there is a great article at racialicious
on black muslim women and hiphop. Okay actually the article originates on Muslimah Media Watch. Gorgeous pictures of Erykah Badu and Eve. And a discussion as to what consitutues Islam. It reminded me of my first visit to the West Bank and haing a discussion with a teeenager muslim woman named yasmmina about he connection between Black Muslims and Islam. Malcolm X and Sunni. Yasmina who considered herself an Islamist thought of Islam as both a policial as well as a spiritual idenity. And while we did not have a discussion about the dogma or beliefs of the Nation of Islam and 5 percenters, there was a definite connection and appreciation that people would be willing to take on the label of ‘Muslim’ especially in a post-9/11 world.
What struck me was how much variety and diversity Yasmina assumed to be a part of the Islamic world. And the variety of wary that Muslim women have interpreted the Koran and present themselves to the world.
I appreciate that Eve gives gratitude to Allah but says that she cannot follow Islam properly. I think that in the Black community, women identifying as Muslim in many ways gives them a hiphop cred that is difficult for women to achieve. In that Muslims in hiphop culture are considered to be ‘deep’, ‘strong’, and ‘dedicated soldiers’ that allows for Black women to be able to move through many of the sexist assumptions about women mc’s. There is also a sense within the Black community that Muslim women are somehow moe socially protected and respectable than other women. (ya know there are ho’s and then there are queens).
One of my inspirations to live in the Middle East was the respect I had for Muslimwomen in hiphop. So that political connection that Yasmina and I talked about matters.
I am going to try to get the original article by McMurray.
Sometimes we have to be honest and admit how much pop culture affect our view of the world. Affect how we view other nations, other sexualities, other genders, other ethnicities. So often I want to think that popculture does not affect how I see others as ‘others’. But we live in an ocean of stereotypes and we are fish not realizing how wet we are. There, that is my soapbox for the day.
Islam came to Africa with traders and the “religious experts”that travelled with them. Its route was trans-Sahara, running through tropical Africa, North Africa and the Mediterranean to Europe, and across the Red Sea into Arabia and the Middle East. As early as the 8th century, Islam had converted a number of nationalities, for instance the Berbers, who became Muslims and became traders like the Arabs. These new Muslims plied their trade down to Niger and Ghana; a similar role was played by Hausa and Yoruba tribes in West Africa. Arab and Persian traders reached East Africa and settled there as local aristocrats, taking local black wives and giving rise to cultures called variously Shirazi, Zeilawi (Arab plus Somali and Afar) and Swahili (Arab andBantu).
Some thought that Islam was better suited to the African mind because the African mind was not suitable for sophisticated metaphysics; since Islam is sensual and materialistic it is easily accepted by the African mind. Some of us might find that insulting but advocates of Islam in Africa have said it. Be that as it may, Islam didn’t stop slavery that had begun in 200 BC and Islam struggled in vain against it. A companion of the Prophet (pbuh) Abdur Rehman bin Awf freed 30,000 slaves at his death-bed. The Prophet (pbuh) himself set an example when he purchased Abyssinian Bilal ibn Rabah and set him free. Sudan, which means `place of the blacks’ – and applied to a larger region in those days – became the slave-rich region for Muslim traders after the conquest of Egypt in 639 AD. Modern Kenya and Tanzania were trawled by them, the region being called Zanj, which gave rise to the other name for slave: zangi . African slaves abounded in medieval Baghdad and Damascus and their presence was so widespread that it gave rise to a sexually “defensive” male Arab mentality revealed in AThousand and One Nights .
The black slave permeated Muslim life to the extent that kings began siring children on black women and giving rise to “slave dynasties” and an entire Mamluke empire was established by them. In1882 a Muslim Arab slaver in Africa admitted that fifty per cent of his”catch” died while travelling in chains from the interior of Africa to the coast. Dr Livingstone in Africa calculated that each slave that went to the Arab-Islamic world was actually ten slaves to start with. Muslim historian Ibn Khaldun noted that all of North Africa then ruled by Muslims was filled with black slaves, captured mostly by fellow-African Berbers who had converted to Islam. What the entrepôt of Muslim Egypt did to all parts of Africa could be compared in its savagery to what the Belgians did to Congo later on. Egypt exported them to all parts of the world, including Europe. Mecca itself became a market, and if you went for hajj in those days, you brought back a slave or two.