A MON SUPER BLOG
Joshua Salaam was born in Camden, New Jersey in 1973. Raised by a single mother in Kansas City, MO - Lombard, IL - and Indianapolis, IN. He studied Martial Arts from 6 years old and entered the Air Force as a police officer where he served for 4 years. Joshua served as Imam on the Air Force Base. In the military he was able to serve as a D.A.R.E. Officer (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) for local elementary schools. He also was part of an elite training team for Cops. After the military he worked for the county in NC to provide drug resistance education to youth from low-income families. Joshua also worked as a private investigator and started his own Private Investigation Company. He later earned a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice.
He moved to Virginia and starting working at CAIR for 4 years. Josh left CAIR to work in a local Baltimore community where they are trying to establish Islam by moving together, praying together and working together. He started by becoming a campaign manager for a Muslim brother running for city council. Now he manages a Muslim construction company. His main focus is working with the general community to reduce crime and drugs in Baltimore by patrolling the streets and working with the police department. Josh also serves on the board of the community association working to develop the neighborhood with new businesses.
Josh began performing rap songs at the age of 10 and by the age of 12, he was performing at youth camps as a member of MSU (Muslims Steppin Up) to entertain members of the Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA)-a national Muslim youth group. Later, he co-founded a group called Sonz of the Crescent in 1993 with their debut album " What's the Word." In college he won several rap competitions. After joining Native Deen and working with Abdul-Malik and Naeem, he became more focused on giving dawa through his music.
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Naeem Muhammad, born on June 25, 1975, grew up in the inner city of Baltimore, Maryland where he currently lives with his lovely wife and 3 daughters. Born and raised in Baltimore city, the 3rd of seven children, Naeem was his mother's first child born and raised Muslim. Naeem's artistic interests may have come from his father who was a painter or from his mother who attended art classes with baby Naeem in a carrier. He has many fond memories of attending countless art festivals, live music performances, and African cultural events as a child. Naeem's mother wanted to nurture more than just his cultural and artistic development, so she enrolled Naeem into the Islamic Community School of Baltimore.
From fifth grade until graduation, Naeem spent these formative years in Islamic education and youth activism. He graduated from the Islamic Community School of Baltimore, a private Muslim parochial school, and went on to attend Towson University in Towson, Maryland. He has been involved with Muslim youth work since the age of 13, working with various organizations such as Muslim Youth Council of D.C. and Muslim Kids Club of Baltimore and MYNA. This is where he eventually met the future members of Native Deen. Naeem has written and performed a number of songs for the MYNA Raps album series and had songs featured in the soundtrack by Astrolabe Pictures for their animated movie entitled The Boy and the King.
Naeem also had a love for IT most of his life, so it was only natural after college he'd work in network administration for the state of Maryland and soon after move into private sector. Around 2003, Naeem was offered the opportunity of a lifetime to leave IT and work for the international relief and development organization, Islamic Relief. Through Islamic Relief Naeem has assisted earthquake victims in Bam, Iran, joined first response teams in tsunami ravaged Indonesia, and delivered much needed food aid to the Timbuktu region of Mali.
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Abdul-Malik was born in Connecticut in 1975 but spent most of his life in the Washington, DC area. He was home-schooled by his parents until 12th grade. After finishing high school, he attended Georgetown University. During this period, Abdul-Malik was able to visit the Middle East and become fluent in the Arabic language.
He was heavily involved in writing and producing the music for a series of albums that were produced under MYNA Raps. His writing talent alone has put him in the top tier of Muslim song writers; his passion for a better society has driven him to talk about many issues that effect non-Muslims and Muslims alike. A graduate of Arabic at Georgetown Abdul Malik has let his bilingual tongue flow with his music's, this talented songwriter, producer, and musician meet his fellow group member Naeem at a youth camp in 1988 where they became pen pals
Abdul-Malik now resides in Virginia with his wife Rahima and daughter Sakina. He owns his own web development company, Kufic Graphics. Abdul-Malik has produced numerous songs and raps for the MYNA Raps as well as songs for Astrolabe video productions.
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1. What does the name "Native Deen" mean?
Everyone knows what "Native" means. But "Deen" is an Arabic word for religion or way of life. We believe that the way of life that is Native, or inherent, to all of creation is Islam because it is the religion where you submit yourself to the will of the creator.
2. Why do you wear modest clothing and the kufi?
We identify ourselves as Musilm by wearing Islamic dress like the kufi and loose-fitting clothing. There are, of course, many ways to identify as a Musilm. Your actions are one way and your clothing and modest attire is another. We try to do both by adhering to Islamic etiquette and by dressing modestly.
3. Why do you only use percussion instruments?
Many Muslims believe that wind and string instruments should be avoided in Islam. The Qur'an does not specifically mention musical instruments. Some scholars say that if the lyrics of the music is Islamic, then any type of musical instrument is permissible. However, there are others that say only percussion (drums) instruments can be used. We cannot please everyone, but using only percussion instruments allows more Muslims to enjoy our music. On our tapes we use various percussion instruments.
4. Are you part of the Nation of Islam or 5 percenters?
No. Although we are Black, we are not part of the Nation of Islam or the 5 percenters. Not all Black Muslims follow Farakhan. In fact, over a third of all Muslims in America are African-American's who belong to the international community of Muslims. Some call this "main stream" Islam, and it is the Islam that Native Deen follows.
5. Do you promote violence in your lyrics?
No. The word Islam means "Peace through submission to God". We do not advocate violence in our lyrics. We promote understanding and tolerance towards other faiths, without losing pride in our Islamic identity.
6. Does Native Deen only perform Rap music?
No. We do raps and songs and sometimes a combination of both.
7. What is MYNA RAPS?
MYNA RAPS is a project put together by the organization, M.Y.N.A. or Muslim Youth of North America. The project was a gathering of amatuer recording artists who've written their own work and MYNA featured these artists on the MYNA RAPs' album. Three of the artists from these albums, Joshua Salaam, Abdul Mailk Ahmad, and Naeem Muhammad, who were all solo, started a group where they could do this professionally. This is how Native Deen came about.
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