Atlanta will rally Monday, March 19, 3-5 p.m., at Georgia Capitol, 206 Washington St., in support of Imam Jamil Al-Amin and to bring him back to Georgia
In 2002, Imam Jamil Al-Amin was found guilty of shooting and killing a Fulton County Sheriff’s deputy, despite strong evidence of his innocence. Authorities have wanted him in prison ever since he was known as fiery orator and organizer H. Rap Brown.
Was the Imam being punished because he is Muslim? Just prior to his abrupt move, Muslims in Georgia’s prisons had asked that he serve as the imam for Muslim prisoners throughout the state. This was without the Imam’s prompting, but it was clearly an acknowledgement by others of the respect for him and his leadership.
Probably for that reason and because of his extraordinary civil rights history through the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the 1960s and despite his conviction on state, not federal, charges, he waits in 24-hour isolation in an underground prison with no human contact 1,400 miles from home – at the expense of Georgia taxpayers.
“Jamil al-Amin should not be incarcerated anywhere! Period,” exclaims political prisoner advocate Kiilu Nyasha. She urges everyone to sign and spread the word about the petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/movetheimam/. For more information, visit www.freeimamjamil.com.
by Minister of Information JR Valrey and Ra’Shida Petrovich for Block Report Radio
Imam Jamil Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, is one of the most revered Black revolutionary leaders from the ‘60s who is alive today. He was a legendary organizer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and briefly with the Black Panther Party, then later on in an Islamic community that he helped to create in the West End of Atlanta, Georgia. This is one of the true fathers of what we call rap music and hip hop.
This interview was recorded in early 2005 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the assassination of the late great Hajj Malik El Shabazz, commonly known as Malcolm X, also to help bring attention to another famous Black revolutionary Muslim, Imam Jamil Al-Amin, who was at the time of the recording and still is a political prisoner. The interview was conducted by Minister of Information JR Valrey and Ra’Shida Petrovich, who helped to found the Block Report and who has since moved on to become a registered nurse.
Ra’Shida: This year is the 40th anniversary of the martyrdom of Malcolm. What is the concept of martyrdom and why is it relevant today specifically in this country?
Imam Jamil Al-Amin: I seek refuge in Allah from misleading and being misled, from betraying and being betrayed into ignorance by others. I ask Allah to guide my heart and guide my tongue. I begin in the name of Allah, the Beneficent and the Merciful.
Again, when we talk about El Hajj Malik Shabazz or Malcolm X, we have to look at the integrity of his example because he symbolized conscious struggle in its highest pinnacle; that is that theory becomes practice. He wasn’t just saying something but he was doing. He was consistent in word and deed. And this more than anything else becomes evident when people try to understand what is being said when the person who is saying it, when he is applying it, then it becomes a living example to the message he is delivering.
El Hajj Malik Shabazz or Malcolm X symbolized conscious struggle in its highest pinnacle; that is that theory becomes practice. He wasn’t just saying something but he was doing.
M.O.I. JR: Before you came to Islam, you were known as H. Rap Brown because of your ability to communicate. What made Malcolm’s rap so effective in delivery and content that it enabled him to have the range to be able to go from the street corners to the prestigious universities and be effective in both settings?
Imam Jamil Al-Amin: Again, all praises due to Allah. Because Allah, what he does, he raises certain people whose voices are tuned to the ears of the people. Again El Hajj Malik Shabazz had gone through and lived a certain level of struggle, a certain kind of example, in terms that he could articulate it, in which he did articulate. He worked on his skills like anyone else, you know, who does anything well. They work on their skills. So this is what he talks about.
Malcolm was the Brotha with the muscle in his voice.
M.O.I. JR: Malcolm was able to make a successful transition back into the population after his prison stint. What are our communal responsibilities to these Brothas and Sistas when they come home, and what challenges do they have to be prepared to face?
