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Freedom From the Heavy Harness of Hate

Black History Month Blog Series, Part Three

The following is the last of a three-part blog series which confronts the claims of Black Islam concerning roots, racism, and retribution. We want every African American Muslim to know the Truth about Jesus.

“Turn the other cheek?” began my friend Abdul. “Nah, man, I’m not doin’ that.” For many African American Muslims, the Christian faith is seen as a tool of oppression that keeps Black people down. Like Abdul, they see the forgiveness that Jesus calls for in harmful opposition to resistance of oppression. For them, Islam provides the platform to give full vent to anger and rage.

Against this narrative, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., attests that people of passivity have not ever populated the Black Church.[1] This church became a cauldron of Black political action, even dating back to the late eighteenth century; this activism did not come about in spite of but because of the faith of these early African Americans.[2] Like Esau McCauley, they saw “the theological energy of the Bible [as moving] toward liberation”[3] and therefore found biblical models to resist oppression.

This resistance does not diminish the need to forgive. But how does one do that, considering past and present injustices? There is no room for flippant answers here. The pain is real, and the solution cannot be trivial. Enter the gospel. Ephesians 2:16 presents a beautiful picture of reconciliation between Jews and Gentiles after centuries of animosity: these two groups are reconciled “in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility” (emphasis added).

At the cross, God’s divine judgment and glorious grace intersect. It is there that injustice meets its match, as God shows himself as supremely just. It is there that the high price of forgiveness is paid once and for all. McCaulley asserts, “It is only by remembering that God’s forgiveness costs him something that I find the divinely given power to pay the cost of forgiveness instead of revenge.”[4]

Without a cross, Muslims have nothing to do with their bitterness and hurts but let them mutate into cancer cells of rage and retribution. Civil Rights activist John Perkins, whose hardships would have led many down a vengeful path, contends, “Revenge is dangerous because it’s never really satisfied with an eye for an eye. Instead, it rushes quickly into punitive excess, taking much more from the offender than is due.”[5] Further, holding on to anger and bitterness “damages [one’s] very soul” causing him or her to view everything that others do or that happens to them “through the eyes of hurt.”[6] The sacrificial death of Christ on the cross enabled Perkins to let go of his pain and to forgive, thus releasing hate’s heavy harness over his life. Here again, the Christian faith shines as the superior choice, as it gives voice to critical resistance while giving believers the power to lay aside the burden of anger and to forgive. Today, Jesus is calling African American Muslims, like Abdul, to bring their painful experiences to the foot of the cross where they will find rest for their souls, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light (see Matthew 11:29-30).

Throughout this month, we have attempted to show that the Christian faith is the superior choice for African American Muslims. Whether it is a question of roots, racism, or retribution, the gospel provides the answer for Black Muslims today.

[1] Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song (New York, NY: Penguin Press, 2021), xix. [2] Gates, xix, xx. [3] Esau McCaulley, Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2020), 133. [4] McCaulley, 132. [5] John M. Perkins, One Blood: Parting Words to the Church on Race and Love (Chicago, IL: Moody, 2018), 107. [6] Perkins, One Blood, 107.


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