Apr 13, 2009

Saudi ‘Obama’: First Black Imam of Mecca in Today's Times

I would like to thank the brother who left his objective comments on my blog. I totally agree with him, that in the 1400yrs of Islamic history, Arabs that are black in complexion were never called "black" but natives of the land. In the context of today's time where racism is predominant in the world, this is a reminder that 'black' or 'white' Islam's holiest mosque can be lead by any Muslim that is pious and qualified to lead people. Obama may be the first for the secular world, but Islam has long eradicated racism. Tariq bin Zayad took over Spain and he was of African decent. Till today the golden years of Islamic Spain is talked with enthusiam in Islamic circles.
Imam of Grand Mosque does not mind being compared to US President, praises King Abdullah for appointing him.

Sheikh Adel ben Salem Al-Kalbani, 52, is the first black Imam of «Al-Masjid Al-Haram», Mecca’s Grand Mosque where 2 million Muslims go for pilgrimage every year. He does not mind being compared to Barak Obama. «No doubt, Barak Obama’s victory in the US Presidential election and his inauguration were two exceptional events” said recently Sheikh Kalbani to the London-based Saudi daily Al-Hayat.

Black stone and Kaaba… rather than White House

“The fact that a coloured man, and an immigrant, becomes President of the United States is an amazing event, especially when he is of a Muslim descent!” stressed sheikh Kalbani who was appointed by King Abdullah, in September 2008 as Imam of the Grand Mosque, the holiest shrine of Islam. The Kaaba, a cubic building covered with a black velvet cloth encloses the Black stone of salvation, in the middle of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, is the direction for the Muslims’ five daily prayers. In Islam, the “Imam” leads the daily prayers and advises Muslims while the “khatib”, or preacher, expert in “Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), leads the Friday prayer. Last November, according to the Saudi daily “Al-Riyad”, “150,000 imams and muezzins complained about the instability of their jobs.” Since he was appointed, Sheikh Kalbani was interviewed several times by Saudi media, including “Al-Hayat” and “Al-Riyad” newspapers in addition to the Saudi financed “Al-Arabiya” news channel. The «dark nightingale» likes to compare himself to the «tanned» president

Each time he talks publicly, Sheikh Kalbani praises King Abdullah “the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques” in Mecca and in Medina. He describes the king’s decision to appoint him as “courageous” because when honoring him with this Grand position, the king did not take into account such “handicaps as the level of education or the colour of the skin.” Sheikh Kalbani admits that he has “no academic degree”. Yet he has a very harmonious voice and a special skill in reciting the Koran. Thanks to his voice, he was nicknamed the “dark nightingale” by the uncountable followers he has enchanted for over twenty five years, since he became Imam, in the various mosques where he worked, including that of King Khalid Bin Abdul-Aziz in Riyadh. During his interview on “Al-Arabiya”, Sheikh Kalbani said that he had forbidden many young Saudi men to go to Afghanistan for “Jihad” (holy war), following the 9/11 attacks, in which 15 out of 19 attackers were Saudi citizens. In 2003, Saudi authorities, after being criticized by the West for their reluctance to struggle against religious fundamentalism, had dismissed hundreds of imams for their intolerant preaches. “By choosing Obama, America showed that anyone can reach any position, provided they have the required competence … regardless of their religion, origins or colour of skin”, added “the dark nightingale” who likes to compare himself to the “young handsome and tanned” president, according to the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s description.“I don’t mind at all if my appointment as imam of the Grand Mosque is compared to the election of Obama, as first coloured president,” he stressed.



  1. First black imam of Mecca??!! Really, I could of sworn there's been many before him. Maybe the first since the Saudi kingdom was created, but read up on the history of Mecca and Madinah and you'll see otherwise. There's been plenty of black imams in Mecca as well as those of mixed heritage, however since they were all referred to as Arabs (its their language) made discerning their skin color much more difficult. Maybe you should change this post to state the first black imam of mecca in the modern era or something along that nature. However, it'll lose it's significances then I suppose.

    P.S. I know the post is old, yet it was factually incorrect that I had to add my comments to it. Salaam!

  2. Brother you got your facts wrong, there were many before him. Infact Sayyidina Bilal ibn rabah was first person to lead muslimeen in salah in mecca and he was of african descent. The fist Imam (leader of salah) is Bilal ibn rabah

  3. Nadeem M. SiddiqiJune 23, 2009 at 5:18 PM

    Brother Steven,

    I certainly appreciate your insight and correction. Bilal ibn Rabah (radhi Allaho anhu) was the first Mu'azzin, Abu Bakar Siddiq (radhi Allahu anhu) was the companion to lead the prayers in the presence of the Noble Messenger of Allah. Bilal Radhi Allahu Anhu will be the first person to enter into Paradise as he walks into Jannah holding the Bridle of the Horse of the Prophet (sallahu alayhi wa sallam). If you believe that only 4 sahaba out of 125,000 companions were right and all others were misquided (like certain sects) claim; then "Imaam" would be Sayyidna Ali (karamallahu Wajhu) and not Bilal Radhi Allahu anhu. The books of Ahaadeeth do not show, nor does the Seerah point to anywhere Bilal Radhi Allahu anhu leading the prayers. But the point is that in the 1400yrs of the Islamic History there have been numerous "black" complexioned Imaams. But this topic of "black" and "white" is just more relevant in todays context of racism. Wa Allahu A'alam (Allah knows Best).

  4. It doesnt matter the skin color whether black,white,green or yellow or a combination of them all.Didnt Allah create us in his own image?

  5. Dear Anonymous,
    Skin color has no meaning in Islam. In book of Genesis, from the Christian Bible we read about "God creating mankind in His image". The Quran describes the creating of mankind from "Tyeen" (sand). Surah Ikhlaas clearly states that "there is none like Him". So, Allah Almighty did not create man in His Image. Nor can "blowing of spirit into man" does not mean created in His Image. In fact, the question of what is the meaning of Soul (Ruh) was raised during the lifetime of the messenger of Allah (sallahu alayhi wa sallam). The question was answered by Allah by stating that the "Soul is his command". So, this concept of Christianity is not well explained anywhere in the Christian Bible. The Quran is very clear on creation of mankind and his soul.