5 Black Muslims You Should Know About

Islam and Black history go hand in hand.

This has been the case since the start of the religion over 1400 years ago. From Bilal ibn Rabah to Malcolm X, Islam has never existed without Black Muslims.

In the U.K. alone, Black Muslims make up over 10% of the Muslim population. Despite this, a quick search on popular figures in Islam would have you convinced otherwise because the Black Muslim perspective is often forgotten about. Many young Muslims do not feel like they have enough positive role models to look up towhich we wanted to challenge. 

Here are some inspiring Black Muslims to look at and learn from:

  1. Mustafa Briggs

Neither Islamic history or Black history are included in our educational curriculums. Knowing your history is a powerful thing, but when the textbooks and movies talk about people who look nothing like you, it is hard to know where to start.

Our role models as young Muslims are usually limited to Muhammed Ali and Malcolm X. As amazing as these men were, the Black contribution to the faith is so much more than just two individuals. Following the work of Mustafa Briggs is like getting the Black History lesson you always needed as a child. Listening and learning to his lecture series ‘Beyond Bilal: Black History in Islam’ is eye-opening and a much-needed reminder of our heritage and our continued presence in the faith. 

  1. Professor Amina Wadud

As a Muslim and a feminist, you might wonder how these two identities can co-exist. The media often paints Islam as a very oppressive religion that controls women, but this is simply not true. Islam empowers women. Professor Amina Wadud is a scholar and teacher who has dedicated her life to educating others on how Islam and feminism must always co-exist

Amina is also a revert to Islam, which makes her work even more powerful as reverts are often overlooked in our discussions about Islam.  

Wadud believes that the patriarchy goes against the words of God because “placing men above women contradicts the Qur’anic vision of equal and reciprocal relationships.”

  1. The Village Auntie

Romance and intimacy are also significant parts of gender equality but are often viewed as too ‘taboo’ and shameful to discuss publicly. Islam promotes healthy intimate relationships. Prohibiting sex education only causes more unhealthy relationships, which is why The Village Auntie works so hard to inform Muslim women on how to have safe, consensual sex.

She discusses sex in a spiritual context and draws on the African traditions of storytelling to do so. Islam should uplift women to make informed decisions on their body and their life, which is exactly how you feel when listening to The Village Auntie speak.

  1. Warsan Shire

The Black contribution to Islam is equally as soft as it is strong. Islam is a religion of love and creativity, which is why it is crucial to highlight the work of Black Muslim artists, as well as political figures.

Reading the work of Warsan Shire will fill your heart with happiness and a sense of belonging. Warsan was the first Young Poet Laureate for London  – a quick read of her poetry clearly shows you why. In Islam, Allah and the Ummah (Muslim community) are a source of continuous love; this comes across so clearly in Warsan’s poetry.

“The only darkness we should allow into our lives is the night, for even then, we have the moon.”

  1. Dahaba Ali Hussen

When we talk about Black history, it is important that our identities are not just limited to our race. Only asking Black people to speak about race is problematic because it reduces us down to just our trauma. This is a real issue in the media. Dahaba Ali Hussen is a Somali journalist, producer, and activist who is working hard to challenge this.

Dahaba’s work is empowering and educational because she speaks about all issues that impact our communities – not just the ones that focus on race.  She is currently campaigning for the3Million who are an organisation that supports all EU citizens that live in the U.K. She asks the question of where she fits into society as a Black, Muslim women, which is why her work is so unique and interesting. 

If you would like to explore Islam or Black History further:

This post was written by one of our Community Ambassadors, Ammaarah Zayna. Artwork provided by Khadija Said.

Find out more about Ammaarah and Khadija here.