Inner City Muslim Experience

Transcript Details

Event Name: Inner City Muslim Experience
Transcription Date:Transcription Modified Date: 5/18/2019 9:35:10 PM
Transcript Version: 2

Transcript Text

startled my neighbor actually what I got

$100 sought out to a cinema and out or

sweetie now and addy here woman wada

and i home did it's a blessing to be


it's an extraordinary crowd when you come to New York you have to change your state of mind.  you have to enter into a New York state of mind things are

different here people are different time is different you have a different set of

criteria for time you called a New York

minute we don't have that in California

I'm gonna have a San Francisco minute or

a Los Angeles minute but you have a New

York minute this this citymy father actually went to Columbia so I have

roots in New York my my father actually grew up here he was born in Minnesota but grew up here.

When I first became Muslim I came to to this city from California. I was very young and it was very overwhelming to be in this city.  You can go outside now (ed: 2005) it looks as crazy today as it did back then it's just different but it's still crazy.  And when I came here I hooked up with the Muslim community that was here and amongst them was Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid.

I was actually caught in the middle of a gunfight in Harlem, I'm not making this up you couldn't make this up and he remembers too.  I was like selling books and suddenly some people start shooting each other say welcome to New York that was my welcome I'm coming from California people smoked marijuana in California everything's slow we have medical marijuana and everybody's sick in California so everybody's stoned right.

So that was my welcome to California welcome to New York and then in order to survive here I people used to sell jewelry so I actually went and they taught me how to do silver from the Koreans went down to Greenwich Village I was there with a man named Abdul Qadir although I don't know if he's still alive he got stabbed while I was here but he was from Georgia and we were walking one day this is a true story we were walking one day and there was a prostitute and there was four or five guys from New Jersey they had Jersey plates white guys in his cars african-american prostitute and they started talking to her and we walked by and this guy Abdul Qadir who I'm with says, "Sister don't get in that car". She said I'm not getting in that car.

Well this one of the guys gets out of car with a baseball bat and said to him "what's it to you" and I swear to God he was probably six foot three or something he looked like a ex-football player he walked up to this guy he'd been in prison he walked up to this guy and right up to his face and he said "I'm a Muslim we don't hit first so you go ahead and take your best shot" and this guy just got in the car and with their tail between their legs drove back to New Jersey so that's a New York state of mind right that was the state of mind that I was getting into a little scary so I was ready to go overseas to the Middle East study Arabic right seriously I was here studying Ebonics but I went over and studied Arabic but it was a good experience for me to see this community here because I was part of history. 

I was at State Street I went to Atlantic Avenue I saw Muhammad Abdi when he used to give those Qhutbas there and and there was a brother african-american very light-skinned Imam Ibrahim who had studied overseas I met Shaykh Dawood sister Khadija and I went up to Shaykh Dawood's room and saw this incredible looking man dressed in a Moroccan robe and had his got a Burnoose on

and his yellow sandal I'll never forget this first time I ever saw Bullgah yellow sandal looking down saying you went up there was like the you know that it was a ritual to go up and visit Shaykh Dawood but that was history and I was with people in Harlem who had lived with Malcolm X they were that was only ten twelve years after he died.

I mean these are people that went that was where they went and heard the Qhutbah that's what's happening here so you have to understand where you're from and what's your part up this is a historical transition that's happening Islam at that time was an African American phenomenon with a certain level of immigrant coming into the scene but Islam was very much an African American phenomenon in the United States this is what the Muslims here the African American Muslims were right there on the front lines and they were taking it to the streets they were talking about Islam with people selling incense and giving Dawa that's what was happening in New York.

