Skip to comments.More blacks converting to Islam since Sept. 11
Posted on 03/25/2007 5:18:59 AM PDT by Flavius
Pittsburgh among cities to see increase after terror attacks as religious leaders try to paint positive image By Ramit Plushnick-Masti ASSOCIATED PRESS
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Allahu Akbar, the Muslim call for prayer, rings out on a recent Friday and a group of black men and women gather to celebrate the Islamic day of rest.
The wooden house in Pittsburgh's rundown Homewood neighborhood looks like any other on the block. But the sign at the door, Masjid Mumin, and the rows of shoes lined up inside on gray, plastic shelves hint of the brand of Sunni Islam its members practice.
The mosque is one of seven in Pittsburgh, home to a vibrant community of about 8,000 to 10,000 Sunni Muslims -- some 30 percent of them black.
Following what appears to be a trend in cities nationwide, religious leaders in Pittsburgh say there has been a rise in black conversions to Sunni Islam since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
No national surveys have been taken to confirm the increase, but Islamic religious leaders in Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit have also reported growth, said Lawrence Mamiya, a professor of religion and Africana studies at Vassas College in New York. Experts estimate that 30 percent of the 6 million to 7 million Muslims in the United States are black, with only South Asians making up a larger number at 33 percent.
The Sept. 11 attacks have "cut both ways, positively and negatively," Mamiya said.
The dynamic is obvious, another expert said.
Since Sept. 11, Muslims have been attempting to "disseminate positive information about the religion, so the obvious outcome of that would be more conversions," said Richard Turner, coordinator of the African-American studies program and an expert on Islam among blacks at the University of Iowa.
Sunni Islam is the world's most prominent branch of Islam. The Nation of Islam and the Moorish Science Temple, other Muslim groups that attract many blacks, believe in prophets after Muhammad, making them anathema to Sunni Islam.
Rashad Byrdsong, an elder in Pittsburgh's black Muslim community, hopes the rise in interest in Sunni Islam will help the Mumin Mosque collect money to expand its small house of worship into a larger community gathering place.
The new mosque, still in the planning stages, will look more like a community center than a traditional minaret-topped Muslim place of worship found in the Arab world.
The expanded Homewood mosque will have a daycare facility, a re-entry program for released inmates, a health clinic and a program for entrepreneurs -- features that are in great need in the downtrodden neighborhood.
"First, the spiritual aspects, the dawa, but also basic, physical, fundamental needs," Byrdsong said.
In the fourth year of its seven-year expansion plan, Pittsburgh's tight-knit Muslim community has raised much of the $1.5 million needed in the project's first phase through book sales, telephone fundraisers, auctions and banquets. It has purchased all but two lots it will need and already has the sketches for the future mosque complex.
"Building the mosque has always been a goal, idea, vision," said Yusef Ali, 63, emir of the Mumin Mosque. "But as a community grows ... it's (become) a solid goal with strategic objectives."
A growing number of Muslims in America, especially blacks, are building mosques that offer a variety of community services, partly because the federal and state governments do not answer to many of their social needs, Islamic experts say.
These complexes take the religion back to its roots before the modern-day state began providing services to the population.
"What you have here is the creation of a true American Islam," said Edward Curtis, a religious studies professor who specializes in African-American Islam at IUPUI. "Islam has been a part of this country from its beginning, and the forms of Islam that are successful here are indigenous forms."
"The African-American mosque has made itself different in this way from other mosques around the world," Mamiya said. "Religious institutions in the black community have always been their strongest institutions and have always done more than religious functions."
Pittsburgh is home not only to black Muslims, but also a broad community of immigrants who practice the religion. However, until Sept. 11, the two communities were largely isolated.
After the attacks, immigrants -- subject to FBI surveillance, police raids and other scrutiny -- began to reach out to black Muslims in Pittsburgh, whose persecution they could suddenly relate to, said Sarah Jameela Martin, 64, an active member of the city's black Muslim community.
"It really was a time for us to come together," Martin said.
But Sept. 11 also put an end to any hopes the black Muslim community had to collect money for their mosque project from Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries overseas because new U.S. laws put Islamic charities under greater scrutiny.
Now, as immigrant and black Muslims in Pittsburgh try to improve the religion's image and separate it from global terrorism, blacks are paving the way, Martin said.
Once again, losing no opportunity to shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to advancing the cause of blacks in America.
That's because they all watched "Roots" and, although it's been some years since the last broadcast, they want to do the heritage thing. I doubt if most people really know what they are getting into when they seek out Islam.
It's hard to see why they are attracted. Since 911 was apparently the cause, a cynic might say they are attracted to the violence.
Wonder what his source for this statement is?
How any self respecting black could associate with the religion of the slave traders who were front and center in the slave trade, and are taking slaves today is a mystery to me.
"Given the role Muslims played in the slave trade, this always puzzles me."
How so? The Dim's were the slaveholders; the Confederates; the segregationists; etc. -- and black folks seem to love them for it.
Maybe there's a message here.
The South may have purchased the slaves, but it was Connecticut and Massachusetts shipping that ran the store.
Allahu Akbar, loosely converted to English, means TAKE COVER!!!
More like.....More blacks loosing their minds since Sept. 11.
I suppose the blacks figure they don't have a hard enough life...so they are going to do some self abuse.
Life is hard. It is really hard if you're stupid.
Good Morning Vetsvette,
Respectfully, please do not exclude that Notherners(Repubs) also owned slaves as well at one time.
Muslim: just another name for a person who walks around, full of hate, mad at the world and a likely terrorist who wants America to fall.
NSNR, A Vet as well
"It's easy to identify a public school education."
How true!! But, take heart, it's not too late for YOU to learn to read.
First they flock to the party of slavery(democrat) Now they are attracted to the cult of slavery
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