Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Who Am I?

Praise be to God, The Most High, The Most Exalted, Lord of All The Worlds, Who sent the prophet Muhammad (SAAW-May God Bless him and Grant him Peace), as a mercy to the whole of humanity. He, Glorified and Exalted, sent down The Noble Qur’an through him as a Light and a Guidance so that His creation could learn, respect, love, and honor, not only Him (SWT-Glorified and Exalted), but themselves individually and collectively. He Commanded the prophet Muhammad (SAAW) clarify what The Lord had Revealed to people so that they might reflect. The words and actions of the prophet Muhammad (SAAW) made clear to us, everything we needed to know about the proper methods by which one should conduct their lives. He (SAAW) instructed his companions (RAA- May Allah Be Pleased with them) to convey his teaching to those of us who were not among them. May the Peace and Blessings be upon him, upon his family, and his good and pure companions who expended their property and their lives to the spread the Way and Path of Islam. It is due to the effort of Companions of the prophet Muhammad (SAAW) and countless generations of Muslims that have allowed this author-a descendant of Scotch-Irish pig farmers and West African slaves, to state the sublime testification of faith: I testify that there is nothing worthy of worship except The One True and Living God, Alone, and without partner, and I testify that Muhammad ibn Abdullah, is the servant and messenger of God (SAAW).

All men can find detractors. All men are broken vessels. All men have their sins. And yet, I submit to my detractors, whomever they are, that it is a correct and wise course of action to inquire as to whether the voice of a mere citizen is worthy of being heard. After all, one should ascertain the source of ideas as much as the ideas themselves, especially in relation to politics. Politics is not only and merely concerned with law and government, but at its essence, it is the study of human interaction, on all levels, as it relates to the dynamics of power, hierarchy, resource accumulation, distribution, and exchange, but paradoxically and ultimately, the innate theory of social justice. When any individual attempts to speak about human interaction, it is completely correct for that individual to provide the required information to his audience, friend and foe alike. I was born Preston Henry Andrew Scott, to a fifteen year old mother and a father whose age and presence in my life both have escaped me since January 1, 1976. As aforementioned, I was born in the City of New Brunswick, New Jersey like all kids from Somerset, Franklin Township. Franklin Township has no hospital, so we were all born in either Saint Peter’s or Middlesex County, which would later become Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. My grandparents’ home was on Bartle Road, and the working class inhabited our neighborhood. In 1976, the working class still had its dignity and an opportunity for social advancement. There was love, but there was violence in the home. As I grew older, I was more accustomed to the screaming, the fighting, the punching, the swearing; and at 11 or 12, I began to feel resentment and then full hatred of my mother. My sin, in her eyes, was resembling and reminding her of my father and for this I was beaten; called every ‘motherfuckin’ piece of shit nigga’ ever phrased; robbed of dignity; and compelled to question my self-worth. From the ages of 10 until the age of 17, I was humiliated, degraded, abused, and despised until, with high school diploma under arm I ran away from home, to my maternal aunt’s home awaiting my eighteenth birthday and freedom. This began what two of my therapists have called the period of post-traumatic stress disorder. This is all I will say to my detractors, for my sins, my mistakes, my self-destructive and unholybehavior are for Allah (SWT), and Allah Alone. Instead, I will state with some pride, that I was able to fight through deep depression and confusion enough to get accepted to Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and with many years of trial and error, graduate with a degree in Political Science. Furthermore, let there be no misunderstanding that I am from the bottom of this American society. The blood of Scotch-Irish farmers and West African slaves and sharecroppers flows through my veins. Their stories, when put into a political/historical context, provide me with a sense of immense honor to be their descendant.

