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Islam, African Immigration and the Black Encounter

Zain Abdullah Assistant Professor of Religion, Race, and Ethnicity, at Temple University

A Lecture by Zain Abdullah Assistant Professor of Religion, Race, and Ethnicity, Temple University

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 7:00 p.m. Science Center 199

West Africans constitute one of the fastest growing populations among American Muslims today. Because westerners believe Islam is an Arab faith, however, most ignore the Muslim identity of these black immigrants, even though Islam has been an integral part of West African life for centuries. During their settlement, these immigrants try to reconcile their Black and African identities; however, relations between them and their Black counterparts are often strained. Blacks view the immigrants as scornful invaders and Africans see American-born Blacks as incorrigible slackers. Other Blacks embrace Africans for the opportunity to reclaim their African heritage and adopt a renewed blackness. Altogether, the boundaries of African and Black identities are at times contested, mediated, or overlapped. In a harsh political climate that demonizes Islam, criminalizes race, and penalizes unwanted foreigners, African Muslims challenge prevailing notions of what it means to be a Muslim, Black, and African in post-9/11 America. Join us as we unravel the various strands of this matrix and view a short film clip to augment our discussion.