Black History Month is an excellent opportunity to not only learn about the civil struggles of African Americans but also how Islam figures in the life and history of Africa and Muslim Africans. Here are some tips and ideas of what you, your school, Masjid or Muslim Students’ Association can do during Black History Month.
1. Attend events held in your community, on campus, at your local library etc.
Not only will this show a Muslim presence. It will also show Muslim interest in the topic. Too often, Muslims are seen as being interested only in “their own” issues. Your desire to listen and learn will Insha Allah, provide you with more knowledge of the topic.
You can also provide an Islamic perspective there if there is none being presented.
2. Read a book about the history of Islam among African people in the United States and in Africa
Check out some good ones in our recommend bibliography.
3. Arrange to have a speaker knowledgeable of Islamic history among African-Americans to address your Masjid
This can actually become two events. One will be a lecture to educate Muslims. The second will be a mosque open house, where not only will non-Muslims learn about African-American Muslim history, but about Islam as well, Insha Allah. It will facilitate direct contact between Muslims and non-Muslims, which is one of the key ingredients of good Dawa.
Make sure there is plenty of publicity inside and outside the mosque of the event. And refreshments, of course.
4. Sponsor events with non-Muslim African-American organizations
This is a great way for the MSA, for instance, to organize an activity with another organization which may have more resources (i.e. money and contacts).
More importantly though, this is a way to show Muslim interest in African history through action (i.e. trying to arrange an event to educate others about the topic). Give the Islamic perspective as much as you can as you work with the non-Muslims.
5. Arrange for a small group discussion/video showing at your home or MSA concerning African-American history and its significance to the development of the Ummah in this part of the world
Deeper Roots: Muslims in the Americas before Columbus would be a great video to see here.
small, informal, but make sure the main organizers, and especially the moderator, know what they are talking about.
Also be sure there are refreshments for everyone at the end. Print out a couple of one-page articles or Dawa pamphlets on the African-American or African Muslims that people can take home, with Muslim contact names and numbers on the back.
6. Make bedtime story night for your kids a story about African or African-American Muslims
Do you read to your kids at night before they go to bed? If so, talk to them a bit about Black History Month (if they go to public school, they may already be doing something on the topic in class) and read a chapter of a book about notable Muslim Africans or African-Americans.
For instance, read the stories of Barakah and Bilal ibn Rabah from Abdul Wahid Hamid’s Companions of the Prophet or read them the book Tales From Sudan.
7. Have one of the kids do a presentation on one of the Sahabah from Africa or a more recent Muslim African-American personality during a family meeting
They’ll teach everyone, learn something themselves, and know that Muslims have their own Africans and African-Americans to be proud of.
8. Have your school or local library include notable Muslim African-Americans in its display during Black History Month
Talk to the librarian. S/he has probably already decided to have a special Black History Month exhibit during February. But who has s/he decided to include. Give some suggestions of Muslim Africans and African-Americans who contributed to the development of the Ummah, America and the world.
9. Do the above for a museum
Contact the organizer of the exhibition and suggest a few names of personalities to include. If they’re clueless even better: give them the information about these Muslims. And add a couple of articles or books about Islam while you’re at it.
10. Write an article in your school and/or local paper about what Black History Month means to you as a Muslim
This can be done on an individual basis, or better yet, designate someone from the MSA or the Islamic center to do this. You can talk about the rich history of Muslim Africa, and how Muslim African-Americans have impacted the U.S.A. today.
11. Do a class presentation on a notable Muslim African or African-American
If this is a general class assignment, you’ve just found your topic. If not, suggest it to your teacher. If you’re afraid your classmates will get angry you gave them extra homework, suggest doing this as a special assignment for yourself.