It has been our experience here in America that any discussion of the ethnicity of the Prophet Muhammad, especially that he may have been a black-skinned man, is frowned upon by traditional African American Muslims (Sunni, Shiite, followers of Imam W.D. Mohammed, etc.). More often than not these Muslims will even refuse to entertain the discussion, claiming that Islam doesn’t “do” race. The evidence now available that the Holy Prophet from Arabia was a black-skinned man (asmar/abyad) like the original Arabs, including his own tribal clan the Banu Hashim, is not even countenanced by most African Americans Muslims; not because there is a problem with the information, but because it allegedly does not matter what the color of Allah’s last prophet was.
We had a very different experience in Africa. We, members of the Allah Team, spent five days in Johannesburg, South Africa (August 10-15, 2011). The brothers and sisters with whom we discussed these matters accepted, some excitedly, this revelation. Our first experience was at Masjid Ur-Rahmanah in Emmarentia, where we went to make Salat ul-Jumah. It appears that this was mainly an Indian Muslim masjid. There was a small scatter of Black African Muslims there, but they seem to have been largely menial workers at the Masjid from places other than South Africa, primarily Malawi. After salat we took the opportunity to meet the imam, Imam Buhaan Mia, who was Indian. We also, and firstly, met several Malawi Muslims, including Bro Omar and Bro Isa. We discussed their reasons for being in Johannesburg – extreme poverty back in Malawi – and the issue of race in the South African ummah. When I shared with the brothers my research into the African context of the early ummah and the fact that the Prophet likely looked more like them than like the conventional white-skinned image, there were no protests offered. They seemed genuinely pleased to hear this. I gave the brothers copies of my book, “God’s Black Prophets: Deconstructing the Myth of the White Muhammad of Arabia and Jesus of Jerusalem.” They seemed very pleased to receive it. In fact, Bro Isa, who was the elder among and the voice for a group of about five Malawi Muslims, urged us to come to Malawi and establish a masjid for the people.
In Hillbrow we met a Muslim brother from Mali, West Africa, who very excitedly received the news and the book.
Our guide around Johannesburg for the last two days of our trip was an African Christian brother, Tshishiwa. We had a great time with him and got the opportunity to meet his beautiful wife. As we were in his cab for hours, we had a lot of good discussion. We learned a great deal from him about Black life in Apartheid and post-Apartheid South Africa, as he was there in 1994 when Apartheid was officially ended. When our discussion got to religion and I shared with him the data indicating that his Jesus was not a White man, but a black-skinned man, probably like him, it was almost like a fire was set in his soul. He very happily received the news. I gave him a copy of my book, which he and his wife began reading immediately. In fact, Tshishiwa would at times sit in his cab reading the book as Wakeel and I were out exploring the land.
Aryanized Islam and Europeanized Christianity have had a devastating impact on Africa and her children, on the continent as well as in the Diaspora. They have caused social, spiritual, psychological, political, economic and physical devastation. There is no clearer example of the type of psychological devastation Aryanized Islam has caused than the report from the Canadian anthropologist Janice Boddy from the University of Toronto. In her ethnographic study of women in the Sudan entitled, “Wombs and Alien Spirits: Women, Men, and the Zar Cult in Northern Sudan,” Prof Boddy reports:
“Hofriyati (i.e. Sudanese villagers) are especially conscious of skin color. White skin is clean, beautiful, and a mark of potential holiness. I, being a Caucasian, was repeated told that my chances of getting into heaven – should I choose to become Muslim – were far greater than those of the average Sudani. This is because the Prophet Mohammed was white, and all white-skinned peoples are in the favored position of belonging to his tribal group.”
The equally fictitious ‘White Jesus’ has had an equally negative impact on the minds and souls of our people in Africa. While looking through a bookstand owned by a white South African in Hillbrow – the infamous ‘hood’ of Joburg – I was not surprised to see on the table an illustrated copy of the Bible: all whites gracing the cover, the central figure of course being the white Jesus (see image above). SMH.
The white-skinned Muhammad and white-skinned Jesus have been and remain the chief agents of the psychological genocide of African peoples. They are both figments of the White imagination and bear no resemblance to the historical prophets Muhammad and Jesus, as I have demonstrated. I do not believe that Africa and her children – continental and diasporan – can ever truly be free and/or psychologically/spiritually healthy until we bury these white (im)pious fictions.
What are we to make of the different receptions of this information in the African and African American communities? The fact that this information is more welcomed in Africa than in African America no doubt speaks to the impact of the “seasoning” or “breaking” process that Africans underwent here in the western hemisphere. This process of “seasoning” – breaking a proud African population down in order to reconstitute them as non-threatening and useful slaves in the America’s – wiped out our collective sense of self-love and self-respect, and replaced these with a deep and abiding self-hatred. We can thus understand why a black-skinned Muhammad and a black-skinned Jesus would be as offensive to many Black Americans as it is for most White Americans. Africa experienced the indignity and devastation of colonialism and neo-colonialism and apartheid; she has and continues to experience exploitation and rape, of her people and resources. But Africa herself has not experienced the ‘peculiar’ institution of American-style slavery and its ‘seasoning’ processes. We here in the West have a deeper mental pathology to deal with.
Bro Wesley Muhammad