Imam Jamail Al-Amin: Well, I think that we have to really understand the whole concept of what prison is, and we have to define as to what we see prison and what we make prison to be. That is to say that prison is just another form of school. It’s a university in many ways. Again the kind of confinement that people are subjected to here, they have sensors, they have locks, and they have doors.
Prison is the same kind of confinement that you have when you go to an elementary school. School never lets out. So this is just a part of the learning process; prison is a part of the learning process. You get out of it what you put into it. So again the quality of time that you have to spend with yourself and, as a result of that, to raise yourself, is in this environment. So again, a person who takes advantage of that, when he comes to school, this university, and he benefits from it because he dedicates himself to raising the level of understanding as to what he has to deal with within society.
Now how society relates to that, again there is so many negative attachments that is given to what is considered to be prison, because we don’t define. When you are dealing with the language of the oppressor, again that lack of being able to define is what oppresses you as much as anything else. So people have the kind of negative connotation although their relatives are, for the most part, the people that are incarcerated.
We have to look at what is considered the prison system itself. Allah says in Qur’an concerning Pharaoh and the children of Israel, he said that Pharaoh did subject them to a tremendous trial and that he commanded the killing of the males and the sparing of the females. You look in terms of the society that we live in, that is a clear example as to what you see going on. The killing of the males and the sparing of the females.
In a society that tells you that you are less than 10 percent of the population, but you are 89-90 percent of the prison population, that means something is wrong. That means that everybody in some degree is a political prisoner – everybody who is caught up in this thing – because the game is on tilt. If it were a fair situation, if the playing field was level, then throughout society it would be reflective in terms of your percentage in the population. We should be 10 percent of the prison. We should be 10 percent of everything else, but this is not how it works. So what it says is that there is something wrong. I mean the deck is fixed.
This is one of the primary things that we attacked and fought in the ‘60s was the negative connotations of Black. When you define it as a negative experience, then you don’t expect anything from it.
So again, in terms of the people who come out of these kinds of institutions, they should in terms of being able to fit back into society, fit back into the program. They shouldn’t feel like there is any additional kind of burden put upon them by the people that deal with the nature of oppression itself. When you put “ex” in front of a name, “he’s an ex-prisoner, he is “ex” this, you are defining him. You are limiting, in terms of what he is and therefore how he conducts his affairs. How he carries himself has already been defined before he is re-introduced into the society.
You know, when you talk about “ex-criminal,” the real ex-criminals are the people running the country, and they’re not even ex-criminals; they’re still criminals. But you know in our estimation, we’re looking for the beast that the beasts said would be in prison, and the beast is right out there with you.
M.O.I. JR: Today Malcolm’s grandson, Malcolm Shabazz, is locked behind enemy lines in New York. What is the Black community’s responsibility in looking out for Malcolm’s only male descendant?
Imam Jamil Al-Amin: Again, as the victim of the whole society and how this whole thing is applied, it’s a search and destroy thing. This is Cointelpro and any other intelligence – artificial intelligence – that he puts together to probe and find out who it is that he feels would be disruptive or who has the ability to overturn the system that he has put in place.
So again, as many of the young kids that we have – because basically what you got is kids doing bids – many of them are using the time wisely …
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Imam Jamil Al-Amin: … and searching for that kind of understanding as to how to further the struggle, how to preach the struggle. I think this is what he is doing, you know. In communicating with him, this is the sense that I get. And again, his legacy he takes it seriously. So you can’t read any more into it than that. He is one of the many people, you know, who Allah has raised, who understands that there is something expected of them .
Ra’Shida: Malcolm was going to bring the struggle of Black people in America to the U.N. and condemn the U.S. on a world stage. Why do you think that is significant?
Imam Jamil Al-Amin: Really the U.N. is a tool of the game that you see. It’s just basically a tool. If you can use it as a leverage point, there is no real solution in the United Nations. They are not going to get involved. They have a policy in which they cannot involve themselves in what they consider to be internal affairs of the different countries.