One of my ancestors had his freedom and humanity stolen, and then sold to some white man centuries ago. That ancestor survived the torments of extreme heat and hunger, stormy seas, the surreal fear of the unknown, the smell of urine and feces, the denial of Liberty Granted to him by The One True and Living God, whether he knew Him or not, and the depravation of humanity. If that ancestor was a woman, add the lost of her dignity, honor, and chastity, as she became the toy of European sailors far from home and the sight of women. Once on American shores, in my maternal grandparents and great grandparents’ home of Virginia, that ancestor survived the sting of the lash, the lost of language, made the unfamiliar the familiar, and through all of this still believed in love, in hope, and in a brighter future for children that belonged to his or her master and owner. Perhaps my family began its integration into American society on the fields on a Tidewater plantation, but as the nation grew, there are two centers, to second-homes in Old Virginia, that will forever remain in my memory and in my heart. Wallahi, I was born in New Jersey, but I realize that I am nothing more than a transplanted Virginian. My maternal grandfathers people is full of extremely fair skinned, sometime blue eyed, people that are obviously not of full, perhaps even a quarter African descent. The details of what truly happened and how, are something I intend to ask Allah, should I have the opportunity in the Next World. Yet, some family, some man, perhaps some woman, from Appalachia of Anglo-Celtic descent belongs to my family, as my family belongs to theirs. Indeed, we are kin, and so much so, that the Virginia record has my ancestor living as free people in the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Albemarle County, Virginia in 1850, some eleven years prior to the first shot at Fort Sumter. My maternal grandmother’s people were not so Blessed. They were slaves right up until the end. Indeed, my grandmother’s parents were named Clarence and Rose Street, and Grandma Rose was the daughter of a wonderful woman, my great-great grandmother, known to me as Mama Hicks. As I child, we often went to their home some seventy miles west of Richmond, where the interstate led to a two-lane highway. One could see nothing but peaceful blackness at night, for each and every time I have been on that two-lane highway, rarely if ever have a seen an on-coming vehicle of any kind. Some ways down that two-lane highway there was a dirt road, and all in a row was relative after relative’s home on both sides. For those that cannot make the connection, those relatives’ homes were built on the slave cabins that stood perhaps three-quarters to a full mile, from this grand edifice of the South, that was, perhaps still is, owned by the white family that once owned mine under the laws of the Republic. My aunt Francis worked in the home as ‘nanny’ to the white family’s children, during my childhood. Mama Hicks was born in 1896 and lived until 2000. Born in the year that the Cleveland administration handed power to William McKinley, this woman, who even at a 100 years of age was lucid, intelligent, and tough lived during two world wars; the horse give way to the automobile; a man walk on the moon; the Korean War, Vietnam, and her nation go from a Republic to an Empire. Her mother and grandmother were slaves, who worked the land on the very ground where he trailer home stood. She once relayed some family history to my mother, who was gathering information for her senior thesis at Douglass College, Rutgers University in 1984-1985. While sitting on the dirt floor of their cabin, Mama Hicks’ grandmother would brush her long, straight black hair-genes passed onto her from her either full or part Native American father. While brushing her hair, this grandmother of mine would tell another grandmother of mine, the horrors of slavery that are so often overlooked in the annals of history, almost as if it never happened. If a slave, man or woman, was to attempt or successfully runaway, an example was made for any and all other slaves to witness. Slave babies were cut, perhaps even killed, prior to their bodies being thrown to hogs. Hogs, as Allah Has Created them, will eat just about anything, and I wonder how many of my ancestors had to watch as their children or the children of their fellow slaves were devoured on the muddy, feces-filled pens of the hogs they would butcher and serve to master, mistress, and their fine, dignified guests. This is America as it was, and Wallahi Al-Theem, this is a true and authentic story of my family’s suffering under the Stars and Stripes. Little is known of the history of my Scotch-Irish family on my maternal grandfather’s side; perhaps the ‘miscengation’ was begun by an overseer, a master, or like my paternal grandmother’s parents, true love between a Scotch-Irish man and an African-American woman. I do not know, save for this immutable fact: there are no other European people I would wish to be descended from than the Irish, Catholic or Ulsterman. The Scotch-Irish came to American beginning in the 1720s, first settled in Pennsylvania, and then began to move into Virginia and the Carolinas. Their descendants were the first to settle Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and the large majority came to America of their own free will and volition. Ardent supporters of the American Revolution, the Whiskey Rebellion, and in all probability in the case of my ancestors, the Confederate States of America, I see the genetic propensity for religion, fighting and guns, slight insanity, and the love of bourbon within me and within my maternal grandfather’s people. I love this blood just as I love the blood of the West African that is within my veins and my heart. It is my life force. It is these people, the Scotch-Irish, that have given me my red-beard, my extremely white skin, and the realization that I am from an extremely hardened and fierce people. It is my blood-my life-force-that allows me to state with full confidence that I am, without any doubt, a descendant of the original Americans. In short, this is my country! To my detractors, because my ancestors have paid the ultimate price with every tobacco plant chopped and dried; every whip of the lash; every bullet fired into British ranks in the Revolution and the War of 1812; every misguided step at Antietam, Gettysburg, Petersburg, and Appomattox; every baby devoured by pigs: the voice of this citizen has the right to speak and to be heard. Furthermore, because I have exercised my Universal Right of Conscience and determined that there is nothing worthy of worship except The One True and Living God (Allah in the Arabic language) and that Muhammad, son of Abdullah, born on the Arabian Peninsula, in the City of Mecca, 1,400 years ago is the servant and messenger of The One True and Living God and is the Seal of the Prophets (SAAW) in a line that began with the first man, Adam, and includes Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus, son of Mary, in a culminating line, as an American it would be wise for you to hear, listen, and attempt to understand my words for they may save so many lives and unnecessary destruction. There is nothing unique or special about me personally, save for I can bridge the gap between two civilizations that have no need for conflict.

