Post by: Ismail Buffins, Master of Divinity (MDiv) ‘20; Social Justice Chair, HDS Student Association (HDSSA)
Read on to learn about an MDiv student’s explorations of family, race, and Buddhist ministry this past summer.
This summer, I went to Morocco to familiarize and develop a relationship with disparate elements of my family, all while studying the relationship between Buddhist soteriology, racial justice, and political praxis via interviews and reading. My interviews took place with my uncle, Luqman. He is a child of the Great Migration and a devout Muslim. I spent lots of time gleaning stories from him. These stories came together to form a cloth, one in which I could explore the living quality of an individual’s search for spiritual fulfillment and racial justice. Racial violence was no stranger to my family. My grandfather fled white terror twice. Initially, he left Memphis as a teen on warning from a family associate that violence was coming his way for not staying in his place. The second time, he left Cleveland for New York because of a violent loan shark. My father and my uncle both served in the Marines in the early 1950’s and afterwards converted to Islam at the Nation of Islam’s Temple No. 7, the masjid where Malcolm X was minister. They were not raised religiously; their conversion to the Nation was motivated by a sense of empowerment and belonging. My uncle served as driver for Malcolm for some time and my father as a captain in the Nation. After the deaths of Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad, my uncle moved away from the Nation. In the 1980’s he decided to leave the United States to live in Morocco. Much like his father, he was leaving a region that he felt was unsafe for a Black man. Morocco was also place he found he could practice his religion more easily. Continue reading