The Muslim Street opens’ its’ twelve-part series entitled “The Muslim Mosaic”. The purpose is to profile the vast, diverse and changing face that is the “Muslim masterpiece”.
We decided to start in America, as it seemingly houses the spirit of this Mosaic. Every Muslim population is represented here in the American landscape. It is not uncommon when visiting an American Mosque that during the Muslim prayer service (Salah), that in the rows of men and women there are twelve to fifteen different Muslim countries represented. While we can talk extensively about the causes of this phenomena (more importantly that it does not exist anywhere outside the Muslim World save Saudi Arabia vis-à-vis the rites of the Hajj to Makkah and Umrah) the various groups are diverse and its’ challenges are very different. Muslims’ whom have migrated to America over the past four decades surely represent an astonishing story in and of themselves, and we will visit them in later articles. However, Muslims’ whom are indigenous to America have multiple interesting stories and beginnings as they define their Islam, its practicum and expressions’. In the Indigenous Muslim landscape belies its’ own diversity. Largely African-American with a growing number of other ethnicities (Latino’s and increasingly White), American born Muslims’ have a story to tell, a story that has been historically marginalized into “group labels” as opposed to human interest. The Muslim Street in our initial piece will attempt to humanize the Muslim individuality, its beauty, its contribution to the whole and its impact to the “Muslim Mosaic”. We start with Yahsmin Mayaan Binti Bobo, unplugged.
California and its’ Bay area has historically served as foreground for intellectual thought and activism. Malcolm X said “all change will come about on the college campus”. What Malcolm was alluding to is that the generation that is “on campus” are engaging in philosophical debate, new ideals and organization. Reared in an affluent ethnically mixed surrounding, Yahsmin Mayaan Binti Bobo comes to the Muslim Mosaic as a seeker of knowledge. For Yahsmin, though her upbringing was “non-religious” (much like a significant pocket of Black America) her parents’ internally and her environment externally encouraged a cultural expression of truths’. “Islam has been transformative vis-à-vis Black America but we cannot deny that the Black Christian experience over the last four-hundred years aided us thru Slavery and allows us to endure “ , she passionately proclaims to The Muslim Street. “Allah perfected the religion” she explains...is not a “disconnect from her Black American Christian brethren…but Islam is a natural progression toward the truth about the universe and the existence of God in it. Yahsmin view’s Islam as pragmatic….she states, “It is a constant evolution for me…the Prophetic progress i.e., God’s last Prophet (Muhammad, sallallahu alayhi wasallam) as the “natural state of organic progression”. For Yahsmin and Islam…”I have embraced something more intimate”.
When The Street asked her about the canvass of America and Islam, Yahsmin adds succinctly that “America is so young, America is seriously reckoning with how are they going to co-exist with Islam”.
Yahsmin, who came to Islam some 15 years ago is an integral part of the Hip Hop generation and was influenced by the black activism that was going on in the Bay area at that time, stated that “the more progressive Muslims’ were in the Arts’ community and I stumbled upon it”.
Currently in the Bay area there is an “Islamic Renaissance” that is taking place. an Ijtihad, led by scholars such as Zaid Shakir at Zaytuna Institute.
Yahsmin adds…” the diversity in the Bay area and its’ wealthy Muslim population allows for the funding of important projects, especially in the South Bay”. .."a lot of the Muslims being converts themselves helps the new narrative"....she adds. “I appreciate the indigenous scholars’ because they keep it practical” she states…”there is an application of clarity for the audience that is relative to where we live”. It’s good to have the scholars’ from here whom seek the sacred knowledge and share it.
Individuals' who continue to share their unique talents and contributions to The vast Muslim Street will continue to shape and mold what Islam will look like in the future, both near and far. We welcome Yahsmin, a compelling figure...to The Muslim Street.