Tuesday, October 23, 2012


To God,
in gratitude
for providing me
with ancestors
who came from
the rainbow



2011 will long be noted as the beginning of the Arab Spring. The citizen uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt,Yemen, Libya, and Syria have heralded in an era of change. In recognition of the changes that have been made by brave souls throughout the Muslim world, and with hope for the positive changes that should come, I have been inspired to publish this Who's Who in Islam.

This work is acknowledgment of the admiration I have for my sisters and brothers throughout the Muslim world. In the years that are to come, years that undoubtedly will be filled with challenge and uncertainty, I am mindful of the positive mantra that has come to dominant my thinking and my life and pray that it will resonate with my sisters and brothers wherever they may be. The mantra is

Positive thoughts lead to positive words

Positive words lead to positive actions

Positive actions lead to positive habits

Positive habits lead to positive character and

Positive character leads to a positive destiny

I pray that my sisters and brothers will take this message to heart and thereby make possible a positive destiny for us all.

I am not a Muslim.  I am simply a man in search of truth -- the truth about myself, my people, my country, my world and God.  In my search for truth, I have discovered that there is much that I once believed to be true that is certainly not the total truth and, indeed, may not be true at all. 
I once believed that I am only an "African American".  However, in my search for truth, I discovered that such a label is not entirely true.  I discovered that, like me, most persons of African descent who live in the United States also have European and Indigenous American blood.  By labeling such individuals as being only "African American", society may be denying essential elements of their being.
As a so-called "African American", I once believed that American slavery defined my past and impacted my present.  But once I escaped the confines of the label, I learned that my triple heritage -- my African, European and Indigenous American heritage -- is far richer than I could ever have imagined.  With a triple heritage, African slavery is not an overriding historical theme.  With a triple heritage, the self-evident fact is that for people like me the overriding historical theme concerns the creation of a new people and the beginning of a new experiment with fascinating possibilities for the future history of man. 
Another consequence of discovering the nature of a triple heritage is the realization that one of the defining labels that is currently en vogue in American society simply does not fit.  On almost any day of the week, in schools, churches, and the halls of power throughout the land, one can hear pronouncements being made concerning the "Judeo-Christian" heritage of America.  However, as a person with a triple heritage, there are other religious traditions which have obviously had some bearing on the individual that I am today.  In addition to my "Judeo-Christian" heritage, there is also a lingering influence of the tribal religions of the African and Indigenous American peoples and, perhaps more significantly, there is the ongoing influence of Islam.
In discovering the truth about the African part of my heritage, I was frequently confronted by the role that Islam played in developing African society and in initiating the African diaspora.  After all, it was the Muslim Arab merchants who took African slaves and companions with them as they traversed the then known world.  China, Malaysia, India, and Spain all came to be the home of Africans because of the peripatetic Arabs.  It was the Muslims who spread their religion to both the West and East coasts of Africa and through persuasion and intermarriage converted the African people to the Islamic faith.  And it was African Muslims from the west coast of Africa who frequently were the slave cargo of the European ships that came to the Americas, speaking such Muslim languages as Hausa, Mandingo, and Fulfulde. It was these forefathers who played such an integral part in the bold experiment which eventually made me what I am.
Yes, Islam has, undoubtedly, had an historical role in defining what it means to be an African American.  But, for me, there is even more.
For me, there are moments and times in my life which are indelibly etched in my psyche.  There was the time while living in Glasgow, Montana, in the early 1960s that I became aware of the sport of boxing when a brash young boxer by the name of Cassius Clay defeated the "invincible" bear known as Sonny Liston.  Cassius Clay would soon become the legendary Muhammad Ali -- a Muslim who became the dominant sports figure of my generation.
There was the time in high school in 1969 when I first began to explore my African heritage by reading a story about a small time hoodlum who underwent two Islamic conversions -- first as the Nation of Islam leader known as Malcolm X and later as the more orthodox Muslim, El Hajj Malik Shabazz.
Then there was the crucial period of my life when during my first two years of college, in 1972 and 1973, I served as the "Minister of Information" of the Amherst Afro-American Society under the leadership of Umar Zaid Muhammad.
No, I am not a Muslim.  But my personal heritage, and my personal experiences, compel me to say that here too I have a triple heritage.  I have not just a Judeo-Christian heritage, but rather a heritage that is a combination of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  


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