“Let there be a group among you who call others to good, and enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong: those who do this shall be successful.” (Soorat Aal ‘Imraan,3:104)
On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was brutally assassinated in the Audubon Ballroom in New York. He was a Muslim with a fearless critique of white supremacy and the oppression that Black America had endured for centuries. Though Malcolm X was assassinated, the message that he introduced to Black communities is still alive and growing. The First Annual Malcolm X Day on February 22, 2020, hosted by the Black Dawah Network, is proof of this reality.
Malcolm X was a product of the conditions in the hood. He once stated that “In the ghettos, the white man has built for us, he has forced us not to aspire to greater things, but to view everyday living as survival.” These wretched conditions in the inner-city still exist and often produce despair and misery. With urban cities, schools often serve as a pipeline to prisons; much of the Black youth never expects to make it past 21. Gangs and the drug economy have taken over as the primary mechanism for many to cover basic life necessities. Malcolm X was born in these conditions yet stated:
“Islam had reached down into the mud to lift me up, to save me from being what I inevitably would have been: a dead criminal in a grave, or if still alive, a flint-hard bitter, thirty-seven year old convict in some penitentiary or insane aslyum but Allah had blessed me to learn about the religion of Islam, which enabled me to lift myself from the muck and the mire of this rotting world.”
For the Malcolm X Annual day of Dawah, Black Muslims soldiered throughout housing projects and hoods across the United States in ten different cities informing our people about the importance of submitting to Allah(SWT) alone without any partners, the Holy Qu’ran, and the message that Prophet Muhammad(SAW) received from Allah(SWT). The Muslims spoke to our people about the traps that the white supremacist power structure sets for Black folks in the hood, such as the prison industrial complex that is re-enslaving Black men, drugs, gangs, fornication, and steps we must take to improve our community. The Muslims Brothers during their Dawah provided free copies of The Autobiography of Malcolm X and the Qu’ran to those interested in learning more about submitting themselves to God.
Malcolm X taught that the Mosque should never be empty when the surrounding streets are filled with Black men fighting one another. Chicago’s communities are notorious for gang violence and gang warfare. Black Dawah Network’s Islamic Outreach in Chicago was led by brother Amiin Musdikq who leads Black Dawah Network’s Chicago chapter.
Brother Amin stated that he was inspired to undertake this initiative because he, too, comes from a background of prison, drugs, and gangs. Having once served time in federal prison, Brother Amin explained that he has witnessed what Islam can do to transform a human being. When one young brother, not pictured, approached the Muslims stating “God is a Four Corner Hustler,” referring to a prominent street organization in Chicago. The young man’s statement indicated that he believed God was a member of his gang, the Four Corner Hustlers.
Fortunately, brother Amin, himself a former leader of the Four Corner Hustlers, educated the young man on how the founder of the Four Corner Hustlers, Walter Wheat, had converted to Islam himself. As a former leader of the Four Corner Hustler, brother Amiin Musdikq knew the founder of the Four Corner Hustlers himself, Watler Wheat, and knew how he wanted to turn over a new leaf with Islam. He educated the young man based on that knowledge.
Brother Amin also shared that a mother asked the Muslims to speak to her son about Malcolm X and the Quran. She appreciated the positivity that the Muslims were bringing to the community.
Brother Qasim Shabazz led the Islamic outreach effort in Omaha, Nebraska, the birthplace of Malcolm X. Speaking of his passion for dawah, Qasim Shabazz stated, “I remember very specifically the condition I was in out here shooting at people, getting shot at, selling dope… it was the Muslims who came to me and began to change me and began to change my thinking. They didn’t come with money; they didn’t come with anything other than enlightenment and some wisdom.”
Brother Qasim and the Muslims went to various hoods in Omaha with the message of Islam. Brother Qasim Shabazz stated, “Today, we received nothing but love and joy as we took our deen to the streets, we reminded the brothers and sisters in every hood the greatness of the brother whom this city has tried to bury, Malcolm X. We spoke to our people about Islam and gave out Autobiographies of Malcolm X along with the Qur’an for those who were curious as to how he became who he was.”
The Muslims of the Black Dawah Network went to the Orchard Garden Projects in Boston to deliver the message of Islam. A recent study once found “The Median Net Worth of Black Bostonians Is Lower Than the Cost of Lunch” The cycle of poverty has resulted in black youth in distressed areas turning to drugs for money. The Orchard Park Projects was also home to Darryl Whiting, the founder of the Orchard Park Trailblazers gang, the first man in Massachusetts history who received a life sentence for selling drugs.
