Back to Previous Page

Bookmark This Page

  Home    

TURTLE ISLAND MUSLIMS

To Contact Us:

Beliefs      

Join theTI_Muslims

  Culture    

Culture

Forum

Life        
  Creative Native  

 

Home || Beliefs || Culture || Life || Creative Native || About Us

Turtle Island Muslims Symbol

     

OPINION

Goodness Outside of Muslim Cultures?

by Saraji Umm Zaid
 
Salaam ‘Alaikum
 
Maybe it’s all that Into the West and Bury My Heart reading. More likely it’s this heat wave that has me on edge (I should really be kept away from human contact until it breaks). Maybe other wise, the sheer ridiculousness of something I read yesterday and today wouldn’t set me off, but…
 
[ warning: rant ahead. warning. warning. ]
 
 
 
Why do some Muslims have to concoct these elaborate theories that everything “good” or “positive” about indigenous American cultures (Indian or Hawa’iian) came from some supposed pre-Colombian contact w/ the Arabs? Isn’t it enough that Native people have had to take the same racist, condescending nonsense from the Europeans for 500 years (on top of the genocidal violence), now you have to hear it from the Muslims too? Shouldn’t Muslims, under assault from the likes of Friedman, Faux News, two centuries of Orientalism, and so forth, know better?
 
It reminds me of the dad in Big Fat Greek Wedding, where he tries to prove that every single word, every single positive thing in the world, came out of classical Greek culture. “Give me a word, any word!”
 
You know, the Arabs are not responsible for every good thing on Earth, and neither are the Muslims. Allah ta’ala Is Responsible for every good thing on Earth, and He Says that He sent a Messenger to EVERY nation and people — that includes the indigenous American people. And since He’s the Creator, He can Choose whatever peoples He Wills to bring this good thing about — including Americans, and including indigenous Americans. So we should stop trying to take credit for something that isn’t ours to brag about.
 
Why aren’t people more embarrassed that the most popular article circulated amongst Muslims and (sigh) for da’wah about Native Americans and Islam is widely supposed to be a forgery and hoax? It’s on par with those chain “Neil Armstrong / Jacques Cousteau has converted!” e-mails you get every six months or so. There is virtually nothing authentic or meaningful available about Islam and indigenous Americans, aside from one or two short books focusing on theories of pre-Colombian contact w/ Arabs. And as historically intriguing as they are, the mindset surrounding the people who are enthusiastic about them assumes an extinct or ossified culture. Nor do they seem to explore the very real possibility that the existence of turbans among the Seminole, or Arabic-sounding names like Ramadan came out of contact and mixing with the descendants of African slaves. Why does it have to be some Arab sailor who did this, and not the freed or self-liberated African Muslim who was enslaved?
 
Bring up da’wah that’s sensitive to Native cultures and concerns today and you would not believe the stuff you hear. Well, a lot of people are reluctant to think about it, b/c of the history of Christian witnessing among Natives. Some Native tribes were very receptive to it (almost my entire ancestral tribe converted in the 19th century and are happy Christians today — my grandfather, however, did not). Some weren’t, and I don’t blame them in the least. Given American history, that tentativeness is understandable.
 
But other people will say things like “Do they still exist?” I mean, it’s one thing to hold forth on the Trajik Indian archetype when you’re decrying American Imperialism ™ and the evils of the White dominated American gov’t (which some Muslims do often), but it’s another to, um, actually realize that, um, there are still, like, living Indians. Hm. Well. Hm. It’s not just Muslims who have this attitude either. I mean, I’ve encountered it in the general society since I was in kindergarten. But it annoys me b/c Muslims often employ the Trajik Indian in their rants and raves, yet seem to have absolutely no desire to interact with or deal with Indians today, here, now, alive.
 
When I went to a pow-wow a few years ago, some people said, “You can’t go there, Indians walk around naked in loin cloths.” After all, that’s what the mid-century Westerns that were exported to the Muslim world show Indians as. Loin cloths, feathers in the hair, and red stripes painted on the cheeks.
 
