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We are the real patriots

Rulers are always telling oppressed people how they should protest and rebel. And the American elite are always trying to define patriotism for everybody. Right now their patriotism is a knee jerk and a drunken patriotism. They’re hung up on the symbol (flag/anthem) and have no idea of the essence that the symbol represents. Our patriotism is sober. Rosa demonstrating her patriotism by sitting; Malcolm by standing; King by marching and Smith and Carlos by raising their fist. Many soldiers and activists showed theirs by fighting and dying; and the founding fathers by revolting against the king. So I’d say today, we are the real patriots-upholding the freedom, justice and equality this country was founded on.

 

Eclipse 2017

The 2017 Solar Eclipse in the United States was replete with signs for me, beginning with my seeming compulsion to drive south to Carbondale Illinois one of several US cities in the so-called “path of totality.” Chicago was not even near the path so eye protection would be needed here for the entire partial eclipse. There was my inability to get eclipse glasses. They were given away free at Chicago’s Public Libraries, but by the time I tried to get them they were out of them. Then there was the drive down to Carbondale in the Southern Illinois region informally known as “Little Egypt.” In fact, the city at Illinois’s southern tip, at the junction of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers is named Cairo, after Egypt’s capital. I left Chicago early enough at 6am for what would normally be a 5-hour drive. I was one of thousands of enthusiasts from all over the nation who headed to one of the 14 states in the path of this rare celestial event and as I got closer to Carbondale my trip time began to increase to 7 hours.

I was almost to Carbondale, when the eclipse began at 11:52 and I could tell it was time because locals along the Highway 13 exit off I-57 were relaxed in their lounge chairs or near tailgates on the grassy embankment of Menard’s parking lot were looking up at the sun in their glasses, and with cameras and telescopes trained on the sky. Still there were no glasses to be found anywhere along the route. I guess it was a sign that I was only going to be able to see the total eclipse with my naked eye.

And that’s what I did. I arrived at Marion Illinois after 1pm. Marion at Latitude: 37° 43′ 50″ N and Longitude: 88° 56′ 00″ W was also in the path of totality, so it was just my destiny to see the eclipse there. As it approached 1:20 I parked and waited. The moon moved from right to left in front of the sun and at 1:20:40 the sun was completely blotted out. I looked up and all I could say was Allahu Akbar, G-d is Greater. For 2 minutes and 27 seconds there was darkness. Your rational faculties are aware that it is the height of daytime and just seconds before it was glaringly bright but now its twilight at all 360 degrees of the horizon. And the sun is just a thin rim around the black moon. Now I knew why I had to see it and why people from all over had come to see it. And why there are people that follow these eclipses all over the world. It’s awe inspiring to see something that you may only see once in a lifetime. All my disappointment of not having glasses to view the partial eclipse was gone. This 2 minutes, 27 seconds was worth it.

I took a brief tour of Carbondale and the University of Southern Illinois campus and the headed back home. Estimates of the number of visitors ranged from 90,000 to 150,000, to a city with only a 26,179 population, and the trip back to Chicago, made me aware of what it takes to move that many people from one area to another. That 5-hour trip was 12 hours getting back. Imagine bumper to bumper traffic for 300 miles. I guess this is what it’s like when there’s a mass evacuation of coastal cities for hurricanes and other disasters. There was some benefit however, in discovering that highways 37 north and 45 north, will get you to Chicago from southern Illinois through its small towns.

Still there was no disappointment. Those two master time pieces, the sun and the moon are such important figures in my life. The sun controlling my daily prayers and the moon determining the time of my two most important holidays of the year-Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha, which is projected to occur next week, Thursday, August 31. I am a student of the concept of time so to have these two bodies, in the same house at the same time-priceless.