I am of the original Americans, both black and white. Wallahi Al-Theem, I am not interested in destroying America. I am not interested in killing its people. I am not interested in bombing its subways, its bridges, its tunnels, nor am I interested in compelling any of its people to accept my religious views in place of their own Universal Right of Conscience. I simply wish to exercise said Universal right, which has caused some personal history to expire. The name Preston Henry Andrew Scott is too diminutive, too meaningless, and in the final analysis, no longer describes who and what I am. This is not a cultural attempt at breaking the mental or psychological bonds of slavery, for Islam has already succeeded in the latter process. The name Preston Henry Andrew Scott has died, and Isma’il, the son of Bilal (my father’s legally assumed name) has risen. Isma’il is the name of the first son of the prophet Abraham, and means ‘he who Allah Hears’. The only thing I could or wish to add to my name: Isma’il ibn Bilal, is the geographical title: Al-Amerikini (The American) for this is the only adjective that truly explain me to the Muslim world.

The Universal Right of Conscience is a tradition of both the Liberal Political Tradition and that of the Islamic. Allah Says in the 109th Surah of The Holy Qur’an:

Say: O ye that reject Faith; I worship not that which ye worship; nor will ye worship that which I worship; And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship; nor will ye worship that which I worship; to you be your Way and to me mine.

In the 2nd Surah of The Holy Qur’an, ayat 256, Allah Says:

Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out Clear from Error: who rejects Tagut[1] and believes in Allah hath grasped The Most Trustworthy Hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah Heareth and Knoweth all things.

No human can compel another as to what to believe or not to believe, for Faith, Religion, Politics, are matters of personal choice and conviction. This is a lesson that both the Muslim and the West must learned to accept, in particular since both the Islamic and Liberal Political traditions recognize it as a major tenet of liberty and freedom. It is only the Muslim political idiot that cries for the implementation of Shari’ah Law in London, Toronto, Paris, or New York, but makes no effort to see the implementation of Shari’ah Law in Riyadh, Dubai, Cairo, or Algiers. Indeed, nowhere on the earth at this contemporary time, is there a single legitimate Islamic Republic! Instead of trying to force the British or the American governments to adopt Islamic Ways and Actions, the Islamic Nationalist seeks to compel Muslim governments to adopt and propagate the Ways, Actions, commitment to Social Justice of The Islamic Political Philosophy. Furthermore, the only way to legitimize this compulsion of Muslim governments is through the democratic-republican process, which requires a study of American Political Theory. As the prophet, Muhammad (SAAW) said in two hadiths to which I will paraphrase: seek knowledge even as far as China, and take what is good and leave what is bad.

