Muslims are one of the most racially diverse faith groups in the United States, despite common misconceptions. Black Muslims account for about a quarter of American Muslims, making them the largest racial group within the American Muslim community.
While most of these black Muslims converted to Islam within the last 70 years, Islam’s history in the U.S. begins with black history. It has been estimated that about 10 percent of the slaves brought to the colonies from Africa were Muslim and much of their faith was suppressed thanks to Christian indoctrination.
Several thousand more Muslims sought a home in the U.S. between the 1880s and 1914, leaving what was formerly the Ottoman and Mughal empires. It wasn’t until the 20th century that the Muslim population rose significantly in the U.S. with the arrival immigrants of Arab and South Asian descent with their accompanying high birth rates.
But despite the arrival of Muslims from other backgrounds, black Muslims been going strong in this country. With the growth of these Arab and South Asian Muslim communities, however, has come added racism and anti-blackness in their mosques and community centers.
Muslim students come to Muslim Student Associations (MSA) seeking safe haven and belonging, but black Muslims find further alienation instead.
We asked Tariq Touré what MSAs should do next to make their spaces more inclusive. Here’s what he said:
- Create statements of solidarity with all Student Black Out organizers.
- Create an email Dropbox for suggestions for specifically addressing anti-blackness in MSAs.
- Specifically hold National MSA leadership accountable for increasing representation of Black students in all areas of education, research and activities.
Tariq has started the hashtag #BlackInMSA to bring attention to the treatment of black Muslims in the Ummah in the hopes of inspiring “action and compassion,” he told us.
“I spoke at a panel hosted by the University of Maryland MSA and their Multicultural Involvement and Cultural Advocacy Agency — and during the talk, many students voiced stories about being given unfair treatment with a strong undertone of anti-blackness. They said it was the first time they’d been given space to to voice their frustrations,” Tariq said.
Tariq continued, “Last night I really couldn’t get it off my mind and I ran the idea past the other steering members of Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative — Muslim-ARC — and they thought it would be an important topic. So we stayed up late and planned the discussion that has taken over Twitter.”
Images from Twitter, Feature Image from: The Black Muslim Cultural Renaissance Society Facebook