In The Name Of Allah,  The Beneficent, The Merciful

“O, mankind, indeed, We have created you from a male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another.  Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you.  Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted”. Al-Hujurat(49):13

As salaamu alaikum (Peace be on you).  I use the pen name “Mustafa Al-Kanemi”.  It was the study of my African heritage, in my early teens, that began the journey into Al-Islam.  As I progressed in my study of African History I grew a deep affinity with the history of Kanem-Bornu.   I identified it as my own history and the Kanembu as my ancestoral people.  I attribute it to “genetic memory”.  By 1999, when I began writing articles for a Baltimore Islamic Newsletter/ Magazine called, “As’Salaam News”, I added Al-Kanemi to my last name and thus my pen name.

The Kanembu House is a dream of mine to include a library and research center (eventually something along the lines of the Schomberg Center in Harlem, N.Y) which would, at first, include the personal library I possess. It will be open to all.  It will be, insha’Allah, based on a New African (African-American) Islamic theme.

New Africa

  In the mid-’90’s, Imam W.D. Mohammed came up with the concept of an Islamic community called “New Africa”.  The Imam was the son of Nation of Islam leader, Elijah Muhammad.  He assumed leadership of the movement upon his father’s death in 1975.  (This coincided with the beginning of my studies into my heritage)  He changed the Black Nationalist focused Nation Of Islam (NOI) into the World Community of Al-Islam in the West (WCIW) a mainstream Islamic organization.   He called the members “Bilalians” after Bilal ibn (son of) Rabah, the first mu’adhadhan (caller to prayer) of Al-Islam who was Ethiopian (Habashi).  Some scholars immediately took offense to that arguing that if it was erroneous for us as Muslims to be reffered to as “Mohammadans”, (as Christians were named for Christ and Buddhist for Buddha, implying worship) then it would be equally erroneous to name a people after Bilal.   By 1980 the “Bilalian” was discarded.  The weekly newspaper, the old “Muhammad Speaks” renamed the “Bilalian News” became the “A.M. Muslim Journal” (then later, “Muslim Journal”), to reflect the organization’s new name “American Muslim Mission” (AMM).   In 1985, Imam W.D. Mohammed resigned from the leadership and disbanded the AMM, telling his people to join the greater Muslim Community.  He established WDM Ministries.   The movement went through a few name changes before settling on “Muslim American Society” in the latter ’90s.  The Imam actually remained the head of the movemnent while still maintaining his ministry as a separate organization.  The ministry was later renamed “The Mosque Cares” and it remain that way until the Imam’s death in 2008.  About a year or so before his death, the Imam again resigned as the leader of the movement by this time the movement was called, “American Muslim Society” (AMS).  This was because an immigrant founded group out of Falls Church, VA started using the name “Muslim American Society”.  The two MAS groups caused confusion.   The Imam decided to change the name of his organization to end the confusion.  The Imams of the majority of the masajid (mosques) in the movement began to also resign from the MAS and pledged their support to “The Mosque Cares” thus ending the AMS.  Today, the movement is called “Associates of Imam W.D. Mohammed”.   “The Mosque Cares” is now headed by his son, Wallace Muhammad II.

  Some of the organizations within the “Association” took on the “New Africa” name.  New Africa Radio is the official online radio of the movement.  Masjids and Islamic Centers such as D.C.’s New Africa Islamic Community Center,  Philadelphia’s New Africa Center, Muslim American Museum & Archive, and New Africa Islamic Community in Austin, TX are at least some examples.

  New Africa concept was identical to the concept I had for Kanem-Bornu.  I actually added “Kanem- Bornu Islamic Community” to the name of the now-defunct “Masjid-ur Rahman” (’91-’93) I founded in Mobile, Al., while an Imam in Imam Jamil Al-Amin’s (former H. Rap Brown) “National Community” now known as “Al-Ummah”.  The “New Africa” concept was instrumental in attracting me to the Imam W.D. Mohammed (he changed the spelling of his name from Muhammad, I believe, because that is the way it was on his birth certificate) movement.   As Allah says in the above ayat (vesrse) of Qur’an, that He created us different peoples and tribes, there is nothing wrong in Islam to identify yourself with your peoples heritage and culture as long as you do not say you are superior to anyone else because of it.  As a Muslim African-American or New African Muslim, I understand that Al-Islam is interwined with my own African heritage.  A heritage that also shared by some the indigineous people of  the Americas.  We are a part of the “Ummah” (the global Muslim Community).