Inner Intimacy and Empowerment: Exploring Islam’s Influence on Back American Muslims

Date of Award


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Dr. Grace Livingston


How do African American Muslims in the United States Interpret Islam as a means of social and spiritual empowerment? This question is posed to understand how Islam nurtures African Americans in knowing the meaning of spiritual development, or in other terms the importance of the practice of reaffirming continuous belief, and to investigate the inner intimacy of theology that can only be explored through the narrative experience.

Rather than focusing on the racial and political discourse of NOI and other African American Islamic groups as many other scholars have done, my research concentrates on how African Americans Muslims utilize their religion as a means of social and spiritual empowerment – to look inward on the personal relationship with Allah as a vehicle of social expression. The Inner spiritual connection with God is predominantly a Sufi concept, implying that the concept of self and its refinement is created through the relationship with Allah. Sufism is not a restrictive creed; it is more of an experience than a doctrine or belief, and many diverse ways of Sufi life depend on the personal relationship with Allah. The goal is to enable individuals to "commune directly and experientially" with Allah. Under this concept, faith in Allah naturally produces a certain degree of connection with Allah, and thus fits with my idea for this research of investigating how African American Muslims use Islam as a source of empowerment and a form of deepening the relationship with Allah.

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