by M Kashani · 2018 · Cited by 2 — Habib Umar is the director of Dar Al-Mustafa Semi- nary in Tarim, Yemen peans: Muslims who have converted to Islam, Muslims who have emigrated here Imam Zaid Shakir dubbed Habib Umar’s stop in East Oakland,. “Habib in the Hood.

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61Amerasia Journal 44:1 (2018): 61-84 Habib in the HoodMobilizing History and Prayer towards Anti-Racist Praxis Maryam Kashani On a cool spring evening in 2011, a Muslim community center in the Bay Area suburb of Fremont, California hosts a Yemeni scholar who is a descendent of the Prophet Muhammad. Hundreds of people wait in lineŠwith anticipation, excitement, apprehensionŠto enter – tween two interstate freeways. 1 – nary in Tarim, Yemen, where Muslims from around the world go to study Islam.2 His students welcome him with a traditional nashid, a melodic hymn in praise of the Prophet Muhammad, accompanied by a daf drum. Following his entrance, those gathered outside proceed carpeting to sit upon. Arabic calligraphy on the wall says Barakat Muhammad, Blessings of Muhammad. Women are seated together on the right side of the room, while men are seated together on the left side, all facing an elevated platform with cushions and a small Umar and his fiTranquility Amidst Turbulencefl tour by describing the multiracial and multiethnic gathering seated before him: displayed here. This community of the descendants of Bilal al- Habashi, Radi Allahu anhu see in this community Africans, both those who have come here voluntarily and those whose ancestors came here involuntarily. MARYA M K ASHANI

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62 – – peans: Muslims who have converted to Islam, Muslims who have emigrated here from Bosnia or Albania or other parts of and Umar, Uthman, and Ali. Radi Allahu anhum ijma‚in [May God be pleased with them all]. That™s who we are. generation of Muslims who gathered around the Prophet Mu – who have arrived to receive teaching from the Prophet™s twenty- 3 Sahaba (Companions) of the Prophet Muhammad are distributed across modern racial Umar, Uthman, and Ali (Arab). – and possibilities, as well as limits and omissions, that are useful solidarities that constituted Asian American identities and racial projects from their emergence in the 1960s, a multiracial and mul – tiethnic formation of Muslim companionship exists within and across Asian American, Arab American, African American, Latinx, and indigenous identities and projects. Throughout the fiTranquil – – who were transported to and enslaved in the Americas through – theoretical interventions. Firstly, Islamic companionship and – ers filiberatory lineagesfl that enable an analysis of their material relations towards a relational formation beyond solidarity and allyship.4 racist praxis during the tour, I consider the indeterminacies and

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63occlusions that emerge in the move from theory to praxis on a wider level. expressions (including opacities) of unbounded participatory of feeling.fl – produces and calls upon infrastructures of feeling around the sev – century multiracial and multiethnic Muslim community seated be- Muhammad.6 Their stories about how he lived and what he said Muslims live their everyday lives and shape their social relations. – – – structure of the societies in which they live. In the seventh cen-tury, becoming Muslim meant subsuming (though not necessar – reordering of life within Islam and with the community of the Prophet Muhammad. Throughout the twentieth century, African Americans were particularly attracted to Islam for its anti-racist and liberatory potential and for its ties to the African continent. 7 Muslims who immigrated from Muslim-majority countries to the tied to the maintenance of ethnic identities and traditions. While both resistant to and complicit with assimilation and model mi – – and capital) with Islamic authenticity at the expense of Muslim – racisms within -cance of the next point.8

