Monday, December 28, 2009

Death of Two Latino Callers to Islam: Sister Khadijah Rivera and Imam Benjamin Perez (May Allah Have Mercy on Their Souls)


By Khalil Al-Puerto Rikani









I just wanted to mentioned the fact that two Muslim da'is (callers) to Islam of Latino ancestry have died in the past two months. Inna lillahi wa inna alaihi raji'un (To Allah we come and to Allah we will return). I would also like to send my condolences to their families. The first was Sister Khadijah Rivera, the founder and president of P.I.E.D.A.D., who died on November 22, 2009. The second was Imam Benjamin Perez who was one of the oldest U.S. Latinos to convert to Islam. He died on December 8, 2009.

Sister Khadijah founded P.I.ED.A.D. which is an organization that was set up to help Latina Muslimahs. It originated in New York City in 1988. She eventually made her way to Florida. More recently, the organization redefined itself as an American / Latina organization. The following is a quote from the P.I.E.D.A.D. Yahoo! group about their organization at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PIEDAD/?yguid=91787253 :


"In 1988 some sisters in NYC decided to dedicate themselves to dawah. We have distributed hundreds of Free Qurans and thousands of Islamic Literature. Held lectures at Colombia University , ISNA and other locations. Reverts to Islam unite...... PIEDAD is a support group for American/ Latino women. Al hamdulilah Islam is ever growing in the USA and every single major city has felt it. Latinos are reverting here as in Latin America and their families are joining in. Mashallah. We are a vital part of this revolution , just as the African Americans in the Sixty's during the time of then called, Malcolm X. Yes , this is our time and we are ready. Reverts have many hurdles to cross internally e.g. family, friends, and lifestyles . Only another revert can understand or support them without sounding condescending. Please feel to post dawah events or issues related to Latino American dawah efforts or education. This group is open to Everyone but our chapter PIEDAD meetings are only for sisters. MISSION STATEMENT 1. Dawah to Women and Hispanics One on one dawah soley to women www.piedadonline.com 2. Leadership training and Dawah Partners with Muslim women of America. www.MWAmerica.org 3. Community Service Supporters of Project Downtown to feed the homeless. www.projectdowntown.org "

I was not fortunate to have met her, but I am familiar with her dawah (calling to Islam), community support efforts, and activism. In December 2008 and February 2009, she went to UAE to seek knowledge of Islam with a program that the the UAE government set up to teach Muslims in the US their din (religion). (References: http://piedad-latinodawah.blogspot.com/2008/12/my-month-long-journey-to-uae.html and http://piedad-latinodawah.blogspot.com/2009/01/american-muslim-womens-leadership.html).

Furthermore, she was instrumental (with the help of P.I.E.D.A.D.) in getting support for Imam Yusef Maisonet's (a Puerto Rican chaplain in Mobile, Alabama) trip to Puerto Rico. His goal of going there was to build ties with Muslims on the island and see if he could aid dawah efforts on the island (reference: http://piedad-latinodawah.blogspot.com/2009/06/historical-trip-to-puerto-rico-unites.html).

Concering "Imam" Benjamin Perez, I met the brother once at a lecture on Latinos and Islam. He was sitting in the audience. We chatted for a just little after the lecture. A few weeks ago when I heard he was sick and dying, I wanted to call him and interview him about his life. However, due to the circumstances, I did not think it would have been appropriate. I feel it is very important for US Muslims, in general, and Latino Muslims, specifically to document our lives and history. If we do not then we will be wiped out of history or someone else will rewrite our story.

From what "Imam" Benjamin Perez (rahimahullah-May Allah have mercy on his soul) told me, he became Muslim around the 1950s (if I recall correctly) after he came to a Nation of Islam (NOI) event. He said he liked the food and so he joined (or some words to that effect). Now of course, the NOI is not a Muslim organization, but proto-Muslim (as Eric Lincoln in the book "Black Muslims" called them), a quasi-Muslim, pseudo-Muslim, hetorodox Muslim, unorthodox Muslim, so-called Muslim, or "Muslim" organization. So simply put, he was not a true Muslim at that time. So when did he accept true Islam? That part I do not know. It could have been in 1975, when the leader of the NOI Elijah Poole (Muhammad) died and W.D. Muhammad (rahimahullah) took over the organization and brought the followers into the fold of Islam (though not upon the Sunnah). But based on the time period that he enter the NOI, I would guess that he came to Islam much earlier than that.


