Monday, October 4, 2010

Conscious Culture

Sometimes I just don't feel like studying. I'll look at my notes and think to myself...yea yea I'll figure it out on the exam.

That worked real swell during undergrad.

Grad schools a whole different ball park. For reals. But even though I have an exam in two hours I choose to write a post instead! Lucky for you guys.

The Hubster and I went to Pittsburgh for a nice little weekend trip a few weeks ago. Let me tell was one of the most amazing experiences ever. Seriously.

We met all these amazing Muslims from African American and Puerto Rican backgrounds... some converted to Islam. Pittsburgh actually has an extremely rich history of indigenous Muslims from hundreds of years ago.

History goes a little something like this... back when colonies were beginning in the US, there was a Spanish colony called Roanoke that ended up failing rather quickly. That colony had hundreds of Moriscos, free Muslim laborers, from Spain. After the collapse of the colony historians couldn't tell what happened to all the settlers. Apparently many Muslims in Pittsburgh have roots back to these Moriscos. What's even cooler is that first actual Masjid in the US is in Pittsburgh. What's interesting is that these Muslims were part of mainstream Orthodox Islam, not the Nation of Islam (a deviant sect of Islam). So there are actually many families in the Burgh that are African American and have been Muslim for generations upon generations.

This whole idea of African American Muslims who were originally Muslim is something new to the immigrant Muslim community that really tends to think as themselves as the "original" Muslims in the US whereas African Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Caucasians must all be converted to Islam. That however is not the case and its time we all look back at the history of Islam in the US because clearly it did not start with the wave of Arab and Southeast Asian Muslim immigrants in the 70's .

Meeting all these different types of people was really eye opening for me because I finally met people who had solid Muslim American identities, something that the immigrant community is struggling with greatly. The issue that first generation Muslims (from immigrant parents) are dealing with is this:

Their parents have their Islam and "back home" culture intertwined. Their kids however have an American culture that they're trying to reconcile with their heritage and their Islamic culture. What most people don't understand is that "Islamic" culture and American culture are NOT diametrically opposed.

Islam never came to eradicate culture, it came to beautify it. So in essence our Muslim American culture should something that is conscious culture which encompasses all that is good and leaves that which is not beneficial.

Here's an example. I have a friend who loves Hip Hop and thats a rooted part of his culture. Is there anything wrong with that? Absolutely not. His Islamic identity will affect his Hip Hop though by weeding out those lyrics that have negativity (drugs, alcohol, strippers, etc). So really this guy can practice his Islam to the fullest and use it to effect this love for Hip Hop and make it even better.

For more on the the history of Islam in Pittsburgh check this out..


Constructive Attitude said...

I think you should take me with you wherever you go.

MarjnHomer said...

but isnt music haram in islam except those with the acceptable instruments.i get ur point..

supreem said...

i totally agree! we should learn from those who have solid 'muslim-american' identities!