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64 – come leaders of the Muslim community after the death of the – in which other descendants are also sitting, he pointedly demon -strates that everyone in the room is a descendant of the Prophet™s Companions and is therefore connected to the Prophet through forestalls any claim to racial/ethnic hierarchy or privilege in Is – lam, despite its historical foundations amongst Arabs in the Ara -bian Peninsula and in the Arabic whether they were born into Muslim families or had converted to Islam, they were all on equal footing as companions in relation to the Prophet Muhammad. -lims in terms of how to relate with each other. A sahib (the singular 9 in com -mon space because they are in common faithŠwhether in the sev- enth century or todayŠdemonstrates relations of proximity and 10 I build upon this formulation below to consider how companion- – -mations beyond the conditional and temporal modes of solidarity and allyship, towards a form of relationality and responsibility that requires more . the Latinx, Native American, and indigenous converts in the – cies of how boundaries of geographies, bodies, and identities for the settler colonial, imperial, and white supremacist logics that shape the material and ideological conditions of everyday –

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65ratives of vulnerability and mobility, as well as possession and dispossession, could extend the potentiality of what this legacy Critical Relationalities, from the Ummah to CompanionsForms of Muslim, third world, and/or Arab solidarity and inter -nationalism have been an important part of American and global histories, Palestine being perhaps the most emblematic of such solidarities.11 There are numerous historical examples of Afro- Asian-Arab solidarities that were based in an ethical, cultural, and political amalgam of religious, leftist, third-worldist, ethno-nation – 12 These ranged from was founded in Havana, Cuba in 1966.13 In a more contemporary music carries its own Muslim genealogies and epistemologies that – and contradictory ways.14 -sciousness has been important in shaping how Muslims in the immigrant assimilation.Because Islam situates Muslims as a collectivity, discourses of allyship and solidarity may be inadequate terms for articulat – ing how an anti-racist and anti-imperial praxis within the Muslim ummah Šor fithe global community of believersfl Šshould be interests, and identities of actors,fl as well as political conditions, may change relations fifrom mutuality or alliance to co-optation or leadership.fl 16 While the terms of companionship are subject – – –

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66 17 ideals,fl a fidouble commitment to both brotherhood and sister -hood and justice. . .to both harmony and equality at the same time.fl 18 While the ummah concept ideally encourages Muslims enjoin or inform Muslims to be anti-racist, or to question and re – 19 As Hortense feeling relations, must be fi‚cultivated™ under actual material condi – slavery ungendered African American women, while also undo – -hood, domestic femininity, and protection were denied to those deemed property within a patriarchal social structure that de – (through blood relations) was so often disrupted, African Ameri – – strates post-slavery continuities in the example of Malcolm X and his family who, after being dispersed and separated from each other, showed fisymptoms of estrangement and ‚disremember -ing™.fl20 That their sibling relations are reassembled (though later ruptured once again) through their becoming Muslims within the – ship by faith into relief. Ongoing debates about fiwhat Islam saysfl about justice and critical relationalities (ummah, solidarity, allyship, companion – ship, accomplice) and social justice.21 hegemony within Muslim communities, has historical and so – –

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68nineteenth-century prayers and Malcolm X™s liberatory praxis, en- – cy as their own. A critical connection is made across time through place and shared faith, guiding contemporary Muslims where and when their faith is again besieged.27 History with the Cure In spring 2011, the fiTranquility Amidst Turbulencefl tour traveled – Asian, white, and Latinx American students came from. He want – ed to see and visit their communities, to learn about the places and people who produced them. They were now his translators and hosts in Toronto, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Washington D.C., New In Tarim, Yemen, where Habib Umar is from, a tradition of – that were cleanfl for all who engage in acts of pilgrimage. 28 Writ -ten manuals instructing pilgrims on whom to visit and how also narrate the history of Tarim as a destination. These visitations produce the region as an origin for its diaspora: fiwhat is avail – able is a cure for this world and the next, salve and salvation. 29 Yemen, as an origin, as an fiarchivefl for Islam was what initially drew students there, as Tarim is imagined by young American Muslims as a place to learn and live an fiauthenticfl Islam.30 In turn, the students return home and bring their teachers with them, connecting people and practices in Tarim to people and places in North America. In his students™ pilgrimage to another destination that becomes an origin, an archive of Islam in aspirations for Islamic origins in the Arabian peninsula towards and liberatory praxis. -tion and a blessing of a status that Malcolm X already holds in the hearts and minds of many American Muslims. 31 Nevertheless, this is an important intervention that challenges the idea that Arabs and Muslims from historically Muslim lands are the only sources