Now a lot of people have come to America

from other places and one of the great

crimes of the immigrant community and

I'm going to say this one of the great

crimes of the immigrant community is

failing to recognize the importance of

Alliance and allegiance with the

african-american Muslim community this

this is something that we all have to be

aware of you see because you can't say

to an african-american go back from

where you came from all right right here

from the start

in fact long before many of the

right people walking around because they

came later we're talking about 500 years

this is when it begins so it's very

important for people to recognize that

an allegiance with the african-american

Muslim community is only going to

strengthen the Muslim community in the

United States of America there's no

other way to strengthen this community

the african-american community is also

the canary the in in the coal mine of

America if you want to see where America

is going you look at the

african-american community they are

going to tell you where this country is

going and you can see two clear roads a

road of construction and a road of

destruction within the community Islam

will help people make those u-turns on

that road of destruction it will help to

reunite the African American community

with an incredible tradition of family

because this is a community that

survived the destruction the

institutionalized destruction of the

family and despite that these families

were thriving in this country for a long

time in spite of all the

institutionalized attempts to destroy

those families but there are many people

today within that community who are

suffering from the breakdown of the

family Islam is rooted in family it can

reunite it can reinvigorate these people

need Islam these people need Islam and

that is why a strong african-american

community is a strong American Muslim

community but it's also a strengthening

of the overall african-american

community in this country a community

that is the first to suffer when there's

economic hardships in this country it's

the first to suffer people talk about a

depression go in to some of the inner

cities in a matter

can tell them about depression they've

been in depression for decades it's not

something new in that community and

that's why beacons of light and hope

like mushy the taqwa are what we need to

strengthen in this country these are the

beacons of Hope in very bleak and

desolate places and it's important for

the American immigrant community to be

aware of that the first time I heard

imam suraj was in Los Angeles and I know

for many people that in if you're old

enough there's there's you can you can

ask people from a certain generation

where were you when Kennedy was killed

I'm not from that generation I wasn't

old enough but there are people that

remember there are people that remember

exactly where they were when they first

found out about 9/11 but if you think

you can remember where you first heard

him I'm sad because Imam Suraj is a

voice that's powerful it's a voice that

resonates it's a voice that speaks the

truth he's been attacked he's been

slandered he's been maligned he's been

vilified but despite that he struggles

on imam suraj like all of us is a work

in progress this is the human condition

there's people that want to say that

something you said twenty or thirty

years ago

you still say today no there's something

called human evolution people transform

people become more aware especially

inveterate and permanent student like

imam said i've every time I've ever seen

him like Ingrid Madson earlier dr.

