(Black Slave Bilal’s History Parallels’ African-Americans History)
By: Imam W Deen Mohammed (raa)
I remember hearing Caucasians the way they talked on the radio; they spoke as though there were no African-American citizens in this country. Now I’m hearing Bilalians, African-American people talk just as they talked: your black network; get your black afro comb two in a pack, three in a pack, four in a pack; get one to put in your side pocket, two to wear in your afro, and use one in the vest. Everything black; black this, black that.
We’ve become so black conscious, that we’re no longer conscious of ourselves as human beings. We treat each other so badly no feelings for each other; just the slightest little friction can make us kill each other. Dope pushers come among us and know we are trying to dignify our community; they know we’re trying to save ourselves from the influences of a long history of physical bondage in this country and we haven’t yet gotten free of it altogether, and they come and make the problems much worse by turning our community into a community of sleeping dope addicts.
Then you have the peddlers of inferior products, your own so-called brother. Even the word brother has been turned into a weapon that whips your conscience into submitting your pocketbook to a robber who calls himself brother. How can we go on like this? Why haven’t we studied color, physical features in a rational scientific way? It’s because we don’t have rational minds. We have emotional minds.
We’ve got the great majority of people in our community just all caught up in a kind of sentimental racism and we can’t get them to support any sensible program or follow any sensible direction because they don’t have intelligent life in them. They might be high school or college graduates, but the great majority just don’t have any intelligent life in them. They think the way to settle things is with empty rhetoric. Come out like monkeys—trying to discharge energy so they can go back for another year and relax.
I was reading a science book that related how a certain breed of monkeys don’t fight each other physically, but once a year they confront each other. This is true. They form lines and the lines, or ranks, confront each other. . . . They just argue and act like they’ll kill each other until they get tired and they go on back and relax for another year.
That’s Nigger therapy. That won’t work. People know when they don’t have an excuse for what they’re doing. They’ll really try to make it look real until they’re met with something real. Then, they’ll begin to back off. We don’t know how to get serious before dealing with serious things. We will come up with an act in the battlefield . . . theatre drama in the battlefield! And when you run into the real Africanus—the one who fought Hannibal—when you run into the real Africanus with his cannon, “Hey man, they’re playing dirty-they’re serious.”
Perhaps you don’t think that way and your associates don’t think that way. You represent a small minority. The great majority of our people have become so primitive there is just no room in civilized Africa for them. African-Americans walking around with a bunch of afro combs, looking like garden rakes—sticking all out of their afros, their back pockets, and shirt pockets; that’s the new identity.
I know the nature of the Bilalian (African-American) people I’ve been raised as you’ve been raised, I’ve experienced the same kinds of things you’ve experienced—the history, that is. The kind of awful, bad and degrading things, and the nice things, that have been in the atmosphere.
For the last 40 years of my life, I have been paying very good attention to them just as you have. I know your emotional make-up and your sentimental make-up, so excuse me if I make it a bit un comfortable for you sometimes. It’s not done t hurt anybody, it’s done to edge us on to more an more human dignity. We can never become a people satisfied with our self-image until we get the
Many of us think that we have that courage and that we are doing what is just and rational, but it’s far from being true. Most of us are moved by sentiments and emotions, and little rational sense.
I’m telling you, the biggest puzzle to me was understanding the nature of the Bilalian people or African American. As I said earlier, some of you don’t like the term Bilalian-it’s okay with me. If you like the term—”Afro-American” then we still can talk. But you know, even the term Afro-American was a compromise.
Afro-American—why cut the word short? Because the niggers weren’t ready to say “African.” They were afraid to identify with Africa. Marcus Garvey said, Afro-American; that’s cutting the word short. That’s like an Irish-American calling himself, “Ir-American.” The Irish American is not afraid to use the whole name—”Irish-American.”
And I’m telling you, until we get that same kind of respect, get rid of that old fear in us—an unnecessary fear, an uncalled for fear in 1978. We have to get the courage and appreciation for reality, for truth to say, “African-American,” because that’s what we are. Now, I don’t like the term “African,” because the Caucasians gave the continent that name. I like the term “Bilalian.” What’s wrong with the term Bilalian?
I was on a radio program with a so-called black man. He had black skin, I can’t deny it. He asked me, “Do you think you’re going to get people to call themselves Bilalians?” I didn’t even answer. What in the heck does he think I’m spending all my time on it for? He asked, “Why can’t we call ourselves, Frederickians after Frederick Douglass?” I said, well, if you can get the people to accept that, I’ll join you in that. And then we’ll debate the value for us—the superiority of the term for us later. But, let’s make the decision right away. I’m tired of looking for a name—”I’m, I’m, I’m a . . .” politicians can’t hardly speak to us. Afraid to call us Negroes, afraid to call us colored folks, afraid to call some of us blacks.
