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WLOX: Muslims looking for ways to better African American communities

Danielle Thomas

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) – The epidemic of African American men in prison has a South Mississippi community of faith looking for solutions. On Sunday, the Biloxi Islamic Center celebrated both Black History Month and Savior’s Day. Members said Savior’s Day is a time when they reflect on the history, present, and future of their faith.

Back in the early 60s, Yahya Muhammad said South Mississippi Muslims would meet in his mother’s home in Ocean Springs to worship. He said the role of the Nation Of Islam in the struggle for Civil Rights is often overlooked in the history books.

“For us getting the freedoms that we do now and the opportunity to do something. It’s more or less we just ain’t putting forth the effort to do enough for ourselves,” said Muhammad. “Not what other folks can do for us, but it’s what we have to do for ourselves.”

Over the years, Muslims said the following in South Mississippi gravitated away from Nation Of Islam to more diverse mainstream Islam.

“This is an opportunity for us to explore our past, present, and future,” said Sabree Rashid, president. “We have been in this community since the early 60s and established here on the coast as a structure since 1973.”

“We started off as part of the Nation of Islam which was a religious group, which was considered a cult because it focused on race and color as apart of the membership,” Rashid said. “Now we’ve metamorphosized into a multicultural diversified community.”

As many Biloxi Islamic Center members are African American, they remain committed to fighting problems within the Black community like racial profiling, unemployment, education disparities, and crime.

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