Jehron Muhammad: Muslims should champion Ferguson
Ferguson is an issue that should be championed by Muslims everywhere, writes Detroit based law professor Khaled A. Beydoun, "because we have failed our faith, fallen short of its unequivocal commitment to racial tolerance and justice."
In an open letter published in The Islamic Monthly to "Muslim-Americans," responding to the recent grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown, Beydoun admonished immigrant Muslims for "frequently" appropriating African American imagery "and ideas with no history of aligning ourselves with (the) Black struggle."
Hard pressed to find a local Philadelphia Majid devoting its Friday Khutba (sermon delivered after Jumu'ah prayer service) to the national outrage resulting from the grand jury decision, the author called on individual Imams for comment.
Imam Anwar Muhaiman of West Philadelphia's Majid Quba said even though his Khutba wouldn't focus mainly on the killing of Michael Brown, he said it would be included in his sermon.
He also said he wasn't surprised at the outcome. "The trouble for me compounded because I had to explain to my four sons… of the brutal reality of the systemic injustices and oppressions (and) prepare them to engage in that reality."
Imam Abdul Aleem Muhammad of West Oak Lane's Masjidullah, after Jumu'ah, said the problem was bigger than the shooting of Michael Brown. Today it's Mike Brown, yesterday it was Trayvon Martin and after Brown it became 12-twelve year-old Tamir Rice, shot twice "two-seconds" after a police vehicle pulled up while playing with a gun replica in a playground.
Imam Aleem said the wanton killing of black youth happens with impunity because "society doesn't respect African Americans, it knows we don't respect ourselves. If we spent more time developing our youth (and) building our own communities, we could determine the quality of police that patrol our neighborhoods," he said.
"As it stands, they're not policing us to maintain peace, they're more concerned with keeping us in check," Aleem said. "They are perceived more as "an occupying force… (than) maintainers of the peace."
During the first annual United Muslim Mosque (UMM) sponsored spoken word and motivational performance at the Clef Club titled, "Muslim Pride," Emir Qasim Rashad, while introducing motivational speaker Imam Abdul Malik , took fellow Muslims to task for not speaking out concerning the grand jury decision. "We can no longer stand by and say nothing and let these atrocities impact and effect our youth," he said.
Then recognizing and praising the Muslim spoken word artist that performed he said, "I'm so glad that these spoken word artist have come before us today, because sometimes they're the only ones that have the nerve and the gumption to speak to us."
Imam Malik, who mentioned Ferguson during his Khutba at the South Philly-based UMM, said he took exception with President Obama for telling the youth of Ferguson, "You must be nonviolent" while the U.S. government has been in continuous war, "dropping bombs and overthrowing governments."
Black Muslims have actually been in Ferguson since day one. Abdul Akbar Muhammad, International Representative of Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, who lives in St Louis, not only serves as an advisor to Michael Brown Sr., he and the local NOI are part of a coalition of leaders and organizations that have lent continuous support to "the brothers and sisters in Ferguson," Muhammad said by phone.
He also expressed his disappointment. He said even though he has gone out of his way to encourage support, they have received limited help from the area African-American Muslim community. He did say that the local effort has received support from the Palestinian community and that recently Imam Rauf Hameed, who is African American, along with his family, attended an anti-police violence event that they sponsored there.
Muhammad suggested those Muslims that didn't support "this growing movement for justice" should read Dr. Martin Luther King's 1963 Letter from a Birmingham Jail Cell.
The letter was in response to his "clergyman" critics who called his activities that included demonstrations in Birmingham, "unwise and untimely."
Dr. King in his 17-page letter wrote, "I am cognizant of the inter-relatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."