The United States is one of the primary countries that has the veto in the U.N.. So again, you’re just playing with a loaded deck. You are playing with loaded dice in other words. The deck is stacked. The United Nations is not the real solution to the problems that we have. If at best one can use it …
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Imam Jamil Al-Amin: If you can use it consciously to articulate certain positions, then you should do so, but to put your spot and your holdings into the United Nations, the United Nations is just a tool to be utilized by the European Union, the Soviet Union, and by the USA, Sam and the crew. When you look at the U.N., you have to really understand why that thing was put together. And it wasn’t put together to really help the situation that most people …
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Imam Jamil Al-Amin: oppressed people throughout the world because the oppressors are the ones who set the game up. When I call back we’ll try to deal with some other things.
M.O.I. JR: Yes, sir.
Imam Jamil Al-Amin: Again in dealing with the U.N. thing, you have a classical example. It’s the proverbial example of the goose going to the wolf to complain about the fox. It wasn’t set up for that purpose. I mean it is set up to deal with the rich nations and to protect the rich nations, much like the voting is in this country. That is a safety valve kind of thing.
You could look at what’s happening today concerning the U.N. and its ineffectiveness in dealing with the situation in Iraq. They couldn’t prevent these people from going to war, and when these people went to war, and they decided that they didn’t like what had happened, what had transpired initially, and they spoke out against it. Now you look at Kofi Annan and the problems that he is having. They are publicly humiliating him, and it is being done by the people over here who were offended by the fact that the U.N. took a position against the United States going to war.
It’s just a game that’s being played, and your solution does not lie in something that they have brought and put into play for you to vent. And that’s what the U.N. is, a place where people can go and vent. But as far as real power, the real power in the U.N. lies with the countries that have the veto: the United States, England, France, Russia, maybe China. I’m not sure as to who has the veto power or not. No more than five countries. So again …
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Imam Jamil Al-Amin: … as a forum to articulate certain kinds of political positions, that is as to make your struggle known, you may be able to do that. But to get desired results, that’s no place that you could make an investment in. No.
M.O.I. JR: How did Malcolm balance his spirituality, Islam, with his Blackness, and can those two exist without compromising the other?
Imam Jamil Al-Amin: Dark matters matter; it’s just to be Black is necessary but it is not sufficient. And I think his example, his speech accurately reflected that. He mentions in his autobiography, after he made Hajj, as to how he had changed his whole understanding of what constituted peoplehood. He spoke of the different groups of people, different races of people that he saw expressing brotherhood, and it goes back to the Islamic principle, in that Allah says that “all comes from two, and he divided you into nations and tribes in that you might get to know each other, not that you would hate each other. The best of you in the sight of your Lord is he who is most righteous.”
The companions of the Prophet they asked him, “What is righteousness?” He said, “Good behavior.” So that whole understanding that all come from Adam and Eve means that at some point everything runs together. The whole concept of peoplehood is really based on belief. There are two kinds of people on the planet: believers and non-believers. Everything else is secondary. Then there is gender: male and female. But everything else, it really doesn’t matter. And I think he was expressing it when he said he saw the brotherhood of mankind, as it was expressed in Islam, because belief was the controlling factor. And we have to understand and appreciate that, man, because if you’re going to fight a green soldier, you’re going to need a green soldier.
Again that whole understanding … What makes a green soldier seem to fight against his own interest? It’s his belief. And belief is the strongest bond that the Creator has given us. It’s stronger than the blood ties. It’s stronger than race. Cain and Abel were blood brothers. One killed the other based upon belief. Allah gives us narratives in the Qur’an; he says, “The prophet Noah after the flood, one of his sons had drowned, and he prayed to Allah saying, ‘Surely you are the most just of judges.’ Allah said, ‘Do not ask Me that which you do not know. He was not of you; he was of the un-believers,’” which means that the family ties, the blood ties, are also broken on the basis of belief. So dark matters matter, man, but it is not enough.
Ra’Shida: What is the most misunderstood aspect of Malcolm X and why do you think that is?
