about the nation of islam..."
race and dc comics
black comic books

a fatwa on pan-arab racism

A Fatwa on Pan-Arab Racism
by Muslim and former Black Panther, Dhoruba Bin-Wahad

In the Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful


Peace and Greetings to All.

I bear witness that there is no Illah but Allah, I bear witness that Muahammad ibn Abdullah is the Prophet of Allah.

We Muslims of African ancestry face difficult decisions. We stare the grim consequences of our multifaceted heritage in the face of; consequences of the long nightmare of enslavement by Europeans; preceded by an epoch of mercantile slavery and war at the hands of Arabs. Embedded in the fiber of our folk memory are dim recollections, like historical cultural DNA, of the successive waves of conquests - ancient and not so ancient that swept through North Africa - Hittites of antiquity, the Romans, Greeks, Arabs, and ultimately Northern Germanic clans of Western European origin, each left their legacy and impact upon Africa and our ancestors, and hence upon us.

We are today the sum total of what we were yesterday. That sum represents both failure and success, triumph and defeat, the sacred and the profane. Sometimes it seems as though we “can't win of losing.” Ask yourself, what became of our Moorish glory and hegemony over a third of Europe? Of what significance today are the trade routes and commerce of Songhay, or Dahomey, and the Niger Delta states to the political and moral bankruptcy of today's African nation-states? What have we truly learned? In what relevancy lie the appreciation of “Maroon” culture by declaring it a “national heritage” while depreciating the revolutionary impulse for freedom the burned in the hearts of Africans who became Maroons? Enslaved by a system of dehumanizing trade and commerce against their will, they revolted, organized resistance, and built a self-containing culture to keep their independence. Of what relevance are they today? Yes even our victories are subject to the vicissitudes of Time...“By the token of time [humans] are at lost”. Indeed we often are, but it is our consciousness, our intellect, our God given quality of “insight” or the human gift of abstract thought, that qualify us as Earth's vice-regent and therefore capable of learning from the past, overcoming the present, and plan our own salvation. As Muslims we are never done telling ourselves that we were molded in the best of images, We, Muslims are Guardians, not destroyers of life. Part of Creation – not above it. Nonetheless, we, like all living things are created beings. And as such we were created in different communities, of different colors, not as a basis for hatred, animosity, or war, but to appreciate the infinite variety of human possibility – to love each possibility in its own right.

But the age in which we now find ourselves will forever be shaped and judged by our actions and responses to the legacy history has imposed upon us all. There are events unfolding within western civilization and cultures of the East that are of the utmost importance to our physical survival, and the reemergence of a genuinely liberating Islam and progressive Ummah. These events have not only a history, they also are major struggles in which our freedom and salvation are at stake. These events represent for the benefactors of racism, exploitation, injustice, avarice, and elitism serious challenges as well. And we need be mindful of the monopoly on violence the benefactors of injustice, racism, and exploitation have, and their proven disposition to use legal and extralegal violence to hold on to power and privileges.

click here to read entire "fatwa"
click here for more from/about Dhoruba Bin Wahad

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

to be a minority within a minority

I just found the post To be a minority within a minority: dark-skinned Latinos and Muslim Hispanics over at The Latin Americanist blog. The post basically links to two other news articles without much comment, one on Black Latinos, another on Hispanic Muslims.

In terms of intentions, I think the folks at Latin Americanist were just trying to inform readers about non-stereotypical segments of the Latino population. And I've certainly posted links to similar articles before on Planet Grenada.

At the same time, especially after having given myself a chance to think about these issues through this very blog, I would have to say I find this whole "minority within a minority" concept really disempowering. (It reminds me of how Piri Thomas is always saying that no one should be called a minority because "minority" means "less than".) Instead of allowing myself to be marginalized several times over, belonging to multiple communities should be a source of strength. Between Blacks, Latinos and Muslims that adds up to about three billion people I should feel some concrete solidarity and identification with based on language, creed or ancestry. And all those connections should help contribute to "an emerging global anti-hegemonic culture" instead of setting up barriers where people feel unique and isolated. Just a thought.