Massachusetts’s U.S Attorney’s district announced that “associates of the Orchard Park Trailblazers and Vine/Forest Street gangs, were charged with selling crack cocaine in and around Roxbury’s Orchard Gardens Housing Development.
The high prison sentences for drug selling echoes sentiments of Malcolm X, “Our people in the Negro community are trapped in a vicious cycle of ignorance, poverty, disease, sickness, and death. There seems to be no way out. “Malcolm X added that ‘poverty has forced many of our people into a life of crime. “The Muslims went to Orchard Park to warn our Black people and especially our black youth against the traps that the white supremacist power structure places in our communities from drugs to gangs.
Brother Hanif with brothers of the Oakland Ummah and New Sokoto Media facilitated the dawah in Oakland. He stated that he was influenced to join this initiative because he has been inspired by how Malcolm X advocated Islam as a cure to the social ills facing Black America. Brother Hanif expressed that growing up he saw what occurs as a result of drug dealing and drug usage. He stated “I learned of Islam, and if you obey Allah, then you are protected from these social ills.” He views Islam as a solution to the troubles of the community. Brother Hanif added he reached out to the community with the message of Islam and warned the community of the traps such as white supremacy so that “They can avoid things I experienced like jail and the difficulty of finding work after jail. I want to be part of that tradition Malcolm X was part of because I care about our people.”
Baquee Sabur, with the Muslim brothers of Fifth Ward Islamic Center, leads the Islamic outreach initiative in Houston, Texas, in 5th Ward, the home of poverty gangsta rap presence via Rap-A-Lot. Brother Baquee Subur said that one young man told him he was happy that a Black man was offering him books and knowledge instead of drugs.
Norfolk & Appomattox, Virginia
In Norfolk, Virginia, brother Ismael Saleem reported that 30 minutes into them going into the hood of Norfolk, they had already run out of Malcolm X books. Brother Saleem stated, “Our people are thirsty for knowledge!” In Appomattox, Virginia In Appomattox, Virginia brother AbdudDharr Abdullah reported that the Muslims were significantly well received.
The demise of the industrial age and the rise of the information age left Atlanta’s black working classes and poor mired in unemployment. Atlanta became known as the birthplace of “trap rap,” a genre of Hip-Hop that highlights the predominance of the drug economy in desolated and impoverished areas in Atlanta. Rapper, T.I has stated that Black communities are refugees of the war on drugs. T.I states that importing of crack was part of an “operation that was intended to cripple and destroy people of color in the undeserved inner cities areas.”
In the face of communities devastated by poverty, the war on drugs, and mass incarceration, there is a significant force giving hope and guidance to Black people in these oppressed urban areas. Terrell Owens, whose rap name is Ralo came to prominence as a rapper for Gucci Mane’s 1017 Records.
Though currently incarcerated on drug trafficking charges, Ralo expressed that” Before Islam, I didn’t have any guidance, I wasn’t striving for nothing, I was just a young street nigga out here doing my thing. And Islam, all it talks about is being humble and a better person.” The Muslims in Atlanta set up to warn our people against the traps that white supremacy sets up for Black brothers and sisters in the streets to have us snared in the prison industrial complex. Shadid Lewis and Bilal Stroud reported that what Malcolm X brought and taught about Islam cannot be defeated despite his assassination.
Muaath Al-Khattab, the coordinator of the Black Dawah Network in Montgomery, Alabama, stated that one brother had read The Autobiography of Malcolm X years ago when incarcerated but wanted to reread it. He appreciated the Muslims reminding him of the virtues that Malcolm X promoted in the Black community.
What The Malcolm X Day of Dawah Demonstrated
The Black Dawah Network was founded by Hakeem Muhammad, 25, in 2019 to promote Islamic Values in inner-city Black communities. Muhammad is a Public Interest Law Scholar who has helped to litigate high-profile cases of police brutality against African-American men. Muhammad was a recipient of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers fellowship that pairs law students to study under top criminal defense practitioners in the country. Muhammad used this fellowship to help defend indigent populations in Malcolm X’s former Roxbury neighborhood against criminal charges. Before law school, he taught at debate institutes at Harvard University and U.C Berkeley.
Muhammad, who serves as the president, stated of the event, “Muslims must get serious about reviving the Islamic agenda of Malcolm X. We must keep the memory of Malcolm X and the Islamic values he instilled and promoted alive among the people in our Black communities. With the Malcolm X Day of Dawah, Black Muslims wanted to send a message to our people that the Muslims are back. That the Muslims are concerned for the Black community and working for its upliftment.”