Imam Jamil Al-Amin: Well again, people, and it is a tendency of people, they mistake, in terms of the message that someone brought with the personality of the individual self. They want El Hajj Malik Shabazz to still be here. It’s no way that he could do that. Again, as to his leadership, there is no dead leader. Again, his message and integrity of the struggle that he waged, we draw from that. Those are examples, but what is inherent in the whole word leader is that there is motion; there’s animation. There is somebody who can say stop and go.
El Hajj Malik Shabazz again … The integrity of the conscious struggle that he waged is something that we relate to, but as to try to project ourselves to what he would be doing now, it don’t even matter. He’s not here. It’s on you. You got to perform now.
He left you an understanding, and he said you got to be true, in word and deed. You got to do this, man. He said when you find something wrong, he said you got to move beyond that. He said if it don’t make sense, you gotta get off the fence.
So if you not prepared to do that, you’re not living the legacy that he left for you. And that’s the only important thing. But to glorify and try to revel in what he did, you can’t pimp off of his past, man. He’s gone. So what you gonna do? The struggle didn’t stop right there. So again, what was his true example? What was the true assessment of what he brought to the game? What did he bring to the table, man?
He brought truthfulness. He brought manhood, the concept of manhood. He brought the whole sense that we have to be able to define, and as to me trying to think about how he would define a thing now, that’s irrelevant, man. How do I define it, based upon the skills that he gave us to use, by his example? You got to pimp or die, jones. That’s how it go.
M.O.I. JR: What is the role of the family institution, when you talk about struggle and movement? And how do you balance these two without neglecting the other?
Imam Jamil Al-Amin: Well, see again, the nucleus of community, the nucleus of the group is the family. And unless the family is strong, you know, then you cannot have a strong movement. You can’t have a strong group. So again, this is what has to be built into the fabric of the movement.
There is certain kinds of principles that we have to use in dealing with each other. There are certain laws. There are certain things that you owe to your wife. There are certain things that your wife owes to you. There’s certain things that you owe to your children. And there are certain things that your children owe to you. And these are not blind things.
See, the Creator didn’t create us and just leave us alone without giving us instruction. And this is the thing that people have to quit fighting against; we didn’t make ourselves, man. We don’t make the sun rise. We don’t make it set. Like Allah says, “There was a time over you when you weren’t even thought of, but you come into an existing situation where there are laws.” There are certain laws that are universal laws, and we have to begin to understand that if we don’t go with those laws, they’ll break us. If we go against them, they’ll break us.
Again, one of the biggest problems in terms of any oppressed group, man, is that they lose that sense of how the universal laws work, because these are the things that enable you to deal with the people, whoever you are confronting. Now what these people have done, they destroyed the whole sense of family for you and this is what they continue to do. Again kill the male, spare the female.
Then what you do in terms of the female, get many of the females to represent whatever your interest is. Again if you start looking at how the community is being decimated, if you look at African-Americans, you take a youngsta 14 or 15 or 16 years old and give him 40 years in prison, what that means and what that does is interrupt his ability to pro-create, to reproduce. And if you do this long enough, then you get a gap in the group, because you are not reproducing at a scale that you have to reproduce at.
What they call the law of attrition says that if you have three children, maybe one or two for some reason will not be able to reproduce, either death or he won’t be capable of reproducing. So you take that and extend it out over the whole group. Your group is being reduced right in front of you, right in front of your eyes. The family is being destroyed right in front of your eyes. You take and devalue the women. Again one of the records that Public Enemy had done, they used a quote from Mary McCleod Bethune, in which she said if you want to know the condition of a people then look at their women.
Again, if you don’t have any respect for your women, if you call them all of the different kinds of derogatory names, and then your son grows up and he emulates you and your daughter grows up, and she thinks that’s what she is supposed to be called, how are you going to have a strong group, man? I really have a whole problem with dudes calling themselves dogs, man. How you going to be a dog, man? I heard of throughout history people taking the name and attribute of powerful animals. Shaka Zulu was considered the Great Elephant, David, the Lion, but a dog, man? A dog licks himself, that’s how he cleans himself. That’s filthy. If you a dog, then your woman has got to be female dogs; bitches. So it’s self-destructive. Its mentacide, and mentacide is genocide.