We’re just a people all torn and separated from ourselves with old silly ideas of ourselves and shallow definitions that haven’t taken into account the history of the people, the culture and development of the people. We haven’t taken these things into account.
If we study the personality of the whole people, of the ethnic group, and study our development from the time we were brought here, connecting it with the history of where we were brought from originally, then we can come up with some terms. We can come up with some names that not only my ear can hear and accept, but the inner-ear-that my soul can hear and accept. And I’m telling you, as long as you’re coming up with shallow definitions that go no deeper than skin, you’re not going to satisfy the majority of us, and those who buy it will one day have to give it up for a term with deeper meaning and with a deeper history.
The following is from a document by Creative Age Press, Inc., New York. It states: Written from memory by Bilal Muhammed:
A Muslim slave of (Supelo) Island, Georgia Portions of the message by Abu-Muhammed Abdullah, Ibn Abi Zaid El Quiruwaani. A Standard Legal Work by a North-African Author included the end papers of slave songs of the Georgia Sea Island by Lidia Parrish, 1942, Creative Age Press, Inc., New York.
Bilal Muhammed was a Muslim slave on the (Supelo) Island plantation of Thomas Spaulding.
If he hadn’t been aware that he was a Muslim he would be known as Spaulding. Maybe George Spaulding, William Spaulding or Thomas Spaulding. Or maybe L. T. Spaulding, C. D. Spaulding. C. J. Spaulding. R. T. and L. T. Spaulding.
He practiced Islamic habits of prayer and diet. He spoke the West-African Fulani language as well as English and French. Four of his seven daughters were named: Fatima, after her mother, Yoruba, Medinah and Bintu. He was from Timbu, a city in Bambara Kingdom, and apparently he was a young law student at the time of his capture.
As famous as Bilal, the first muezzin of Prophet Muhammed—as famous as that man was in the history of Al-Islam. Don’t you know that there were many other Muslims of his hue who wanted his name. It’s inconceivable that some Bilalian mother, some African or black-skinned mothers didn’t name their babies Bilal. This is historical proof that they did. And also this is historical proof that among our slave ancestors there were Muslims.
Oh, go back—go back and study your history again. Go back to your black studies again.
Believers, Muslims, brothers and sisters, all people who embrace the healthy concepts that we embrace—I’m not railing at you. I’m speaking to those so-called black people. I don’t care if they’re not here. I’m trying to torture those that are in the grave. I hope my voice would go down and strike the earth and disurb those that are in the grave who want to reject everything because their shallow vision of things and their limited intelligence didn’t permit them to see the truth.
Bilal was an Ethiopian and he was made a slave by Arab people. And it was the Arab people who freed him. Isn’t that a beautiful parallel? We were made slaves by the Christians, Caucasians of the West—Europe and America. And it was the Christian Caucasian who said, these people have to be freed. It was a heathen, idolatrous slave-master that held Bilal. But it was a dignified man converted from idolatry, a man by the name of Abu-Bakr, an Arab who became the first ruler after the passing of the Great Prophet, the Universal Prophet, Muhammed. May peace be upon him and all the righteous servants.
Abu-Bakr went and paid the slave-master who owned Bilal, the ransom money. He demanded a big price, more than what was ordinarily asked for slaves, but Abu-Bakr paid the price anyway, and bought the freedom of Bilal. Later, in the history, Bilal was sad and weeping. He didn’t want to stay around Mecca and Medina because those places reminded him of his beloved friend—his emancipator, Prophet Muhammed, the Prophet of Arabia sent to all the worlds.
Bilal told Abu-Bakr, “I can’t stay here any longer, I want to leave.” He decided that he was going to Syria—and you know, Syria is a country where the people are not of a dark hue. Their skins are not Kentucky-coal black. Their skin looks very much like Caucasian skin. In fact, by scientific description or definition they are called Caucasians—the Syrian people. But Bilal wanted to go there. And Bilal expressed this desire to Abu-Bakr who was the Khalifah (Ruler). When he paid the ransom to free Bilal, he wasn’t the ruler. He was just one paying to buy Bilal’s freedom; and now Abu-Bakr didn’t want to let Bilal go. Bilal put this question to him, he said:
“Have you freed me that I should be the servant of Allah, or have you freed me that I should be your servant?”
Oh, that’s prophetic, that’s prophetic. Isn’t that what we have been saying to the North now for more than 100 years since Abraham Lincoln, the Caucasian man who freed us from the physical slave grip of the South? Isn’t that what we have been saying to the northern American: Have you freed me that I should be your servant, or have you freed me that I can be free as all other human beings are free?
Study the history of Bilal, and if you don’t see a prophetic figure resembling us—the whole people —a figure speaking to our problems and to our beautiful destiny, that we are not free to be possessed again by the one who freed us. We are free to go independently for ourselves as all other people are free to do. Bilal went to Syria, married there and he was buried there. The Syrians built a masjid there–a mausoleum for Bilal.