It is written in the Bible that the sky became dark in the daytime during the crucifixion of Jesus. Ancient and medieval Christian writers treated this as a miracle, and while this event has been described as a solar eclipse, similar events in ancient times were associated with the deaths of notable figures. While I reject the concept of an actual physical crucifixion of a divine figure or a physical prophet, I must accept the signs that we are constantly given to bring us to an awareness of truth and reality. There is a truth that the knowledge of the world that we value so highly and come to depend on can sometimes be eclipsed by revelation. There is also a truth that a people or community can be crucified and that a brief moment of correct interpretation of G-d’s word can resurrect them. Thus, despite the magnificence of this awe-inspiring event I was blessed to witness, the even greater magnificence, the even greater miracle, is the reality that the sign represents.

 

 

Men Like Moses

Nat Turner (Birth of a Nation), Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Marcus Garvey, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad, minds (men and women) like Moses, but all the same person (one soul or spirit), on a different day (time and circumstances), who listened to the command of G-d to free the oppressed slave from his bondage.

 

I just called to say I love you

little-me69 years ago today, my mother Louise Alexander, gave birth to me at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. Throughout my life she never failed to remind me that while everybody else was out reveling and bringing in the New Year she was in the hospital delivering. In her sometimes irreverent way, she remembered other young mothers there crying out in pain and calling on Jesus and she’d tell them “why you calling on him? He didn’t get you pregnant.”

My mother thought she was going into labor earlier but it was a false alarm and the Doctor sent her back home with my grandfather and told him to take the bumpy road back. She finally arrives back at the Hospital and I arrive. But even then it wasn’t that simple. I guess I still wasn’t ready for the world because I tried to back out of the womb. I feel that might be reflected in my personality even today because, I do tend approach things backwards, try to do things on my own schedule and in my own way. As my mother told me, the Doctor pushed me back in and brought me out in a natural birth.

I developed bronchial pneumonia and had to stay in the hospital for a while. When my mom came to visit me she was alarmed when she came to the room and I wasn’t in my bed. She soon found that the nurses were parading me around the hospital like they had not seen a cute real black baby before.

My mother would often tell me, by way of reminder, that I should never let myself become dependent on anyone, saying that “Nobody else was attached to your navel cord and it was cut from me when you were born.” Every New Year’s Eve, when the clock wound down to the new year, my mother would call me, wherever I was at, and wish me a Happy Birthday. I’d be at a celebration, or at home watching the ball drop in Times Square and I knew to expect her call. And now that she has returned to Allah (G-d), I know that is what I’ll miss most about the New Year—her calling me saying “I just called to say I love you” with Stevie Wonder in the background; her telling me about her travails with my birth and how I came just in time to ruin her holiday party; and her touching that emotional core in me that I sometimes forget. So, let me close this out before I start dropping tears on my keyboard and ruin my lap top. Allah (G-d) says “reverence the wombs that bore you.” Love your mother. Take care of her. Call her and make sure she doesn’t need anything. Don’t raise your voice or speak harshly to her. And when she is no longer with you, pray for her all the time.

 

“If you love the Qur’an…”

grateful-weekend

Awards Ceremony and Dinner of the Annual Muslim Journal, “A Time to be Grateful” weekend at the Downtown Marriott, Kansas City, Missouri, December 9-11, and with Muslim Journal Editor, Ayesha Mustafa with her copy of book, “Yes, I Am Your Brother.”

Book Review:

“If you love the Qur’an. If you love Prophet Mohammed. If you love Imam Mohammed’s insights into the Qur’an and the life of Prophet Mohammed. And if you appreciate serious students of Imam Mohammed, then you’ll love this book.”

-Khaled Khan, Bookseller, Atlanta, Ga.  678-859-0374

VOTE AND THEN COMPLAIN

I’ve just discovered a great scientific and mathematical formula that I want to share with everyone. The equation says that TWCTM=TWDTL. I’ve tried to figure this out for the longest time and I finally came up with the answer- TWCTM=TWDTL. THOSE WHO COMPLAIN THE MOST equal=are the very same ones as THOSE WHO DO THE LEAST.

