Imam’s Mother Makes World’s Best Macaroni and Cheese

Working on my look :)

Working on my look 🙂

Nii Mensah, from Ghana, is working on my look.  What an Imam concerned about “dunya”?  A few years ago I was a guest on the CNN-Paul Zahn Show.  I was being filmed in the Washington, DC studio and Paula was in NYC.  I came dressed in my uniform-Thawb, Kufi and beard (The international symbols of an Imam) and to top it off I worn one of my best Saudi Arabian Abiya-Black with the heavy gold embroidery.  Usually I get my thawbs in Mecca right off of Abu Sufyan St and always of the highest quality, Duffa Clothiers.  The Kufi purchased in Medina after finishing Hajj from a Nigerian street merchant selling from a very large bag.  My custom, when I arrive in Medina I am looking for those traveling Nigerian salesman to replenish my collection.  I sort through the bag of brightly colored crowns selecting everyone that will fit my big African-American head.  The writer Julius Lester has a theory that African-American have bigger heads than most West Africans because of natural selection during slavery times…..the big headed brothers where the ones caught because we were slower getting out of bed during the slaving raids on the villages. (Really – not funny). After buying my fill of kufis and designer thawbs I head back to America with a new working wardrobe for just a couple of hundred dollars.

Why am I concerned about my look?  Maybe it’s because I represent other people, including African-Americans, other American Muslims and ultimately Americans.  I don’t want Muslims to be disappointed at the frumpy or dowdy dress of their representative especially on TV.  So there I am…..The official Imam Johari….you would think with this effort brothers would be sharing the love.  Not long after I leave the studio I get a call from a brother that I know, love and respect, Dr. Amir Al-Islam.  He said, “Imam you did a great job, but you can’t go out representing us looking like an Arab!”.  I was alittle taken aback but I retorted in my defense that I do my best to look authentic.  He agreed, “Yes, you ARE always authentic”.

From that time I have been lecturing about American Muslim identity and have been struggling with my uniform.  And so I have been on a quest to develop a dress that will cause people to pause before they ask me, ‘What country are you from-originally?” Before speak they will think,  “Maybe America”.

My Tailor, Nii Mensah

My Tailor, Nii Mensah

Tailor, Nii Mensah ( is helping me to work on my look.  I got some designs from one of my former students and the first female MSA president at Howard University, Kamilla Munir.  She has a degree in environmental hygiene and fashion design.  Mensah’s job is to make the concepts work for the new and improved American Imam Johari look.  I went to one masjid to do an event and saw me an my suit and commented on the “Imam Siraj Wahhaj suit”.  I still have work to do to come out from under the shadow of the fashion statements made my Imam, Siraj Wahhaj and the brothers from Imam Muhammad’s community.

I am determined to represent Muslims in American in word, in deed and in fashion.

And for:

Yes, my favorite food:  Halal Chinese, Thai, Caribbean and Ethiopian and I’m married to an African-American Muslima 🙂 and my mother makes the best macaroni and cheese in the world.

So, this imam has some “N” in him, but beware not the bring it call it out.  It might not be the “N” your “looking” for……………

Scuba Diving: Roots Barbados

Scuba Diving: Roots Barbados

4 Responses to Imam’s Mother Makes World’s Best Macaroni and Cheese

  1. “The writer Julius Lester has a theory that African-American have bigger heads than most West Africans because of natural selection during slavery times…..the big headed brothers where the ones caught because we were slower getting out of bed during the slaving raids on the villages.”

    I do not recall ever writing anything like the above. However,
    I have written quite a bit and could certainly do not remember every sentence I’ve written. I would appreciate it if you could give me a source for the above remark.

    Thanks a lot.

    Julius Lester

    • Peace my brother,

      I took a course in 1975 at Howard University in the African-American Studies department and the quote stuck with me from. We were discussing “Look Out, Whitey! Black Power’s Gon’ Get Your Mama, 1968”. In the discussion the quote was attributed to you although it was cited from the text. Sorry for the missed attribution. I am honored that you visited my blog even under these conditions.

      I often remember you from those days in college. That course and your wit and perspective have help shape my worldview.

  2. Khalid Ahmed says:

    Islam is not an Arab religion. I find it so difficult to understand why many African Americans feel the need to wear a kufi and the cloths of immigrants to be a Muslim. One can wear an Armani suit and be named John Adams and still be an Imam. Similarly, I don’t understand why some American Imams have to use the title “Imam”. Its something that is not used in the Islamic world. There is no clergy in Islam and they try to establish one. Such titles are only used in Iran.

    My brother you are American. Its nothing wrong with you putting on a suit and giving a khutbaa. Perhaps a kufi is worn in Arabia because of the climate. A beard is a different story. I just find it difficult to understand why its something the people struggle with.

    I like Hamza Yousef, he is normally dressed as a normal American as was the late Warithdeen Mohammed. I am always embarrassed when I am at gatherings in which I see immigrants dressed in normal western cloths and my fellow African Americans are dressed like they just came off of a camel.

    Khalid A. Ahmed

  3. Abusiafrubs says:

    Just found this oneline store with Authentic RL Polo shits have been looking for a while and even have been to ebay but its all fake there. Big Pony Polo RL !


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