Despite the string of recent terror arrests in the US, the Muslim faith continues to convert many average African-Americans, who say they are attracted by Islam’s emphasis on equality, discipline and family.
But American black Muslim Sekou Jackson admits the life is not without its challenges. “It’s kind of a double whammy to be African-American and Muslim,” said Jackson, who studies the Navy at the National Academy of Science in Washington. “You’re going to be judged.”
“The unique history African-Americans have faced, we’re primed for accepting Islam,” said Jackson. “When someone comes to you with a message that everyone is equal, that the only difference is the deeds that they do, of course people who have been oppressed will embrace that message…it’s a message of fairness.”
A Pew survey estimated that 35 percent of all American Muslims are African-Americans, mostly orthodox Sunnis.
At the Quba Institute in Philadelphia, a black Sunni mosque, the worshippers are a mix of blue-collar workers, young college graduates, professors, law enforcement officers, and “regular people who are just trying to worship God and live a decent life,” said the imam, Anwar Muhaimin.
Marc Manley, a local black Muslim, said that many blacks who have struggled with crime, drugs or alcohol are drawn to Islam’s regimented lifestyle, which includes prayers five times a day.
“Especially in the urban context, it provides a vehicle for African-Americans to deal with those ills,” he said. “It provides a buffer or a barrier.”