Black Islam is a “big tent” term...

 I use in the book to describe the different forms of Islamic beliefs and practices that we find in Black US America. Under this big tent I include the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the Moorish Science Temple, the Nation of Islam (NOI), and the Five Percent Nation of Gods and Earths, as well as Sunni and Shi‘i orthodoxies (which include Sufi traditions). These traditions of Black Islam share a pointed concern with the realities of Black communities living in conditions of systemic inequality. They respond to conditions of injustice by offering alternative cosmologies, histories, politics, and social norms geared toward individual empowerment and Black liberation. In U.S. Black communities all of these groups speak the same language of Black consciousness, which has made Black Islam an important part of Black US American culture. 


This big tent approach will be controversial to Sunni and Shi‘i Muslims who identify some of these groups as unorthodox or even as non-Muslims. This is due to disagreements over how they approach the Qur’an and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad, but also because of the ways cultural practices of Arab and South Asian U.S. American Muslims identify the fezzes and turbans of the Moors, the bow ties of the NOI, and even the Geles (head wraps) worn by many U.S. Black Sunni women as falling outside “true” Islam. However, I do not use the term not to make claims of what is or is not “true” Islam. Rather, I bring these groups together under the banner of Black Islam to highlight what links them to the broader Islamic tradition, to each other, to U.S. Black American life, and consequently to hip hop