When the Syrian president and the Muslim community of Syria got the news that I had named our race Bilalians, they got busy to build a new masjid, a new mausoleum for Bilal.
I don’t care what religion I believed in—I don’t care if I believed in something so foreign to what we believe in that it made me look like I didn’t come from the same planet that the Muslims come from, knowing that we share one painful history, and one glorious rise from that history, and we share one enduring spirit—the spirit to endure inhuman treatment, and yet stand up as human beings and tell the inhuman racist his shame.
A people reduced to inhuman existence for three centuries—rise up every time they are slain or crucified or lynched or shot down. Rise up the next morning and say: you should be ashamed of yourself you inhuman slave-master. You torturing racist. Oh, I’m telling you, that’s a thing to be proud of. We are a people that have been birthed in the fire-tempered in the fire and made rigid as a human being with a human spirit. And there is no diamond tool, there is no tool to break our rigidity. There is nothing to destroy our human form, because G-d has tempered us and formed us never to be broken.
Dear beloved people, don’t you know this is the glory of our history? The great victory for us in our history is not in saying I’m black or that I must have freedom; the great victory for us is saying that “I’m still human.” After you’ve sent me through the mill that was designed to produce a monkey, a dog, a rat, I come out of the mill still in the human form. Allahu-Akbar (G-d is the Greatest).
We as a people were shut out of the environment that is conducive to healthy human growth. Denied culture. Denied a civilized kind of encouragement and inspiration. Denied the opportunity to sit in an environment of culturally uplifted people. They left us in the bad, poor, starved, neglected parts of the world shut off from the civilizing and culturally inspiring kinds of things that other people have. This is our history. This is not the condition today. But this is what we have come through.
We haven’t been formed under the new day or by the new day. We are a people formed out of the old day. But in the new day, we don’t have to be reformed—not as people loving the human spirit. We still want to embrace human beings. Right now, we can embrace any man though he looks like the very one who tortured us or denied us freedom. We can embrace him if he proved to us that he is a human being and that he has no problem embracing us. That’s the victory for us. We have not been reduced to animals though we have been put in a factory that produced animals.
If we want to make progress, we have to really look at our problems with sober eyes and use intelligence. We have to do some research. We have to make some scientific study. Why should I wait for this world or for the White House? We’ve come into the silly mind that the government is my daddy and my mamma. Any time I get a headache, I don’t go to my medicine cabinet, I ask the President, “How come you don’t have an aspirin? You know I’ve got a headache.”
So, we have been conditioned by our own ignorance, our own ignorant habits, to look to the government for everything. The government can’t do for us those very needed things that touch deep into our problems. We have to do those things ourselves. The government’s hands are tied. Not only the government, also the people in the private sector.
Dear beloved people, those Caucasians can’t come here and solve our problems. We have to solve these problems. They would be embarrassed. They are people who have intelligence and a knowledge of history, the knowledge of human development, the development of society in history. They know the first thing that has to be done is to take the emphasis, the focus off blackness and put it on ethnic development and human development. They know that’s what has to be done.
But how can they come in here in all of this blackness and say the problem is that we have been in blackness a little too long. That’s the first measure. It’s time to go into the next measure. They can’t tell us that. We’ll say, “Honky, you don’t come here and tell us what to do with our blackness.”
“You congressmen, you’ve got to get with us—we’re going on to the White House. We’re going to demand that they make a law—we’re going to demand that nobody other than us tamper with our blackness.” They can’t do the job. We have to do it ourselves.
Dear beloved people, we should be very, very proud. We are a community that has come through the fiery furnace and we’re still standing whole. The Bible says that the oppressive kingdom put the Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace, and they thought that they had burned them up. It says that when they went to look and opened the door to take the ashes out, they found three Hebrew boys standing as though they were untouched by the fire. We have something now that we can boast of equal to that.
We, for three hundred years, were put into the fiery furnace of slavery of the worst type in the history of humanity. And then were left to almost a hundred years of Jim Crowism that almost shames that 300 years of slavery. The furnace door is opened and here is Dr. King in a white shirt and tie, appealing to the intelligence, to the moral dignity of the oppressive rulers of the society.
I’m telling you, don’t go in the Bible looking for anybody to idolize—don’t go in there looking for some great people. The great people are here. It’s me and you, we are the great people. I can’t find any people in the Bible, I don’t find any people in scripture who have sunk as deep as we have in society, in civilization, in education, in every respect, and have broken the clogs, come up through the dirt, toppled the tree stall, come up like a bad monster—not looking like one, but looking like an intelligent dignified human being. I don’t find it in history. I don’t find it in scripture.
Now, I know the Jews suffered a lot, but I don’t think they should even mention their suffering in our presence unless they’re saying: “You people understand, so maybe you can help us out a little bit.”