I’ve been studying for a long time but this Presidential election campaign has proven it for me. Donald Trump claimed early on that he was reaching disaffected white men, “forgotten Americans.” He said he would bring a whole new population into the electoral process who had not voted before. So, here’s a group of citizens that have not participated in the process, feel that they have been excluded, and that their voices have not been heard. They feel like “their” jobs have been stolen. Trump says they are new voters. If they have not participated before, what do they have coming?

And so, it is with many young people and many African Americans who are either not voting or not enthusiastic about this election; but who’ve got complaints. Yes, you have some complaints, and many of them are legitimate. But what are you expecting that is ever going to free and with no cost and no investment? Nothing in this life. In the Independent Global News website Congressman John Lewis remarked: “I Thought I Saw Death” recalling being beaten bloody and with a concussion by police while crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge as they attempted to march to Montgomery, Alabama on “Bloody Sunday,” He later added “I was arrested more than 40 times so each and every one of us can register to vote…Do your part” he urged. I agree. Pay some dues, and then complain. Yours dues are voting in this election.

Freaks for Pain & Other Trump Supporters

with-brad-and-charlotteAnother weekend road trip to Iowa to support Hillary Clinton and I haven’t gotten bored or fatigued yet. It’s also another opportunity to get with old friends and meet new ones. On the left is Colonel Bradford, a longtime Chicago area businessmen, and in the middle, is our new friend, Charlotte Rotman. Charlotte is a journalist for the French journal “Les Jours” which is available online at www.lesjours.fr is you read French. She’s visiting from Paris and it seems that they are very interested in what’s going on in our election here in America.

I thinking they are struggling to understand the Donald Trump phenomena and the strangeness of it all. I have been struggling to understand the logic of his rise to political power myself and the closest I can come to explaining it is that there is some subconscious rationale, some pathological compulsions, as to why so many Americans, who for centuries have prided themselves on their tolerance, their compassion, and their service to humanity, have all of a sudden embraced a candidate that dismisses all of those virtues as mere political correctness.

I understand his core following that he amassed during the primaries–the disaffected and the disillusioned. But America didn’t just start losing jobs. They’ve been losing them for 30 years and in those years, they’ve gained more than they have lost. It’s just a different demographic that’s benefitting from those new jobs and the American Dream. So much for the “privilege” of thinking you had jobs for life, at the expense of others who may work just as hard and sacrifice just as much as you.

I also understand the deplorables too–the neo-Nazis, the alt-right and the David Dukes, the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard who is running for U.S. Senate in Louisiana. He is Trumps official translator, so when Trump says “Make America ‘Great’ Again”, the deplorables understand “Make America White Again.” (Just yesterday the “Crusader” a prominent publication of the Ku Klux Klan endorsed Trump noting: “America was great not because of what our forefathers did — but because of who our forefathers were…America was founded as a White Christian Republic. And as a White Christian Republic it became great.“) I hate to burst your bubble but America is not going to be white again. The numbers are not in your favor and your history of mistreatment of minorities does not bode well for them keeping you in power.

I even understand the late comers to the Trump fold–those who found his character repugnant early on but decided to come around when they saw how solid and enthusiastic his core following was. Their position could only be described as either political expedience or schizophrenia. House Speaker Paul Ryan, despite being “sickened” by revelations of Trump’s sexual assault admissions and criticizing him for anti-Semitism, “textbookracism, inciting violence, associating with white supremacists and implying the shooting of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton could remedy an election loss, this week proudly announced that he had voted for the Republican nominee, refusing to even mention his toxic name. It will be interesting to see which of these illnesses he claims when he tries to run for President in 2020.

