The American Muslim Experience: From Identity to Community

(Sacred Law, RIS US 2010)

RISTalks: "From Identity to Community"
by Dr. Abdal Hakim Jackson at RIS US 2010

15:19 "My primary commitment is to Islam. And it's not to the American State. Nor is it to any other state, nor will it ever be to any other state ... Including a so-called Islamic State. My primary commitment is to living my life in a manner that God and his Messenger have prescribed for me to live my life. And that means, that sometimes ... that means sometimes, yes I'm going to speak FOR society. When society needs to be spoken for. And I'm going to speak even FOR the American State, when the American State needs to be spoken for. But sometimes, I'm going to have to stand up and I'm going to have to speak AGAINST American Society and AGAINST the American State in order to live my life in a manner that earns GOD's pleasure. That's what I mean when I say that my primary loyalty, my primary commitment is to Islam and not to ANY state. And those LIARS who are out there, I want you to hear what I say. Not only the American State, even an Islamic State. I will never prostitute my religion just to hand it over to some state to do whatever it wants to do with it as some kind of free permission to just go on and abuse people in the name of religion. I won't do it. That's not where my primary commitment is."

18:04 "I believe in a form of patriotism that takes off on a statement that we get from the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Where he says ... 'Help your brother whether he is right or wrong.' ... Then they said to the Prophet 'Oh Rasool-Allah, we know what you mean when you say help your Brother if he is right. But how can we help our Brother if he is wrong?' What did the Prophet tell them? 'You help you Brother when he is wrong by stopping him from being wrong.' That is the form of patriotism that I believe in. I will help my country, I will help my society as long as it is right. And when they are wrong, I will stand up and say 'You are wrong'. And I will do so, not in an attempt to destroy or undermine you. I will do so out of a sense of DUTY to the place that I call home."

22:22 "Our country needs us, and it needs us to stand up. And if we're going to stand up, we have to have something that we are going to stand up in the name of. And if we have compromised away all of the principles that define our religion as what it is, then we don't have anything to stand up in the name of. All we have are interests and no principles. And that is what we have to, we have to avoid."

34:56 "Listen to what I'm about to say, because the problems that we have had as a community is that we have had no historical consciousness. We have not understood conversion to Islam as a process, we've understood it as an event, and it's never been that way, not even in the time of the Prophet (SAW). This is one of our first mistakes ... It takes communities time to find itself in a position of orthodoxy. And we as a Muslim community need to understand that, and we need to understand how to chaperone these communities along that track. Not to come in and bust them all upside the head 'You ain't no Muslims.' And then destroy the very process by which they might arrive at that.

44:56 "And this is the second mistake that we as a Muslim community made in America. Arrogance. We did not have the courage and humility to say; Yes, we may understand Islam, but we know very little about America. We don't understand what's going on here. Let us ask. Let's ask our Muslim Brothers and Sisters who are already here. Let us find out what's going on. This is the second mistake."

45:37 "The third mistake that we made was that we lost our ability to distinguish between non-Muslim and un-Islamic. The people who came to this country from the Muslim world, they understood Islam, and therefore the Islamic, in the cultural terms with which they had grown up ... And if Islam and Islamic is what we do back in Pakistan or Egypt or whatever, then the American is un-Islamic ... And we could not understand that many things that non-Muslims do may be non-Muslim, but that doesn't mean they are un-Islamic."

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