Black Muslims : Native American Muslim Stories

Discussion in 'Islam Study Group' started by Omowale Jabali, Dec 30, 2011.

  1. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    A Native American Muslim’s Story
    by Lois Stands-Ali

    All Praise is due to Allah, the Creator who guided me to ISLAM—the Way of Life—the Red Road—the Straight Path.
    I began my journey on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, in one of the communities called Oglala. When I was born, my earth parents went to the city and left me behind with my father’s’ parents. My grandmother was a mid-wife, a spiritual woman, and we attended many ceremonies and pow-wows, and I witnessed other spirits begin their journeys. I was taught to respect MITAKOYASIN (all of my relations) and to know that I was LAKOTA(the people). My grandmother shared many words of wisdom. As a child I did not understand all that she shared, yet throughout all these years, all that she told me has helped in every way you can imagine. One thing that really stuck in my head was when she told me: “There are WASHECUS (white people) out there, another world, one day you will have to learn to speak their language. Learn everything about them. Learn how they think and to out-think them because one day they will try to kill you.”
    My grandmother told me that TUNKASHILA (the CREATOR Grandfather, The Wakan Tanka, The Great Holy One, Mita Onje Ate) made many people, all different, but he was the same Creator of everything - of the sky people, water people, earth people, fire people, the four-legged and the two-legged.

    I remember laying my head down on her lap and she would tell me stories, and I’d fall asleep and when I woke up she would still be talking. At that time, I did not realize she was giving me the best form of education anyone can give. Now I realize that my ENA (mother), the only one I knew, was preparing me for the outside world. One day her journey ended, and when I saw her lying in this box asleep, I knew that she would be back. One day, as I played outside she came walking up to me and said :you will be WENYA CHANTE WISHAK UHA (Woman Who Has a Strong Heart).”

    She told me that her spirit’s journey was not over. One day my earth mother and father came and got me from my grandfather and took me up north to my earth mother’s reservation called Standing Rock. But, the government was taking one child from each home to send to boarding schools so at least one would get “educated” as they called it. At that time, there was what they called The King Alfred Act in effect, which allowed them to take Indian children and teach them to assimilate to the white culture. There were many boarding schools, some run by the government and some run by missionaries. I was one of those taken to the boarding school.
    I feel now that the Creator allowed all of this to happen to me, and that the Creator was shaping and molding me to be a strong spirit. For nine years, I was in a boarding school. Out of 500 Indian children taken from all reservations, there were about 50 of us who had been raised by our grandparents and we weren’t allowed to go back home during the summer when school was out, when the other children raised by their parents were allowed to go. I knew those of us who were raised by our grandparents were different. They were harder on us, and we were stubborn and refused to speak English. We were beaten if we were caught speaking our own language, the only one we knew, but of all the confusion, my ENA’s words came back to me about having to learn the WASHECU’s language. I knew that my ENA was a wise woman and for whatever reason I was to learn, but that still didn’t keep me from resisting change.
    As a child, I experienced much abuse - physical, mental, emotional and verbal but today I can look back and thank TUNKASHILA for protecting me when I spoke the truth and was punished for it. My spirit only became stronger. I knew I was LAKOTA and I decided to get smart and like my ENA said learn everything about the WASHECU, especially how they think. Those of us raised by our grandparents were kept separated from the others a lot of the time. We were given extra duties, kept busy, but we would pray together (and have to sneak to do even that) because we knew there was power in prayer. Sometimes our brothers and sisters would tell on us and then we would be punished.

    http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/a_native_american_muslims_story
     
  2. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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  3. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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  4. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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  5. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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  6. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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  7. noor100

    noor100 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    A Muslim Among Native Americans

    M.I. Rajabally

    A Muslim Among Native Americans *
    by M.I. Rajabally

    As I boarded the tiny six-passenger plane out of St. Paul en route to Pierre, capital of South Dakota, I knew I was in for some adventure at the Sioux Indian Reservation. My curiosity grew as I talked to fellow passengers and the crew. Everyone was shocked to hear of my venturing into the reservation.