See also:
a recent interview with suheir hammad
latinas choosing islam over catholicism
do platanos go wit' collard greens?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

because allah ta'ala made me both...

I really like this poem:

Because Allah ta'ala made me both...

Hejab on my head
With a machete dangling from my neck
I'm not a terrorist
Just a bonafide Boricua with coquis on my mind
I love the flares of salsa skirts
With claves and congas singing to my heart's content
While I prostrate on the sands of Rincon
Awaiting the whales to make their presence
Borinquen is my paradise
Allah is my creator
Yes—I can inhabit both spaces
And when bachata comes on the radio
I move three steps lift
Three steps lift
And when the azhan is called
"Allahu Akbar" and "Bismillah" run out of my mouth
Give me some piraguas with a side of dates
A little of sunlight with a dash of breeze
As the scarves surrounding me beckon to worship
I can dance merengue in the privacy of my room
As mis hermanas talk about who is cuter in the group
Because—we are Boricuas loving our land
We are boricuas dancing our traditional beats
We are boricuas wearing our big fluffy skirts
We are boricuas eating our arroz con habichuelas
We don't have to occupy one of your little boxes
Entrenching our identities into something you can label
We don't have to deny our abuelitas and our salsa beats
So I can't eat pernil anymore.
It's okay—pork has never been my thing any ways
But I can still enjoy las playas as I wet my feet on
Caribbean oceans
Because I am more
More than your dichotomies
More than your ideologies
I am not just a Boricua
Or someone who worships Allah
So if you need a label to satisfy your curiosity
I'll give you one now
With Qur'an in hand
Y bandera in the other
I am beyond your words
Because I am a MusliRican

Also, say hello to A Puerto Rican girl's journey to Islam. (which is where I found this poem). Definitely "Grenada-esque".


Say hello to Khadijah Rivera's blog: PIEDAD - Latino Muslims

poeta guerrera

I just found this myspace page for Melinda Gonzalez, a Muslim Nuyorican spoken word artist who goes by Poeta Guerrera (Warrior Poet Woman). She put recordings of several of her pieces on her page and they are worth checking out.

You also might want to look at Poet1Warrior's page on YouTube where Melinda has shares more of her thoughts on Islam. I'm not trying to set her up as some kind of scholar (in one clip she says she's only been Muslim for two months.) But I'm just glad to see more Latino Muslims confidently express themselves... and her excitement for the deen is a bit contagious.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

takin' it to the streets


The poster is actually a bit old. Takin' It to the Streets is only 2 weeks away rather than 3. It will take place Sunday, June 24th at Marquette Park. I was at the first one way back in the day. Now they are on number 6, mashaAllah. Lupe Fiasco will be performing. I'm not sure who else is on the roster, but in the past the event has been able to bring together an amazing collection of Muslim speakers, performers, and community service providers. For more information, check out the IMAN (Inner-City Muslim Action Network) webpage. If you will be in the Chicago area, they are still looking for volunteers to help out.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

islam and existentialism

A topic I've tried to explore a little bit is the connection between Islam and existentialism. Some groups like the Murabitun have taken Nietzsche's concept of the Superman and have used it to point to a "new breed" of Muslim. Other Muslim intellectuals like Shariati were more enamoured by the writings of Jean-Paul Sartre and felt some affinity with his brand of existentialism. Frantz Fanon (a non-Muslim intellectual but nevertheless a strong advocate for the Algerian revolution and an influential figure among Third World political theorists of all stripes) was also influenced by Sartre and provides a kind of model for how Muslims might find some relevance in the ideas of existentialism.

Now, over at his blog, Ali Eteraz has written a post on Islamic Existentialism which points to some more traditionally and authentically "Islamic" examples of existentialist themes in Muslim poetry. Check it out.

Planet Grenada:
ali shariati
recalling frantz fanon
laughing lions

Monday, June 04, 2007

sufi mujahideen

Yet another post in the continuing "muslim art of war" series. Here is an article on Sufi Mujahideen:

More often than not, the term "Sufi" invokes images of twirling Dervishes lost in ecstasy, strange people who engage in exotic practices that seem antithetical to Islamic legal traditions, or apolitical mystics fixated in meditation. In addition to the misconception that Sufism is inherently heterodox, perhaps the greatest misconception is that it is passive and apathetic towards Jihad. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

First and foremost, it is necessary to establish the orthodoxy of Sufism by pointing out the sheer number of eminent scholars who have been Sufi.

