QUESTION: In the United States we're faced with Muslims being identified as "black" or as "Bilalians" and in the meantime the same name has been applied to the many African-Americans who from time to time are being referred to as Bilalians when they may not even be Muslim???
WDM: And I think the problem is the concept; your understanding is being collected from outside of America or from somebody who is not American. So when a
Pakistan, an Egyptian, a Sudanese, a Saudi Arabian or some other non-American Muslim hears the name Bilalian, he thinks that this name is a religious name.
Bilalian is not a religious name. We have adopted the name Bilalian as an ethnic name to replace these other terms that we think are not as rich, ethnically speaking. They are not as rich because to identify with skin color is not as rich ethnically speaking as to identify with an ancestor who identified with Africa and also identified with a great ideology. So we are identifying with a person rather than identifying with skin color.
I was reading a form to be filled out by those who owned minority businesses or enterprises that said list your nationality. And do you know the only people that were given a color was ourselves. All the others were called American-Indian, Asian-Indian, European, Spanish, Hispanic, but when it came to us it said Black.
I refused to mark Black. I filled out the form and I sent it in with Bilalian on it and beneath Bilalian I put in brackets African-American just to help them understand what I meant by Bilalian.
I just left a member of our community, Sister Dorothy Fardan—she's Caucasian, not a Bilalian—but she's a Muslim belonging in our community. She's one of us.
We have many others who are Hispanic and others who are not Bilalians, but they are Muslims and they belong to our community.
The Great Gardener, Imam W. Deen Mohammed, the Son of The Honorable Elijah Mohammed.