The Dar ul Islam community was a grassroots movement established primarily by African Americans in Brooklyn, New York around 1962. Its purpose was to uphold life as governed by Quranic teachings and the sunnah (example) of the Prophet Muhammad. It was at Yasin Mosque, an old three-story building tucked away on Herkimer Place that congregants gathered to establish the call to God. Though the Mosque was named after a chapter in the Quran, the community as a whole was loosely referred to as, the Dar.
Islamic life in America around 1960 was more visible through organizations like the Moorish Science Temple, the Muslim Student Association and the Nation of Islam under the leadership of Elijah Muhammad. In 1964, when Malcom X left the Nation of Islam for a more orthodox practice – strict adherence to the Quran and Sunnah, for many, it negated the former Islamic organizations as a standard by which to judge true Islamic faith. Through the teachings of Sheik Daoud Faisal and later, Imam Yahya Abdul Karim, Dar members took on both the physical appearances as well as the practice to solidify their acceptance of this new way of life.
Among many, one of the goals of the Dar was to raise the status of its minority members and to establish a fully functioning refuge complete with a place of worship, schools and a governing body where they adopted a strict routine and policies on how to live according to Islam.
A CLOSER LOOK
The African Diaspora worked its way into American culture and redefined what it meant to be black in America. It gave African Americans a means to redefine themselves with dignity and self-pride, finding beauty in their appearance and purposefulness in their actions. Change was the paradigm of the 1960s and 70s and within it, groups claiming many social affiliations, racial identities, sexual orientations and religious beliefs emerged to claim their space in the matrix of the American experience.
The Dar ul Islam movement was born from an accumulation of unanswered questions and unfavorable circumstances that had a group of African Americans from New York City at a loss. Their quest to be made whole through truth and justice led many to return to the Islam practiced by their African Ancestors and brought to America through the establishment of slavery in the south.
Though there was no national organization among all the emergent sectors of the American experience, those groups who sought change seemed to move simultaneously to shift the conscience of the masses. In this mix emerged a group devoted to strict adherence to the Islamic Holy Book, the Quran, and the sunnah (practices) of Muhammad Ibn Abdullah of the Arab nation over 1400 years ago.
Dar ul Islam translates to mean “The House of Islam” and it was at 52 Herkimer Place in Brooklyn, New York that Yasin Mosque was created for the communal worship of Allah. The Dar ul Islam Collection by photographer, Khalil Abdulkhabir embodies the most progressive years of this grassroots religious movement as it took form in and around Yasin Mosque. Between 1970 – when Abdulkhabir converted from a Baptist Christian background and 1982, he lent his talents behind the lens to serve the village that supported his new life as a Muslim and this website is dedicated to telling that story through his photos.
Visual records from the Dar are a testament to the successful development of businesses, schools and cultural outlets that defined its congregants. The Dar ul Islam Collection contains pieces that are dramatic and artistic, exposing and illuminating Abdulkhabir's subjects in a way that are not stereotypical. It is our hope to present the Dar to the public and secure a place for it in history as an effort from common people who made significant contributions to the development of Islam in America.
Kamila Abdul Khabir-Barbour
Proud to dedicate this site to her parents and the village that raised her; Kamila is honored to work with her father, Khalil Abdulkhabir on this project and hopes that this will be her first among many to explore both past and contemporary issues of Islamic development and its affect on American culture. Kamila holds a B.A. in Art and Visual Technology from George Mason University and currently resides in Maryland with her two children.
Abdulkhabir took photography seriously while working with Youth in Action, and anti-poverty program in Brooklyn, NY, 1966. He devoted his time to photography projects designed to educate and motivate youth in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Abdulkhabir hopes that the historical imprints of the Dar-ul-Islam Movement will be passed on through his work and is included in the effort to bring awareness of African American Islamic history which is poised to take it's rightful place in the history books. Abdulkhabir and his wife Tunura raised seven children in the Dar and currently resides in Syracuse, NY.