Over the course of UK Black History Month, we’ve been showcasing the black Muslims you really need to know about. Or, if you know about already, really need to be reminded of.
Some have been British, others have been from further afield. But in every case, they’ve all been inspirational and empowering. If you need a boost, then check out the black Muslims we’ve featured already in parts I, II and III.
But before you do that, make sure you read part IV, which is happening right after we’ve finished this sentence. And….go!
Warsan Shire is a Somali-British poet whose work untangles the delicate threads that weave together issues of identity, gender and belonging. Her poetry is moving and unafraid, reflecting her lived experience as a black, British, Somali Muslim woman. But there’s a large chance you already knew that, because Shire is what they deem in poetry circles as a fairly big deal.
The poet gained international recognition after snippets of her verse were featured on Lemonade, Beyonce’s 2016 album that had an earth shattering effect on pop-culture and caused gossip writers across the globe to hyperventilate.
Shire’s poetry, which often deals with love and loss, was the perfect complement to Bey’s deeply personal record, causing Shire’s star to rapidly ascend.
Away from this collaboration, Shire has released three collections of poetry, been named the first Young Poet Laureate for London and, in summer 2018, was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Here’s an extremely 90s video of Olajuwon talking about Ramadan.
Hakeem Olajuwon is a seven-foot-tall basketball legend who spent almost all of his professional career playing for the Houston Rockets in the NBA.
Originally from Lagos, Nigeria, Olajuwon was one of the most dominant centres and – along with the likes of Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Larry Bird – best known players in the NBA throughout the 80s and 90s. This, of course, means he was probably one of the most famous Muslims in America at the time, right up there with Muhammad Ali.
Olajuwon always fasted during Ramadan, an amazing feat given the frenetic nature of basketball. He even claimed it improved his game, once saying it made his body feel “light and energetic – full of energy. During Ramadan I think my stats go way up.”
Olajuwon retired in 2002 and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame six years later. Michael Jordan famously said he was the best centre to ever play in the NBA. The praise and accolades aside, Olajuwon always put his faith above all else.