Mattson said he's always got his bag of

books he's always gotten his pens he's

always got his dictionary he's one of

the scholars of the American Muslim

community he's had a lifetime of

scholarship and his community to me is

one of the most important communities in

the United States of America and helping

it is

most important things we can do as a

community and our community has to

recognize this and this has two strands

send this this ballroom it has to

transcend this ballroom it is a disgrace

for the overall American Muslim

community that the Imam of a Masjid that

has raised more money for the American

Muslim community than other any other

Imam in the United States of America I I

can guarantee you that if you had a flow

chart you would see how much this man

has raised going all over the country to

the neglect of his own community to

raise money for other communities and

it's time that all of our communities

paid back it's time we all pay back this

is this is the way it goes this is the

way it works you have to pay back and so

it's very important that you deliver

this message to other places we need to

support and institutionally Imams Aid

and I here we don't have a quorum but I

can say we will make that commitment to

support within our own institution what

we can for this institution here now the

prophet sallallaahu what a deal said

them was a community builder and we are

in a time when community is threatened

we've never been in a time like this

really in human history as far as I can

tell we have right now in this country a

breakdown of communities on all the

strattice of this society we have

children who are texting in their own

homes they don't talk to their parents

anymore they're talking to their friends


we've got predators online praying in

the homes you'd never have anybody knock

at your door and you go and you've never

seen it before and you say I'm gonna


changer but I'd like to entertain your

children for a few hours is that alright

and you oh come on in yeah here they are

I'll see you later but everyday people

turn on the television and that complete

strangers entertain their children and

if you look at what they're entertaining

them with and then you wonder why we've

got little girls walking around with

juicy on their bottoms if you want to

see the port of occasion of a culture

the degradation of a civilization just

look around look at what has happened to

us as a species as a people because the

human project the human project right

now is under serious threat it is under

serious threat we have law breakers

making the rules we've got rulers

breaking the laws we've got banksters on

Wall Street we've got gangsters on Main

Street and we've got heads of football

teams with charitable organizations that

are used as fronts to molest children in

showers at those same football stadiums

what's going on in this country we've

got one out of five women being raped in

this country right now this is their own

statistics this is what's what we're

being told what is happening what's

happening to us as a species as a people

what's happening to us we have to ask

these questions what kind of a society

do we want our children to grow up in

what kind of a culture do we want to be

part of I want to be part of a culture

that elevates people that illuminates

people that gives them language to speak

with power like that beautiful spoken

word that we heard earlier poets a

culture of meaning this is what I want

to have from my children and my

children's children and the people

around me the other day I came into New

York from Abu Dhabi on an airplane and I

was there and I and I was waiting for

somebody to pick me up and people were

coming off and airports are amazing

places beautiful metaphors for life on


comings and goings separations and

reunifications people smiling with love

people with signs looking bored out of

their gourd wondering who's going to

come around the corner there were two

little girls and and they were beautiful

little girls it couldn't have been more

than five years old

they were Asian American and they came

around the corner and I saw him

immediately and they saw their

grandfather and their eyes lit up and

they ran and they just had grandpa and

they hugged him and then a few seconds

later the mother came looking harried

and disheveled she came and she gave her

father a hug

and I actually told him I said you're a

lucky man because they just was so much

love they went up to their grandfather

and then the the woman started

frantically looking through her purse

and then a woman came up to her and she

said did you lose this and she handed

her an iPhone and she said oh thank you

she said I found it in the bathroom and

I saw you leave so I thought it might be

yours and then she turned to her father

and she said I lost my tickets at

Starbucks and somebody brought them to

us and now I lost my phone and this

person brought them to us thank God for

the good people and this little

five-year-old girl said hurray for the

good people hooray for the good people

and this little five year old girl said

hurray for the good people hurray for

the good people I mean really that just

floored me this little girl

recognizing goodness and saying hooray

hooray for the good people we need the

good people to wake up because the bad

people are there out there wreaking

havoc on this planet and the good people

are either sitting by silently shaking

their heads wondering what's going on or

they're fast asleep and there's too many

Muslims fast asleep we have moral

corruption we have bankruptcy in our


how can we speak the truth when we have

some of the worst most corrupt countries

in the world how can the Muslims call to

good forbid evil really think about that

we need moral capital we need to look

ourselves in the mirror and we we should

look in the mirror to change ourselves

to look at what needs fixing because we

as a community we are failing humanity

we were given an extraordinary task and

we are failing humanity allah subhana wa

tada said in the quran come tomorrow

omote an Orisha the nest you were the

best community and that kuntum is in the

past tense for a reason because it

referred specifically to that first

community kuntum hiya

Oh Martin Oakley Jaclyn as you were

brought forth for all of humanity

Lynne ass top maroon have been my roof

but an honer and in Mongkok what took me

no Nabila you enjoying what is right you

forbid what is evil and you believe in

God any community that has these three

qualities shares in that excellence of

that first community that's what we need

to be doing as a community Thank You

minkum omelette when you donate a little


let there be amongst you a community

that calls to good that calls to good

top Moroni Yammer on have been my roof

yn Hana and in moon wahoo let it go

home and moon they enjoin what is right

and they forbid what is evil and these

are the successful ones well at a corner

Kalinina tougher aku

well terraforming body major Omar biggie

not and don't be don't be like those

those people who went into sects and

divisions and differ after these clear

signs had come to them wahoo let you got

a home I that wanna leave

these will have a painful chastisement

the only way this community can be

United without the divisions is by

recognizing the nature of humanity which

is to differ about things Muslims have

always differed we incorporate a

difference into our religious ethos we

have different ways of viewing things

each of our groups has their scholars

there are rightly guided groups and then

there are misguided groups

unfortunately there's differences about

who those rightly guided groups are and

who the misguided groups are there's

where the problem arises but if you take

a broad-based criteria a broad-based

criterion a generous criterion of our

Imams who are well known in our

community throughout history we can

unite as a community America the

American Muslim community the Canadian

Muslim community these can be beacons of

light for other places the fact that the

Mudge's Council of scholars in this city

is one of the most extraordinary

accomplishments in the Muslim world I'm

not talking just about the United States

of America a group of Imams from diverse

backgrounds different geographical

locations to come together to work

together that's what can happen in this

country we have the potential to change

the world that we're in and there's no

other reason to be in this world unless

you're here to change it for the better

because there's enough people out there

changing it for the worst and you need

to choose your sides choose your battles

but start the struggle because the

struggles if you don't go to the

struggle the struggle will come to you

it's the nature of life on this planet

if you don't go to the struggle the

struggle will go to you but this is a

long train and it's been moving for a

long time Rosa Parks went to jail in

this country so that these people could

be sitting at this table together that's


that's right Medgar Evers took a bullet

in the back Martin Luther King

malcom-x these people their sacrifice

their lives for a different America and

there are many positive and good things

about America today it is undeniable

some of the achievements that have

occurred in our lifetimes and we need to

acknowledge that and recognize that but

there are other things that are deeply

troubling and if we don't look those

things straight in the eye and deal with

them as a community recognize that we

have allies in the greater community we

have good people that are standing by us

that are defending us we have people on

the Left like Chris Chris Hedges

a pew litter Prize winning journalist

who's willing to speak the truth for the

Muslim community on our behalf and those

people need to be recognized we have

people like Robert George who's on the


one of the most significant legal minds

in the in the United States today

teaching at Princeton defending the

Muslim community we need to recognize

who our allies are and those out there

who are attacking this community there

are some of them who are simply ignorant

they need to be educated there are

others that are educated but they have

an agenda you cannot blame the Jewish

community not all of the Jewish

community but a certain segment of the

Jewish community in this country does

not like the idea of a strong Islam in

America because the Jewish community has

worked very hard to be enfranchised in

this country many of the Jewish

community has a tribal allegiance to

Israel just like many of the people in

this hall might have some tribal

allegiances to places they came from -

that's human nature that's human nature

so you have to be aware there are people

that are deeply disturbed by the idea of

a powerful vibrant Muslim community that

is going to engage the dominant

community in new discourses but there

are people within the Jewish community

that have stood by our community

defended our key

unity so it's important for us to

distinguish friends from foes right

friends from foes recognizing who our

friends are who our enemies are

and unfortunately we have amongst

ourselves amongst the Muslim community

what I would what I would call frenemies

right we've got a lot of those shooting

us in the foot as a community

unfortunately god bless you all god

bless imam suraj in his community we owe

them our support Saruman Akuma