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69 wali (saint) and shahid (martyr), understood as a custodian, protector, or friend based on force beyond his earthly presence. 32 By remembering him and being present with him, whether through grave visitation or rhe – continued force of his words, image, biography, complexity, and contradictions, facilitate a historical grounding and legacy of how Malcolm X and his Autobiography continue to inspire as ex -amples of personal and political transformation. 33 Muslims claim him spiritually – his memory and his spiritual force, Muslims produce him as an – cestor for a multiracial and multiethnic ummah. Notably, Man – ning Marable™s biography of Malcolm X was released during the fiTranquility Amidst Turbulencefl tour, and the ensuing contro – Habib Umar™s events. 34 Of particular note, Marable™s consider-ation of Malcolm being fialmost sacredfl and finot a saintfl (within to his grave, the build-up to, and the controversy of the new bi – of his students), and the passing of its author Manning Marable – – fiarchive,fl its potential limits, omissions, and contradictions, is His legacy can be through an anti-racist and internationalist liberatory praxis grounded in deep belief, but it has also proven susceptible to reform narratives that incorporate Malcolm into a civil rights history of American redemption. The anxiety about Malcolm™s sexuality (and what sources Marable used to discuss it) gestures towards how Malcolm has been a

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70 family. 36 Can approaching Malcolm as an ancestor produce alter -native understandings and praxes for how sexuality, the family, that they disrupt, rather than reinforce, the logics and structures of white supremacy, patriarchy, and the vulnerabilities to prema – 37Habib in the Hood – ity Amidst Turbulencefl tour position the American inner city as a critical space and source of Islamic consciousness, practice, – – – – – fiHabib in the Hood.fl Habib Umar, a descendant of the Prophet with him, produced critical spaces of intervention, connection, and meaning as a form of anti-racist praxis.Multiple diasporic formations come together in the Muslim spaces of the Bay Area. African Americans and their descendants who migrated northwest in the Great Migration come together with refugees, immigrants, and their descendants from through – 38 Ca-ribbean, Latinx, and indigenous Muslim converts™ genealogical connections gesture towards alternative settler colonial histories, Muslim and indigenous collaborations and antagonisms during the era of slavery, and the ways that Islam was spread amongst indigenous populations globally. 39 In the Bay Area, as elsewhere, individual and communal identities form in relation to the ra – cial, religious, and geographic contours of American culture, em -pire, and law. 40 Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth cen – Asian immigrants to distinguish themselves as not fiAsiaticfl as it was understood by exclusion laws targeting the Chinese and

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71fiwhite,fl this did not mean that all the privileges of fiwhitenessfl accompanied such status, nor that all immigrants necessarily as – among second- and third-generation Arab and Asian Muslims – 41 and what Islam was, even when there were other predominantly many Arabs (not all of whom were Muslim) as well as Iranians and other Asians began operating corner stores, gas stations, and liquor stores in these same neighborhoods. 42 In the Bay Area, con -ceptions of who Muslims were and what they did began to shift, so much so that, upon introducing himself as Muslim to some discussed how important it was to exemplify Prophetic teachings in all one™s dealings, as this would form the impressions people had of Islam and Muslims. The sometimes antagonistic relation – operators often extended into racism within Muslim communities – rity infrastructures, and socioeconomic exploitation and abandon – for the tour. Muhammad instead of a history of civil rights sets the terms for Muslim unity beyond American multiculturalism towards a more expansive geography and temporality. I draw attention to a sense of bound geographies and identities not to reinforce them, but rather, in Lisa Lowe™s words, to fifocus on relation across dif – ferences rather than equivalence, on the convergence of asym – metries rather than the imperatives of identity.fl 43 In traversing racial, ethnic, and class boundaries throughout the Bay Area, the – tinct yet densely interconnected political geographies,fl as well as

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