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The Relation of the Works of African American Authors with Islam

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Hassaant
Words 1255
Pages 6
Ali Alnasfan
Mary Mullalond
English 181
December 3, 2015
Literature Analysis: The Relation of the Works of African American Authors with Islam
Introduction:
The African American literature is full of enthralling stories, poems and riveting facts. The authors and poets have used various themes to express their depression, anger, plea and even hope. In this essay, various themes like racial discrimination, survival, honor and homeland will be discussed. Most of these themes that these authors have used in their work have a direct relation with the religion of Islam. All these themes have been discussed in Islam and the religion has provided answers to these problems.
Following works will be discussed in the essay. 1. If we must die (poem) by Claude McKay 2. A Litany for Survival (poem) by Audre Lorde 3. I have a Dream (speech) by Martin Luther King
Analysis # 1:
If we must Die:
Honor and honorable death is one such theme that is the main focus of the poem, “If we must die” by Claude Mackay. Claude McKay wants his people that are under threat from the white people and are being killed. He wants them to die nobly. Islam has given a huge distinction to the one who dies honorably i.e. in the way of Allah. This means if a person is doing something good, or is on his way to doing a going deed and dies, he dies a martyr. The Prophet [SAW] said: "Whoever fights to protect his wealth and is killed, he is a martyr. Whoever fights to protect himself, he is a martyr. Whoever fights to protect his family is a martyr." (Sunnah.com) The sayings of the Holy Prophet of Islam (PBUH), can be related to the deaths of the black people that were killed due to the color of their skin. They are dying protecting their families and their rights. So this is an honorable death, like the poet says, “If we must die—oh, let us nobly die,” (McKay)
The killings of black people in the States was very common till the late 19th century and the use of stated theme by Claude McKay in the poem directly takes the reader into the era where black people were treated like deer and hunted down and killed by the hounds. “Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot, / While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,” (McKay 1-3 ).So to die honorably and dying doing the right thing and standing up for is the best a person can do.
Analysis # 2:
A Litany for Survival:
The poem “A litany for survival” by Audre Lorde is a poem that uses imagery and discusses themes of survival. The poet through her words wants to give her people hope. The words of the author give the reader a hope, a future full of dreams unlike theirs. “Seeking a now that can breed / futures / like bread in our children's mouths / so their dreams will not reflect / the death of ours” (Lorde 10-14). The use of bread here is like a metaphor, used to describe the healthy future and life full of dreams for the children of now. Another important message given by the poet is to speak up because it is no use living like this. If there is no survival it is better to speak the truth, “and when we speak we are afraid / our words will not be heard / nor welcomed / but when we are silent / we are still afraid / so it is better to speak” (Lorde 38-42). In Islam, Jihad is a holy duty that is to be performed. It has different types, fighting in a battle, with the inner self, but according to the Holy Prophet (PBUH), “Indeed, among the greatest types of Jihad is a just statement before a tyrannical ruler.” (Sunnah.com) Audre Lorde through her words wants the people to speak up against the injustice because only then they would be facing up to the tyrants. God helps those who help themselves.
Analysis # 3:
I have a Dream: The third piece that I have chosen to analyze and compare with the teachings of Islam is the speech of one of the most famous black leaders of the twentieth century. Martin Luther King’s address at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. I have a dream is one of the most famous speeches of this era. It has since been taught in colleges and schools. The feeling of not being accepted and to be treated as slaves in one’s own country is the worst thing a man can endure. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was on the receiving end of such treatment.
So when King uses symbol to define freedom “And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.” (King) The American Dream is a metaphor for freedom and opportunity that a day will come when all the Americans regardless of their color or creed will be treated as equals and will have equal and same opportunities.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on his last sermon, one of the complete guidelines to life said “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.”(Muhammad) This is one of the denouncements of racism and clearly states that superiority is only on the basis of good deeds. All men are born equal and deserve the same rights.
The conflict is evident in this speech given by King and this is an external conflict with the white people. “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” (King) He uses imagery and the audience believe that this will happen because of the firm tone of the orator. Martin Luther King had his own unique tone that captured the imaginations of his crowd and followers and he led them to believe that one day they will be equal and have same rights and opportunity at the American Dream.

Conclusion:
So, basically most of the black American authors wrote about equality and freedom. They wanted equal opportunities and rights. Islam like all the religions in the worlds gives equal rights to all the human beings regardless of their color or caste. The works of Audre Lorde, speeches by Martin Luther King were all just statements and standing up to the oppressors and wanting equal rights. They have succeeded in doing that and their bravery and work has paid off and so has off the writers of the eras of 1700’s.

Works Cited
Gates, Henry Louis, and Nellie Y McKay. The Norton Anthology Of African American
Literature. 2nd ed. Print.
McKay, Claude. 'If We Must Die | Academy Of American Poets'. Poets.org. N.p., 1919.
Web. 3 Dec. 2015.
Lorde, Audre. 'A Quote From The Black Unicorn'. Goodreads. N.p., 1978. Web. 3 Dec.
2015.
King, Martin Luther. "I Have a Dream." March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. 28 Aug. 1963. Speech.
Muhammad, Prophet. 'The Last Sermon'. Speech.
Sunnah.com, 'Sunnah.Com - Sayings And Teachings Of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
N.p., 2015. Web. 3 Dec. 2015.

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