Amongst the Hanafi Ulema, we have ‘Ali Qari (d. 1606)1, ‘Abd al-Ghaffar Nabulsi (1641-1733)2, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi (1564-1624), and Shah Waliullah (1702-1763).

From the Malikis, the following Ulema were Sufi: Ibn ‘Ata’ Illah al-Iskandari (d. 1309)3 and Ibn ‘Ajiba (1747-1809)4.

The Hanbalis had ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Jawzi (1114-1201)5, ‘Abd al-Karim Jili (1365-1428) who was the great-grandson of ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani 6, and Ibn Rajab7. Mohiyuddin Ibn Arabi was of the Dhahiri madhab.

The Shafi’i madhab too, had a plethora of Sufis as some of its most prestigious scholars:
Abul Qasim al-Junayd (d. 910)8, Hakim Tirmidhi (d. 320)9, Abu ‘Ali Daqqaq (d. AH 405)10, Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman Sulami (936 – 1021)11 , Imam Ghazzali (1058 -1111)12, ‘Abd al-Wahhab Sha’rani (1493- 1565)13, Abul Qasim Qushayri (986 – 1072)14, Imam ‘Izz ibn ‘Abd al-Salam (1181-1262) ( In addition to his outstanding works in Islamic law, he is also known for his harshness with Muslim rulers who did not fight against the Crusaders vigorously)15, Imam Nawawi (1233 – 1277)16, and Imam Suyuti (1445 – 1505)17.

It should also be noted that even Muhammad Haya al-Sindi, the hadith teacher of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab who introduced him to the works of Ibn Taymeeyah*(There is much debate over whether or not Ibn Taymeeyah was a Sufi of the Qadiri order), was from the Naqshbandi tariqa. Interestingly enough, the great Indian scholar and Sufi, Shah Waliullah Dilhavi, was a student of another great Sufi scholar, Ibrahim al-Kurrani, who happened to also be the teacher of Muhammad Haya al-Sindi and Shaykh Yusuf who later lead a jihad against the Dutch in Indonesia.18 Aside from the select few of Sufi scholars that were briefly mentioned above, there are countless others who have not been mentioned. Although it does not give the subject justice, it should be clear that the roots of Sufism have always had its roots firmly entrenched in orthodoxy.

The second greatest misconception that people, including non-Muslims, have of Sufism is that it is flaccid in participating in issues pertaining to social justice and engaging in Jihad. History is a testament that not only is Sufism not opposed to Jihad, but rather, Sufis have been amongst the foremost leaders of Jihad.

Even the early Sufis were known for their fervent desire for engaging Jihad and seeking martyrdom. For example, Ibrahim ibn Adham (d. 778), was an early Sufi ascetic who was born into a life luxury which he abandoned in order to study the Sacred Sciences and later fought in jihad against the Byzantines.19 In fact, the very roots of the Sufi zawiya, a type of lodge, has its roots in the ribat. The ribat is a type of fortress that was often built along the ever expanding Islamic frontier. At these fortresses, Sufi shuyookh adapted their teachings of outward jihad in order to teach their disciples the science of inner jihad.20 2

During the Crusades, Sufis also participated in popular resistance against the Franks. The Battle of Mansura in Egypt included participants of the likes of Sheikh Abu Hassan ash-Shadhili, Sheikh Ibrahim Dessouki, and Sheikh al-Qannawwi. When Sultan Al Kamel of Egypt began negotiating with the Franks during the Fourth Crusade, Mohiyuddin Ibn Arabi scolded him by saying "You have no pride and Islam will not recognize the likes of you. Stand up and fight or we shall fight you as we fight them."

