Islam, Oct - Dec 2008

From One Muslim to Another (To Khalil Pr)

By Abul-Hussein


Introduction: “Here is an interesting discussion by Shaukani, a brother studying at Al-Azhar. It discusses Islam amongst Latinos. I just found this today on the internet. Apparently, he was addressing me in that post on his blog.” – Abu Isma’il Khalil Al-Puerto Rikani, April 19, 2008.

Addressing Deficiencies in The Islamic Da’wah to Latinos

November 25, 2007

Aslaamu Alaikum,

KhalilPr.Blogspot made some interesting points about the failures of Allianza that I wanted to address.

First my heart goes out to all the Muslim Latinos and I am concerned about the struggles you face so this is a message to the grassroots.

Like the Black Mosque, Muslim Latinos that entered Islam over 30 years back all these inherited the struggle of being minorities and poor and the ramifications of such a state (that is no crime). I can recall off hand Latinos who entered Islam quite some time ago whether they came in through the Nation of Islam the likes of sister Luz who had settled in Ohio migrated from New Jerusalem (New Jersey) or sister MashAllah who was known to young sisters as a mother figure and was part of Jamatu Tabligh (both were Latinas “”Puerto Ricans) all were impacted by the early da’wah.

The da’wah our elders engaged in, may Allah (swt) reward them. In the case of Allianza Islamica they inherited the program of the Young Lords which was the Latino counterpart to the Black Panthers that is history. More specific they form a part of Islamic History in America, a chapter of history that many have “no” idea of and others want to bury.

Muslims early on did not have books, during the time of El-Hajj Malik Ash Shabazz (r) it is said that there was a Sunni Shaikh teaching in New York but many had no access to real knowledge. What we saw during that time was literature from the Ahmadiyyah, Nation of Islam, and Noble Drew Ali and a few other discourses. Later on the early da’wah efforts were laced with Sufism from Turkey and a few other places and from what the Imams in the inner say they caused a lot of damage. The Albanians were in America for a long time but they integrated until they lost their identity and the Muslim community had to buy back one of the oldest masjids in America established by Muslims from overseas back from, non-Muslims because the Albanians let it go into demise.

One of the oldest Masjids in Detroit is now an abandoned neglected building with a big sign on it “Oldest Mosque In America.” So the da’wah effort early on was not organized and not funded well or headed by Ulema with the exception of Tablighi Jamaat but even there the Ulema led it from a distance and it was not addressed to the reality of life but wow the things they did. My father in law came was with Jamaat Tabligh in Detroit and he tells me in his time they used to have lines of people to take Shahada. What happened is the scholars in India saw an influx f converts but few went to study and even less became scholars.

Our elders in the Latino and Black Masjid did what they could according to the resources available to them. We should read their efforts as a phase in da’wah no more and no less except that we should respect them for their efforts and contribution and continue to work hopefully with them and this is the biggest challenge. One of the biggest problems that I see in the African American community of which I have had much experience with is this that young brothers learn a little bit of knowledge and then they challenge the Imams but they do not understand that being an Imam requires a lot of leadership and counseling skills and not just book knowledge.

Some years back, for example, Sir Wahaj appeared on the same stage with Hamza Yusuf and we heard the name of Bilal Phillips mentioned with Nuh Ha Mim Keller there was a connection between new and old despite differences. The community split up after the knowledge came and shortly there after the masjid became a battleground for ideas. I understand that people have mistakes but the issue that I feel needs to be addressed is that we must focus on learning and building a foundation rather than focusing on argumentation.

At a basic level everyone is saying the same and that means memorizing Qur’an and learning fiqh and the basics of Aqeeda lik hadith Jibril when the basics are set them we can address other matters until we get to a level where we can deal with differences of opinion. Introducing new Muslims to controversial matters or teaching a new Muslim to judge other Muslims when that person has no knowledge is a disaster and from what I hear from reliable sources this is happening to some of the new Muslims from the Latino community. Latinos must be taught to grow naturally into the larger community.

The Latinos never really built speakers so they were under represented and this was a blessing given that it gave the community chance to grow without really being engrossed in the fitna. Except that now the fitna is spilling over. As far as past da’wah efforts in the Latino community like the older Muslim Latinos from Allianza I think we should see them as part of the process and growth of da’wah then focus on outreach.

Outreach in the Latino community must address a variety of areas.

1. It must address the problem of education in the Latino community. So da’wah should address education for social mobility and for understanding Islam.
2. Da’wah efforts should focus on empowerment (economic) more than cultural identity and this is inter-related to what was just said.
3. Da’wah must be a call to what is agreed upon in Islam before what is disagreed upon.
4. There should be a strong focus in teaching how to read the Qur’an and Qur’anic memorization and the importance of ibadah.
5. Da’wah should address family life and how to build a family and deal with non-Muslim relatives.
6. Da’wah should address the problems of identity so we need counselors to be there for new Muslims.
7. Da’wah should address the need to build leadership in the Latino community.
8. Muslim Latinos must be taught to be a part of the larger Muslim community and how to deal with what that entails.
9. Da’wah should encourage people to be self motivated and to have a relationship with scholars.

(This is a matter which needs study and discussion and adjustment to social needs I hope you can talk to Abdullah Danny from East Bergen, New Jersey he is doing work with the Muslim Latino Community and brother Musa al-Columbee another brother doing social work. If you want to contact them let me know Akh)

Allahu Alam.

Originally appeared online at http://shaukani.wordpress.com/2007/11/25/from-one-muslim-to-another-to-khalil-pr-addressing-deficiencies-in-the-islamic-da%e2%80%99wah-to-latinos/#more-562