Ra’Shida: How did Malcolm’s relationship with international revolutionaries like Sekou Toure, Ben Bella, Fidel Castro, Kwame Nkrumah affect his world view? And what is the significance of having a worldview versus just a domestic view when you think about the struggle of Black people?
Imam Jamil Al-Amin: Again, we are citizens of the world. Your struggle is a struggle that deals with mankind and raising truth as opposed to falsehood. And this is one of the things that comes across clearly. He understood the world stage. He understood the importance of having a relationship with people who had similar conditions from all over the world. And so again with that in mind, it establishes clearly his ability to relate to these people on a level of leadership, meaning that it was a give and take. He didn’t just take.
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Imam Jamil Al-Amin: But he gave them a lot. What it says in terms of a position of a group that has been oppressed for 400 years, you have certain skills that you bring to the table – leadership being one of these skills, because you have lived the experience that most people only now are going through. So you can articulate. You can talk to this subject, out of experience. This is what he brought to the table.
When he talked about apartheid with the people from South Africa, when he talked about oppression, when he talked about racism, it’s because he knew about it. It had been passed down. The kind of skills that we have to survive have been passed down for 400 years. So it is a part of the gene transferal. It’s in the instincts. We don’t have to think about certain things, whereas people who only recently began to deal with this kind, this level of oppression, they have to intellectualize. They have to theorize about it, where you done made the move already. So again, they understood, in terms of what he brought to the table, and it was a give and take exchange. And he related to it in a manner that he had to. This is a human community, and you are dealing with that ability to pool the best in everybody that is around you.
M.O.I. JR: When Malcolm left the Nation, and came to orthodox Islam, some say that he no longer carried the same fiery message and non-compromising views. How do you feel?
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Imam Jamil Al-Amin: Again he wasn’t changing for the worse. Again, it’s like if you use the example of a diamond; a diamond is just a rock until it is shaped by the jeweler’s hand. So again, he had become a student of international struggle, he broadened his whole game. He had a better understanding. We have to look at the people who begrudged and still begrudge him for that.
It is the same situation as when Muhammad Ali changed his name from Cassius Clay, and the people who resisted and really refused to address him in that manner, you have to look at what is their motive. It’s not because he had changed as a person or his skills as a fighter had changed; it’s that they were holding on to something that they felt that they identified with, not so much that he said what he was about. They weren’t about what he was about; they were about what they wanted to be about.
That’s the same resistance in terms of El Hajj Malik Shabazz. He called himself El Hajj Malik Shabazz, but people still refer to him as Malcolm X. So what is it? What you saying? You saying that he was making a mistake about himself? He didn’t know who he was? But you still want to follow the example? You saying that his example should end at a certain point?
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Imam Jamil Al-Amin: And not take into consideration where he was when he died, that he had made a mistake or error? Again then why are we still talking about him? When was he most dynamic? It was when he was examining a situation and applying his common sense as well as knowledge to that situation so as to move beyond that. This is the example in terms that he gives to us. It was dynamic.
Ra’Shida: What happened to the Muslim Mosque Incorporated and the Organization of African American Unity after Malcolm was martyred?
Imam Jamil Al-Amin: I don’t know the history of it. I’m not sure. If you are in a period of transition, not only in terms of them as a group, but the whole era itself, because movements for the most part were being redefined, and it had run its course just like the Panthers, SNCC, SCLC, all of those other groups. Movement comes to visit struggle, but after movement serves its purpose, then struggle continues. You have to go to the next level.
There had been many movements in this country: the anti-slavery movement, the abolitionist movement, Marcus Garvey’s movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the Freedom Ride movement, all of these things, but when they served their purpose, then they go extinct. They run out, and something else issues in. What El Hajj Malik Shabazz was introducing you to was the whole sense of the Islamic struggle that would be waged worldwide, which is what you see now.