Something very inaccurate is happening in the nation of my birth, for it has forgotten the words of men who supported and defended the original and authentic Tea Party and the Revolution it begat, and like King, some where I read:

The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason and right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares the coercion is a departure from the plan of The Holy Author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word ‘Jesus Christ’, so that it should read ‘a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion’. The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.[2]

Some where I read:

We the subscribers, citizens of the said Commonwealth, having taken into serious consideration, a Bill printed by order of the last Session of General Assembly, entitled ‘A Bill establishing a provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion’ and conceiving that the same if finally armed with the sanctions of a law, will be a dangerous abuse of power, are bound as faithful members of a free State to remonstrate against it, and to declare the reasons by which we are determined. We remonstrate against the said Bill; (1) because we hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth, ‘that religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence’. The religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate...(2) because if religion be exempt from the authority of the society at large, still less can it be subject to that of the legislative body. The latter are but the creatures and vicegerents of the former. Their jurisdiction is both derivative and limited...the preservation of a free Government requires not merely, that metes and bounds which separate each department of power be invariably maintained; but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the great Barrier which defends the rights of the people. The Rulers who are guilty of such an encroachment, exceed the commission from which they derive their authority, and are Tyrants. The People who submit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority derived from them, and are slaves...(3) Because it is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of Citizens, and one the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution...(4) Because the Bill violates that equality which ought to be the basis of every law[3]

The non-Muslim, often racist, but certainly extreme conservative within American society has used the words, ‘tyrant’ in relation to their government and ‘slave’ in reference to themselves, while ironically being blinded by their own hatred for the first non-white Executive-in-Chief, whose name represents a worldview unlike that of their own. This is merely his name, though his political and economic values represent a man whom their parents and grandparents loved more than any other in the twentieth century. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inappropriately tagged a socialist, a secret Communist, but never an enemy of the very nation he governed and certainly never a Muslim. Therefore, we the American Muslims are compelled to question: who are becoming the true tyrants and who the true slaves?

All over the nation, it is our houses of worship that are being vandalized and burned. It is our brothers and sisters who are being humiliated in airports. It is our people being stabbed in taxis by intoxicated persons claiming to work in our benefit during sobriety. It the Republican Party’s strategy to emphasize the danger of our presence in these United States, in order to regain control of the United States Congress and possibly the Executive branch in 2012. It is their established candidates who are unable to win primary elections and instead their constituents are choosing ultra-right wing extremists to ultimately hold power within Government. Individuals who have all but forgotten, twisted, or simply ignored the principles of American democratic-republicanism, and will enacted laws that will violate equality which ought to be the basis of every law. Their advisors will attempt to use my past, my personal history to discredit me as worthy of a voice within the political forum in my own nation. My retort is simple:

I believe in the brotherhood of man, all men, but I don't believe in brotherhood with anybody who doesn't want brotherhood with me. I believe in treating people right, but I'm not going to waste my time trying to treat somebody right who doesn't know how to return the treatment.[4]

It is an unfortunate reality that my brothers and sisters in Islam will soon face. The Arabs and those of the Indian subcontinent that have deemed it appropriate to diminish, or otherwise make cursory, our bond will soon be forced to embrace it with the highest levels of intensity. For they are, socially, culturally, and systemically being relegated to the status of ‘niggas’ in the 19th and 20th century Jim Crow era. They are soon to learn how the very people who claim to cherish the principles such a phrase represents can deny life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness to them. And my question is simple to all Muslims: what are you prepared to do?

Silence is no answer at all, just moral and political cowardice. Violent extremism and the indiscriminate killing of innocents and oneself is a violation of The Laws of The One True and Living God, and only leads to Hellfire. So what shall be done and what are you prepared to do? For me, personally, it is time to leave and I make preparations to do just this. America is not worth another investment, another drop of my God-Given bloodline. I see the winds of freedom and change elsewhere in lands where the Adhan can be heard for miles. I seek to invest in my own people and leave America to her own devices. I pray she is not destroyed, but I will not shed another tear or lift another mound to save her, for the evolving standards of decency are too subjective, too meaningless, and I am a Muslim who loves Allah, His messenger (SAAW), His Deen Islam. I am Isma’il ibn Bilal, the American.

Isma'il ibn Bilal

1 comment:

  1. SubanAllah...Great job! A powerful read. Thank you for sharing.