African American Studies is a multidisciplinary academic field that includes the study of the history, politics, culture, and religion of Black Americans. This discipline is a sensitive one, because it can be taught from different perspectives and through varied viewpoints from one teacher to another. Therefore, it is vital for the department of Africana studies to have a set basis of how the subjects will be discussed and through what lens it will be taught. Unlike other academic disciplines, African American Studies was fought for during a very critical political, social, and economic period in the United States history. Therefore, this discipline faces significant pressure in order to prove that the fight was worth it and that students are gaining the knowledge necessary to nourish their minds with facts other than those commonly taught in schools. From the wide range of disciplines seen in Africana studies, I would like to put an emphasis on the religion of Islam and its effect on the lives of African Americans. The first Muslims who arrived in America were African slaves, which means that those slaves came with a culture and set of traditions that were suppressed by social constructs and the circumstances they came to. Throughout the paper, I will show how Islam helped African Americans have a sense of community and dignity, as well as a reason to live and pursue what God sent them to do. In essence, following a religion played an essential role in the lives of African Americans in the United States.

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Introduction

Africana studies can be taught in many different ways. This paper will evaluate the religion of Islam within the African American Community. Understanding the religious aspects of the community can help understand its origin, socialization, and general history. Islam in the United States was introduced by slaves and later strengthened by immigrants from Arab countries. It is more popular among the members of the black community than the whites due to historical development that shaped its spreading. African studies cover a multitude of characteristics that inform the discipline, including theories and approach. Afrocentricism, slavery, racism, black consciousness, and racial desegregation are some of the common terminologies one may encounter in this field of study. Islam in the African-American community can be understood through the examination of African studies that explain the history, experiences, religion, culture, and legacy of the back people from the time they were brought to North America as slaves till now.

Islam and the African American Community

Islam emerged in the United States mainly as a result of slavery and the arrival of immigrants from Africa and Asia. It was not an original American religion and was introduced by the groups mentioned above. Consequently, this explains the fact why Islam in the United States is firmly entrenched among the descendants of slaves and migrants from Asia and Africa. Africana studies offer an opportunity for African-Americans to build confidence in students of African origin. The whites are able to learn and appreciate the culture and heritage of their counterparts. Therefore, interracial cohesion is enhanced together the understanding of the black community's history.

During the time of slavery and slave trade, Africa was dominated by Arabs. Trade was likewise controlled by them. Thus, they were the ones who engaged in the capture and sale of slaves to the United States and other countries in South and the North America. In such a way Islam found its way to the United States with the arrival of slaves from Africa. This sense of origin provides black communities with identities and strengthens their power to fight for who they are as a way of maintaining their roots. They have a solid background when they have a religious identity. However, as the era of slavery passed, the black community began to adjust to the white norms, making them lose their identity and follow the mainstream society in order to be considered the equals of whites. This is not a good thing because they lose their identity when they do this and therefore they lose their strength.

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Islam is seen among the black community and not the white because the latter saw it as a religion of the inferior, slaves. The blacks embraced Islam as a form of resisting white domination. Islam gave them some form of independence, hence the prevalence of Islamic religious practices among the members of the African-American community. The African-Americans hold on to Islam as a religion that rekindles their heritage because it was practiced in Africa before the coming of colonialist and Christianity to Africa. Each community feels closer to the cultural and religious practices that connect with their history rather than what is foreign-based. Therefore, to understand the connection between the African community in the United States and Islam, African studies are necessary.

The domination of Islam among the African-American community is due to the historical and cultural connections, which created a sense of ownership and belonging among the blacks. It defines the origin and history of the African-American. Through Africana studies, the society learns how colored people had been exposed to Islam long before they were shipped to the United States as slaves. In the new land, the blacks maintained their heritage. The presence of Islam in this community illustrates the resilience of their culture and heritage, which has managed to wither many storms and remain relevant in the modern day.

Moreover, different political figures gravitated towards Islam and provided a sense of identity to the Black community; they explain their journey from the perspective of Islam and Africana studies. Malcolm X and his radical ideologies endeared a number of blacks to Islam. Resisting whites meant denouncing their religion too, which Malcolm X argued was used by the whites as a tool of domination by encouraging submission and peacefulness in the eyes of the tormentor. Consequently, the leadership of African-Americans advanced a narrative that favored Islam more than the rest of religious sects. The African intellectuals such as Malcolm X and Wallace Deen Mohammed contributed to Afrocentricism, binding the history of African Americans to Islam. Islamic culture was seen as a liberator that the people of color needed to embrace in order to free themselves. Therefore, Islam was a force that created independent minds. Faced with racial segregations and abuse, a substantial number of African-Americans joined and identified themselves with Islam. The move emphasized black consciousness, driving African-Americans to rediscover their origin and culture.

Moreover, according to Africana studies, African-Americans are victims of the white's cultural norms and values, which had affected their ability to identify their true selves and disclose their African beliefs and ethos. The origin of the human race is in Africa, which is the land of the black-skinned people. African immigrants in the United States can trace their culture back to the days before they were moved to the USA. Islam is an old religion that had roots in the ancient Egypt and was carried from there by African immigrants in the US, making them the first to introduce Islam to America.

