Islam in America has been profoundly shaped by the Black Muslim experience. However, Black Muslims are often marginalized both within their own religious communities and in public discourse about Muslim Americans. Su'ad Abdul Khabeer
, Associate Professor at the University of Michigan, attends to this erasure by centering Black Muslims to investigate the relationship between race, religion, and popular culture. In Muslim Cool: Race, Religion, and Hip Hop in the United States
(NYU Press, 2016) she offers a rich ethnography of Muslims in Chicago, many of whom are involved with the Inner-City Muslim Action Network. IMAN and members of its community regularly perform “Muslim Cool,” a blueprint for being Muslim in America that is steeped in Blackness. Abdul Khabeer’s research helps us understand how Black Muslims have shaped Islam in America in general despite intra-communal tensions around anti-Blackness. In our conversation we discuss new approaches to Hip Hop, the loop of Muslim Cool, opinions about music in Islam and its use among Afrodiasporic Muslim communities, Black Muslim women’s veiling habits and its adoption by non-Black Muslims, Muslim Dandies and formulations of masculinity, state sponsored cultural diplomacy trips and Muslim hip hop artists, Sapelo Square as an effort to produce materials about Black Muslims, and how family histories can enrich the archives of Black Muslim Americans.
Kristian Petersen is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. He is the author of Interpreting Islam in China: Pilgrimage, Scripture, and Language in the Han Kitab
(Oxford University Press, 2017). He is currently working on a monograph entitled
The Cinematic Lives of Muslims, and is the editor of the forthcoming volumes
Muslims in the Movies: A Global Anthology (ILEX Foundation) and
New Approaches to Islam in Film (Routledge). You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.