Malcolm X & the Five Percenters: Reading Course in Black American Islam

Dr. Saud Al-Zaid
Malcolm X & the Five Percenters: Reading Course in Black American Islam

Online seminar, English, 2 SWS, 2 ECTS
Tuesdays, 10-12 h, weekly, starts 3.11.2020, online
Sprechstunde/Office Hours -  Friday, 10-12 h. Contact instructor through

This seminar is a reading course focused on two texts: “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” and Michael Muhammad Knight’s “The Five Percenters: Islam, Hip Hop, and the Gods of New York”. This course wishes to provide some historical context of the Black Lives Matters movement for students within the context of Black Muslims. We will read about the life of Malcolm X from his conversation to Islam in prison to his rise as a vocal leader in the Civil Rights movement. Then we will approach the Five Percenters, a unique expression of Islam that developed in New York City and was tremendously influential in rap and hip-hop culture.

There will be a weekly group reading and discussion via remote video conferencing. Students are expected to attend all sessions and to lead discussion at least once. We will have very open and critical discussions about race, identity, religion, and politics – with the hope of achieving better mutual understanding and respect for social justice.

Requirements for the ungraded Studium Generale credits: regular attendance and leading a discussion.

Saud Al-Zaid is a scholar of Islamic thought and aesthetics. He specializes in the writings of Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), a literary critic and ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood, and his aesthetic influence on the Salafis of Central Arabia and the Gulf. Al-Zaid holds degrees in Economics and Comparative Literature from the University of Chicago, a Masters degree in Arab Studies from the Center of Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University, and another Masters in the Anthropology & Sociology of Religion from the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. He completed his doctorate in Islamic Studies at Freie Universität Berlin entitled “Modernity’s Other: An Intellectual Anthropology of Radical Islamic Thought”. Al-Zaid is based in Berlin and has given public lectures at Re:publica, the Berlin Biennale, Chaos Computer Club Congress and Computerspielemuseum, among others. More information on