The Nation of Islam and Black Community

The Nation of Islam (NOI) is a civil organization that fought for reforms in the prison systems and respect for human rights. The blacks were on the forefront of pushing for the agenda of the groups. Black Muslims had to demand the recognition of their religion inside prisons, which elevated their quest to have the prisons reformed. The net effect of this organization was the advancement of the welfare of the oppressed community. Islam has contributed to the shaping of African-Americans history in the United States. It is the pioneer religion for the black community in America. Islam contributed to provoking blacks inside the prisons. African-Americans believed that the National of Islam was a tool for fighting White domination. Therefore, they saw Islam as a religion that resonated well with their aspiration and embraced it more than the other sects. African studies have helped to reveal the mode of African-American life from the time they were brought in the United States.

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According to Blyden, the natives were natural and genuine and were thriving for progress, which was a reason for their religious attachment. Malcolm X's religious journey is likewise interconnected with Islam, which gave him a new identity. X was a staunch supporter of Elijah Muhammad and encouraged more blacks to join Islam. He was likewise among the first people who paid pilgrimage to Mecca. The take of great black leaders of the time on religious issues influenced their supporters, who were mainly African-Americans, to join a particular religious sect. Nevertheless, to Malcolm, Islam was a human tradition that applied equality to all human beings, whether they were white or black. Therefore, he saw it as an ideal religion for the blacks, thus promoting it among them for posterity.

The relation between Islam and the public life of important black figures in the history of African Americans illustrate how the religion became prevalent in the black community. Edward Wilmot Blyden was one of the most remarkable intellectual and political figures of the black English-speaking world during the 19th century, who wrote much on Islam and promoted it among the African-American community. The challenges Byeden encountered on his life journey taught him about the hatred the blacks were subjected to in the United States. He was denied a chance to pursue undergraduate studies in Rutgers Theological College because of the color of his skin. The prevailing political and social environment made it hard for the colored people to get admission to tertiary education institutions as well as secure employment. Consequently, Blyden was forced to go back to Liberia to complete his studies, from where he later traveled to the Arabic world and learned more about Islam. He reached a realization that Islam created an authentic black civilization. By looking at the journey of these great African-American scholars, African studies are able to make succinct connections between Islam and the African American community. Consequently, a review of these leaders' life brings out their contribution to understanding the value of Islam among African-Americans.

Afrocentricism

McDougal's research on the Africana studies raises concerns on whether it qualifies as a field of study, keeping in mind what its value is to students. Each discipline has a distinct unity of analysis, an approach of study, subject matter, and importance to society. Africana studies have these characteristics of a discipline, which informs the understanding of the African-Americans history and how it shapes modern life. Afrocentricity defined the African-American collective emancipation and empowerment, as well as intersectionality. An emphasis on the past experiences and culture of the Africans dominate Africana studies. It is through these studies that the learners gain in-depth knowledge about the religious beliefs of the community and other aspects of living. Consequently, Islam and its relation to the African population in the United States is best explained and understood through the study of Africana.

Moreover, Islam among African Americans can be best understood by putting it in the context of culture, history, and experiences of the blacks. The descendants of the slaves sought to maintain their identity in various way, which included religious beliefs. Embracing Christianity meant white domination and distortion of their history. Therefore, Islam was looked at as the custodian of African heritage and identity in the United States.

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African studies present unique theories that cannot be found in other disciplines, which makes it the subject worth studying. Afrocentrism is one of the major theories that define the field, thus giving it the image of an area of study that is well developed. It is from this view that one can understand a stronger presence of Islam in the black community than the white. A sense of discrimination pushed the blacks away from what was believed to be the Whiteman's mode of life, thus creating Afrocentricity. Fundamentally, Africentricity simply means placing the African-American culture, experiences, and ideas in the center of the discipline. This article can benefit my essay by using the idea of Afrocentricity while analyzing and examining the religious aspect of Africana studies.

Conclusion

African studies encompass a wide range of aspects that include religious, cultural, political, and social ones. In terms of religion, Islam can be traced back to the arrival of slaves to the United States and the later quest by African-Americans to maintain their unique identity. Africana studies are concerned with a wide range of issues that go beyond the white and black divide, desegregation, and racism. African studies are key in enabling the American community to discover and appreciate African-American history and experiences that have shaped its place in society. The study covers issues, such the origin of Africana as a discipline and its value to the society. The origin of Islam in the United States and why it is more popular among the blacks than the whites can be understood by examining the aspects of Africana. Afrocentricity informed the growth of Islam among the black community in the United States. The whites view it as a religion of the slaves, whereas the African-Americans see it as a religion that is authentically for them courtesy of the fact that it was brought to the United States by the slaves. Thus, Islam is linked to the African-Americans more than the whites.

Apr 14, 2021 in Sociology

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