If you look at what’s happening now, it’s the only real movement that has any kind of validity and vibrancy about it. The Islamic movement, this is what puts fear in these people’s hearts. This is what they are fighting against. So again, he was pointing out to you; he was illustrating. Again, he said you can’t go no other way but this if you are serious about it. You can’t go no other way.
How do you begin to define this thing, man? How do you begin to understand, in terms of your relationship to the Creator? Surely you can’t do it with the Constitution. Again, you were born just like they were born. So who say that they got a right to give you freedom? Is there such a thing as un-freedom? How can they give you any freedom? It’s not even about that.
It’s about you understanding where you are in relationship to the Creator and why he put you here, his purpose. The Constitution doesn’t speak to that. It plays games with your mind. You talk about freedom and equality and justice, all of those things, but you shoot holes right through that, man. Some people think freedom is being able to vote, some people think freedom is to have 24-inch rims. Freedom is relative, it’s not absolute. It is relative to the person who is defining it, where, in terms of truth, it is absolute.
Freedom is not a truism, because it is always defined in accordance to what people want – what you like and what you desire. But as far as what Allah has said what is true, it’s always going to be true. They say truth comes and falsehood is vanquished. The truth smashed the brains out of falsehood. Truth is going to be truth today, tomorrow; it don’t make no difference.
The same thing in terms of when you talk about the concept of equality, the freedom of equality, the freedom of speech. If man could be free, then he could be free enough to fly. You could be free not to die. Freedom again is relative; it is not a definite state. It is not something that the Creator has given to you. He says that he has created men in gin and gin in men, but to worship him. He has created you in a state of subjugation, so therefore laws do apply to you. You gonna live and you gone die. You’re born, you live and you die. You gone have children, the same way everybody else have children, your offspring, He said, because you subjected to love. It don’t change.
So you’re automatically a servant. So then when you get consciousness with that, you say, what do I serve. The ones who are successful, they serve the Creator, the source of creation. Who put you here? The Constitution ain’t got nothing to do with that. They sent you off on a trip, talking in terms of the whole thing talking about a freedom of speech, but you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater. That’s contradictory. In other words, you got freedom of speech, but you have to pay for everything you say. So freedom is relative. They are playing with your head, man.
You got freedom of speech, but you have to pay for everything you say. So freedom is relative.
They treating the Constitution like it is the Qur’an or like it is Allah’s word, man; that’s the biggest game going. The first thing he made when he made the pencil was the eraser. When you jam him up, he erases it and writes something else down. So when you are students of what you say you are students of, you are students of struggle. You look at struggle in its total content and the context in which the Creator has given to you. See, He has created man for toil and struggle.
The Prophet, peace and blessings upon him, says that the things that will make men successful, that will make you successful, he said there are two: That is consciousness of Allah, consciousness of the Creator and your ability to have good behavior. These are the two distinguishing qualities of success; without those you can’t win. If you can’t be conscious of the Creator because this is what keeps you in check, another man can’t keep you in check, because there is going to be some time that is going to be alone time when you have to be by yourself. And if you’re doing the wrong thing when you’re by yourself or to yourself, then you can’t come back and think that you’re going to be successful in terms of giving the right example to people, and this is the discipline that Allah gives us with Islam.
Everybody can fight, but everybody can’t win. There’s a discipline that goes with winning. If you can’t beat yourself, you can’t beat nobody else. If a dude can’t get up to pray, what makes me think that he is going to get up to fight? That’s a life and death issue, man. You fooling yourself. Allah said, they seek to deceive Allah but they deceive themselves, and they know not.
He is playing games, man, because it all gets down to the whole thing that it’s war, man. It’s open war, that’s what it is. This dude ain’t gonna give you nothing. He can’t give you no freedom. You can be free to be dumb. He can’t give you what Allah has already insured you. You surrender. To the extent that you resist his enslavement of you is the extent to which you are free. If you don’t resist that, ain’t no such thing. It doesn’t exist for you.
