Black Muslims in the U.S., whether from the Nation of Islam or part of the mainstream Islamic world, are far from united when it comes to questions of terrorism and the influence of Osama bin Laden, reports the New Republic magazine (Nov. 19).
While black Muslims should be in a position to help correct fellow American misunderstandings of Islam, they are as divided in opinion about September 11 and Osama bin Laden as their immigrant and overseas Middle Eastern counterparts, writes Michelle Cottle. Louis Farrakhan and other leaders of the separatist Nation of Islam have been critical of the American counterattack on bin Laden, believing that the U.S. government is more interested in eradicating Islam. Polls have shown that the black community as a whole is “more critical than whites of the U.S. war on terror,” Cottle writes.
Even W. Deen Mohammad, who led a large breakaway group from the NOI and is among the most authoritative voices for mainstream black Muslims, has remained largely silent on bin Laden and terrorism after issuing a brief condemnation of the September 11 attacks. Imam Abdul Malik Mohammed, one of Deen Mohammed’s associates, has been among the more outspoken voices in calling for a united Black Muslim voice against any extremism and “ugly ranting and raving” against the U.S.
But Cottle concludes that the tendency of American whites to associate “genuine” Islam with Middle Eastern immigrants may make it difficult for even moderate Black Muslims to serve as “American ambassadors to their co-religionists.”