Hood Communist invites you to check out our latest special feature, The Red Crescent Collection. The Red Crescent Collection is a compilation of essays from African Muslims who are seeking to emphasize the importance of justice and knowledge in Islam.
In the West at this current moment, Islam is being stretched by an unfortunate tension between forces that seek to contain it within the confines of either liberalism or Euro-capitalist conservatism. Islam on one hand must be conservative, openly exploited by troubling figures like Andrew Tate and his online followers who demand that the deen be tolerant of covert sex trafficking and the degradation of women; or it must be “liberal”, openly embracing everything Western, ready to break with scholars and tradition at every turn. In the years since 9/11, Muslims have found ourselves in the impossible position of constantly explaining ourselves away. Islam has become open for endless reinterpretation in order to accommodate ourselves and others. We are constantly measuring the worth of this blessed deen against arbitrary, Western standards like “progressive” and “liberal”; our deen becomes whatever feels good. And among some so-called comrades on the “left”, a thinly-veiled, although often obvious, disdain for Islam is expressed, which causes many Muslim organizers to downplay important aspects of our spiritual lives. If necessary, even what is understood as forbidden or prescribed must be greenlit or erased to prove that we are actually not oppressed, actually not terrorists, actually not… anything, really.
What foregrounds this spiritual confusion is the primary contradiction of the dunya (our world) today— imperialism. Saudi Arabia, or the Arabian Peninsula as it was known during the time of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, was the birthplace of Islam and played a significant role in the life and teachings of the Prophet. Before the formalization of Islam, it was where he received the first revelation of the Quran and struggled against greed and corruption to build a truly just society. Today, almost two billion Muslims worldwide prayerfully aspire to make pilgrimage in honor of our beloved Prophet and at the instruction of Allah (SWT), to the Mecca, a land that is now controlled by despot rulers beholden to no god or religion other than US imperialism and the dollar. As Imam Muhammad al-Asi describes the current condition in The Doomed Kingdom of the House of Saud:
The Muslims — and many of them do not know this — are under a Saudi spell. It has nothing to do with brain power but has everything to do with purchasing power. Islam, according to these nitwit Saudi royals, is a religion that considers imperialists and Zionists to be People of the Book (Ahl al-Kitab) while “mu’mins” and “Muslims” are kafirs [disbelievers].”
Palestine, which houses the Al-Aqsa mosque, considered the third holiest site in Islam, remains under Israeli occupation. The Islamic Republic of Iran, one of Palestine’s most consistent allies, wages daily jihad under the stresses of US sanctions and orientalist social media campaigns designed to garner public support for those deadly sanctions. Popular Muslim social media accounts, like @Muslim on Instagram, continue to share information about the many-times debunked “plight of the Uyghurs” in China, a weapon used against today’s politically illiterate, but well meaning ummah in attempt to suppress the rise of a multipolar world. The word “jihadist” has become most popularly associated with the Sahel in Africa, which today continues to suffer the NATO led destruction of Libya and assassination of Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi, one of the most committed Islamic socialists of our time. Western anxieties are being fanned around supposed “Islamic extremists” across West Africa now, in an attempt to further justify and expand the bloody footprint of U.S. AFRICOM.
It is this context that many politically engaged Muslims find frustratingly absent from our Jummah khutbahs on Fridays. For the Imam, bestowed with the responsibility to inform the congregation on Fridays and educate, there should be an imperative to illuminate the issues of our current imperialist world, how such issues impact those in the room, to openly challenge the white supremacist order all around us through Islamic reasoning, to open the masjid as a space to organize against such injustices, to unflinchingly scour at the man-made racial and gender divisions which often present themselves even within the masjid, and so forth. Unfortunately, we often receive little more depth than moral shaming, sloganeering, and intentional disengagements with the social and political elements of our material world. And while today we live in a world with many similarities to the dunya of the time of our Prophet ﷺ, our most visible responses can be found on Tiktok, where young Muslims recently launched viral videos where they banded together and encouraged each other, among everything, to not use of music in their video content. This presents itself as a deeply underwhelming departure from the struggles carried out by people like Sheik Ibrahim Niasse who led the fight against British and French colonialism in Senegal, or Safiyah Bukhari, the New Afrikan political prisoner who discovered Islam while imprisoned and used her faith to build an organization that continues to fight for the rights of political prisoners across the world to this day.
The contributors to this collection are African Muslims who seek guidance from Surah Al-Baqarah (2:31-33) of the Quran. This Surah reminds us that Allah (SWT) created Adam and gave him knowledge and wisdom. This knowledge and wisdom enabled Adam to understand the nature of the world and to fulfill his role as Allah’s (SWT) vicegerent or representative on Earth. This knowledge included the knowledge of the universe, the laws of nature, and the principles of morality. These African contributors consider knowledge of capitalism and imperialism, and the development of socialism as the scientific tool to defeat them, a part of that responsibility. They are also reminded of the over 40 mentions of the word “justice” throughout the Quran. “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you swerve, and if you distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do.” (Surah An-Nisa 4:135)
You will find here essays which wrestle with our turn away from revolutionary principle, which remind us of the rights of children in Islam, which uplift and honor the names of forgotten Islamic socialists, and which explain the significance of the self-discipline that Islam provides.
We are not scholars, just submitters to the will of God. Anything which lacks in the analyses put forward is a reflection of our imperfect status as human beings. Anything which you find inspiring or insightful is all due to Allah (SWT).
Salifu & Musa, Project Editors