The Black Dawah Network (BDN) launched a National Dawah Campaign, October 15, 2020 to reignite the spirit of Islam in Black America. Members hosted an Islamic Outreach event in the Uptown section of New Orleans. Inspired by the Islamic tradition of moral upliftment, the Black Dawah Network’s hood to hood dawah program sent formerly incarcerated African-American reverts to Islam back to their communities and other neighborhoods hardest hit by structural racism to promote the beauty of Islam. The Muslims warn the hood on the traps that the system of white supremacy sets up for Black men and women in the hood and give Qu’rans and Malcolm X autobiographies to those interested in learning more about Islam.
Malcolm X once said “In the ghettos the white man has built for us, he has forced us to not aspire to greater things, but to view everyday living as survival.” He found Islam and it transformed his life. That transformation motivated Siddiq Shahid to get involved with BDN and organize the dawah event. He describes his younger self as being “wild and out of control.” That landed himself not only in prison but in the hole. When he was released from the hole, an older, wiser African-American Muslim prisoner began to mentor him. This led to Shahid being around the Muslims. He was around them so much that one day, the prison was serving pork but had another line for the Muslims to have non-pork food. He avoided the line for the pork and decided instead to go to the line for the Muslims. Soon after, he decided to take his shahada and join the ranks of the Muslims. Giving dawah in the community helps keep him on the straight path.
The Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Black men are overrepresented within Lousania’s prisons. While Black males from 15 to 84 represent only 26% of New-Orleans total population, they constitute 81% of people in jail. African-Americans make up 67% of the New Orleans population but constitute 85% of the people living below the poverty line. Legendary New-Orleans Rapper Lil Wayne once said “Stuck in the hood like they put cement on us.” As early as 1937, a racial caste system would be enforced by the New Orleans Housing Authority who explicitly established segregated housing for African-Americans. African-Americans were intentionally placed in areas most susceptible to flooding. In the mid 1950s, the New Orleans Housing Authority established over 7000 segregated public housing units for Blacks which were often placed near chemical waste dumps to ensure that Black people breathed in polluted air.
Decades later, Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent covid-19 dealt a significant blow to the standard of living of African-Americans in New-Orleans. African-American homeowners were three times as likely as whites to have their homes destroyed not as a result of chance but deliberate housing policies that restricted African-American housing opportunities to areas closer to areas susceptible to flooding.
The Muslims are Here!
The day started with Shahid Siddiqi and his team in the community of upton, New Orleans. They gave Dawah to all who would stop and listen. They gave out Qur’ans and copies of the Autobiography of Malcolm X. The team reported that the residents were very humble, receptive, and eager to learn more about Islam. One brother went into the corner store with his Autobiography of Malcolm X, others there wanted to know where he had acquired it. He directed them to brother Shahid Siddiqi. Siddiqui said he was honored to tell the brothers about the beautiful religion of Islam and how it could transform lives and communities.
BDN National Dawah Coordinator Qasim Shabazz said, “We have a responsibility as Black Muslims to bring Islam to our people. It has the answers to address the needs of our people.”
Black Dawah Network was founded by Hakeem Muhammad in 2019. He is a public defender in Malcolm X’s former Roxbury community and through scholarship works to defend African-American political dissent and political thought.