Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Toward the Third by Sherman A. Jackson

By Sherman A. Jackson

Sherman Jackson deals a trenchant exam of the profession of Islam one of the blacks of the USA. Jackson notes that not anyone has provided a powerful clarification of why Islam unfold between Blackamericans (a coinage he explains and defends) yet now not between white americans or Hispanics. the belief has been that there's an African connection. in reality, Jackson indicates, not one of the specific beneficial properties of African Islam look within the proto-Islamic, black nationalist routine of the early twentieth century. as an alternative, he argues, Islam owes its momentum to the distinctively American phenomenon of "Black Religion," a God-centered holy protest opposed to anti-black racism.
Islam in Black the United States starts off as a part of a communal look for instruments with which to wrestle racism and redefine American blackness. The 1965 repeal of the nationwide Origins Quota method resulted in an important inflow of international Muslims, who quickly tremendously outnumbered the blacks whom they discovered the following training an indigenous type of Islam. Immigrant Muslims might come to workout a digital monopoly over the definition of a accurately constituted Islamic lifestyles in the US. For those Muslims, the nemesis used to be no longer white supremacy, yet "the West." of their eyes, the West used to be now not a racial, yet a spiritual and civilizational probability. American blacks quickly realized that competition to the West and competition to white supremacy weren't synonymous. certainly, says Jackson, one can't be anti-Western with out additionally being on a few point anti-Blackamerican. just like the Black Christians of an past period suffering to discover their voice within the context of Western Christianity, Black Muslims now started to try to discover their black, American voice within the context of the super-tradition of historic Islam. Jackson argues that Muslim culture itself comprises the assets to reconcile blackness, American-ness, and adherence to Islam. it truly is crucial, he contends, to maintain inside of Islam the valid elements of Black faith, as a way to stay away from what Stephen Carter calls the domestication of faith, wherein faith is rendered incapable of resisting the country and the dominant tradition. even as, Jackson says, it really is crucial for Blackamerican Muslims to reject an unique concentrate on the general public sq. and the secular aim of subverting white supremacy (and Arab/immigrant supremacy) and to enhance a practice of private piety and spirituality attuned to designated Blackamerican wishes and idiosyncrasies.

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It was not of freedom from the oppression of sin or of the bonds of the flesh that these early Blackamericans sang in their spirituals; it was of liberation from the bitter plight of bondage and racial subjugation. 48 From this perspective, the corporate Blackamerican approach to Christianity would be, to say the least, patently unique. White missionaries and church leaders were relentless in voicing their frustration at what they deemed to be the superficiality of Negro conversion. ”49 Nevertheless, the marriage between Black Religion and Christianity continued into the nineteenth century.

This obsession with the image of Africa is reflected in the names of many of the independent Black churches that emerge from the latter part of the eighteenth century, for example, the African Methodist Church or the African Methodist Zion Church. It would go on to influence quasi-religious movements in the twentieth century, from Marcus Garvey’s back-to-Africa enterprise to Maulana Karenga’s Kwanzaa to Molefe Asante’s Afrocentricity. Like all romanticisms, this particular feature of Black Religion was especially given to excess.

55 Not only would Blackamerican obliviousness to European/American liberalism promote theological conservatism, it would sustain a palpably conservative social ethic as well, including an unabashed patriarchal impulse, a no-nonsense folk morality, and a stark gender differentiation that militated strongly against andrognyny, especially in the form of the emasculation of Blackamerican men. 56 A second additional contribution of Black Religion to Black Christianity is reflected in the latter’s focus on Africa as the locus of its longing and belonging.

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