 
Boy were people surprised when I showed them that many tribes have traditional dress not unlike thobes and shalwar kameez, and that pow-wow regalia (such as the jingle dress, blue one, above) is often fairly modest looking. “Oh, these must be those tribes that had contact with the Muslims / Arabs!” As if no one ever thought of modesty until the Muslims came on the scene. Much less the more likely theory that Native costume evolved and developed after Colonial contact, or that various styles of dress were due to environment and other factors. No, it has to be the mythical pre-Colombian Arab Muslim explorers who introduced these Noble Savages to modesty and decency. (insert rolling eyes here)
 
Not every word that has an “al” syllable in it, even at the beginning of the word, came out of the Arabic language. Alabama is not some allusion to Allah or a melded word that originally was “Al-Abama,” as some Muslims theorize. It is the name derived from the Alibamu, the indigenous people of the region who gave their name to the state (they were not the only indigenous tribe in what is now Alabama; it is also the historical homeland of my tribe).
Their name, I am not sorry to tell you, does not come from the Arabic, but from the Muskogean, a family of four closely related languages. And I am further not sorry to tell you that the three different proto-Muskogean tongues evolved and developed before the Last Prophet (peace be upon him) was born — or before his grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great- grandfather, and so forth were born. Nor am I sorry to tell you that I personally recognize no similarity in grammar or vocabulary or sentence structure b/t Muskogean and Arabic (though what do I know, am not a linguist or fluent in either).
 
The same, by the way, goes for the name Tallahassee. I can see where it is very tempting to read “Allah” into that name. But it’s another one of those pesky Muskogean words. Coincidences abound in the Universe. It does not mean “God most High” or whatever this week’s theory is. It means “old fields,” or “old town” in Seminole. Rather more mundane, I’m afraid. What is more important, anyway? That Tallahassee as a name has some dubious, nebulous theorized connection to medieval Arab explorers, or that Tallahassee today has a growing Muslim community?
 
And I am really not sorry to tell you that this is a-okay with the Creator. In fact, it is He Who Tells us that He Created us from many nations and tribes, with a diversity of tongues. That means diversity, it doesn’t mean that somehow, some Arabs found their way over here before ol’ Cristobal got lost and taught the people here how to speak.
 
Also, Hawai’i? Does not come from the word hawa. Also, Carib or Caribbean? Has nothing to do with the word qareeb (near). That one is most likely courtesy of ol’ Cristobal “I’m Terribly Lost” Colon.
 
::: inhale ::: ::: exhale :::
 
Anyway, I just wish some Muslims could stop and think how… ethnocentric (for lack of a better or worse word) and condescending some of their theories and ideas about Indians are. And how offensive it is to be told these things to your face, or to be told things like “Do your people worship the Great Spirit / rocks / dance around a campfire while whooping?” and “I thought all the Indians were extinct! Mash’Allah!”
 
I wish some would remember Qur’an 49:13, and could be okay with the fact that the indigenous peoples of the Americas and the Pacific Islands have their own histories, languages, values, and cultures that did not necessitate contact with the Arabs or Muslims in order to be beautiful, or enriched, or glorious. As a Muslim, what I believe would enrich any given Native culture (it’s not a monolith you know) right now, today, is contact with the Diyn of Allah, and if that comes through the Muslims who are here today, great. And if He Chooses another method that doesn’t involve us doing da’wah or actually engaging with Native peoples, well, whatever He Wills.

 

Beliefs

  FEATURE ARTICLES

  OPINION & EDITORIALS

 

 

Life

  FEATURE ARTICLES

  OPINION & EDITORIALS

 

 

Culture

  FEATURE ARTICLES

  OPINION & EDITORIALS

 

 

Creative Native

  FEATURE ARTICLES

  OPINION & EDITORIALS

 

 

Feel free to copy and carry this symbol.

 

Hosted by
                                      NativeWeb

         
O    

 
         
     

 
         
     

Home || Beliefs || Culture || Life || Creative Native || About Us

 
     

Thank you for visiting the Turtle Island Muslims' website.

Miigwetch, Nia:wen,  Pilamaya yelo, Qujannamiik

Copyright © 2014 Turtle Island Muslims Inc.        Powered byTripod®

   

 

 

 

 

 

TURTLE ISLAND MUSLIMS

TURTLE ISLAND MUSLIMS

TURTLE ISLAND MUSLIMS

Make your own free website on Tripod.com