And Ted Cruz who initially refused to endorse Trump and was booed off the stage at the Republican National Convention has now taken to the road to support Trump. Cruz is even more extreme that Trump but that is another issue that should be thoroughly explored in 2020. Political expedience is not a new strategy for those willing to do whatever it takes to gain power and a temporary advantage. Allah (G-d) says in the Holy Qur’an, in reference to Joseph’s brothers, who in their selfishness were determined to keep all the power and blessing:

“Slay ye Joseph or cast him out to some (unknown) land, that so the favour of your father may be given to you alone: (there will be time enough) for you to be righteous after that!” 12:9

Then there is the group of Trump supporters, that even though much smaller, defied logic and whose rationale was even more difficult to understand. Those are the Hispanics and African Americans. I see those as victims of the oxymoronic–sweetest pain—or masochists. Okay all Hispanics are not Mexicans so they will not all be impacted by a wall along our southern border. But do they think when racism and xenophobia are brought into the mainstream that Trump supporters will distinguish between them? It’s like light skinned Blacks back in the day, who although they were subject to the same lynching and Jim Crow laws as other Blacks, historically still had a little more privilege and a little more freedom to move about in white society.

The hardest group of would be Trump supporters to understand are African Americans. I know he has promised to transform America’s African American communities and I know some who are fascinated by his ostentatious show of wealth. But I ask them how can you be so foolish by false promises when he’s preaching to the other 96% of his following that he’s “going to put niggers in their place” (Translates to Law and Order- it means he will support and protect the rogue policemen who have preyed on our communities and he will demonize and sic his followers on anyone that disagrees with him). They see America being great again as the period of slavery up to the 1960’s. I guess it’s no harder to understand them than it is to understand the victims of domestic abuse. “O, I love the African Americans” (but the Black Lives Matter protestor thugs should be beaten back into the submissiveness of the earlier “great” period.) The great singer Billie Holiday hit the nail on the head in her song “My Man”:

I don’t know why I should

He isn’t true

He beats me, too

What can I do?

 

Oh, my man, I love him so

He’ll never know

All my life is just despair

But I don’t care

When he takes me in his arms

The world is bright

All right

At the same time that he’s professing that love, his Republican Party, over the last decades, has taken over state Legislatures and enacted every law that they could to restrict African American voters. Nothing new here. White Southerners dreamed up all kinds of barriers designed to keep blacks from voting–registration at inconvenient times, frequent re-registration, arbitrarily or impossible literacy tests (how many marbles are in a jar), intimidation, insults, threats, and sometimes arrest and registration information passed on to the Citizens Council or the Ku Klux Klan.

Fast forward to the 21st century and we see the same thing. The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., just ruled that the regime of voter ID laws passed in North Carolina clearly demonstrated that the “disenfranchisement of blacks was the very goal of the legislation” and that it “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision” in an effort to depress black turnout at the polls. In Texas, a federal appeals court ruled that Texas’ voter identification law, one of the strictest in the country, violated the Voting Rights Act and that the state must find ways to accommodate voters who face hardships in obtaining the necessary documents. In court cases that temporarily invalidated some of the voter ID laws in North Carolina, Wisconsin and North Dakota, election officials could barely cite one case in which a person was charged with in-person voting fraud. All research and government investigations and courts have proved voter fraud is mostly a myth citing the instances of voter fraud, as being .006 percent out of billion.

Now Trump’s own campaign officials have acknowledged their own strategies for suppressing the African American vote. The October 27, 2016 Atlantic magazine quotes a BusinessWeek cover story, that acknowledges: “Instead of expanding the electorate, [campaign chairman Steve] Bannon and his team are trying to shrink it. “We have three major voter suppression operations under way,” says a senior official. They’re aimed at three groups Clinton needs to win overwhelmingly: idealistic white liberals, young women, and African Americans.”

“O, but he loves us.” Honorable Elijah Muhammad perhaps more than anyone put this attitude in African Americans in perspective in the early lesson he presented to his followers in the Nation of Islam to explain this inordinate love of someone who and treated African American so mean. The lesson read “He likes the Devil because the Devil gives him nothing.” I know of no other way to describe this attitude except as freaks for pain. But with that said and with all compassion for my brothers and sisters, I still ask you to come back home to rational thinking and let’s stay on the path to moving forward together.