    They warned me to be cautious because I was going to a “dangerous place with strange people.” The plane bounced up and down and I started feeling sick - not from the plane –but the negative preconceived attitude I was hearing from everyone. What they were telling me was quite the opposite of what I had heard from my brother who is not only a fervent sympathizer of the tribe, but also the expert on Native American culture, arts and crafts. It was my brother who arranged for my visit to the reservation.

    The natural beauty of the place took my breath away. It was the best therapy for my high-strung “city” nerves. The air was pure and fresh. As I drove down the gravel road, the horizon unfolded in front of me. I drove for miles without seeing a car or a person. The land seemed so virgin that many times when I got out of the car, I thought I was the first person walking on these plains. But I reminded myself that this was not true.

    By the time I arrived, the sun was already setting. The thought that I could be the first person to give Adhan here overwhelmed me. In spite of my terrible voice, I gave the call to prayer and said my salaat in the open wilderness. I had been cautioned to watch for deadly rattlesnakes while going into sujud, but I was at such peace with myself that I was not intimidated by the possible presence of snakes. There were hawks wheeling across the sky, nature itself celebrating the praise of Al-Mighty God!

    It the natural beauty of the reservation moved me, its physical condition was an astonishing blow. I could not believe that I was in the United States, the land of the plenty. While the government was proclaiming its leadership role in the “new world order,” it sure forgot to clean its own backyard. I could not believe I was only miles from Rapid City and yet where I was, there was no sewage, and no running water yet (pipes were being installed). Surprisingly, there was electricity, which allows every house to accommodate television – to poison the mind with shallow distorted values. There was no infrastructure, only some gravel roads, few gas stations., rudimentary health care facilities. I could not imagine American without a shopping mall, grocery store or a restaurant.

    As I talked to the people, I began to develop a strong respect and admiration for a people that refused to be subjugated. In my mind, I started drawing parallels between the Muslim community and the Native American community. It did not take me long to figure out that we have a lot in common. First, we both face the tidal wave of prejudice based on ignorance and hearsay. People in general do not understand the Native Americans any more than they know or understand Islam and Muslims. The media represents both groups in a stereotyped and biased manner.

    Talking to some Sioux children, I kept thinking of Muslim children. Both Sioux and Muslim children have to learn distorted historical facts about their ancestors in their social studies classes. Both groups of children are incorrectly taught how barbaric their ancestors were, ruthless people who killed people indiscriminately. History has been rewritten to force innocent minds to give up their ancestral pride and values. I could not help but think about the constant struggle we Muslims face to keep our Islamic values alive in our children against such onslaughts. Like Muslim parents, Sioux parents worry continuously.

    I was deeply impressed with their concept of One True High God or Spirit. There were no idols or intermediaries. Their concept of deity matches the core of Islam. I kept thinking of the Qura’nic verse, “To every nation, a prophet was sent.”

    The status of mankind as the khalifah of Allah on earth is a fundamental aspect of Sioux belief. They believe that man is responsible for managing the earth’s resources in a way that preserves the harmony of God’s Creation to be used for the good of all. What a striking similarity to Islam!

    I visited Bear Butte, a sacred place for the tribe. Not long ago, caravans from various reservations converged on Bear Butte for a pilgrimage. They were forced to stop the practice because it was interfering with tourism, which is what the sacred place had been reduced to. We Muslims should know the feeling remembering when Prophet Muhammad and his followers were barred from performing the lesser pilgrimage to makkah. As we speak against injustice against Kashmiris and Palestinians, we also need to let the Sioux people know that Islam dictates that we will support them. Communication channels should be opened on an official, organizational level. We should look into the possibility of asking to set up a Sioux-Muslim camp in the summer to allow each group to learn about the other and to erase false perceptions.

    I propose that concerned and interested Muslims consider establishing an official relationship with the tribal council. As American Muslims, we have a responsibility to expose injustice wherever we find it. Only a few know what injustices have been and are being done to Native Americans.

    http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/a_muslim_among_native_americans
     
  8. noor100

    noor100 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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