Internationally renowned Islamic scholar and ACKI Advisory Committee member Shaykh Abdullah Hakim Quick, was asked why ACKI’s work is important. This is an excerpt from his response.
African Americans are coming out of a state of slavery first physically and then mentally and economically and we are still in a sense in a state of subjugation in that we find there are more young African Americans entering the prison system than the university system. When people enter Islam, [they] learn the fundamentals of this great faith—the rituals, how to pray, how to fast, how to cover ourself—but there’s another aspect of Islam, the part that makes it a way of life. And that is the Islamic culture—the Islamic worldview—and that is based upon a premise of what is called nasab (genealogy), also an understanding of history: understanding where a person is coming from in order to know where they are going. That was taken away from us.
And so therefore along with our studies of the Qur’an and Hadith and different Islamic subjects, it is crucial for us to understand something about our heritage and understand something about our families and traditions that have allowed us to survive…through the pain of slavery, Reconstruction and the pain of economic subjugation that we have been living under for the past 150 years.
…[N]ow that libraries…and institutions have opened up it is crucial for African Muslims and other people to look into the history of Muslims in early America because we played a very important role.
…Some narratives have come to the surface, but there are literally thousands of stories…thousands of beautiful narratives that lie within…memories, in libraries and in archives and in different forms of information…. [They are] documented in writings, sometimes carved on the side of a wall, sometimes in oral tradition. [Some] might even come through jazz music or …poetry or …something in our culture which is actually Islamic and we didn’t even know….
What is important for us is to have young researchers, young minds that are open to challenges, that are able to seek knowledge, put that knowledge together and put it out so that people can benefit from the knowledge. And so in whichever way we can get to this, it is a very important time; [and] I pray that Allah will bless us and raise up a generation who can shoulder this burden.