 

 

Imam Ibrahim Pasha passes but the Spirit never dies

 

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We are saddened to hear of the passing of our beloved elder statesman and pioneer of the Muslim community in America, Imam Ibrahim Pasha. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un is a part of a verse from the Qur’an which translates to “We surely belong to Allah and to Him we shall return”

Imam Pasha in the past decades has been a leader of the Muslim community in Atlanta, Georgia, but we will always remember his pioneering work here in Chicago also. I personally remember him as an inspiration and a mentor and the one who allowed me to serve the community in many capacities. He was my supervisor and structured my duties to allow me to continue my education.

Samuel Bilal, an early writer for Muhammad Speaks Newspaper also remembers Imam Pasha. Pasha, along with Brothers Douglas X (former Paper Captain preceding Bashir Asad), and Roosevelt (4X) Sabree, picking him up at the Greyhound bus station, after he was encouraged to come to Chicago by Henry Omar (founder of Omar on the Nile beverages).

Bilal also recounted how he, Imam Pasha, Eugene Majied, John Ali (National Secretary), Charlie Lee (Muhammad Ali), Gene X Walton, and John 62X were sent by Honorable Elijah Muhammad to the Rochester Institute of Technology, in preparation for the operation of Muhammad Speaks Newspaper plant at 26th & Federal where we all worked together.

Under the new leadership of Imam W. Deen Mohammed, Imam Pasha, as Chief of Staff to Assistant Supreme Captain, Elijah Muhammad II, helped to facilitate the transition nationally to the new leader and the new language and from that time on he never faltered in trying to establish the religion of Islam and this Muslim community here in America.

May Allah (G-d) forgive his sins, mistakes, and shortcomings and may Almighty Allah grant mercy on his family.

 

 

 

 

Believe in Something; Speak Up or Do Something

supporters

I had a great Saturday on a bus trip to Iowa to canvass with Clinton supporters and met new friends—on left, Bill Gluba, the long-time mayor of Davenport, Iowa until January, 2016 and Elesha Gayman on the right, former Iowa State Representative from the 84th District. Both were instrumental in the historic victory in 2008 of President Barack Obama in the Iowa’s first in the nation primary election caucus.

I’ll be on the bus again this Saturday because despite all of polls forecasting a resounding Clinton victory, I think it important also to help in Iowa where the race is very close and one can make a difference and because I think it is not just enough to defeat Donald Trump this November. It is important to show that his vision of America, as a bigoted, xenophobic, misogynist, nationalistic and racist cesspool of fear and anxiety, is not the future we want ourselves or our children.

The trip was an opportunity to knock on many doors and meet many other people. One of them, a 22-year-old African American, offered that he had no intention of voting. He felt like it would not make any difference in his life and shockingly he acknowledged that he did not expect to live long enough to worry about a future. I explained to him that his future was in his own hands; that he has to do everything he can to make it better. There are no perfect solutions but we make small decisions every day to make things better.

I talk to young people often who have similar, albeit not so pessimistic attitudes. Many of them ask, “What has Obama done for us?” I ask them: “What have you done for yourself in the last eight years.?” We must stop looking for saviors and take care of our own destinies.

Allah (G-d) says He will not change the condition of the person until they change what is in their heart (soul). His Messenger, our Prophet Muhammad, the prayers and the peace be upon him, said “whoever of you sees an evil must then change it with his hand. If he is not able to do so, then [he must change it] with his tongue. And if he is not able to do so, then [he must change it] with his heart. And that is the slightest [effect of] faith.” This tells us that it is possible for any person, with any capacity, of any amount of resources, to do something.

From “Yes, I Am Your Brother”

flyer cover

The heart is the seat of belief. We know things through the mind, but even without cognitive process and even without facts, we still feel. We can still believe. And we still have an obligation to at least feel something.

Politics and Business today is so obscured by money and the quest for power that it is almost impossible to know what is going on. Millennials sense this and because of a natural impulsiveness of youth, their instinct is to discard the whole system instead of trying to sort it out. Even if we can’t change a problem right away we’re obligated to speak out against it or at least detest it. We can’t however remain indifferent. No one who will not vote or work in the cause of making society better has a right to complain.

 

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