Estimated reading time: 12 minute(s)
Dear Mr. Smith,
After reading your article online at Courier-Journal, I found that your writing offers a shallow scope of Muhammad Ali’s acceptance of Islam and his effect on the America’s view of Islam.
You quoted Mr. Ihsan Bagby that, “Ali gave American Islam a flesh and blood reality” in 1964 when he converted to the Nation of Islam. Here you are insinuating that the Nation of Islam, up until Ali’s acceptance of Islam, was non-existence in the minds of the American people.
Prior to Muhammad Ali’s acceptance of Islam, the Nation of Islam was in over 60 cities of America, Mosques in Ghana, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. It was in 1959 that Mike Wallace created a documentary called, The Hate that Hate produced that put the Nation of Islam in the minds of White America. But, you have to ask the question, “What was it about the Nation of Islam that caused Mr. Wallace to produce that documentary?” Why would he produce a documentary about the Nation of Islam if we were of no consequence? It was the impact of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad’s work in America that brought the attention to America. America never thought that black people would become productive outside of the confines of the American society and the “American way” or never really desired for us to become productive. It was the Hon. Elijah Muhammad that was producing these men and women that caught the attention of America, not someone who announced that they converted to Islam. He was taking the rejected of American society and making us a productive people. It was his work of producing these “different” black men and women that caught the attention of white America. This was new Black men and new Black women that America had never seen before. That is what caught the attention of Mr. Wallace well before Muhammad Ali came to the attention of white America. It was the work of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad that caught the attention of Muhammad Ali! By the time Muhammad Ali came to the Nation of Islam we were well established in the minds and hearts of Black America and caught the attention of white America.
You wrote, “He (Ali) eventually moved away from the black separatism of the Nation of Islam toward the racially inclusive Sunni Islam, which is practiced by most of the world’s Muslims.” “In Ali’s later years, he grew fond of Sufism — the mystical branch of Islam known for lavish poetry and warm-hearted spiritual tales — and he proclaimed the value of all faiths.”
Firstly, there is only one Islam and that is the making of peace. How one achieves peace is multi-facet. To attain peace there must be an agreement between the 2 parties to work towards peace. You can’t have one wanting peace and the other not wanting peace or faking peace. If we look throughout the history of all the prophets they all preached the same when it came to peace. There must be a separation of those who want peace from the peace breakers. Even Jesus preached separation in Matthew 10:34-36, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”
In Islamic history Muhammad had to separate from the ungodly when on the heel of a death plot he and his followers fled to Madinah. As black people, we have suffered the most wicked treatment that any human beings had to endure. This has gone on for over 400 years, non-stop. Any self-respecting person would at some point want to separate from a society that treats them as such. And, this is what the Hon. Elijah Muhamad gave to black men and women, self-respect. This caused us to see that if we could not receive Freedom, Justice and Equality in America, the only solution was/is separation. Is it radical? You better believe it. But, how much more radical is that than to continue to live under a tyranny every day? I think that is a radical concept, to accept injustice for the rest of your life, just to be accepted by the ones who gives you injustice.
So, if you want to write poems and sing while you receive injustice then that is your decision. However, if we as self-respecting Muslims, under the leadership of the Hon. Min. Louis Farrakhan, decide that separation is the only option for peace, at this time, then you must respect a people who carve out a future for themselves.
Bro. Byron Muhammad
Member of the Nation of Islam