Monday, March 30, 2009

Guest Lecturer Abdur-Rahman Muhammad Teaches UW20 Students the Fact and Fiction Behind the Nation of Islam

Late last month, UW20 Professor Kevin Bryant invited author and lecturer Abdur-Rahman Muhammad to speak in both of his classes, which focus on the life of the legendary Malcolm X.

This article was written by UW20 student, Jared Brenner.

Mr. Muhammad centered his lecture on a topic crucial to any study of Malcolm X: the origins (both factual and mythological) of the Nation of Islam. He described the truths and fallacies behind the organization’s founder, W.D. Fard, and explained how he believed Fard to have manipulated the early 20th century African-American social construct in creating the NOI. His lecture provided a great deal of historical context and insight into an era that Professor Bryant’s students continue to write about frequently as the semester progresses.

Says Professor Bryant: “I continue to invite Abdur-Rahman to participate as a guest lecturer in my Malcolm X course because my students appear to have a profound respect for his vast knowledge not just of Malcolm X in particular, but for his knowledge of African American history, Islam, and other religions. […] Abdur-Rahman is an engaging and eloquent speaker; you can sense [his] enthusiasm [and] he has a way of captivating his audience with fresh interpretations and analyses of the bygone era of Malcolm X.”

Mr. Muhammad describes his interest in the subject as having been primarily drawn from his experiences growing up in the post-Civil Rights Era 1970s, “particularly pertaining to the forced desegregation of public schools.” As a college student, he says he “met students who were part of the NOI, as well as many older Sunni Muslims who were once part of the NOI and educated me on their teachings.” He has been a regular lecturer on college campuses for over 20 years, with the past seven of them spent doing classroom lectures.

In addition to his work as an author (his first book, concerning Black American Islam, will be available this summer) and a blogger (at his website, A Singular Voice), Mr. Muhammad is a participant in an upcoming documentary, entitled Militant Islam and the West. As part of his contribution, the producers of the documentary filmed Mr. Muhammad’s visit to Professor Bryant’s classes.

A producer for the documentary described it in a recent e-mail as “seek[ing] to answer questions about the true nature of political Islam and how it is addressed in American society by Muslim American groups. This piece will particularly focus on the impact that adherents of political Islam and/or members of the Muslim Brotherhood have upon American Muslim organizations and the institutions with whom the groups interact.”

When asked what makes GW students stand out from those to whom he has lectured previously, Mr. Muhammad commented, “What I enjoyed most about lecturing to GW students was their obvious intelligence and genuine interest in the subject. They ask compelling questions which show that they have thought about the material. […] I am motivated by a desire to inspire young people to study the history of our country, and the social movements that contributed to it's greatness. My lectures have always been greatly received by students, for which I am entirely grateful.”

Mr. Muhammad’s website is A Singular Voice. His book, From the Back of the Bus to the Back of the Camel, will be available this summer. For more about the documentary mentioned in this article, please visit

1 comment:

  1. Abdullah AlhusseinMarch 30, 2009 at 3:02 PM

    Great article Jared, well done.