September 17, 2015

How the Mighty Has Fallen

Last week I thought about the Muslim African army, under Tariq ibn-Ziyad, which crossed the Strait of Gibraltar from northern Africa and invaded the Iberian peninsula ‘Andalus’, Spain and would have continued even further into present day Europe had he not been halted by his jealous Arab superior. It was this conquest that brought about the enlightenment of Europe from the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, and 700 years of interreligious peace and progress among Muslims, Jews and Christians in Spain.

I thought about the perpetual wars going on today–for resources, for land, and the cultural and religious wars. I thought about the Hundred Years war waged between the kings and kingdoms of France and England from 1337 to 1453.


And then I had a reality check because what made me think about these things was standing on the corner of 47th. & Cottage Grove, and this was the dialogue there.

“Squares, Squares… Loose squares…” Nothing unusual about that. That phrase echoes out of the shadows of most major corners in our neighborhoods. It seems as if the callers have studied ventriloquism because they seem to be able to throw their voices and make it seem as if it is coming from as far away place. But the smokers who are patrons of these loose cigarettes gravitate directly to these vendors.


But on this corner, this day, another voice approached: “Move on up nigger. You don’t sell squares on this corner.” The vendor began moving away, as the intruder’s voice got louder and more forceful, and he did not seem to be moving fast enough. “I said move nigger. Don’t nobody sell squares on this corner unless Big Willie say its ok.” I thought it was going to break out, and that’s when these thoughts of these great historical battles for territory came to mind, and the thought, that at least these historical armies were fighting over “something.” And then I thought: “How the Mighty Has Fallen.”


Here the descendant of great warriors, spreaders of civilization and culture throughout the world, and they’re about to fight about the temporary use of 100 square feet of concrete that doesn’t belong to either of them. But I guess, “We all start out as dreamers—imagining a beautiful future for ourselves. We sleep for months in the wombs of our mothers and then sleep for most of the day when we are delivered. But as we grow older, the world forces us to scale down our expectations of ourselves.” From the book, “Yes, I Am Your Brother: Understanding the Indigenous African American Muslim.”