7 Influential Quotes from Black Muslims Who Made History

“Time is on the side of the oppressed today, it’s against the oppressor. Truth is on the side of the oppressed today, it’s against the oppressor. You don’t need anything else.”

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“Time is on the side of the oppressed today, it’s against the oppressor. Truth is on the side of the oppressed today, it’s against the oppressor. You don’t need anything else.”

In celebration and recognition of Black History Month in the United States, here are just some of the greatest and most influential quotes by Black Muslims who have made history and continue to make history in our world today. Remembering that systematic and community-level realities of racism are still deeply embedded in our society, it remains imperative on all our parts to acknowledge the powerful legacy Black Muslims have left and continue to pave within Muslim communities across the globe.

1) Muhammad Ali

Nicknamed “the Greatest”, Muhammad Ali was an American professional boxer and human rights activist, known for his quick wit (and quick punch), as well as his public devotion and faith in Islam. Converting to Islam in 1960, Muhammad Ali left behind a powerful legacy of activism and charity. When asked why he refused to serve in the United States Army during the Vietnam War, he famously answered in 1966:

Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?”

2) Malcolm X

Malcolm X was a revolutionary Black civil rights activist in the United States, and was an integral part of the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s. A courageous advocate for the right of Blacks in America during a time of immense suppression, Malcolm X converted to Islam in the early 1950s after first being introduced to the Nation of Islam. Changing his last name to “X”, he dropped his previous last name of Little because he believed it represented a slave name.

Time is on the side of the oppressed today, it’s against the oppressor. Truth is on the side of the oppressed today, it’s against the oppressor. You don’t need anything else.”

3) Nana Asma’u

Asma’u was a princess, a revered poet, a teacher, and was the daughter of the founder of the Sokoto Caliphate. Born in the early 19th Century, she was named after Asma bint Abu Bakr, a female companion of the Prophet Muhammad. She was well educated in Quranic studies, knew four languages, and had a reputation as a leading female scholar. Her works emphasise on women’s rights under Sunnah of the Prophet and Islamic law.

How can educated men allow their wives, daughters and female dependents to remain prisoners of ignorance, while they themselves share their knowledge with students every day?”

4) Bilal Al-Habashi

Bilal, one of the great companions of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), began his life as a persecuted slave in Arabia. He went on to become one of the Holy Prophet’s greatest companions. At a time where racism was rife in Arabia and many Arabs owned slaves, the Prophet personally appointed Bilal to be the first Muslim to climb the Ka’ba and recite the call to prayer for the Muslims, showing that piety, not colour, elevates the status of a person in the eyes of Allah. The Prophet is even reported to have said to Bilal:

If we should want to take one particular person as the shining example of good behaviour and adab, then you [Bilal] would be the clear and obvious example.”

5) Ilhan Omar

Ilhan Omar is an American politician, serving as the US Representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district since being elected in 2019. Making history, she is the first Somali-American, the first naturalized citizen from the continent of Africa, and the first non-white woman elected from Minnesota. Omar is also one of the first two Muslim women, along with Rashida Tlaib, to serve in the US Congress. Not afraid of making controversial remarks on US lobbying and Israel’s influence in the US, Omar was recently attacked for her ‘controversial’ but truthful remarks:

But it’s almost as if, every single time we say something regardless of what it is we say that is supposed to be about foreign policy or engagement or advocacy about ending oppression or the freeing of every human life and wanting dignity, we get to be labeled something, and that ends the discussion. Because we end up defending that and nobody ever gets to have the broader debate of what is happening with Palestine. So for me, I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

6) Abu Uthman Amr (Al-Jahiz)

Abu Uthman Amr, also known as Al-Jahiz, was a renowned theologian and one of the most important writers in Islamic history. Born in Basra in modern day Iraq in the 9th century, Al-Jahiz wrote some 200 books over the course of his life, on subjects that included Arabic grammar, zoology, poetry, lexicography and rhetoric. He also wrote a famous book on Black Africans, praising their courage, generosity, nobility and cheerfulness, while also discussing how the colour of skin was simply a natural outcome of environmental circumstance, dispelling racist myths on why Africans had darker skin.

Ikhlaas is to forget the vision of the creation by constantly looking at the Creator.”

7) Ibtihaj Muhammad

An American sabre fencer and member of the United States fencing team, Muhammad is celebrated for being the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab while competing for the United States in the Olympics – winning the Bronze medal as well. The first female Muslim American athlete to win an Olympic medal, she remains a powerful source of inspiration for not only women but for Muslim women who wear the hijab as well. In her memoir Proud, Muhammad stated:

I’ve had to fight for every win, every place at the table, every ounce of respect on my path to world-class athlete. And I will continue to fight because the prize this time – an America that truly respects all of its citizens – is worth more than any medal. Inshallah: so, may it be.”

Let us hope that we not only recognize the powerful importance of diversity and multi-culturalism during months like Black History Month, but in our every days lives in the continued movement towards living a life of God-consciousness and humanitarian activism.