Islam And The Blackamerican
Why has Islam spread among Blackamericans but not among white Americans or Hispanics? Thus far, no one has offered a convincing answer to this question. The assumption has been that there is an African connection, but the historical record does not bear this out. In Islam and the Blackamerican , Sherman Jackson offers a trenchant examination of the career of Islam among Blackamericans. In fact, Jackson shows, none of the distinctive features of African Islam appear in the proto-Islamic, black nationalist movements of the early 20th century. Instead, he argues, Islam owes its momentum to the distinctively American phenomenon of “Black Religion,” a God-centered holy protest against anti-black racism that emerged out of the experience of American slavery. Islam in Black America began as part of a religiously oriented communal search for tools with which to combat racism and redefine American blackness. The 1965 repeal of the National Origins Quota System, however, led to a massive influx of foreign-born Muslims, who soon came to outnumber the Blackamericans who were practicing an indigenous form of Islam. These immigrant Muslims would ultimately come to exercise a virtual monopoly over the definition of a properly constituted Islamic life in America. For these Muslims, the nemesis was not white supremacy but “the West,” and the West was not a racial but a religious and civilizational threat. In time, Blackamerican Muslims would discern that opposition to the West and opposition to white supremacy were not synonymous. Indeed, says Jackson, one could hardly be anti-Western without also being on some level anti-Blackamerican, since Blackamericans are essentially a Western people. Like Black Christians of an earlier era struggling to find their voice in the context of Western Christianity, Black Muslims now began to strive to find their black, American voice in the context of the super-tradition of historical Islam. Jackson argues that Muslim tradition itself contains the resources to reconcile blackness, American-ness, and adherence to Islam. It is essential, however, Jackson contends, to preserve within Islam the legitimate aspects of Black Religion, in order to avoid what Stephen Carter calls the “domestication of religion,” whereby religion is rendered incapable of resisting the state and the dominant culture. At the same time, Jackson insists that Blackamerican Muslims must reject an exclusive focus on the public square and the secular goal of subverting wh
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SKU (ISBN): 9780195180817
Binding: Cloth Text
Published: March 2005
Publisher: Oxford University Press
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