بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
All praise is due to Allah, He who created all of creation and then revealed revelation for the guidance of mankind. May the best benedictions and peace be upon the best of creation, the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad. To proceed:
This first post is meant to establish an understanding of the aims the this blog. This will be through negative defining, saying what this blog is not; as well as a positive defining, a saying of what it is. Also in this post, the methodology of future posts will be discussed in order to make clear how it will proceed.
At the outset it must be made clear that this is not an attempt to make it seem as though the classical American voices such as Emerson and Poe were Muslim or even inclined towards Islam. Though both of these men were familiar with Islam, neither of them are known to have any inclination towards it. What is more, some of the classical American voices that may be given voice on this blog may even be avowed atheists, and there will be no attempt to deny or even sugar coat this at all.
Equally, it is far from the aim of this blog to distort, water down or “Americanize” Islam in anyway – in fact, that would be the opposite of the actual aim. The blog will be using classic American voices but this in no way signifies an attempt to prioritize their thoughts and perspectives over that of classical Islamic scholarship or any kind of attempt to impose their thoughts and ideas upon Islam.
The actual aim of this post is to create some balance, perspective and confidence in the hearts and minds of indigenous Muslims. Those Muslims born out of generations of Americans; those with a heritage of Islam and those who have converted. Often times it is the case that the indigenous American Muslim feels out of place or does not know where or how to fit. Amongst many Muslim communities he is like a foreigner amongst the foreign community and amongst American society he is like a foreigner amongst his own people. In both communities he is the minority, though he has more right in both. Amongst the Muslims, he has more right as this is his ancestral home and he has more awareness of the cultures and customs so therefore, he has more right to be heard in the respective community – and there is an entire section of fiqh dedicated to these issues. Amongst the American society, he has more right as he is on the Truth from Allah and his role in the society is a respected role of assisting and helping in all that is moral, good and upright while also speaking out and struggling against every vice, transgression and injustice. His role in both communities, regardless of his social standing or income level, is to be as an example looked upon and respected.
There is also the reality that some of the brothers from the indigenous community are stuck on nationalistic or even racial ideologies. This has its roots and causes, it has its reasons for being but as indigenous Muslims we have a greater purpose than these minor aims. This is not to deny we are different people based on race, local cultures and even dialects but it also must be acknowledged that there is a shared heritage and history, along with the strongest unifier, our faith which we can unify upon. It is interesting that it is the aim of the disbelievers to make us homogenized for ease of control and marketing while utilizing our differences to sow animosity and division. This blog will not seek to deny the past sins of the nation – be it the slavery of the black man by whites or the maltreatment of the Asians in the west -but it will also not deny the fact that the grievances and guilt are not universals – as not all African Americans today are descended from slaves but many came later as immigrants; and not all whites are descendants of oppressors as many Irish and Germans immigrated to the North as cheap labor for those who stood against slavery. But while not denying this dark history, it is not the aim of the blog to give emphasis to it either. Muslims are the children of their time, they take lessons from the past, live in the present and work for the future.
Allah said what is translated to mean,
We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female,
and made you into nations and tribes,
that ye may know each other
[(not that ye may despise (each other)].
Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God
is the most righteous of you.
And God has full knowledge
and is well acquainted (with all things).”
( 49:13 )
We are a nation of different and diverse people. We are distinguished by our environments, our dialects, and our cultures. It is that diversity which enables us to identify our differences while at the same time it enriches us as a single people of faith. Looking at the facial features you can tell a Korean from a Japanese person; a Sudanese man from an Ethiopian; a German from an Irishman. Listening to their language you can tell a Yemeni from a Syrian though both speak Arabic; a Nigerian from a man of Niger though both speak Hausa ; a man from Britain and an American though both speak English. From their culture and mannerisms you can tell the difference between someone from the southern United States and the Northern United States – and so on. It is not a means of superiority or inferiority but a way to discern the various nations, tribes and clans this ummah is made up of.
As for the methodology that will be used, We hope to make this blog more interactive, relying on discussions in the comment section generated by the posts and the posts themselves will be biweekly to allow for this. Each post will be kept under 2,000 words to allow for a fast read with the first half being sections of essays from classic American authors that are pertinent to the topic to be discussed. The second half of the post will bring the Islamic position and understanding of the topic based firmly upon the Qur’an and Sunnah along with some point of how this is meaningful in our lives today. The aim is to firmly establish the indigenous Muslims upon our Islamic principles while also simultaneously retaining an American identity. We do not need to adopt the cultures of the Arab or the Pakistani, the Persian or the Indonesian – we do however need to establish ourselves firmly upon the Qur’an and Sunnah. We do not need to give up our American heritage, but we must never compromise Islam in order to retain superficialities. This blog is about knowing that we are firm upon our Islam and there is nothing anti-American about that.
As a conclusion, I must admit that the vast majority of the posts of the first year will be from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s work as it was his essays that motivated me to begin this endeavor. The posts will not be exclusively from his essays but that will certainly be the classic American voice most heard. His essays will most often be broken into two posts and so one essay a month will be brought, with other classic American voices from various backgrounds also being heard from time to time. We take from them only in the capacity of the saying of our Messenger (may the best benedictions and peace be upon him), Wisdom is the lost property of the believers; wherever he finds it, he takes it.”
And truly, success is only with Allah