I will say this, if he did indeed enter the NOI at the time that he says he did, he may have been the first Chicano and Latino/Hispanic to have entered an organization making a claim to Islam.


Furthermore, if he entered true Islam prior to the 1960s (which is highly likely as I have already stated), then he would be the very first U.S. Latino to have entered Islam. The earliest report that I know of U.S. Latinos entering Islam are of some New York-Puerto Ricans who entered Islam in the 1960s and 1970s. See my article entitled "Latino Conversion to Islam: From African-American/Latino Neighbors to Muslim/Latino Global Neighbors" at The LADO Newletter (http://www.latinodawah.org/newsletter/apr-june2k8.html#3) for more on my thesis on Latino conversion.

On another point, I do not know if he was an actual imam of a masjid. He may have used the title "imam" as a title of respect, since he was involved in dawah. From my discussion with him, I do not think he was a student of knowledge or sat with any of the ulama (scholars), and Allahu a'lam (Allah knows best). He was more of a dai' (caller) to Islam with a great love of Islam. May Allah reward his for his efforts, Amin.


His family has set up a blog that has been dedicated to him at http://imambenjamin.blogspot.com/ . If anyone would like to contact them or make a donation to his family, he/she can contact them there."

If I said anything that is correct it is from Allah, and if I said anything that is incorrect it is from myself and Shaytan; and I ask for Allah's forgiveness for that.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Shaykh Abdullah Al-Ansari at Islamic Center of Nashville (ICN)

This is a clip of our brother, Shaykh Abdullah Al-Ansari at the Islamic Center of Nashville. He is a graduate of Imam Muhammad ibn Saud University in Riyadh. Below is a link the lecture that he gave at ICN a few weeks ago.

Khalil

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/2665557

Friday, December 18, 2009

Salafee Condemnation of the Fort Hood Shooting and a Disavowal of Anwar al-Awlaki

Check out the Abul-Hassan Maliki's speak on Fort Hood Shooting and on (milk)Shake Anwar Al-Awlaki at my other blog at:

http://ahlulhaqq.blogspot.com/

Khalil Al-Puerto Rikani

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Prof. Emeritus Richard T. Antoun stabbed, killed at Binghamton University by grad student: cops

I am saddened to hear that Prof. Antoun, professor of anthopology at SUNY-Binghamton, has been stabbed to death. Once again New York's Broome County is being tested by people who want to kill. Earlier this year, Binghamton made headlines when a person went crazy and shot up and killed about thirteen people and wounded four at the local immigration center. Prof. Antoun has done research and written several books about Bilad-ush-Sham (the Greater Syria). He was afilliated with the North African and Middle East Studies Program at SUNY-Binghamton. My condolences go out to his family. Inna li-llah wa inna ilaihi raji'un (To Allah we come and to Allah we return).


Prof. Emeritus Richard T. Antoun stabbed, killed at Binghamton University by grad student: cops

BY Leo Standora DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Saturday, December 5th 2009, 4:00 AM

Prof. Emeritus Richard T. Antoun

A longtime Binghamton University anthropology professor known on campus as "a really nice guy" was stabbed to death in his office Friday by a grad student whose dissertation he was to judge, authorities said.

Cops said the as-yet unidentified attacker plunged a 6-inch kitchen blade into 77-year-old Prof. Emeritus Richard T. Antoun four times, puncturing his lung.

He was pronounced dead at Wilson Hospital in Johnson City.

The suspect was still in BU's Science 1 building when police arrived, tackled and frisked him.
When cops asked about Antoun, the witnesses said he replied, "Yeah, I just stabbed him."
BU's Web site described Antoun as a "sociocultural anthropologist" whose scholarly interests focused on comparative religion, Islamic law and ethics and "the sociology of dispute with respect to tribal law in the Middle East."

Professors and students said the mood in the building was one of shock and fear.
"It's scary as hell," Peter Knuepfer, an associate professor of geological sciences, told the Ithaca Journal. "It's another one of those things like the downtown shooting," where a rampaging gunman shot 13 people dead at the American Civic Association in April. "You think it happens somewhere else, but it happens here too."

The Science 1 building was to be closed for 24 hours after the stabbing. Student counselors were put on duty throughout the weekend.

President Lois DeFleur condemned the slaying as "an act of senseless violence" and Gov. Paterson said Antoun would "live on in his writing, his research and in his students, whose lives he forever changed."