To the extent that you resist his enslavement of you is the extent to which you are free.
M.O.I. JR: Unlike many religious leaders of today, Malcolm was known for being into everyday politics of the community like police terrorism, and he wasn’t just stuck inside the mosque. How did this affect his appeal to Muslims and non-Muslims, and what are your views on that?
Imam Jamil Al-Amin: Again in Islam there is no word for religion. The word that is used and translated for religion is deen, sometimes it’s spelled din, which means a way of life. So again, it is not just the rituals, the organized rituals that go on; it is how it affects your everyday coming and going. So this is what he represented, man.
He understood that in terms of that, this is a way of life, so therefore he didn’t divorce himself from the people that were around him. The Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, says if you want to know a person, ask his neighbor. He didn’t say that his neighbor had to be Muslim. He said ask his neighbor. If you really want to know a person, he said ask his neighbor. How does he treat his neighbor? So these are the things that he understood, that were inherent in what had been passed down.
Although he didn’t do no long serious study about Qur’an and Ahadith, there were certain natural things that had been passed down to him – the whole sense of humanity, the whole sense of the pursuit of humanity. The whole sense that we had been denied certain human things made us learn. And so Islam was like a glove; it just fit right, in terms of what he was doing. Islam is like breathing, man; you don’t have to think about doing a lot of things because it is automatic. It makes sense. That’s just the rhythm, in terms of life. So therefore what Allah said, Allah’s going to do, because Allah says, “He whom Allah favors He gives them Islam.”
Again when Allah (bestowed) Islam upon El Hajj Malik Shabazz, it was a natural. He didn’t have to perform. He didn’t have to act or anything like that. This is what he was about. It embellished what he had, his skills. It didn’t detract. It didn’t take away from his skills. It didn’t take away from his ability to communicate. It didn’t take away from his ability to relate. He understood that there were certain things that he had to address.
M.O.I. JR: How do you feel that that affected his appeal to the Muslim community worldwide? And how do you think that that affected his appeal to the non-Muslims?
Imam Jamil Al-Amin: We still talk about him, both sides, ain’t we? Non-Muslims still talking about him. They’re claiming him. Muslims claiming him. Hey, man, what’s the question?
Ra’Shida: Why do you think that the music industry is more effective in terms of getting the minds of our youth than many of the organizations and institutions that are trying to do the same thing?
Imam Jamil Al-Amin: The music industry? First of all, if you’re talking about that campaign they had, “Vote or die,” dude, you vote and die. Folks do that anyway. The thing was, it was a safe thing.
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Imam Jamil Al-Amin: What you are talking about is safe. That’s like telling dude, break an egg on the sidewalk and run. That ain’t no thing. Go and tell me to vote; that ain’t no thing, man, because it is ineffective. They understand that it is ineffective. Imagine in terms of a billionaire who put them on the air, is he going to let them decide who is gonna run the ride? It don’t make sense.
If people listen to that, that is the shame of where we are, in terms of with the music. The people do listen to that. Anytime that a person could only come up with the kind of subject matter that is being played, that’s a shame. If they could understand the art of the craft, or the craft of the art, is to be able to say what you want to say, in spite of what a dude tries to do against it. They don’t understand that or they are saying what they want to say. Everything is about bling, and this and that – 24-inch bling, drop it like it’s hot. I mean that’s criminal. It’s 2004-2005, and a dude can’t say nothing but drop it like it’s hot?
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Imam Jamil Al-Amin: I mean there is no message in it, man. There is no style, no sustenance in the rhyme. That’s criminal, and you have to understand that it is a controlled industry. I mean because you got certain people who understand what they’re doing, because in terms of the people that control the industry, which are Jewish people, they understand that they have a vested interest in this system being what it is. So they control as to what is allowed out to people.