Even Imam Ghazzali castigated the Mameluke Sultans for failing to carry on the fight by giving them a similarly pernicious warning: "Either take up your sword for the sake of Allah and the rescue of your brothers in Islam, or step down from the leadership of Muslims so their rights can be championed by other than you."21 Egyptian resistance during the Seventh Crusade was lead by Sheikh Ahmad al-Badawi of the Rifa’i tariqa.22

Shaykh Najm al-Din Kubra, the founder of the Kubrawiya tariqa, died in the defense of Khwarazm from the Mongol hordes. Even from within the Ottoman Empire, Sufis mobilized the masses in jihad, often lead rebellions against the rulers, assisted in the accession of the Sultan, and some even served as chaplains to the warrior class known as the Janissaries.23

During the era of colonialism, Sufis lead resistance movements across the Ummah against imperialism and its purveyors. In the Caucasus, the Russians faced stiff resistance coming primarily from the Naqshbandi and Qadiri tariqas. Mulla Muhammad al-Ghazi al-Kamrawi fought against the Russians when Russia declared itself the protector for the Christians in Khurjistan and annexed portions of Safavid Persia in 1800.

Mulla Muhammad was the Sheikh of the Naqshbandi tariqa and hundreds of thousands of his murids fought against the Russians until he died. Leadership was then transferred to Al-Amir Hamza al-Khanzaji but within a year, he was martyred as well. The famous Imam Shamil al-Dagestani then became the Amir of the jihad and fought the Russians for twenty-seven consecutive years.24 Interestingly enough, Imam Shamil met Sheikh Abd al- Qadir al-Jaza’iri, another Sufi who was fighting over 3,000 miles away, in 1828 while on Hajj where they exchanged information about guerilla warfare.25 After his surrender, rebellions were carried on by the murids of the Qadiri order. In 1864, the Russians killed over 4,000 Qadiri murids alone along with many other innocent civilians. The Naqshbandis and Qadiris joined forces and rebelled in 1865, 1877, 1878 and all throughout the 1890s. During the Soviet Revolution, the Muslims were lead by Shaykh Uzun Haji. Stalin ultimately dealt with the "Chechen problem" by forcibly relocating the entire population into concentration camps.26

In the Indian subcontinent, Sufis and Sufi orders played a considerable role in active military and intellectual resistance against the British. The Sufis participated in resistance prior to the famous Mutiny of 1857 when the followers of Shah Waliullah, under the leadership of his son Shah ‘Abd al’Aziz (1746-1824) began initiating Jihad. In a fatwa Shah ‘Abd al’Aziz proclaimed India to be Dar al-Harb. He declared jihad, stating "Our country has been enslaved. To struggle for independence and put an end to the slavery is our duty." 27 He was succeeded in his struggles by Sayyid Ahmad Barelwi (1786-1831) who founded the Tariqa-i Muhammadi and was eventually defeated by the Sikhs of Punjab.28 Both Sufi and non-Sufi scholars alike participated actively in the Mutiny of 1857. When the rebellion was finally extinguished, over 50,000 Ulema were dead.29 After the failure of the Mutiny of 1857, resistance to colonialism by the Ulema re-invented itself in the form of the Deoband movement which established a plethora of 3 maddrassehs all across India that taught the sacred sciences derived from the Qur’an, hadith, law, along with logic, kalam, science, and Sufism of the Chisti order.30 The Tableegi Jamaat grew out of the Deobandi movement through Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Khandelwi who was also a member of the Chisti order through the Sabiri branch. The focus of this movement was a return to the correct understanding of Islam based on the Quran and hadith, adhering to the injunctions of the Shariah, with an astute focus on worship.31

Even in Indonesia, the Qadiri order provided leadership in the already widespread resistance to Dutch imperialism in the 1840s and 1850s.32 By far, one of the most act areas of Sufi resistance occurred in Africa. Resistance by Sufis against imperialism began almost as soon as Europeans endeavored at colonizing the Muslim lands.

