(New York, New York- 06/09/2020) Respected leaders of the New York Muslim community gathered on Tuesday morning in Harlem in front of the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building, in solidarity together for Black Lives Matter and reaffirmed their commitment to social justice and anti-racism efforts. Speakers expressed the Islamic ethos of justice and equity against oppression, and the duty of Muslims to uphold humanity by actively fighting against systemic oppression and white supremacy.
Many leaders, such as Imam Umar Abdul-Jalil reminded the Muslim community to first-and-foremost begin with the spiritual transformation of the self by eradicating prejudices that exist within our own hearts, while others pointed out the mutual inclusivity of black struggles as Muslim struggles. The President of Majlis Ash-Shura, Dr. Abdelhafidh Djemil and ICNA’s Mohammed Tariqur Rahman emphasized that the Black struggle is a Muslim struggle, as the Muslim body is a single body that aches with the pains felt by our black brothers and sisters. Moreover, the prominent Civil Rights Activist who began the African American Law Enforcement Association to fight against law enforcement oppression, Charles Billups, echoed that Black Lives Matter is essentially a fight for all lives, for all communities-of-color, for Muslims, and for the marginalized.
However, understanding the root causes of these struggles and actively dismantling these racist structures are a part of the fight that the Muslim community must commit to for the long haul. Among the original founders of Majlis Ash-Shura, Imam Al-Amin Abdul Latif reminded us that the struggle for justice is long and arduous. In this journey, we cannot forget the historical grievances of African-Americans nor the lack of compensation for the injustices against them. Justice requires fighting for what is owed to black communities to make up for what they lost. Moreover, we must realize that tactics of terrorism such as the lynching tree have simply been replaced by police brutality and chokeholds. Standing with the Black community, as Imam Yousef Ramadan said, is to acknowledge the 400+ years of terrorism against the Black community.
There simply isn’t enough appreciation within the Muslim community for the sacrifices made by the Black community for the rights that we enjoy today, said CAIR-New York’s President, Zead Ramadan.” Malcolm X took 16 bullets to the chest”, so that we can run as elected officials today. “Everyone stands on the shoulders of a black man in America,” and until today we cannot treat the African-American community with the full humanity that they deserve. However, the Muslim community not only stands on the shoulders of the black community in America, but stands on the shoulders of the black community since the history of Islam’s beginnings. Hussain Rababah of MAS-New York reminded us that the early Muslims sought refuge in Abyssinia (modern day Ethiopia), fleeing from the oppression of the early Arab-Quraysh tribe in Mecca.
The fight for justice in the long term requires fighting against the systemic racism and institutional facism present in this country. The Executive Director of Majlis Ash-Shura, Raja Abdulhaq, says the Muslim community’s commitment to anti-racism moving forward will be addressed through intracommunity approaches to fight bias and anti-black sentiments found in the community. Moreover, listening to the voices of black leadership as guides and investing in the success of black institutions are crucial for the collective empowerment of all. Sister Majeeida AbdusSalaami, representing Masjid al-Taqwa in Brooklyn, called for the collective pooling of financial resources into a single fund to maximize the Muslim impact of empowering underprivileged communities. In her closing remarks, she reminded us all, that at the end of the day the only banner we as a community fall under, is the banner of “la ilaaha illa Allah, Muhammadur Rasoolallah.”
The Muslim leaders of the community then proceeded towards the memorial of Dr. Adam Clayton Powell, a pioneer of the African-American community through his work with the Black Caucus and Pastor of the Abyssinia Baptist Church, and took a knee in support and solidarity with the protests taking place in Harlem.
Imam Umar Abdul Jalil, Head of Islamic chaplains in the New York City Department of Corrections
Dr. Abdelhafidh Djemil, President of Majlis Ash-Shura: Islamic Leadership Council of New York
Imam Al-Amin Abdul Latif, Original Founder of Majlis Ash-Shura
Charles Billups, Grand Council of Guardians
Zead Ramadan, CAIR New York
Hussain Rababah, MAS-NY
Mohammed Tariqur Rahman, ICNA
Arman Chaudhry, MUNA
Imam Abdullahi, Harlem Islamic Center
Imam Charles Aziz Bilal, Masjid Alhamdulillah
Representative from Muslim Justice Center
Representative from African Taxi Association
Shaykh Saud Jallah, Islamic Cultural Center of New York
Raja Abdulhaq, Majlis Ash-Shura of New York
Maajeida AbdusSalaam, Masjid al-Taqwa