Saturday, October 27, 2007

A fitting metaphor?

Dr. Sulayman Nyang was in town this weekend, and he gave a lecture at the masjid tonight. He's been here before, and if anyone has the opportunity, I'd recommend they listen to him speak as well. He was talking about five "phases" of Islam in America, and at the end a question came up about the Nation of Islam.

Theologically of course, the Nation of Islam (I'm talking about "old school" NOI before W. Deen Muhammad "reorganized" it) first held that W.D. Fard Muhammad was actually the "Messiah" or something, a concept antithetical to Islam... and then later Elijah Muhammad preached that W.D. Fard Muhammad was actually God incarnate (like how Christians see the Messiah as being God?).... very very antithetical to Islam!!

However, the Dr. made an interesting point about how NOI would describe the "white man" as "the devil." (This was another teaching of NOI.) He called it a fitting metaphor, actually. He actually had an interesting take on the idea of "racism" (or "sexism" or "tribalism" etc.) and explained that the first person to exhibit the kind of arrogant superiority of another being was actually Shaytaan (i.e., "the devil") and when one group of people (in America at that time, generally white people) considered themselves superior to another group (i.e., black people) then they were exhibiting characteristics of Shaytaan. So white men were the devil. (Metaphorically.)

Interesting way to look at things, I suppose.


Yusuf Smith said...

As-Salaamu 'alaikum,

It's only fitting if white people were the only people to be guilty of such attitudes. That's far from my experience and these days (at least in the UK) white people are often less bigoted than some of the immigrant peoples, who have not had to confront these issues among themselves as whites have. It is, for example, much easier for white and black Muslims to intermarry (when there are no Sufi/Salafi issues) than for an Asian and Afro-Carribean Muslim, particularly when the black partner is male. I was brought up not to be racist and I resent any suggestion that all white people are like this.

Amy said...

Wa alaikum as-salaam

The point really had nothing to do with white people exactly. The suggestion of course by the Dr. was NOT that all white people are like anything. Rather, that people who display that kind of racist superiority like many white people in America at that time did, are displaying a characteristic of the Shaytaan.

While NOI did make sweeping indictments of white people (in response to blatant racist attitudes towards black people in this country), but that's not what Dr. Nyang was justifying.

Jazakallah khair for your comment. :-)

Anonymous said...

Br yusuf smith, the whole idea of immigrant cultures often not wanting to marry outside is actually not rooted in necessarily looking down on the other culture. For instance, Pakistani parents may turn down their daughters wanting to marry a white guy, even though normally indo-pak people tend to 'look up' to white people cuz of colonialism. Anyway, the point is that in fact that the parents are most often simply worried about a major clash of culture.

I'm actually a south asian, who is married to an Egyptian and I can tell you that while I married outside my culture, I most likely would not marry an American(white or black) because of the major culture difference. And just to explain further, both of us are not cultural, and are practicing instead, but still our cultures share A LOT in common, alot of which does not necessarily exist in the American/Carribean/non-arab/non-desi cultures.