In Morocco, the Shadhili tariqa was the forefront opponent of the Portuguese in the 15th century, the most notable of the Sufis being al-Jazuli.33 Shaykh ‘Uthman Dan Fodio (1754 – 1817) was a Maliki scholar of the Qadiri order who vigorously spoke out against the innovations that had become dominant in his time, particularly the mixing of Islamic and pagan beliefs. He eventually performed hegira, established an Islamic state, and engaged in jihad to unite the region under the Shariah.34
Al-Hajj ‘Umar Tal was a Tijani sheikh from northern Senegal who fought jihad against both the French and pagans of Guinea, Senegal, and Mali. After performing his second pilgrimage, he traveled across various cities in Africa starting in Cairo and eventually coming to Sokoto, Nigeria, where he studied with Muhammad Bello, the son of Shaykh ‘Uthman Dan Fodio, in the field of military sciences and administration. Upon his return to his homeland, he fought mainly against the pagans of Karta and Segu. ‘Umar was a staunch advocate of the Shariah and after one victory against the polytheists, he destroyed the idols of the pagans with his own hands using an iron mace.35 Al-Hajj Muhammad al- Ahrash from Morocco, a Darqawi Sufi, organized a group comprised of Tunisians and Moroccans in 1799 to fight against the French during their invasion of Egypt. 36 Sayyid Muhammad ‘Abdullah al-Somali (1864-1920) was a Shafi’i scholar and member of the Salihiyya tariqa, which he utilized effectively as a military force for over twenty years against the British and Italians in Somalia. He once said in a speech "Unbelieving men of religion have assaulted our country from their remote homelands. They wish to corrupt our religion, to force us to accept Christianity, supported by the armed force of their governments, their weapons, their numbers. You have you’re your faith in God, your arms and your determination. Do not be frightened by their soldiers or armies: God is mightier than they . . ." 37 Perhaps one of the most famous Sufi mujahideen was ‘Abd al- Qadir al-Jaza’iri (1807-1883), was elected an Amir at the age of twenty-five and personally lead the mujahideen against the French invasion of Algeria in 1830. He was part of the Qadiri order and authored "al-Mawaqif" [Standpoints], which is a threevolume Sufi manual.38 Ma’ al-‘Aynayn al-Qalqami (1831-1910) of Mauritania was also a Qadiri Sufi who made a personal alliance with the Sharifian dynasty of Morocco to engage in jihad against the French which resulted in the death of several of his sons.39 In Libya, members of the Sanusi tariqa lead a coalition against the French and Italians.40

In the Middle East, with the Ottoman Empire in disarray, several prominent Sufi scholars carried the banner of Jihad against European occupation. ‘Ali al-Daqar (1877 – 1943) was a Shafi’i scholar and sheikh of the Tijani Tariqa who founded al-Jami’iyya al- Ghurra’, an academy of more than eleven separate schools of the sacred sciences. Along with Badr al-Din al-Hasani, he traveled the Syrian countryside during the French 4 occupation and instructed the people of the villages of the obligatory nature of jihad against the imperialists.41 Hashim al-Khatib (1890 – 1958) was a Shafi’i scholar of the Qadiri tariqa also urged the Muslims to wage jihad against the French.42 Muhammad Sa’id Burhani was a Hanafi scholar and Sufi of the Naqshbandi order who fought against the French during their occupation of Syria that began in 1920.43

Sufi resistance has not withered away and is still active in many parts of the Ummah. For example, during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Sufi tariqas played a pivotal role in evicting the Communists. Many prominent leaders of the resistance were Sufis such as Sayyid Ahmad Gailani, the head of the Qadiri order. He once held the position of Chief of Justice amongst the mujahideen. Two previous presidents of Afghanistan, Sebghatullah Mojaddedi and Burhanuddin Rabbani, are of the Naqshbandi

The founder and the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Mohammad Omar, is allegedly a Naqshbandi as well. Even today, in Iraq a resistance group was recently formed in April 2005 known as the "Jihad Sufi Squadrons of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani" in order to fight against the American occupation.45 It should be self evident by now that Sufis are not passive, apolitical mystics but have often formed the core intellectual and military elite in propagating Islamic revivals all across the Ummah. The article should not be misconstrued as being a comprehensive study of the role that Sufis have played in daw’ah, the revival of the sacred sciences, and jihad, but rather, it is intended to be merely a brief introduction to a voluminous study.

May Allah (swt) raise up a leader from amongst us who will fight the fitnah of our day and unite our Ummah. Ameen.

(article with references available here)