The criminal thing is that the people who say they have the skill, the people that say that they have the craft, they don’t understand that within that skill, you can say what you wanna say, man, but there is nothing coming out. There is no subject matter that is being discussed to help people. You talking about stuff that is totally irrelevant, man. You know, really it’s sad, and that’s the whole thing that is upsetting, man.
I ought to charge them lames to use my name. That’s what’s so shameful about the whole process, because you can say what you wanna say; you change the language. The power to define is in the rhyme. That’s how you were able to change the music. How did disrespectful become dis? Dis and that, because that is what you chose it to be. So how is it that you can’t figure out how to get the message to the people unless you don’t know the message, or unless you’re satisfied with the other message? So you get a class of people who say they’re artists, man, but they’re just pimpin’ – and they ain’t really pimpin’, they simpin’. They hustling backwards, man.
The power to define is in the rhyme.
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Imam Jamil Al-Amin: Life is short, man, but art is long. What you do is gone be here.
M.O.I. JR: What are your top three songs of all time?
Imam Jamil Al-Amin: The Adhan, the Adhan, the Adhan. The Adhan is the call to prayer for Muslims.
M.O.I. JR: Why?
Imam Jamil Al-Amin: Because the message in it is clear. It is calling you to be successful in struggle and how to be successful by bending your knees, putting your head on the floor. He says come to prayer, come to success. First of all, it gives you the declaration of faith. It grounds you. It gives you the knowledge that’s necessary to know how to do it. There is no God but one God. Muhammad is his messenger. Come to prayer. Come to success. It’s simple. I mean that’s basic. When you listen to it, and it is not really a song, but the melody is melodious. So I would have to list that as the top three right there.
M.O.I. JR: What are your top three movies?
Imam Jamil Al-Amin: They ain’t been made. They would have to be made in real time and they ain’t figured out how to do that yet.
M.O.I. JR: What are your top three books of all time?
Imam Jamil Al-Amin: The Qur’an, the Qur’an, and Ahadith.
M.O.I., JR: Why?
Imam Jamil Al-Amin: Again, this is the message that the Creator has chosen to give to man. Allah says, “And there is a healing and a mercy. For anything that ails you, there is a healing for it, and it is a mercy from the Creator.”
I always tell people the Qur’an ain’t history; it’s news, man. When you read Qur’an, you are not just talking about what happened, you’re talking about what’s goin’ happen and what’s happening at that time. Everybody can find themselves within the pages of Qur’an, if you understand that you are looking at character and not personality. Every character is included in Qur’an, and it tells you how to improve that character, and it tells you what that character will be able to garner from its life, if it does not change, or if it does change. And that is set in law, it don’t change. Everything else we’re dealing with men. Dude might wake up one morning and see it one way, and the next morning he wake up and see it another way.
I always tell people the Qur’an ain’t history; it’s news, man.
Philosophy is just kicking up dust, and then complaining because you can’t see. That’s what it boils down to. There is no sense of this is going to be the same thing tomorrow. And this is what the Creator does, because the Creator says His ways doesn’t change, because the character of man doesn’t change. The character of man runs from good to bad, and it doesn’t change.
So therefore Quran is a living book because it speaks about character, because the character doesn’t change. So anybody who comes on the set, when he wants to look at the character to find out what’s this all about, and what does this do, I say, you know, this is a book. He is seeing unlike the Christians who say, “Judge ye not thee so thou will not be judged.” Allah said no, this is a book where you may weigh men’s actions, whereby you may judge, because you judge anyway. In everything you do, you make a judgment about it. But He says there is a standard; there is a scale for judging.
The People’s Minister of Information JR is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe,” both available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He also hosts two weekly shows on KPFA 94.1 FM and kpfa.org: The Morning Mix every Wednesday, 8-9 a.m., and The Block Report every Friday night-Saturday morning, midnight-2 a.m. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Imam Jamil welcomes your letters: Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, 99974555, USP Florence Admax, P.O. Box 8500, Florence CO 81226.